Rome, Florence, and Bologna are any tourist’s dream. Around every corner there are iconic sites that grace history books. These are the places that make the “1,000 Things To See Before You Die” list.
I can tick a lot of them off my mental check list. The Colosseum, the Palatino, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Basilica of St. Mary of the Flower, the Towers of Bologna, and more. Although, if you asked me what my favorite moment in Rome was, I’d have to say it was the long lunch in Campo dei Fiori. Homemade pasta, good crunchy Italian bread, excellent olive oil, market fresh produce, the house wine, a coffee, and people watching are pretty high up on my personal list.
In Rome our HomeAway host, Romula, provided a list of restaurants and circled their locations on a map. At Osteria del Belli the mere mention of Romula’s husband’s name got us first class service. The spaghetti with bottarga reminded me of the smoked salmon eggs you get on the Tulalip Reservation. Donna had spaghetti with clams. The sample of fettuccini with tomatoes and sea bass the owner brought to our table was mind altering.
Street pizza, gelato, and dinner at Trattoria Sora Lella rounded out our Roman food adventures, and our bellies.
In Florence we hit the market as soon as we could. The meat, cheese, fish, and produce stands were closed, but upstairs upscale open kitchen food stalls were open for business. You grab some seats at a bar, or bus your food to a table, and eat your way through the market’s choice products. The cheese stuffed zucchini flowers were amazing. So was the rigatoni with wild boar ragu. The next day we ate at a place across from the market. The t-bone steak at Trattoria Mario barely fit on the plate!
In Bologna our first foray into the Quadrilatero was a little disappointing. In the last three years major gentrification has occurred. Quaint shops have been replaced with chic clothing stores. The next morning when all the produce stands, fish markets, bakeries, and butcher shops were open our disappointment disappeared. It felt like we’d come back home!
Donna pulled out her list of favorite restaurants from our last visit, and a new list that included recommendations from Mario Batali. At Settetavoli we split a serving of homemade fettuccine with bottarga. This reached a whole new level. A subtle hit of lemon, the earthy flavor of the pasta, and then the flavor of the sea danced across the palate. Donna had the squid with pork cheeks and peas. I had the pork tenderloin. There was an apple tart for dessert. I ordered flute of grappa. Donna had a sweet wine. My blood sugars were less than ideal the following morning.
Mario Batali’s recommendations? Trust them! Rosteria Luciano is my new favorite restaurant! Pasta with zucchini blossoms and a dusting of hard boiled egg yolk. Sour apple and veal with bits of mint. Lamb ribs with radicchio. For dessert Zuppa Inglese, meringues, candied almonds and cashews, Arrocco dessert wine (I only got a sip!), and an espresso. Rosteria Luciano is a little slice of heaven. We are going back!
Of course we are also visiting as many historic sites as possible. Donna’s phone says we are walking from 6 to 9 miles a day. If your intake of calories involves eating at amazing restaurants, a daily walking tour isn’t optional!