One perfect day (for us!) in Rome

We miss Rome.  No bones about it.

What a strange phrase that really is.  I mean, I know what it means, but why on earth, right?  I just looked it up:

To make no bones about something means to say something in a way that leaves no doubt, or to have no objection to it.

The expression comes from fifteenth century England…if someone wanted to show that they were dissatisfied with something, they would find bones in it – a reference to finding bones in soup, which was not a pleasant discovery!

Therefore, finding bones was bad, and no bones was good. If you found no bones, you were able to enjoy the meal with no objections!

And now we know.

Anywho.  We miss Rome.  And it’s not just our friends there who we do miss very much.  That little slice of Italy got under our skin, and we’ll never be quite the same.

The other day at dinner we brainstormed on what we would do with just one more day in Rome.

You might be surprised.  It’s not glamorous.  But it is real, and it’s what we really loved. Continue reading

Would your last meal also include boiled peanuts?

Castel Sant' Angelo.  AT NIGHT.

Castel Sant’ Angelo. AT NIGHT.

This year I am resolved to do even more in Rome.  MORE.  I always love to do things with Mister, but you know, THE KIDS and SITTERS.  I’m trying to get better about grabbing some friends and getting out to do things.  MORE, I say!

When I heard about nighttime visits to Castel Sant’ Angelo July through September, I knew I wanted IN.  I’ve actually never been inside.  We’ve put it off with the kiddos because I’ve heard the tour is nothing but stairs.  (This was fairly accurate.)

Picture this all covered with marble back in the day.

Picture this all covered with marble back in the day.

And such is how I found myself out at 9:00 pm at night hearing about the Castel’s journey from Hadrian’s mausoleum to fortress and prison.  We got to unleash our inner Angels and Demons with a walk in the secret tunnel (which is in a wall and NOT underground as I had thought), see the view from the terrace, and tour cells for both VIP prisoners and the less-fortunate ones.

On top of the secret tunnel.

On top of the secret tunnel.

After hearing about the poor souls imprisoned there awaiting execution, I couldn’t help but turn to a friend and ask what her last meal would be.

Probably everything fried, she responded.  Wouldn’t be worried about a stomachache. 

True.  True.

After I mulled more, I realized that my last meal would probably be pretty Frenchified.  I’d love a good steak au poivre.  Naturally, with some frites.

St. Michael.  Not as creepy as a Weeping Angel.

St. Michael. Not as creepy as a Weeping Angel.

But I’d want to start with some oysters.  With champagne.  And add in a stinky cheese course.

This sort of surprised me.  I adore Italian cuisine.  If you asked me a few years ago, I would have said it was my favorite.  But I guess it isn’t my most favorite favorite.

I would at least finish with gelato.  (From Come il Latte if possible.  Prisoners can’t be choosers.)

But not before gorging on boiled peanuts.  Preferably cold.  Very salty.

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James thinks my peanut penchant is pretty disgusting (“It is like you are eating cold, mushy beans!”), but I grew up on these.  During our week at the beach, I attempted to eat my weight in boiled peanuts.  Henry is on Team Peanut which means my progress is somewhat slowed, but he’s a quick study on cracking them open.

Or maybe I’d just do a cheeseburger, fries, and a milkshake.  With plenty of boiled peanuts.

Like James, do you find boiled peanuts to be beyond gross?  What would you do for a last meal?  Assuming that the jailers made or found good versions of everything, of course.  You don’t have to deal with envisioning what foie gras from the prison chef would look like.

Very Normal Henry (with a side of Assisi)

Dear Henry,

Instead of rambling about your vocabulary (immense) and your size (also immense), let me tell you a story about a recent trip that sums up the essence di Henry, if you will.

On a sunny, long weekend in June, we did an overnight trip to Spoleto, Cortona, the Perugina chocolate factory, and Assisi.  There were plenty of quintessential Henry moments throughout, but I’d like to talk about our time in Assisi.

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Continue reading

Too much gelato

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Once upon a time when I was a kid–probably between ages six and eight–I remember having a full-on freak out at bed time.  I was sitting there, gasping for air, keening like a wounded animal.  All because I was suddenly gripped with a paralyzing and suffocating fear about dying.

I couldn’t shake it.  My dad was called in to cope.  Either because my mom tried and wasn’t getting through or she decided this was more my dad’s wheelhouse or because she had lots of other little kids to put to bed; I don’t remember.  I do remember sitting with my dad by the fireplace, listening to him talk.

I don’t remember what he said.  I really wish I did.  All I know is that I eventually calmed down enough to go to sleep that night and many other nights in the future.

I’ve had many years to wonder about and think what I would tell my own children, when they wake up gasping in the night some day.  When they realize that everyone on this Earth and everyone they love and even their own little bodies will not be here forever.

I hope I don’t completely muddle it.  I’ll try to talk about God and heaven and things, but I certainly don’t have it all figured out.  In many ways, I’m not so far from that young girl who was scared to close her eyes at night.

What does make sense to me is talking about having too much ice cream, or gelato, if we are still in an Italian frame of mind.  I’ll try to explain that having all the gelato you want, all the time, every day sounds like it would be wonderful.  For awhile, it probably would be wonderful.  But then, eventually, you’d start to crave something else.  Maybe brownies.  Or potato chips.  Possibly you may even start to want some apples or broccoli.  I know it sounds hard to believe, but you really would get sick of gelato.  That’s why gelato is a special treat food.  That’s why we savor it.  Because we know it won’t go on forever or always be there.

Meaning that your life is like gelato.  If it went on forever and always, it wouldn’t be special.  You wouldn’t feel a push to do things or try things because there would always be more time.

But it is finite.  It is special.  You only have so much of it.  You have to act now.  You have to try all the things and meet the people and sing the songs or do whatever you want to do.  It is special because it is scarce.  And precious.

I’m not sure that this is the best analogy.  Or that it even makes sense, particularly to a six year old.  I’ll have to work on it.

But this does somewhat describe my thoughts on my time at home.  When we first got here, I reveled in all of our free time.  The days stretched out and we could do anything.  Or nothing.  Whatever we wanted.  After feeling hyper-scheduled, this abundance of time was just what I needed.

Until it wasn’t.  Too much gelato.  The freedom started to feel stifling.  More clock watching instead of enjoyment.

This is one of the reasons I’m enjoying Henry’s part-time adventures at school.  It isn’t a true break for me because I’m still hanging out with wants-to-walk-everywhere-but-can’t Mac, but it provides some structure to our days.

The little bit of structure helps make the rest of our unscheduled time that much sweeter.  I may continue to tinker with the gelato balance in our days, but, for now, it definitely helps.

The finest gelato in the land

(As I alluded to here,) Rome’s best gelato is Come il Latte.  This place has everything:  chocolate fountains, salted caramel gelato (caramello al sale), and toddler facial hair.  What is toddler facial hair?  It’s that thing where you let your toddler have his own cone of gelato and he comes up with inventive beard and mustache patterns.

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So that could pretty much be the whole post right there, but I will expand.  Now I know what you’re thinking.  Melissa, you’ve only been in Rome a hot minute.  Can you really say that you have found the best gelato?  You haven’t posted anything else about gelato.  You haven’t been on a gelato crawl.  You haven’t hit the places that are touted as best in the city.  How can you possibly make such an outlandish claim??

And I hear you.  That’s valid.  But also poppycock.  Because this is the real deal.  Thank goodness this place is not right by my house because that would be Trouble.  (Get it, trouble with a capital T!)

First up, this place is adorable.  I love the windows.  The chalkboard.  The way the bonus desserts are displayed.  It’s super cute.  They have a few seats inside so you can ogle the gelato and benches out front.

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Next, did I mention the chocolate fountains?  One dark chocolate and one white, which I am only mentioning in the sake of blog reportage because why on earth would you pick white over dark?  Although I guess it could be good with the fruit flavors.  And probably many of the others.  I’ll probably never know because . . .

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Did I mention that they have salted caramel???  This stuff is so good.  Stupid good.  When you add chocolate fountain and homemade whipped cream (which I highly recommend), it becomes a truly otherworldly experience.  They do have many other yummy looking flavors.  James enjoyed the coffee and I think chocolate.  Maybe I’ll get there someday.  But it will probably be awhile.

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So there you have it.  Rome’s bestest gelato.  Creamy.  Rich.  Not crazy sweet.  If you get a cone, they put chocolate in the bottom AND on top.  Not smack dab in the middle of downtown, but very close.  And they are open late!  I think till midnight.  Which makes it a perfect place to stop after your late night (or at the usual time if you are Italian) dinner.

See, and you thought this was going to become all Germany all-the-time up in here, didn’t you?  Don’t worry, you’ll get sick of hearing about the trip soon enough.  But as I say, there’s always room for gelato.

Come il latte   |  Via Silvio Spaventa, 24/26 – Roma  |  tel. 06.42903882