♫Ancient Rome, It's Not Like Home-- COLOSSEUM!♫
This post is dedicated to the Ratburns out there and all the brilliant Arthur Read fans (girl Ryan, and boy Ryan). You know, I do think I may have seen Julius Cesar deliver pizza to the Senate on a Hang glider, that is, before he met up with Russell Crowe.
Flying into Ciampino airport, I ceremoniously noted in my little tete that this was indeed my last trip whilst still living in Paris. Not to say that every passing day in Paris is not a potential candidate for an adventure, but the Euro-hoping, my friends, has come to an end, at least for now. And where better to mark a finale than the epicenter of our ancient western civilization--not to mention a possible Pope sighting. Eh eh? Vatican City! Rome and Paris they sing of, but a three days visit, let me just give you a taste.
I met up with an ancienne amie from my University in the US (my freshman roommate) while she was on a little mother-daughter summer tour of Italy. We will call my friend Tittlywinks, and note now that our rendezvous was at the hotel at n'importe lequel hour. I was the first to arrive, and awaited the rest of the party to show slumped over unconscious on a lobby leather couch due to the previous nights one hour of sleep (you were all there, Salty's birthday, he parties hard that little poisson) Our meeting was wonderful--it truly is great to know that true friends are still there for you, as if nothing has happened, even after an entire year of separation. Our first order of business: food.
Why yes Italian food is pasta pasta pasta. But I didn't have a problem. Antipasta is an understatement. Put cheese, ham, olives, eggplants, tomatoes, and artichokes in front of me and i'm a happy little bubbly girl ready to clap. While every restaurant did in fact incorporate the word "pizza" into the name, i was able to find much more. Beef dishes, veal dishes, anchovies and risottos. Anything swimming in olive oil, such as baked zucchini in Parmesan and a tomato red sauce and all thoughts of lasagna fade. Coming from a french red wine lover--Italian reds are amazingly sweet and surprisingly refreshing. Italy may be known for the lemoncello, but the wine industry, let us hope, is continuing to rise. A bottle between two did make for fun conversation seated at night on the warm crowded steps of the Trevi Fountain--you know, the one she swims in--in la dolce vita.
Enough talk of food--where is the ice cream. The first day after visiting myriad churches, shopping alleys, and oh look the Pantheon, we search out gelato--real gelato. On any one street in Italy there may be up to as many as 10 gelatarias, bright, bubbly, illuminated by flashing neon lights and plastic ice cream cones screaming "Ice cream ice cream here!" Any sign that ever assaults the eyes not only with such colors, but in English is a joint to be avoided. The gelato in these cafes is piled high in mounds that appear to almost ooze into the compartment next door. Your lemon sorbet has been french kissing the hazelnut chocolate crunch.
The colors of many sorbets and gelatos in these displays are putrid--bright, artificial, nothing that is grown organically should be that color. And a cone--my friends, say no to the cone. Gelato is taken in a little cup, with a little spoon, never, never on a cone. You say avoid all the gelato mallory? Well where are we supposed to eat! There are 2---TWO establishments in Rome for you to taste--they are the same, but two different locations for your convenience. But once you do try real gelato, you too as well will snub your nose at the carnival freezer mounds of slush. The name to remember: Gelato di San Crispino, the real gelataria of Rome.
Walking into San Crispino I gasped--holy shit i'm in Mora. What!? The metal bins, the smooth counter, the baskets of colorful gelato spoons, the crisp looking ice cream server (was I crisp looking?) the white, professional, flaalvor-speaks for itself no-nonsense ambiance of the little ice creamery on Bainbridge Island (near Seattle) was present in this little cafe on a tiny street in Rome. Hmmm, I toss around in my head, I think the bosses must have eaten here. Either way--influence comes from somewhere, and reading the list of flavors and "mission statement" at San Crispino, i knew that this, in fact, was real, natural, pure gelato. Crispinos creed: use only the best natural ingredients, nothing artificial, experiment with new flavors while still maintaining the classical charm of the old, and, surprise the taste buds. Sounds an awful lot like the older brother of dear Mora.
One would then imagine the creamery to be packed, lines queuing out the door down the cobblestones, and snacking all the way to the Pantheon's front gate. But there was never a line. 3 times, and there was never a line. Rome in the summer and there is no line? I will tell you, bright neon signs DO in fact attract mosquitoes. So, trip advisory: don't be a mosquito. While the flavor selection is no where near 45, they are still quite diverse and sure to spark some hidden scent of curiosity. They range from walnut and fig (no goat cheese) to ricotta, whiskey, pistachio, hazelnut, cocoa, Italian liqueurs, and many others.
Their signature flavor is the San Crispino, which is made with honey (Tittlywinks' favorite). However, for me I was drawn like a fly to 5: licorice root, ginger and cinnamon, armagnac, chocolate with meringue, and caramel with meringue. Those flavors, those are the ones worth dying for. Meringue incorporated into a gelato is a cry short from genius--crispy and soft, Mora, you must take this into note. Their sorbets also take advantage of the regional flavors--melon, lemon, grapefruit, peach, Isabella grape, Seville orange, and others. Needless to say, going to Rome? Go to San Crispino.
Two locations: Via Acaia 56 Roma, Via della Panetteria 42 Roma.
We visited both locations. The second day was a full day strolling through the ruins of ancient Rome-- the Palentino, Circo Massimo, the Colosseum--through the hot hot heat with dust blowing everywhere, hills covered in poppies, and ancient piles of rubble just...there. Rome transports you to another time, causing one to think, hey where's Russel Crowe! Of course, hot archaeological work must be followed by a gelato.
The last day in Rome was spent at the Vatican. Yes. The Popes palace. No Pope sighting on this trip. But the imense awe and grandeur of St Peters Basilica can not be given full effect through words. The 500 some step climb through the narrowing spiral stairs to the cupola of the Basilica started the journey--through Saint Peters, down into the crypt, around into the Vatican museum, and then, finally, into the Sistine Chapel. Amazing? Yes. 500 steps? hmm. Let's go back to San Crispino. Poor scooper though--made him scoop during the Italy France game and answer my silly questions. I left by sadly shouting, allez les bleues! But gazie for the gelato!
Paris and Rome, Paris and Rome, but it really is almost time to go home. Next airport: Charles de Gaulle.