Ah Rome. There’s no city quite like it with history at every turn. You simply can’t walk a block without seeing a monument, a statue or a remnant from ancient times. This is the last stop of our cruise and where my husband and I planned to stay an extra day to roam around. I am so happy we did.
Arriving in Civitavecchia, the port city about 45 minutes outside of Rome, the skies were gray and rain was threatening. Ikept thinking what a waste it would be if it poured all day and we couldn’t film the beauty of the city. I think we all had that same thought but, somehow, I counted on the rain passing quickly and the day turning out beautiful for us.
We drove to our hotel to check in and freshen up but the rooms were not ready. So our lovely guide for the day, Marta, took us for a coffee at a nearby outdoor cafe. The skies opened up just as we started sipping our drinks but huge umbrellas kept us covered and dry.
When the rain subsided we strolled through the busy city streets and Piazza Navona until we came to an unmarked pizzeria/restaurant on a small side street off the main drag. La Focaccia is one of Rome’s best pizza places making all styles with all kinds of toppings in their wood oven and I was there to learn their techniques. Okay, I definitely need some practice but with his help I made a couple of decent looking pies that tasted incredible. Plus, the rain stopped completely as I had wished and just in time as Marta had a gelato place to take me to next.
I soaked in the views as we walked along to Dolce Sorriso Gelateria (Sweet Smile) where owner Raffaello Fracassi enthusiastically demonstrated his process for making gelato. He then proceeded to give me at least 15 (probably more) samples of the many different varieties including prosecco, mojito, mango, nutella, He also gave me one of their newest concoctions, gelato on a stick. You choose your flavor of gelato, then pick from about 50 toppings and about 10 icings and then you have the most decadent and delicious ice cream fix ever.
Before arriving at the next restaurant on our list, Marta wanted to show me the Jewish ghetto neighborhood since many of Roman culinary traditions began there. The ghetto was an area established in 1555 where all of Rome’s Jews had to live. While allowed out during the daytime, they were locked in at night and this lasted for about 3 centuries. Having very few ingredients, cooks had to be creative using what was cheap and available. Artichokes and olive oil were 2 of those and the popular Roman treat, Carciofi alla Giudia (Jewish fried artichokes) was invented. Cleaned and trimmed whole artichokes are double deep fried becoming crispy on the outside while staying tender on the inside. What a fantastic snack.
It was then pasta making time at Il Golfo Ristorante where Chef Allesandro Conforti was already prepping a table with flour, water and rolling pins. These are the only ingredients in his pasta and I did my best to roll out the dough and then cut some tagliatelle. The Chef and his associates finished the process and prepared a few amazing smelling dishes for us all to try. Sadly, we only were able to have a few quick bites since we were running late for our dinner appointment.
The restaurant, Les Etoiles, is located in the Hotel Atlante Sur not far from the Vatican walls. Its flower filled rooftop terracehas spectacular views all around and sitting and sipping on a Spritz watching the the sun set over St Peters Dome was just magical. Chef Marco Cappelletti joined me on the terrace for a chat and a glass of wine before cooking up a storm for our crew’s last night together in Rome. I never expected the spread that he laid out. Ravioli pasta stuffed with salmon, lemon rissotto, pasta with meat sauce and dessert too. The wine flowed and the dishes kept coming and it was certainly a fabulous send off and ideal spot for our final filming.
The next morning we said goodbye to the crew and Patrick and I spent the entire day walking off all the food we had eaten the day before.
Cheers and all the best,