Italy. When in Rome. Part 1.
Definitely the most recognizable landmark in Rome, the Colosseum felt like it was a smaller version of itself. It is always so grand and huge in movies, but I guess some really expensive CGI helps in making it come to life on the screen. Despite being unimpressed, I am definitely glad we saw it. The architecture is massive for the time period it was built. Even though it is surrounded by streets and speeding cars, you can feel the age of an empire emanating from the rock.
Time has definitely left its mark on this part of the colosseum. Compared to the other side, this part is beat up. But even that has its charm, my wife said this was the prettier side. So after doing a 360 around the exterior, my wife and I were eager to see where the gladiators had once fought for their lives. To the entrance we go, only to be greeted by this lovely sign on the door….
Just our luck, an employee strike. We fly half way around the world and there is a union strike. We couldn’t believe how ridiculous the situation seemed. Oh well, such is life. I’m sure there are dozens of other places that want to take our tourist money in Rome. Moving on!
To the Ruins of Rome
The ruins are also run by the same organization as the Colosseum, so you can imagine our disappointment to find out we could not explore this either. We took a few pictures from outside view points and cut our losses and moved on again.
Roscioli Restaurant & Deli is known for the best Carbonara pasta in Rome. As carbonara lovers, we knew we had to give it a whirl. We started with the buratta appetizer with roasted tomatoes. Who doesn’t love cream injected mozzarella? If you have never had buratta, get to the store and buy some. Your life will be better because of it. A lot of grocery stores carry it (we buy it at Trader Joes and I have seen it at Whole Foods). There are so many delicious things to do with it, or just eat it out of the tub with a spoon. I won’t judge you.
Next we moved on to the “famous” carbonara and it was delicious, as for the best ever, probably not. Maybe I hyped it up in my head to much after reading so many reviews, but I have had better. The sauce wasn’t yolky enough for me and there was a butt load of parmesan cheese covering it. I am probably being to nit picky but if you have a reputation for having the best of something, I expect the best.
Our Vacation Rental
We could not have stayed in a more perfect location. One block from the Pantheon (which is basically the center of the city) and less than 10-15 minute walk to everything else (Spanish steps, Colosseum, Trastevere, etc.). The only time we took public transportation was to the Vatican. When planning your trip, if you have the opportunity to stay near the Pantheon, we highly recommend it, for it is a great central location.
Our vacation rental was also about two blocks from this square, Piazza Navona. It had neat little shops, cool architecture and fountains to admire. There was a cool vibe in this square, so we wandered through several times while exploring the city. There were quite a few restaurants nearby, including our favorite, Cul De Sac.
Cul De Sac Restaurant
Cul De Sac Restaurant is a local favorite and came as a recommendation from the owner of the vacation rental we stayed in. A big thank you to Guiseppe, because this place was probably the best food we ate in Rome. We liked it so much that we had dinner there two nights in a row! Just a block from Piazza Navona, it could not have been in a more convenient location. The atmosphere was casual and cozy and the wait staff was friendly. They had an extensive wine list and GREAT food at a very reasonable price. My favorite dish was their meatballs (pictured below). They weren’t much to look at, but damn they were they tasty. I still think about them to this day, haunting my taste buds like the ghost of dinning past.