For me, a real vacation is at least two weeks long. Enough time to provide me with a needed pause from the day-to-day routine of life, a real separation from the daily life that can turn into an internal journey. It works like a clock and surprises me every time.
The first two days of relief and dizziness, and an additional two days of professional and thorough touring work till you fill like you’re about to fall off your feet. On the next two days a certain fatigue starts to build up (I wasn’t kidding about the previous two days), and on the seventh days there is a small crisis, filled with lounging for home and a feeling of exhaustion from the vacation.
Yet, once you cross the seventh day, the real magic begins. On the second week the pace is brought down, or maybe you just get into shape, deeper and more essential thoughts start to rise, the kind of thoughts that usually don’t cross your mind but for a short moment in your daily routine, and now you are able to truly think them through and reach a deeper, more meaningful, conclusion for them. Ideas develop, dreams are made and a new, fresh and bright picture comes into existence while you wonder around.
I just return from two such weeks, around a week in Rome and a week in Tuscany. There is a special kind of charm in returning to places you love, the original attraction is replace by a nostalgic feeling for experiences from a different time, enjoyment from known pleasures you expect beforehand, and since this time we were with the kids, we got their own fresh perspective.
My opinion of Rome didn’t change. There is no city which can compare to it in historical and artistic treasures that can be seen in every corner, the city is fascinating, dizzying, but doesn’t let you really enjoy it. Despite the famous name of the Italians as a people who know how to stop and enjoy life, the city doesn’t give you any chance of rest. From the moment you step outside into the street in the morning, you find yourself carried through a current of thousands of tourists, moving from one site to another all throughout the city, without a single bench or a green garden to rest in, and once you do find one, it’s a fenced piece of grass and out of limit.
Like the guards around the Vatican, who keeps on repeating (not to say, shouting) “Avanti! Avanti!” every three minutes, and don’t allow you to stop and really look and think on what you see, all you can do is keep moving on obediently or else be trampled by the huge mass of other tourists. Even if you find a refuge in a café or restaurant, a dish will follow a dish and soon the bill will be placed in front of you just as you finish the last bite in a grating practicality without leaving you a moment to slothfully rest and again you find yourself on your feet on your way to the next monument (and there is one in every corner). So, first tip, if your feet fancy a little rest don’t order the starters with the main course, insist on ordering the starters first and only afterwards, when you are starting to truly rest, order the main courses, so you will earn thirty minutes more to rest and collect your breath.
I collected a few hot suggestions for restaurants and accommodations that are worth marking on the map. Most of them are from this vacation and some are from a previous vacation in Tuscany which I once promised to write on but never did, Meals which gave us moments of bliss and charming accommodations with windows with a view out of legends.
Food in Rome
Roscioli – A small and busy bakery in Campio de’ Fiori, it got one of the best pizzas we ate, and we ate a lot of pizza… From the tourists who stood with us in the line we learned that the bakery is at the top of the Guardian list as the best pizzeria in Rome. (We were led there by our noses). I enjoyed a new food I never tried before, pretty large balls of rice and tomatoes that looked like falafel made from rice, which reminded me the taste of the rice at the kindergarten. (Not delicate but nostalgic…).
If you rented an apartment and are already thinking about dinner, a tour through the colorful and busy market in the city’s center and is open only till noon will allow you to equip yourself with all the goods of Italy.
Del Toscano – I already wrote about Del Toscano once before. This time we went for a slow, lazy and high quality noon as well. Despite the fact that the restaurant is in an extremely touristic location not far from the Vatican, it is hidden in a small neighborly street and most of its clients are well-dressed bourgeois Romans. We set outside when an intoxicating smell turned my head and led me inside the restaurant to this pile of white gold, white truffles that are almost worth their weight in gold. The supplier, chef and the owner of the restaurant buzzed around them in excitement.
Maccheroni – The restaurant is located in a picturesque alley in the middle of the ancient highly-touristic area in the center of the city, not far from Piazza Navona. Unlike most restaurants, which project a kind of traditionalistic heaviness, this one is young and full of life. The design is feels bistro-like and the meal itself was very enjoyable.
In my opinion, desserts are not the Italians’ strongest suit. Their national taste reminds me of desserts from the 80s. Beside a somewhat obsessive habit of checking the tiramisu in every restaurant we visited, it is easy to say that they sine far more in the ice cream section.
Giolitti – One of the oldest and most famous ice cream parlors in Rome and is located not far from the Pantheon. The fancy and somewhat kitschy café, which was founded in the year 1900 feels like traveling beck in time. The ice cream itself is delicious and worth the wait in the long and curvy line.
Next week (I’m promising mostly to myself), a new post with a lot of tips from Tuscany.