Arrivederci, Roma

We were awaiting the last of our doppio (double) espressos in our charming room at the Caesar House Residenzia in Rome, conveniently located near Rome’s ancient Forum, Colliseum, and the breathtaking “wedding cake” monument to Vittorio Emanuele, the first King of united Italy. Our two-week journey ended this morning with a quick prima colazione (breakfast) and a trip to the airport.  I returned home with my suitcase.  It arrived in Naples, 12 days after we did! As I jokingly said, the day it was lost, that my luggage would be taking a trip of its own. Indeed Alitalia made that happen. It was sent back to Newark, New Jersey, where it remained for five days, then sent to Paris, lost again, and ended up at the Naples airport the very day we were leaving for Rome.  Looking for that suitcase became a leitmotif of the trip, as we experienced the frustrations that Italy can bring, but it also brought a sense of liberation, a new handbag, linen pants, and some Italian undergarments into my life!

Rome was exhilarating, made more so by spending time with Iris Carulli, a dear friend and “guide extraordinaire” to the majesty of Rome.  My husband and I spent two days walking, reminiscing (we have been to Rome many times yet not in 20 years), and met Iris in the evening for two splendid meals and then hours of walking the city’s grand piazzas.  Iris has lived in Italy now for more than 10 years, and is considered by many to be one of Rome’s best tour guides. You must hire her if you come! Her suggestions were invaluable and her knowledge of art and history made ancient Rome fascinating.  Not to mention, present-day Rome! How we enjoyed the contemporary restaurant l’Antico Arco, near the American Academy of Rome (with a strenuous hike at sunset up the Janiculum Hill), the revered trattoria (and bakery) Antico Forno Roscioli, where Sullivan Street Bakery genius, Jim Lahey, came recently to train (the bread in Rome is very good!), and the crowded Piazza Navona, Piazza Venezia, the Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain – all magical at midnight.   Most fun was discovering, completely by accident, a Roman trattoria called Agustarello (in an area called Testaccio) where we had the best pasta alla gricia (with guanciale and pecorino), and amazing braised oxtails (darkened with chocolate and full of the requisite, yet invisible, celery). That was lunch.

We enjoyed our visit to MaXXI, the museum of contemporary art, designed by Zaha Hadid, and our tour of the beautiful synagogue of Rome.  We even found the ancient bakery which makes “Pizza Ebraica,” or Jewish pizza.  Not really pizza at all, but a kind of excessive cookie bar, studded with candied fruit and burnt a bit. No one knows why it is called this, but apparently it has been so for the last 100 years.

Tomorrow morning, I will be eating it slowly, in my own kitchen, accompanied by wonderful memories and a doppio espresso, or two.  Arrivederci, Roma.