I felt a wave of heat on my face as I was walking down the steps from a plane which flew us to Italy, a memory of a gentle breeze of an early cool morning in Edinburgh seemed very distant. It was midday and the Roman sun was in the zenith, or it felt like it anyway.
We made our way across the flat concrete of the airport and boarded a double decker to Roma Termini. It was unbelievably hot and we couldn't wait to hide in an air conditioned room of our B&B. A 15 minute walk later we were inside an old flat, cleverly converted into a small bed and breakfast. We didn't want to leave our cool dark room overlooking an internal courtyard but we started feeling slightly hungry and we were in Rome, there was too much to see and do.
As we walked to the metro station to Piazza della Republica, we spotted a tiny gelateria in one of the side roads (a couple of steps behind this car).
A charming elderly man corrected Jakub’s pronunciation of pistacchio (an explanation rich in hand gestures). I asked the man behind the counter to choose the best ice cream flavour, which turned out to be the best ice creams of my life (to date, I’m not exaggerating, promise). Nocciolatto, a combination of hazelnut and chocolate. So simple yet so delicious.
Even though good food is everywhere in Italy, we though we’d make a list of places to try. What we didn't realise was that August is when the Romans get away from the city and most of our short-listed restaurants were closed for the whole month. I wanted to go to Campo de' Fiori market and then sit by the Tiber, but eventually we opted for Pizzarium, run by Gabriele Bonci famous for his pizza al taglio—rectangular Roman pizza sold by weight. From the outside it looked inconspicuously and modest: it was a tiny place with a pizza counter and a kitchen at the back, no sitting places apart from a curb, but it was crowded, which is always promising. In August all their pizzas were vegan so I opted for spinach with pine nuts and simple tomato pizza and Jakub had cheery tomatoes and the spinach one as well. Pizza was cut with scissors into bite sizes, sold by weight and served on a plastic tray that you could take outside to sit on a bench or a curb. Jakub read somewhere that the chef uses 200-year-old sourdough starters that that he collects from old ladies in Calabrian villages. In short, pizza was delicious and very well priced. For generous portions for both of us we paid under €10, and thanks to the philosophy of pizza al taglio you can try as many flavours as you like.
Our stomachs full, we departed in the direction of Piazza di Spagna. The place was packed with tourists and the heat was still unbearable.
Having filled our water bottles in the Fontana della Barcaccia we took some pictures of the Spanish steps and decided to hang out in the Borghese gardens, the second largest gardens in Rome and former vineyard, hoping there will be more shade.
At this point I had enough of the sun and J took this picture of me refusing to leave the shaded part of the street.
Cicads, cypresses and benches were sufficient for us to stay there for the rest of the afternoon and just read books.
In the evening we walked to Fontana di Trevi and had a late dinner at a nearby That’s Amore. I had “semifreddo” made with amaretto and crème caramel topping for dessert and it was heavenly. So creamy and delicious. We found this place by chance on our walk back from the Fontana di Trevi, and again we followed the crowds- there was a 30 minute waiting list. It was a bit touristy but food, atmosphere and service were first class, still at not inflated prices.
As it wasn't our first time in Rome we just wanted to have a good time, walk around and enjoy the atmosphere of the city. We planned to spend the afternoon walking around Trastevere on the west bank of the Tiber, but due to the heat it wasn’t a good idea. The next day we were off to Napoli and Capri and we couldn't wait to go swimming the Med.