What draws us away from our favorite city of Florence? Our daughter, who awaits us in Rome! A quick train trip south, and we check in to our hotel, then stroll by impressive city mansions and across the river to more down-home Trastevere, where we’ll meet for dinner. As we’re taking in a few favorite sights, who should walk into Piazza Santa Maria de Trastevere but Sunshine and her friend Gabriel! Is there anything more fun than bumping into someone you love in a European square??! Hugs all around, and we walk together to Sette Oche, ready for dinner. Beginning with a platter of crostini to share, we sample several Roman specialties together – their Carbonara and Amatriciana, served on homemade pasta, are outstanding!
After stopping by our hotel to pick up all the Tuscan goodies we bought for dinner tomorrow night, we walk to their quirky and tiny “hobbit house” apartment near Campo dei Fiori and hand off the food.
When we first came to Rome, nearly two decades ago, we stayed near Piazza Navona, and it’s still one of our favorite squares, so we sidetrack through before heading “home” to bed.
Where to pick up a few more things for dinner? Campo dei Fiori market, of course! In the summer those flowers find their way into the fountain to cool off – not necessary on this chilly winter day!
Can’t do Rome without a stop at Kirk’s favorite coffee bar – Sant’Eustachio, near the Pantheon. We join the throngs (it’s ALWAYS packed!) for a Gran Caffé – their secret recipe.
I can’t resist this gentle fresco on a nearby wall – it always calls my name!
Continuing the rounds of Roman favorites, we linger at the Pantheon, where Kirk does a 30 second loop as a talented guitarist plays, then pause for a rare selfie. Back across the river to Trastevere, we enjoy the faded façades, revisit the gilded mosaics of Santa Maria in Trastevere, and enjoy an al fresco lunch at Cajo e Gajo, an easy choice after seeing Carciofi alla Giudia on the menu – you know how I love my fried artichokes!!
And I’ve never seen gnocchi with seafood before – delicious as well!Another piazza, another church – this one with hidden depths. Santa Cecilia, the patron saint of music, was a Roman martyr, and the church is built over the ruins of what was her home. We wait for the little gift shop in the rear of the nave to open, and pay our euros to descend the stairs. A warren of ancient stones await us, and peering into the dimly lit rooms, we follow one path after another til we arrive at a gilded chapel honoring the saint. Above ground again, the rosy streaks in the sky lead us to the river, where we just stand in awe, swiveling from one side to the other, taking in the vivid sunset over the city.
Returning by another way to the hotel, we pass an ancient theater, incorporated into the city how many generations ago?A lovely fountain graces another piazza – we’re enjoying these new-to-us Roman discoveries!
And now it’s time to share our Tuscan goodies with Sunshine and Gabriel for dinner. We start with salumi (cold cuts) and truffled pecorino, with jeweled spicy fruit – mostarda – as a relish, remembering the delicious tastes we sampled at the Mercato Centrale in Florence as we chose.
Then Kirk starts his magic in the tiny kitchen, painstakingly preparing his Famous Pasta – the final touch is crisp-fried garlic and pine nuts, then grated-by-Gabriel parmigiano – yum!We squeeze in a Tuscan dessert, Cantucci and Vin Santo, before bundling up and heading out for New Year’s Eve fireworks, prosecco in hand. Where’s the best place to see fireworks, we had asked….and the answer was by the river. So we head for beautiful Castel Sant’Angelo, and join fellow revelers on the bridge, counting down as midnight nears. Then the fireworks start, all over the city – we circle and ooh and aah with the rest of them, sipping our bubbly, guarded by the angels. Auguri! As the fireworks end and the crowd trickles away, we decide to visit other party piazzas – we’re not ready for the revels to end! Campo dei Fiori is crazy, with music booming from every corner. Piazza Navona’s more our style, and as tunes bop from a nearby restaurant we twirl in the New Year – may it be the best yet!!