9/23/11

In Rome

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

IMG_2087

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

IMG_2272

IMG_2569

IMG_2528

IMG_2535

IMG_2522

IMG_2524

Bougainvillea

IMG_2563

IMG_2554

IMG_2555

IMG_2530

IMG_2533

IMG_2115

IMG_2116

IMG_2114

The walls themselves are very beautiful

IMG_2571

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

IMG_2570

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.

IMG_2226

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.

IMG_2238

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.

IMG_2250

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.

IMG_2346

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:

IMG_2178

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?

IMG_2200

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.

IMG_2150

Let's give it up for the panini trucks!

IMG_2188

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

IMG_2189

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.

IMG_2190

Our guide took us to the best restaurant we ate at

IMG_2503

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

IMG_2502

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:

IMG_2295

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.

IMG_2319

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.

IMG_2327

IMG_2323

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

IMG_2336

IMG_2505

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...

IMG_2529

IMG_2561

IMG_2343

IMG_2344

IMG_2538

IMG_2539

IMG_2489

IMG_2511

IMG_2576

IMG_2578

IMG_2580

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

IMG_2372

8 comments:

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...

Grazie!

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.