Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ponsettos e Mamma vengono

Longest weekend of my life! Not in a bad way though, in a great fun and tiring way. And I don't think I'm going to make it through the day, che stanchezza.  Friday night I met up with the Ponsetto's after I got home from work.  I took bus 61 right to Piazza San Silvestro, then Julian came to find me and show me the hotel, the door was slightly hidden among all the retail shops on the first floor of the building.  It was 7:30, and I was happily surprised to hear that the Ponsetto's were on the Italian dinner schedule, so after I said hello to everyone, they suggested we go to the roof top terrace and have some wine before heading out to get dinner. Drinking a bottle of Chianti, we caught up with each other, since it had been quite some time since play group days, and High School was probably the last time I saw Julian and even longer since I saw the rest of the family.  I heard about their tiring 18 day family european vacation, and realized they were probably happy to have me interupt their constant family time.  If I was on day 15 of 18 days with my family, I know I would be getting a little edgy with them!


Around 8:15 we headed out toward Piazza Navona, crossing the Corso, heading past the Parlament building, past the pantheon and stopping to check out the beauty of Piazza Navona at night before heading behind it to find a good place to eat.  The road that was home to Cul de Sac had multiple Trattorias including Baffetto, so I told them we could go to any place we passed there.  We saw Baffetto and probably would have eaten there, but per usual there was a line of at least 20 people stretching out the door and down the cobblestoned street.  Instead I mentioned that my mom liked Cul de Sac and that they had a good wine list, and Sue insisted we go where Marisa felt was best.  I went inside and asked how long the wait woud be, the man said 15 minutes for inside and 40 minutes for outside, so Sue grabbed the number 17 out of his hand, and we retreated to wait outside until our number was called.


Stomachs starting to growl, the waiter came out and asked if I spoke Italian.  I responded with un pochino, and he continued to explain the table situation.  There was a table available outside, but realistically was meant for 4 people, but he could add 2 extra chairs if we wanted to sit there, or there was a larger table available inside, we could pick.  I explained what the waiter had said, then we decided on the bigger table inside, which even that we could barely fit in, so we had no idea how outside would have worked out for us.  Squishing into the small booth we got our menus and began to perouse our various options.  I asked for the wine list because the place was known for its wine, and shortly after the waiter returned with a binder as thick as a dictionary filled with their selection of bottles, and then a smaller book with their wines offered by the glass, it was ridiculous their selection, and now I knew why mom liked it so much!


Cul de Sac wine list
MOJITO
When it came around to order drinks we ordered a bottle of water naturale then Dan asked what regional Red the waiter recommended, telling him that he liked things generally from Montepulciano.  I can't remember the exact name of what we ended up getting, but it was a 19 euro bottle of something of San Giorgio and it took the waiter 4 or 5 minutes to locate the bottle and retrieve it from the wall that was covered in bottles with the help of his colleagues. Now that was entertaining.  After he finally retrieved our bottle of wine we placed our order.  I got fettucine al pesto, Dan got Ossobucco, Sue got some kind of rolled up meat, Julian got roast beef, Joe got a sala and lasagna, and Maddie got sundried tomatoes and some kind of pasta that didn't have meat.  My pesto was delicious, and everyone else seemed happy with their food, and I had a bite of the Ossobucco and it really was incredible.  They ordered another bottle of wine, and we enjoyed each others company, chatting it up until the second bottle was finished.  After dinner I pointed Dan and Sue in the right direction to get back home, then Maddie, Joe, Julian and I headed toward Trastevere to meet up with Helena and then head to a club in Testaccio.  Before heading off on foot, we stopped to get a large mojito at a bar in Trastevere, then convinced a restaurant to let us use their bathroom when we were walking there, and we nicely tipped them 2 euro (well Julian did). By 12:00, we arrived at Coyote, Maddie, Helena and I cut the 10 person line, and got the boys in, and immediately Maddie and her blonde hair was surrounded by Italian men.  Quite entertaining.  We danced and hung around until Joe had a run in with some plastic cups and the bartender, then we headed out to find the night bus and go home.  By the time we left it was around3:30, we had danced plenty, and had plenty of jokes and fun, so Joe's timing with trouble wasn't much of a problem for us.  By 4:00 we had taken the bus to Piazza Venezia, and I had decided I would be sleeping on the floor of the Ponsettos hotel room. We walked down Corso to Hotel Parlamento, probably made a little too much noise than the concierge would have liked, I made a nice bed out of blankets on the floor behind the door of their room, then slept for four hours, woke promptly at 8:00 to get back to my apartment to clean up, get a cappuccino and cornetto and arrive at Termini to meet mom who was arriving via Leonardo Express.


When I arrived at Via Udine, I cleaned up quickly and called my mom to see if she was on schedule.  Thankfully she was arriving later than planned, at 9:40 instead of 9:15 now, because I never would have made it their by 9:15.  Heading to Bologna to catch the metro I stopped at Mizzica, getting myself a chocolatey brioche and a cappuccino, and then a cornetto filled with pistaccio cream to take to mom. I sat down and sipped my cappuccino since mom had bought me a little time, then I headed to the metro, arriving at Termini with 15 minutes till the Leonardo Express arrived.  5 minutes of that was taken trying to buy a bottle of water, and the other 10 minutes was used walking down the damn platform.  At 9:42 I saw mom walking down the platform with her orange bagalini and big red suitcase in tow! Yayy! Mamma è arrivata!  Excited to see her we hugged, and then I offered her the cornetto. She declined and we walked to find the bus 175 to San Silvestro and caught up with each other and all my roman adventures. Around 10:40 we had finally reached Parlamento, we checked in, got a cappuccino and brough it up to the terrace to relax for a few minutes before returning into the hot sun and a days worth of  being a tourist.


Mangiamo a Cibo
we walked all the way up a street perpendicular to Via Cavour past Santa Maria Maggiore to find a little church called San Pressede, a church that I had been in twice before, but mom had never set foot in. Ha! I'm beating her in churches visited now I think! At least in Rome anyways.  We walked to Termini to catch the metro around 1pm, we were hungry, so we took it to Bologna to find a place to eat by my apartment.  The place I had wanted to go unfortunately wasn't open, so we decided on Cibò, a modern little wine bar/restaurant, and we were thrilled with our choice.  We ordered verdure gratinata (vegetables baked with bread crumbes), fagiolini and un petto di pollo grigliata. E stato buonissimo, legera e perfetto per noi! After lunch we walked to my apartment where mom met Rihem.  We talked for a while, briefly rested our legs, and decided we needed to keep moving before we fell asleep right then and there in my bedroom. We took bus 61 to San Silvestro, not sure why we went back to the hotel, but I got to use the bathroom quickly, then we took a tiny bus from there to near Largo Argentina.  From there we walked to Piazza Navona and went into the Museo di Roma that my mom loves so much, unforunately there wasn't a new exhibit ther for her to see, but she walked through with me again anyways. 


Getting my caffe latte freddo
Having made a reservation at 8:00 for La Quercia, and the time nearing 5:00, I wanted to have time to take a nap back at the hotel before leavin.  So, I made mom get a move on because I know she insisted we go get a coffee at the Capitaline Museum's cafe before returning to Hotel Parlamento.  From the museo di Roma we walked to Largo Argentina, and took the first bus that would take us to Piazza Venezia, which happened to be the familiar 62 Piazza Bologna bus.  From there we hiked up the stairs to get to the Capitaline, witnessing a wedding party that had gathered in the Campidoglio.  We snuck into the cafe, receiving the unfotunate news we could not sit out on the terrace because they were setting up for the wedding we had seen, but we decided we'd get coffee anyways and sit by the window. The cute waiter at the bar politely diverted our request for cafe latte freddo to the cassa before he made them for us.  What were we thinking trying to order a drink with out lo scontrino? So I went to retrieve my receipt with two caffe latte freddo (2,40 euro each) and then returned back to the counter to hand the bar man our receipt and to retrieve our caffe latte freddos.  Once we got them and took them to the window I had a hard time not chugging it because it was THAT good.  We thouroughly enjoyed our drinks, then headed out to catch a bus from Piazza Venezia, and down the Corso to Hotel Parlamento.  Once we arrived, I laid down on the bed, face first, on top of the covers, and passed out for a solid 30 minute nap, before I had to shower, get ready and coordinate with the Ponsetto's what the evenings plans were.


Obviously we couldn't hold our dinner reservation of 8:00. That would have been too prompt, and too good of us (well my mom).  7:40ish we were up on the terrace enjoying wine and conversation, me edging my mom to get moving, because I knew the people at La Quercia would be pissed if we were extremely late for our prenotazione. So I made mom call them to say we would be late, and by 8:10 we were out the door walking toward Campo de Fiori and Piazza della Quercia.  When we arrived we immediately spotted our table, told them our name and that we had a reservation and then we immediately sat down.  I was happy to have mom there to give me suggestions on what to eat, but she was too busy chatting with Dan and Sue, and didn't pay much attention to me.


Our waiter was very nice, and spoke only italian to us, explaining the specials very eloquently, only mom and I could understand them.  So after he explained them, he stood there smirking as my mom attempted to translate the specials he had just rambled off to the rest of the table.  4 minutes later, another waiter comes by and tells us our waiter was born in Boston and speaks perfect English. Go figure!  So he was just getting a big kick out of my mom trying to explain everything, but then he was nice and spoke english to us when we asked, but we actually preferred him to speak Italian :) Stavamo imparando! The adults down that end of the table ordered the wine, a white "Est est est" which is local to lazio, and a red that I can't remeber, but it was delicious.  I can't begin to recall what everyone got to eat, but we started off with a variety of roman antipasti that the waiter recommended. He brought us a mix of everything (not nearly as much, and a lot more expensice than what the McDermotts and I had at TAPA).  We had fried zucchini flowers, mozzarella di bufala, grilled eggplant, bruschetta and some other little munchies.  For dinner I ordered the cut of steak that was mixed with an arugala salad with cheese and tomatoes, it was the perfect light delicious dinner. Julian and Mary Lou got the rabbit, which was going to be my second choice. Some people got saltimboca (sp?), Maddie the vegetarian got ravioli I believe, and all in all we had a fantastically delicious dinner that I finished off with a caffè, and a great visit to the bathroom, stopping in the kitchen to take some great photos! One of the cooks didnt hesistate to tell Maddie (in italian) that he would take her photo and place it on his night stand to look at every night. So entertaining.


in cucina a La Quercia
Everything was great about our dinner, there was just a strange ending to it, as our waiter scooted us out to make room for the next group of people for dinner.  That is something that NEVER happens in Italy because its rude. You could generally sit in a restaurant for hours and not be bugged to leave, here in Italy you have to ask for the check, if you finish eating its not immediately brought to you like it is in the states, there is no pressure to pay, and if you leave right after you eat people act like your committing a crime!  So being rushed out of there left me and my mom uneasy about the waiter and the restaurant, but our overall dining experience had been rather pleasant, the food delicious and an entertaining kitchen staff, so we forgot about it and went off to find some gelato.


We walked down a side street toward the river where I knew I had past a good looking gelateria a few times in my travels.  Only 5 of us ended up getting gelati.  We got 2 euro cups, and I got a combination of straciatella and banane, the Ponsettos got a variety of flavors, and we ate our gelato sitting outside the gelateria while our parents wandered off to go home.  After we ate our gelato we went back inside to purchase some Peroni’s from the refrigerator then head over to Trastevere to walk around and figure out what the plans for the night would be.  We had plans forming to meet Philippine (a French friend) at the Gay Village because we had heard great things about it, but I wasn’t exactly sure the details of the trip, the location, the cost etc. so I didn’t want to be exploring while I was with the Ponsettos.  Instead we met up with Helena and decided we would head back to Testaccio for round 2, but see if there were any other discotecas there that would strike our interest.
By the time we got there it was around 1:00 and Maddie was ready to be at a club.  We went into one that was before Coyote, the ladies went in first because we were free, to see if it seemed decent before Joe and Julian came in.  We walked into the dance room and it seemed to be like a cool place, so we ran back downstairs and got the guys.  We should have checked out the scene a little bit carefully, because once we reentered and went further into the dance floor we realized it was mainly older guys and they seemed rather strange. We gave it a few minutes, but then got too creeped out by the people there and made a decision to return next door to Coyote which we knew would be fun.  We gathered the boys as they contemplated whether they would go home or pay a cover again, and we finally got them to stay and headed to Coyote.  Joe and Julian waited in line separate than us because we weren’t sure if Joe was going to be allowed back in.  Us ladies walked to the front of the line and negotiated with the bouncer to get in for FREE, thank goodness for Maddie’s blonde hair! Haha kidding, but not really.  We went on in, and we were immediately happy to be back in Coyote, and Maddie Lou seemed content there as well, and immediately a cute, NICE, Italian boy comes up to strike conversation with her.  Much better at Coyote. Mainly normal people, of mainly younger ages.  Soon after I got a text from Julian, they wouldn’t let Joe in, so we talked to him over the wall, I threw him my map and they went off to find their way back to the hotel, and we returned to the dance floor.  We danced and mingled with Italians until 3:30, but at that point I was beat, and I decided we should head home.  We caught the bus, got to Piazza Venezia, then walked down Corso to Hotel Parlemento. I was THRILLED to be back in a bed :)
Sunday morning I woke up around 9:30, before mom even got up.  I got her mobilized. She was shocked I was able to function after two nights of sleeping at 4am then waking up at 8 and 9.  It was a struggle, but a small afternoon nap session was all I needed to keep me going! So we woke up, ordered our cappuccinos and took them to the roof deck where Sue and Dan met us to talk about our plans for the day.  The Ponsettos were planning to go to an English mass at San Ignazio, going to see the church of the Gesu then to Colosseo to check that out and all those ancient ruins they have in that area.  Mom and I were headed to Sant’Ivo then to Porta Portese to check out the flee market that everyone says you should get to at some point.  So we split off going our own ways after breakfast and decided we would both be back at the hotel around 6, then we could go for an early dinner.

CHIUSO
Pyramide
Mom and I set off, legs already tired from walking down the stairs we looked to take a tiny electric bus because something was really appealing about them to mom.  We took bus 119 and got dropped of near Argentina then walked to Sant’Ivo to find that apart from only being open on Sundays before 1:00pm, it was also closed during the months of July and August.  This. Is. Italy. Disappointed we walked back to Argentina to catch the #8 tram across the river.  On the tram we asked a man where to get off for Porta Portese market, he said he would tell us and he told us to stay alert of our bags and to put our cameras in them because people would try and steal them.  So that freaked us out a little bit, but it was nothing we hadn’t heard before.  He told us where to get off, we thanked him and then began walking through the JUNK.  Nothing overtly special about the market, mom and I both decided we preferred the market in Sora, more organized, better shoes! But we did have some luck, I found a sweet pair of Orange foreign pants, PERFECT. I had been searching for cheap ones for a while, and bam, 20 euro pair, that should have been 90 euro fell right into my hands, and in the perfect size for a gift.  Thrilled about the find, we walked through another block of the market not having much more success then decided to walk to Testaccio where there was a new MACRO modern art museum.  I took us in a big circle but I eventually found the museum, only to find out that it was closed along with nearly everything else in the neighborhood.  So, we walked to Pyramide to take the B line somewhere to eat.  

We only ended up taking it 2 stops to Colosseo then ended up walking to Piazza Venezia where we took the bus #40 to Chiese Nuova and walked toward Baffetto to see if we could eat there for lunch.  Unfortunately it was Chiuso, so we walked around the area and decided on a place that we had to eat inside for, but it was filled with Italians so we knew it would be good!  We ordered a birra to split, tasted delicious, I got a pizza with mozzarella di bufala e pachino, and mom got the carbonara.  We also split an antipasta of an arugula salad.  After lunch I was rather pooped, but we went to Hotel Rafael near the restaurant and Piazza Navona to look at their roof top garden and to check the menu out… cocktails were near 20 euros a piece so we strayed away from it, and went to look at the roof top garden that Jenna, Lynn and us had enjoyed Bellinis at a few years earlier near the Pantheon and San Minerva. After that I was dead tired and Mom wanted to go to an exhibit at a museum on Via Nazionale, so I gave her my bus pass, told her not to pay for another ticket, then set her off in the direction of the right bus stop, and I set off on foot back to Parlamento.  I got back around 3:30, face planted into the bed and fell fast asleep until mom returned around 5:30. I dozed in and out until 6:00, then got up, got dressed, figured out a place to eat dinner and made an early reservation for 7:45. 
Ponsettos still weren’t back at the hotel, so clearly our early prenotazione was a mistake.  I hated making reservations we couldn’t make, so I had mom call Ivo in Trastevere and tell them we would be there closer to 8:15.  Once the Ponsettos returned, we told them our plan, they got ready, we went up to the roof to have a drink, then we set off toward Trastevere a little bit before 8:00, and arrived at Ivo in Trastevere 8:18.  I was obviously anxious that we were late, but the restaurant didn’t seem to care.  Our table was empty and ready for us in the corner and we immediately sat down, our eyes pouring over the 40 + pizza choices on the pages before us.  Mom’s eating in Rome book suggested the suppli at this place, so I told them we would have to get a plate of suppli to share, and then I also got a bruschetta con carciofi.  Since I had pizza for lunch I decided on a rigatoni plate with red sauce and eggplant.  The rest of the table got a variety of pizzas that when they came out, I was afraid I had made a mistake in ordering the pasta.  My pasta was absolutely delicious, but their pizzas looked fantastic.  I tried my moms carciofi and melanzane pizza and nearly died. SO GOOD.  After dinner we had found our new favorite pizzeria.  Atmosphere was good, waiters were excellent, Pizza was the best we’ve had, and the pasta wasn’t half bad either! Successful last dinner for the Ponsettos! Now I have to go back and buy some Ivo plates for Dan!  
 
Walking back home to Hotel Parlemento to get a relatively early night sleep only had one requirement: Giolitti.  So we walked back past the Pantheon and curving through the side streets to find the one and only famous Gelateria Giolitti.  Dan placed the order for all of our cones at the cassa like a professional Italian, then we walked up to the case of gelato and began to scan the 50 or so flavors.  What the hell were we going to choose? Too many choices!  I obviously chose straciatella and then I decided to go for the coffee flavor.  The coffee flavor literally tasted like coffee, it was so rich, and the texture was perfect, and I indulged on this gelato accepting the Panna which was absolutely delicious.  Unfortunately when mom took a lick of my cone, she licked a little too hard and the panna, whip cream, fell right off and I caught it in my hand. Gross. It was only a reflex to prevent it from dropping on the marble floors of Giolitti, so after I caught it in my hand I walked over to the trashcan to throw the ball of hand whipped whip cream in the trash L.  We finished our gelati sitting down in the café, not having to pay premium because it was so late at night, then we walked back to Parlamento, checked out of the hotel so we would be ready for the next morning and said good byes to the Ponsettos.  I slept like a rock. 

7:15 I woke up and got ready for work.  I gathered my things, woke mom up, and we ordered our cappuccino’s for breakfast.  We ate, then took a picture on the terrace, then I left mom, so I could catch bus 61 back to my apartment to drop my weekend stuff off, changed quickly, grabbed my lunch and ran out to catch the metro to go in and start the work week.  It was going to be a brutal Monday with only having slept very little over the weekend.  I nearly fell asleep 3 or 4 times Monday, and I accepted the caffe offerings every time they happened that day.  Luckily I got let out around 3:30 and I was able to go home and sleep for a few hours. 


Kate and the dessert calzone, nom nom nom
Tuesday I went to Chit Chat, the last of the season, and Nunzio, our “teacher”, invited us to dinner at his house the following Tuesday, so that was something to look forward to.  Wednesday, I finally got to eat at Dar Poeta.  I met up with Kate, someone who I had met at the last Thursday’s aperitivo (she went to Wellesley and knew Fabrizia! Small world) and we split a delicious pizza, a delicious salad and a delicious CALZONE CON RICOTTA E NUTELLA. OTTIMA! After dinner I met up with Helena and we walked all the way near Piazza Barberini to meet up with Philippine and her cousin for a drink at a bar they were at.  Thursday I went to work and hurried home because I had to see Rihem off, for she was leaving for Israel for a few weeks, and also DAD WAS ARRIVING!! So after work I rushed off cleaned up, said bye to Rihem and headed toward St. Peters to meet my parents and start the weekend off with them!

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