In Rome

After London, we were in Rome for a few days.


By necessity, most gardening in Rome involves containers, roofs, balconies, and walls.
















The walls themselves are very beautiful


and you can spend a long time trying to absorb all the details.


No discussion of Roman horticulture would be complete without mentioning Pinus pinea, the Italian stone pine, or as I am told Italians call it, the umbrella pine.


It's almost difficult to frame a view of the Roman landscape without capturing a stand of stone pine which are native to the Mediterranean and have been grown ornamentally since the Renaissance.


You see them around the Bay Area too, but they are rare. The Victorians, plant-lovers all, planted a lot of them, but not many people since then. The most spectacular stone pine I know if is in downtown Saratoga next to Starbucks. There are a few on Russian Hill too. Ours all so big and old now, they don't quite look the same as the specimens you see everywhere in Rome. This the Giardino degli Aranci, a shady garden with panoramic views (tr. Garden of Oranges, note orange trees planted under the stone pines).

Pinus pinea

You find fountains like this everywhere, running all the time, for hundreds of years.


Besides paying attention to plants and gardening, we did spend a day focused on the more traditional tourist things. Guy hired a guide and driver to show us around. That was brilliant of him for a hundred different reasons, not the least of which was the air conditioning. Rome was very hot last week. Normally I don't like air conditioning, but I liked it in Rome.


For you fashionistas: Here is a very popular and distinct look worn by a certain subset of European female tourist, the floor-length floral print dress:


This woman strays from the norm by having her hair tied back. Other women in this style wore their hair down and flowing, and it was usually quite long. I saw at least one or two women like this in every crowd. We have seemingly endless streams of European tourists in San Francisco, but I have never seen this look. Is it too cold and windy?

If you close your eyes and imagine a stylish European woman, I think this is closer to what you would come up with, right?


Anyway! We are not here to admire the women. We came to admire the men! Haha just kidding. But of course Italian men are famously handsome. Rome has especially sexy cops. I would visit a photo blog of Roman policemen (carabinieri) every day if there was one. And while we are on the subject of male pulchritude, let's give it up for Englishmen. No one wears a suit like an Englishman. Ride London's central line during rush hour or walk around Fleet Street or Holborn and you'll know what I'm talking about. Yeah.

Okay, that's over. Let's talk about food.


Let's give it up for the panini trucks!


So colorful and organized, all exuding the promise of yummy things.


I could not help but stop to admire the panini trucks even when I wasn't hungry. Full disclosure, the one time I got a panini, in the Villa Borghese, it was not that good. Yelp has now arrived in Italy. I would be curious to know what people think is the best panini.


Our guide took us to the best restaurant we ate at


(It was not this place; I just like this arrangement.)


The best place we ate at was Trattoria da Teo, Piazza Ponziani 7A, in the Trastevere neighborhood. Our guide told us she considered it the best carbonara in Rome, made with rigatoni and beef cheek instead of spaghetti and bacon like we do in America (and I guess other places in Italy). Carbonara is my favorite, and I hadn't told her that, so I was excited when she suggested it. I was not disappointed. I had to leave a few pieces uneaten because I was stuffed, and the guide said if I didn't finish it I'd be thinking about it forever. She might be right; I have not stopped thinking about it.

But my favorite food item of the whole trip, perhaps because it was the biggest surprise, were the green olives stuffed with meat, then battered and fried. What a treat! Be sure you get them when you go to Trattoria de Teo. And drink them with beer. Italian craft beer is quite good. We did not get a chance to eat what our guide considered Rome's best pizza, Francesco's, close to this address (it might even be this exact address): Vicolo delle Vacche 12, in central Rome. You go and let me know.

The Pantheon was my favorite site:


See the cars parked in the right? You can hire a taxi to take you to the Pantheon and the driver will drop you off right next to it. We don't have anything as historical as the Pantheon in the United States but could you imagine being dropped off right next to it if we did? No, you can't. There would be a parking lot a mile away for which you'd pay $10. Then you'd get in line to buy another expensive ticket to ride a crowded shuttle. The shuttle would leave late and drop you off a quarter-mile away, and then you'd have to walk.


There is nothing to say about the experience of stepping into these ancient Roman buildings that hasn't been said, so I will say nothing.



Outside is a never-ending sea of humanity, day or night.



Two blocks west (if you want to call them blocks) is the Piazza Navona, my favorite Roman square. I visited these places twice every day and lingered in them for at least an hour.

Piazza Navona

We came back at night, when the light was better suited for iPhone photography.

Piazza Navona:

Sea of humanity

Back at the Pantheon. "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, in his third consulate, made it."

You probably didn't know this, but everyone's just calling it the Parthenon now.

Pantheon fountain:

Fontana del Pantheon

I will end for now with some pictures of miscellaneous sights...












Come back soon and we'll visit Pincio Park, Villa Borghese and the Orto Botanico.



Bonnie Story said...

You have taken my breath away - wow, wow, amazing photos. Thank you so much for sharing them. MOLTO BENE!!!!

chuck b. said...


Starting a Garden said...

Wow! Look at those living walls so green and gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your trip images.

Christopher C. NC said...

I wonder if you had your carbonara in my wife's cousin's daughter's husband's trattoria. I heard all about the yellow and ocher colored walls in Rome when picking paint colors for the cozy cabin.

queerbychoice said...

I'm pretty sure I'm the American version of the subset of European female tourists who wear floor-length floral print dresses. It's hard to find them quite all the way to the ground here, but I get them as close as I can, and occasionally I've managed to find some that got all the way there.

And yes, San Francisco winds do make that look significantly more difficult to pull off. It's much easier to do inland.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm a little hoarse from oohing and aahhing throughout this photo collection and post. Beautiful!
-kelly (el cerrito)

danger garden said...

It's been 5 years now since we visited Italy (Milan, Venice, Florence and Rapallo....sadly no Rome) thank you for taking me back to that most beautiful of places.

suscraig said...

Thank you thank you hit the witty story telling and beautiful photographs.