Rome wasn't visited in one day: Day 4: Arrivederci, Roma

July 14, 2014
Thus far our Roman adventures had included the obligatory pilgrimage to Rome's more touristy destinations (the Pantheon and Colosseum to name a few) and having eaten our body weight in gelato, pasta, and pizza (even venturing to the backwoods of suburban Rome for dinner), to say nothing of meeting Pope Francis (in a way) and being dazzled by the opulence of the Vatican City. The blisters on my feet remain, even now, two weeks after returning from the Eternal City, testament to our intrepidness. But the true test of stamina was saved for our last day in Rome which also ironically was to be the most idyllic. 

Verily, the view of Rome and the Vatican City from the top of St Peter's Basilica dome is unparalleled in terms of sheer elevation. But the problem with being on top of the world isn't loneliness, it's that the one view you can't enjoy is your grandeur overlording the domain at your feet.

So we scaled the Spanish Steps up to the Villa Borghese gardens where we could appreciate the imperial stature of St Peter's, this time from across the city. 

T'would have been easier on my feet had we zipped up Rome's many hills on this adorable mint Vespa rather than walk. 

Alas a) the Vespa was not ours to use and b) without the walks we would have justified the amount of carbs we had on this holiday.

For brunch we (by we I say I. Men may be the head of the family but women are the neck, without the neck the head cannot turn) decided on Palatium near the Spanish Steps. Like Armando Al Pantheon it was that rare find---a restaurant in a touristy area that isn't a mediocre, overpriced, tourist trap. 

Palatium is a chic, slightly more upmarket destination for locals who want a taste of traditional Lazio dishes with clever, modern twists.

'A mix of taste and tradition', Palatium is run by the Lazio Regional Authority and offers the finest in Latium's gastronomical culture.

The introduction to the menu. Everything tastes and looks better when you know its story, consumption is best preceded with information and accompanied with appreciation and respect.

The walls of Palatium are lined with products you can buy.

My main: 'green noodles' with wild rabbit ragout, I believe.

Palatium is slightly pricier than the usual Roman trattoria, with pasta coming to €15-€20 but I do think it's worth it.

After brunch we decamped to Caffè Ciampini for espressos and some of the best gelato in Rome.

Melon and pear have firmly established themselves as my favourite gelato flavours. They may be seasonal but my love for them endures, ardently and faithfully.

Afterward we thought we'd brave the Spanish Steps...

...before changing our mind when we saw how busy it was. We took a longer route, a quiet set of steps up the hill devoid of tourists (or anyone at all) but what it lacked in traffic it made up for with many steep and narrow steps. 

However the pleasure of enjoying this view in solitude and silence (save for the occasional chirp of a sparrow) was well worth the near asthma attack.

We finally made it to the vast gardens of Villa Borghese.

"In 1605, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V and patron of Bernini, began turning this former vineyard into the most extensive gardens built in Rome since Antiquity. The vineyard's site is identified with the gardens of Lucullus, the most famous in the late Roman republic. In the 19th century much of the garden's former formality was remade as a landscape garden in the English taste."

My snobbery toward all things touristy flew out the window the moment I saw these pedal-cart-bike-things. They were being pedalled all over the park and even on main roads. I cannot imagine how annoying they must be to the locals. This must be the Roman equivalent of walking down a quiet London street, minding your own business and then a blooming Barclays bike comes dashing toward you from the opposite direction, on the pavement no less! followed by apologetic shouts in...German, or Italian, or something. 

For the mere price of €15 and just an hour, you too can be a part of that nuisance!

The man does the pedalling, the woman takes the pictures. I don't agree that men and women are equal. Sure both genders deserve equal rights, but they are not equal ie. not built the same. We were designed to compliment each other. What I lack in lower body strength I make up for in selfie-taking, likewise Henry is the muscle in this operation and I am the sense of aesthetics.

T'was very perilous. I nearly fell out once thanks to Henry's driving. 

But trust is a beautiful thing, so again I put my life in Henry's hands by suggesting we take a boat out to the Temple of Aesculapius on the lake.

(The concentration on Henry's face ahahahaha)

For future reference, should you be on my team for any athletic endeavours, leave the photo taking to me. Witness this selfie---Temple of Aesculapius in the background? check. Subject (me, obvs) in focus? check. Flattering angle? Check. Hair carefully and deliberately draped to cover the extended selfie-taking arm? Check. I can't row or pedal, but damn! I know how to werk it.

Sadly, we didn't have time to see the gorgeous Borghese Galleries but there's always next time.

Exhausted from our day of hard work (Henry pedalled and rowed, I took lots of pictures and looked pretty), we took an Uber back to our part of town. 

Looking out the window of our Uber taxi at the Colosseum. I had to take this photo when we were whizzing by the Colosseum just to differentiate it from all my other photos of views from Uber taxi windows.

More views from the car...

The terrifying Mouth of Truth which I will never dare put my hand inside of.

We finally made it back to our apartment on Via Cavour in the district of Monti. Isn't it splendid, this view? Looking down a sloping hill to the ruins of ancient Rome. I can't think of any other city with views like this. "Isn't it beautiful, darling?" Henry: "It's a bit ruined." Hahahaha.

For our last dinner in Rome we did the quintessentially Roman thing. Dining out on sloping cobblestoned streets in a narrow alley just behind the hustle and bustle of the busy streets.

Two nuns and a Fiat passed by. It would be even more perfect if the two nuns were in the Fiat with a priest, a Swiss Guard, and the Pope. I live to see that day.

Dinner was at the very hip Urbana 47.

Like Palatium, Urbana 47 is a celebration of the flavours of the Lazio region. All the offerings on the menu have zero air miles, as I discovered to my embarrassment when I asked for a Diet Coke. Instead I ordered the craft beer equivalent of Coke (no diet version) while Henry had an actual craft beer.

Rabbit salad with beans and new potatoes.

Zucchini spaghetti with a 'pesto' sauce of herbs and hazelnuts. It had a distinctly minty flavour and was very refreshing, light, and tasted healthy but not in an unenjoyable way.

Roasted cream of roveja lentils with mussels and pecorino.

Divine. This triggered a delishagasm, long after the mussels had been plucked out of their shells I was sucking the sauces of their empty shells and licking the bowl dry.

Spaghetti with clams and zucchini flowers. Have you ever had multiple delishagasms? No? Go to Urbana 47, order the mussels, and then follow it with this.

A beautiful day to end our Roman Holiday with!

It was like a dream we didn't want to wake up from. When I got back to London I immediately slipped into post-holiday blues (funny because Rome was suppose to be my antidote to the post-Cuba-holiday-blues).

So I booked a city break to Portugal. By the time you're reading this I'll be in Lisbon!

Arrivederci, Roma, and olá, Lisboa!



  1. Haha love the head/neck analogy! Women are definitely the neck (and thus the spinal cord and the brain...) Your courgette spaghetti looks delicious - I'm going to have to try it, I've been carb-loading way too much this summer :D

    Tamsin xx | A Certain Adventure

    1. I tried making courgette spaghetti once, it didn't go too well. I over salted it (the salt makes the courgette strip less watery and more like noodles) and it was awful, I was crying with every bite. I hope your courgette attempts are more successful than mine! x

  2. I've really enjoyed reading this Rome series. You've captured the city beautifully and actually learnt (or sound like you've learnt!) things whilst you were there. I can't stand when bloggers just use really gorgeous and important places as backdrops for endless pictures of themselves so thank you for all the interesting info.

    I'm using most of my holiday time next year to go to Coachella (fingers crossed it'll be half as good as Popechella!) so I'll be all about the city breaks to get me through the rest of the year and Rome is now firmly on my list.

    Hope you'll be blogging about Lisbon, even if it will give me serious wanderlust!


    1. Thank you Vicky!

      Haha, travelling to places of beauty and wonder isn't about indulging unfulfilled fantasies of being a jet-set model (t'would be a waste no?), it's so much more about that!

      I'm so glad you've enjoyed the blog posts and that you're considering Rome. That's all I ever set out to do with blogging: to humbly try and inspire people to try new things.

      Of course I'll be blogging about Lisbon, as soon as I have the time to sit down and do it properly! I hope you'll like the Lisbon posts. xx