Italy, Pasta, Pizza…

TRIP TO ITALY, REVIEW

Finally I got a little time to turn back and write a short story about our Italian adventure, with reviews of the restaurants, some cultural places, attractions and other places we visited. Before the trip we prepared by getting some tips from an Italian guy living here in Denmark.

“SHORT STORY ABOUT OUR ITALIAN ADVENTURE… RESTAURANTS, CULTURE, ATTRACTIONS, COOKING LESSON, ETC.”

So let’s start the story…

My big wish for a long time was to visit central Italy where the greatest pasta and Pizza are originates from. Finally during the Easter holidays of 2016, we traveled to Rome and Naples. It was a short, one week trip.
On the first day we arrived late in the evening at Fiumicino airport, so we overnight at a nearby location. We were hosted by very welcoming people in a nice house, decorated in an old flavorful style.

Next day we continued towards our first desired destination, great Rome. Already during the bus ride we could see that we entered a beautiful historic city. During our stay we enjoyed experiencing Rome by foot, losing our selves in the numerous streets, from east to west, south to north side. Sometimes we made more than 20 km per day, but almost not feeling it from all the impressions we were left with by the end of the day. Rome, with it’s astonishing artistic heritage is one of the top cultural European cities on my list. During our walks we could enjoy a sight of many ancient statues, the insides of art-rich churches with Renaissance frescoes, walk around world-class museums, etc. Sometimes we would just get lost, when we got surprised to come across masterpieces by the giants, sculptures by Michelangelo, fountains by Bernini, Raphael frescoes, etc.

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“MY BOYFRIEND IS A COFFEE ENTHUSIAST, SO WE FOUND THE BEST PLACE TO SHOT AN ESPRESSO – ANTIGUA TAZZA D’ORO COFFEE HOUSE.”

My boyfriend is a coffee enthusiasts, so we found the best place to shot an espresso – Antigua Tazza D’Oro Coffee House. It has a perfect location when crossing the city from East to West side, or just walking around the city center. We stumbled upon it a couple of times. It is a place where you spend less than 5 min, to shot your coffee and go on. Coffee was rich and creamy. Service was fast. They also sell good pastries, like many cafés around Rome. Coffee beans are freshly roasted in the back and can be bought for home. We would definitely recommend Antigua Tazza D’Oro Coffee House.

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As real food enthusiasts we love trying local dishes. For a truly Roman meal you should make a little effort to find a busy, loud place where the locals are dining with their friends and family. On our first day we decided to take the recommended restaurant by an Italian, Cul De Sac. The first impression was, very crowded, noisy, small but cozy place. It was totally booked and seated by mostly Italians. The staff was running around to serve the guests and give them the best experience. The second impression was a huge book of wines after which we noticed the entire selection was in shelves right above our heads. Simply amazing. The food menu was filled with a selection of the pasta dishes, just what we were looking for. The food was inexpensive, which didn’t surprise us, as it was recommended as a place where many students are enjoying their meals. But that didn’t affect the quality at all. My boyfriend ordered Home made lasagna, and I ordered homemade Ravioli with tomato sauce. The long cooked lasagna was so rich in taste, and the meat was melting in our mouths. Ravioli tasted great too. Very good homemade pasta for both. We could not resist trying Tiramisu for dessert. Great choice too. In total we were very satisfied. We would definitely recommend this little place.

“FOR A TRULY ROMAN MEAL YOU SHOULD MAKE A LITTLE EFFORT TO FIND A BUSY, LOUD PLACE WHERE LOCALS ARE DINING WITH THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY.”

Walking around Rome is quite relaxing (if you keep your distance from the biggest tourist attractions). There is a lot of performers on the streets, who are sometimes making real art. It is worth to stop for a moment and have a look. Then we continue to rumble between the streets of old Rome.

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We are the happiest when we stumble upon nice and hidden places, like this little Pasteria/Pizzeria. They make their own pasta which tastes wonderful. We were very well welcomed and served. The best part of it is a beautiful atmosphere. I couldn’t resist taking this picture on the old staircase.

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On the second day we passed by the restaurant La Carbonara and saw a lady preparing pasta on the window. That looked quite inviting. On top of that, good reviews made us visit this place in the evening. We were still in Rome, so trying more pasta was must too. My boyfriend enjoyed ravioli in a sage sauce and I tried Gnocchi in Amatriciana sauce. We liked the food, which was the most important. But busy hours made the impression that a waiter is running around to serve guests which was a little hectic. Too tight and small tables didn’t give us enough privacy. So the overall experience is medium good.

Last day was reserved for a cooking lesson. That was a unique half day experience in Rome. Cooking class was hosted by chef David Sgueglia della Marra. The tour started at the Antigua Tazza D’Oro Coffee House with a short overview of the course and walking tour. First stop was Pantheon, where we got to know the insides of the building’s history and architecture. From there we continued towards Piazza Navona (you will never guess, but filled with sculptural masterpieces), and Campo di Fiori Market which is hiding all the freshness of seasonal fruits and vegetables. On the way to the next location we stopped by a very old bakery and got some of it’s specialities.

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Charming Jewish Ghetoo was just around the corner. David gave us a good story about the area, which over the years has grown into a beautiful neighborhood filled with restaurants, churches, and synagogues. After the nice tour around the center of Rome we got hungry, so it was time for David to feed us and teach us something new in the kitchen. We went to David’s place which was a wonderful rooftop loft located in the heart of Rome.

“AFTER THE NICE TOUR AROUND THE CENTER OF ROME WE GOT HUNGRY, SO IT WAS TIME FOR DAVID TO FEED US AND TEACH US SOMETHING NEW IN THE KITCHEN.”

We started with preparation of all the veggies for the main dish and fruits for dessert. Next was chicken and after a little browning, it was left to get tender in a pot. In the meantime we prepared the pasta, rolling it out and shaping. My first homemade pasta!!! It was a real joy. The food lesson was really informing. We learned do’s and don’ts in pasta making. We really helped in the preparation and got hands on everything. In the end we enjoyed the meal together on the terrace with a glass of great wine. David was a really good teacher, with a lot of patience. He explained very well all the methods used in the preparation. Although my boyfriend and I are not beginners in cooking, we did learn something new. And that was rewarding enough for me. I would definitely recommend this culinary and cultural experience.

“WE LEARNED DO’S AND DON’TS IN PASTA MAKING.”

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In the afternoon we took the fast train down south to Naples. Yupiiii, that was our desired destination. From the first steps the city didn’t disappoint us. As a short break we set in one of the coffee bars to get some pastries and coffee. Coffee – probably better than in the best coffee bar in Rome. Pastries – very diverse and fresh. What about the first impression of locals??? Well, two, quite antipathetic men were sitting on the table next to us. We were not so comfortable sitting there, so the plan was to disappear fast. But to our surprise they turned to us, gave us some good advises and tips. And the name of the best Pizzeria, they exclaim in a single voice – Da Michele. Thumbs up too!!! After this nice experience we continued strolling down the old streets to find our accommodation. We stumbled upon a very nice street with a lot of live music and nigh life. Although it was dark we were able to notice very old buildings and their styles. Our apartment which was shared with an Italian was sooo old. The ceiling fell off. But it was filled with music CD’s and books, pictures, and cramped with old stuff. The first impression of the city was: “This is a real artistic mecca”. I loved it!!!

“FROM THE FIRST STEPS THE CITY DIDN’T DISAPPOINT US.”

“THIS IS A REAL ARTISTIC MECCA. I LOVE IT!!!”

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The next day we past by some of the most visited tourist locations and fast afterwards, got lost in the numerous little streets of Naples. They are long and crowded with cars and people.

Life there is crazy. You can find a market with fresh fruits and vegetables on almost every corner. There are many fish markets with great diversity of fish and shellfish. I started daydreaming about moving to Naples. I would say that Naples is still undiscovered treasure and we really enjoyed that.

“I STARTED DAYDREAMING ABOUT MOVING TO NAPLES.”

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Naples is known as the origin of Pizza and we were on a mission to discover it. First try was Trianon Da Ciro. Right at the entrance you can see the work station. Thisthree floor pizzeria is filled with both tourists and locals. There are more then 20 toppings you can choose from. Pizzas was satisfying, but certainly not the best in Naples. Dough came out sturdier, with denser crust, and a drier top. All in all it was a good try. The table next to us was occupied with a 80 year old lady and her son, who thought we were interesting and wanted to talk to us. We tried with all the mimics, some Spanish, German to make a short conversion. Such a nice and pleasant experience.

“WE TRIED WITH ALL THE MIMICS, SOME SPANISH, GERMAN TO MAKE A SHORT CONVERSION.”

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Next day, as a final experience in Naples we tried pizzeria suggested by the locals L’ Antica Pizzeria da Michele. We came a little before noon and had to wait in a smaller line. It took around 30 min until we were called in to get seated. I think it was quite a fun experience to wait with the crowed just to try a piece of Neapolitan pizza. Pizzas are cooked in the brick-lined wood-burning oven in the front of the dining room. It takes them around 65 s to finish up the pizza.

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Everything is moving very fast. There were only 2 pizzas to choose from, not more needed. Final dough was very soft and wet, actually very wet. But the sauce was bursting in taste. Da Michele uses sunflower oil rather than olive oil to let the tomatoes and cheese stand out. Might work, as it was very tasty. The only downside was maybe too soupy center.

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After the lunch in Da Michele came the end of our Neapolitan experience. We were on our way back to the airport near Rome. This night we decided to sleep over again in Fiumicino city. Quite late in the evening we went out for a walk in the center. Good fish smells where coming out of the many restaurants, and we were already hungry. The goal was to find a decent place to eat. And we found much more than that! A tiny restaurant Il Pesciolino Innamorato with only 5-6 tables was just around the corner. Beautiful interior decorated with the old, rustic tables, quite clean, white style and private atmosphere. It was extremely cosy. We ordered one main pasta dish, and a 10 course seafood menu. Most of the small dishes were well balanced and chosen. They were very surprising in taste and serving. It was hard to finish everything but we were close. Truly amazing experience by the end of the trip. A definite MUST for this place if you are passing by Fiumicino.

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