Rome-ing: My Photo Diary Through The Eternal City

colosseum at night rain

A rainy night passing by the Colosseum on the bus.

The Trevi Fountain in Rome

The Trevi Fountain in Rome

Alleyway Rome

A colorful Roman side-street

spanish steps rome

The view from the top of The Spanish Steps

rome window shutter

A rather elegant window shutter

Castel Sant'Angelo Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome

view Castel Sant'Angelo Rome

The view from Castel Sant’Angelo Rome

Night shot of St. Peter's Basilica

A nighttime shot of St. Peter’s Basilica

Rome at night

Rome at night

A lookout over Rome

A lookout over Rome

Italian red sports car

A red sports car zips by

Colorful Roman buildings

Colorful Roman buildings

Blue hour in Rome

Blue hour in Rome

Inside a Roman shopping mall

Inside a Roman shopping mall

Streets of Rome at dusk

Streets of Rome at dusk

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Roman architecture

Roman architecture

Artichokes Rome

Artichokes season in Rome is from February-May

I can’t believe I’m still sharing Rome posts, but it’s been nice trickling them out gradually and reliving the fun memories I had there over and over again. :) There’s no rhyme or reason to this post, aside from sharing some snapshots that haven’t yet appeared on the blog. My first-ever trip to Rome was documented on a small point-and-shoot, so this time I may have gone a little crazy with my DSLR and snapped hundreds and hundreds of photos…oops!

Also, while going through these photos, I was reminded of how effortlessly Elizabeth Gilbert embodied the city with these words from her book Eat, Pray, Love (Italy was by far my favorite part!):

[box] “There’s a power struggle going on across Europe these days. A few cities are competing against each other to see who shall emerge as the great 21st century European metropolis. Will it be London? Paris? Berlin? Zurich? Maybe Brussels, center of the young union? They all strive to outdo one another culturally, architecturally, politically, fiscally. But Rome, it should be said, has not bothered to join the race for status. Rome doesn’t compete. Rome just watches all the fussing and striving, completely unfazed. I am inspired by the regal self-assurance of this city, so grounded and rounded, so amused and monumental, knowing she is held securely in the palm of history. I would like to be like Rome when I am an old lady.”  –Elizabeth Gilbert[/box]

Hope you enjoy these photos, and the rest of your week!

Primo al Pigneto, Rome

It’s such a blessing to travel somewhere new in the first place, but to have the chance to go back? Even more so. My first trip to Rome was during my first-ever trip to Europe, right before I did undergraduate research in Athens, Greece. And while the amount of countries I’ve visited isn’t too high, I can say that I’ve been able to go back to certain destinations and peel back another layer of the place each time–getting to know it on a much more intimate level than someone rushing through on a hit-every-major-European-city trip. This is the kind of travel I prefer; slow, and intentional.

So, knowing I’d have another chance to explore The Eternal City, I picked a neighborhood to stay in that was outside of the center of Rome, that’s hip and still very much a local’s scene; Pigneto. The likes of Gourmet Traveller and Bon Appétit already disclosed the secret back in 2009 in their write-ups about the neighborhood, but it remains largely untouched by mass tourism. There’s the occasional hotel or two, and you’ll likely find some menus in English, but otherwise the restaurants, street markets and shops were full of locals.

The best part of staying in Pigneto, aside from feeling like you’re getting an authentic experience, was the café/restaurant/wine bar down the street; Primo al Pigneto. As I was exploring Pigneto’s main artery, Via del Pigneto, looking for a warm plate of pasta to tuck into after a tiring journey in from Spain, the windows of Primo al Pigneto caught my eye:

primo-al-pigneto-rome

Primo al Pigneto offers passers-by a peek into their kitchens from the street.

 Inside, the restaurant was buzzing with Italian–the decor, modern and inviting and the staff attentive and accommodating. While I examined the menu, I was poured a refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio.

primo-pigneto-prosecco

Crisp Pinot Grigio

  To start, I selected the smoked mackerel in burrata cheese, topped with toasted bread. Burratta cheese, is the queen of all cheese as far as I’m concerned. It’s a mozzarella shell with a savory cream on the inside. The dish itself was reminiscent of smoked salmon from my home, the Pacific NW. A plate that evokes memories of home is always good for the soul.

primo-pigneto-smoked-makerel

Smoked makerel with creamy burrata cheese

Next up was the pasta: Mezze Maniche Alla Amatriciana, a macaroni dish tossed in a tomato-based sauce folded with pecorino cheese, pepper, and pancetta. It was cooked perfectly al dente but it wasn’t the most impressive pasta I’ve had in my life. Maybe it’s not authentically Italian, but I tend to enjoy my pasta with a more generous dollop of sauce.

primo-pigneto-2

Mezze Maniche Alla Amatriciana

Of course, I’m not one to ever refuse dessert, no matter how full I am, and when in Rome…

primo-pigneto-4

A pistachio mousse–mmm!

This was a delicious pistachio mousse topped with a crunchy amaretto wafer and chocolate. I love how pistachio has such a presence in the Italian kitchen.

All in all, Primo al Pigneto was a great dining experience. I returned to have a cappuccino and the service was excellent again…also didn’t hurt that they gave me a generous portion of biscotti with my coffee! If you go to Pigneto, I definitely recommend stopping for a meal here and going to the cute wine bars on the same street.

[box type=”info”] Restaurant Details | Primo al Pigneto | Via del Pigneto, 46 | 00176 Rome, Italy | +39 06 701 3827[/box]

Traipsing Through Trastevere, Rome

Trastevere is the kind of neighborhood that every travel photographer dreams of–think of buildings splashed in warm colors and adorned with laundry drying in the Roman sun, ivy snaking from window to window, and bicycles propped against textured ochre walls. However, picturesque backdrops and photo ops didn’t lure me into this not-so-secret Roman neighborhood. As with many things on this trip to Rome, my plans were based around food. 

Where To Eat in Trastevere

Having drooled through Anthony Bourdain’s episode in Rome weeks prior to my visit, I knew that I’d be making a stop at Trastevere’s Roma Sparita to try their Cacio e Pepe; a simple Roman pasta dish, tossed with a generous dusting of Pecorino cheese, butter and cracked black pepper. It was creamy, peppery and surprisingly complex for being such a minimalist dish. As if it weren’t good enough alone, at Roma Sparita, they serve it in a Parmesan bowl. I’m still dreaming about this meal and will compare every future pasta dish to this. I already know they won’t live up to this–it was just that ridiculously good!

roma sparita cacio e pepe

 

If you find yourself at Cacio e Pepe, do yourself a favor and also order the fresh mozzarella. Thank me later.

fresh italian mozzarella

 What To Do in Trastevere

The only site I saw in Trastevere, aside from exploring lots of side-streets and hidden plazas, was the Church of Santa Maria. It’s a difficult feat to go to Rome and not step inside the more than 900 churches(!) in the city. While I did see the inside of a handful of churches during this trip, including the Vatican, this church was my favorite. Built in 221, the Church of Santa Maria is said to be one of Rome’s oldest and is filled with ornate 12th and 13th Century mosaics inside. After traveling through Europe, seeing church after church can seem repetitive, and they all start to look the same– but this church was exceptionally beautiful.

church-santa-maria-trastevere

church-santa-maria-trastevere

church-santa-maria-trastevere

church-santa-maria-trastevere

 The Spirit of Trastevere

Stumbling upon Trastevere felt like finding a small town in the midst of the chaotic sprawl that is Rome. As soon as you cross the Tiber River, you feel like you’re in a pocket of Rome that hasn’t changed much over the years centuries. Its original character is still found in its open plazas, cobblestone streets and medieval buildings. Unfortunately, (depending on how you look at it) tourism has started to seep in–there are restaurants with menus in English/French/German/etc., and I definitely wasn’t the only tourist around–even though it was February. But, it was a nice escape from the big crowds in the center of Rome and well worth carving out some hours in your itinerary to explore.

So explore I did. This is what I saw:


trastevere-rome trastevere-rome trastevere-rome trastevere-rome trastevere-rometrastevere-rome trastevere-rome trastevere-rome

 Which photo of Trastevere is your favorite?