Thursday, October 9, 2014
ARE WE THERE YET?
A room with a view
Frankly much of our experience here
in Rome hasn't been exactly what we
had hoped it would be. Cities are cities
and at this point in our lives we're fairly
comfortable in any of them. After living
in Manhattan we're used to easy access
to the best of the world's best. Hence we
are more than spoiled. Thus far the best
part of our Roman holiday has been our
apartment. Perfectly situated. Typically
Roman. There's no place like home and
we couldn't feel less at home which is
just what we wanted. THANK GOD!
All we want is a truly Italian vacation
but that may be impossible in Rome.
This melting pot is filled with visitors
from across the globe. Sadly it seems
that Italian may be a second language.
Just like New York, the streets are full
of people speaking anything but the
local dialect. And wherever one goes,
the natives speak YOUR language.
I didn't come to Italy to speak English.
While my Italian is minimal at best,
I'd at least like to take a chance and
try to not communicate. Capisce?
Believe it or not we've tried to shop
for apparel and shoes but so far have
been unsuccessful. Our problem is
that everything seems oddly familiar.
After visiting the biggest department
stores we found more American than
Italian brands. And almost every tee
is printed in English versus Italian.
Why would anybody travel thousands
of miles to get a gift with purchase at
Clinique? Like it or not, it seems that
Italians like Americans more than we
like ourselves! Yankee stay home!
Old stomping grounds
One thing is certain - the wine here is truly
fabulous and dirt cheap. However one can't
help but quickly discover that it's a small
world after all. The other day I purchased
a bottle of a super Tuscan vino for dinner.
Upon closer inspection I realized it looked
more than familiar. That's because I had
recently obtained that same bottle at our
liquor store in Lewistown. However it was
about half the price in Rome even after the
currency exchange. Hence I seem to not be
able to stop guzzling bottles of Amarone.
After all, they're almost FREE! Salut!
By and large we haven't eaten anything
that has totally blown our minds except
for certain mushrooms. Don't worry, I'm
not talking about the "shrooms" that one
dreamed of in high school - rather legal
yet magical fungi. We're fortunate to be
here during the limited season for Ovoli
or as they're more commonly known -
"Caesar's Mushroom." These precious
gems grow only in the oak and chestnut
forests of Italy and no where else. Not
only are they my favorite color (orange),
they are beyond delicious. MANGIA!
Many of the trattorias proudly display
piles of them in their windows to woo
potential diners. The preferable way to
serve these babies is raw atop a salad
of arugula or shaved celery and celery
leaves. Lightly drizzled with olive oil
it's topped with shaved Parmesan. The
savory, earthy flavor of these seasonal
delights is truly unique and memorable.
So far we've ordered them whenever
they're available and all I can say is
MOLTO BENE! However one might
ask - were the "shrooms" worth the trip?
The fall of the Roman Empire
Could it be that we have simply become
so sophisticated that nothing surprises?!
I certainly hope not given that was not
our reason for spending autumn in Italy.
Should I mourn the lack of cultural bias
or celebrate mediocrity as proof that our
world is becoming one? They say that
all roads lead to Rome and yet one can't
help but wonder if real Italians are still
living somewhere outside of the city
limits. Are we in the wrong place? Or
is it time to stop complaining and enjoy
this most beautiful of cities? BASTA!