Thursday, 31 October 2013


Here are some photos inside EATALY the great Italian Food Emporium of Rome.
A paradise for the gourmand and the gourmet. The Emporium is open 7 days a week, from 10 am to Midnight, photos taken around 23:30. It is a fun place, just love it.

 Prosciutto hams and cheese counter

Cold Italian beers

Love this chandelier made of Espresso cups very stylish  

Restaurant recommendations in Rome this week

Italy is know for the quality of its food and we now have a great opportunity to discover the complexity  and variety of Italian food in a new complex called EATALY.
This complex on 4 floors is housed in the old Airport Train Terminal near Ostiense.

I had heard of it and wanted to see it for myself. WOW!!!!!! For those unfortunate ones who believe that Italian food is Spaghetti and meat balls or pizza and lasagna, EATALY will show you how uninformed you are.

The complex has 8 restaurants on various floors, showcasing specialities such as gelato, beef, poultry, game, fish, fried foods, breads, olive oils, coffee, wines, beers, cheeses, chocolates, nuts, truffles, hams, fresh vegetables and fruits etc... all produces in Italy, specifically for Italian cuisine.
You can shop for various products, samples in the various food stations where chefs will prepare dishes. The decor is ultra modern and the furniture and light fixtures are in the stylish modern style famous around the world as the signature of Italy. When I think of the kitschy so called Italian decor we have in Canada and the limited menu served in restaurants, EATALY will for sure change any misconception you might have. It is a MUST and should not be missed if you are in Rome.

  • Adresse : Piazzale XII Ottobre, 1492, Roma
    Téléphone :06 9027 9201

    Horaires d'ouverture :

    lundi10:00 – 00:00
    mardi10:00 – 00:00
    mercredi10:00 – 00:00
    jeudi10:00 – 00:00
    vendredi10:00 – 00:00
    samedi10:00 – 00:00
    dimanche10:00 – 00:00

    Another selection but this time in Trastevere, that area of Rome which sits next to the Vatican and at the foot of the Gianicolo Hill. Our B&B recommended a restaurant called
    MERIDIONALE on Via dei Fienaroli 30. Tel 06 5897196 their web site:  

    The food is exceptional it is one of those restaurants you remember years later as a great meal. Reasonably priced and great service. The kitchen has 2 chefs from Calabria and Sicily so the flavours are definitely southern and very nice. 

    We also went to CAFFÈ PROPAGANDA on Via Claudia15, web site

    This restaurant is near the Colloseum area. Very nice food and away from the silly tourists.

    We also had our breakfast and aperitivo every night at the BAYLON Caffè
    Via di San Francesco A Ripa 151, Trastevere. Great service, good food and great cocktails, live music, no tourists, all Italians.
    Web site:

    Little me in front of a beautiful Olive tree and the Basilica of St-John and St-Paul ( 2 obscure Roman Soldiers) built in 398 AD on the Celian Hill and Clivus Scauri. The basilica is built above a series of rooms which housed wild animals (Vivarium) a tunnel led them directly to the Collosseum. 

  • Wednesday, 30 October 2013

    Rome 3 million people

    Rome remains a very noisy city, our room giving unto the piazza below is quiet unless we open the window then the world comes in. But this is part of the charm of Rome, the traffic, the noise, the smells, it is an old city.
    Renaissance façade of the Church of San Gregorio built by Cardinal Scipio Borghese. The facade hides the much older 5th century monastery behind.

    Palatine Hill across the street from the Church, with remnants of the aqueduct of Nero which supplied water to the imperial palaces.

    Today we went to visit the Church of San Gregorio, pope in the 6th century, early Christian period fraught with difficulty and violence. St-Gregory I is a doctor of the Christian Faith along with St-Jerome and St-Ambrose. He is often depicted as Pope with the Holy Spirit, represented as a white dove whispering in his ear God's Will. Gregorio came from an old Aristocratic family of Rome, his father Gordien was a Senator and they lived on the Celio Hill facing the Palatine Hill on Via Triumphalis which is the entrance to Ancient Rome since time immemorial.
     Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Docteur of Canonical Law of the R.C. Church

    Gregorio was a Prefect of Rome meaning that he administered the City at a time when the Emperor's had long gone to the new Capital Constantinople. Rome had become nothing more than a Provincial Town. Gregorio came in contact with the teachings of St-Benedict and after many years became a Christian, he was elected Pope simply on the fact that all other candidates were too old or had died of the Plague. He also had lots of good political contacts in Constantinople. His mother St-Sylvia had nurtured his career, a bit like St-Helena had nurtured the career of her son Emperor Constantine.

    He was the Pope who consolidated the power of the Papacy elevating it in 593 AD from a simple Bishop of Rome position to that of a Sovereign over Italy, establishing the Catholic Faith supremacy over all other Christian Faiths. He gave his blessing to the looting of old Roman Temples to help build Christian ones, this created a lot of violence in Rome against Pagans but also violence between Christian of various Christian beliefs over the Divinity of Christ and his teachings. Christianity in Europe will take many more centuries to be accepted as a new Faith. Gregory sent St-Augustine to England to Christianise the Saxons. By various, very often violent means by 930 AD most of Europe will have become Christian, though an important schism with Orthodox Christians will have developed and endures to this day.

     The tufa stone remnants of the huge platform that supported the Temple of Emperor Claudius, the god. The Temple was larger than a football field.
    The temple sat on top of this enormous platform. The temple was demolished and replaced with a monastery in the fifth century.

    We also visited other buildings and churches in the immediate area, one such monastery is built on top of what remains of the great platform built for the Temple of Claudius the god.  One remembers Claudius as the nephew of Augustus, the uncle of Caligula and the adopted father of Nero.

    I always wondered if there was anything left of the massive buildings, well we went through a door and there it was the foundation platform or part of it some 300 feet long. The excavation also show the depth about 100 feet down where in ancient time shops were located. The Temple main entrance
    was on the square facing the Arch of Titus and on the right the site of what will be the Colosseum.

    Most people would not know of this site. It is not advertised and we only found it by being with friends who knew of it. This is what is magical about Rome, finding sites behind doors or down passageways.

     Will and Sidd with the celebrated Statue of Emperor Augustus of Prima Porta, this is a bronze copy of the original marble one in the Vatican Museum

    Forum of Emperor Trajan and his column

    Monday, 28 October 2013


    Today is our first full day, this morning we got up, showered and went for breakfast at the Caffè, we had cappuccino and I had a Tramenzino of cheese and ham toasted and then an Espresso. We then went to the TIM Italia Office to buy a new phone card for my cel with 250 minutes only 16 Euros.

    We then walked in the neighbourhood, Trastevere is across the Tiber from Rome as the name implies.
    This means that most early Christian Churches are in this neighbourhood, most built between 360 and 420 AD. The reason for this is a political one, like so many things in this world. Early Christians were mostly Jews who lived in Rome or had lived in Rome for generations. It was seen as a Cult like Scientology is today by most Romans who worshipped Roman Gods connected to their culture and history. When Emperor Constantine decided to switch Official Religions on the people of Rome it did not go down too well. He had a near Civil War on his hands, no one could understand why the old gods were being abandoned for a new god who was a Jew from Palestine, who nobody knew much about, but was rumoured to have been a criminal. The Army had its official religion which was similar to the Christian Faith, but no one was willing to accept new temples to be built to worship this new god. So Constantine had to do the political thing and had churches built outside Rome in Trastevere or on land outside the City boundaries like the Lateran where the Cathedral of Rome now stands on land that was private and owned by the Emperors family, St-John Lateran. St-Peter basilica was built in a cemetery on Via Cornelia, a place not likely to bring many Romans to look around. In the end Constantine abandoned Rome and moved the Capital of the Empire to his new city Constantinople (today Istanbul).

    Tomb of Pope Innocent II, (1130-1143) 

    Main Altar, Santa Maria in Trastevere

    We visited Santa Maria in Trastevere which is the Church of the Canadians in Rome, Cardinal Ouellet from Quebec is the head of that Church on top of other functions he occupies in the Roman Curia at the Holy See. Pope Innocent II (1130-1143) is buried there. The Church has many different sized columns taken from various temples of Roman gods and its floor is decorated with Imperial Roman Mosaic also taken from old temples. There is a beautiful iconostasis of Christ above the master Altar.

    We also had a look at Santa Maria alla Scala (in the staircase) which is attached to the Papal Official Drug Store since many centuries ago. The pharmacy is lovely and it has kept its old decor though nowadays it is a modern drug store. In this church there is also a famous miraculous icon and people leave little pieces of paper with a note to the Virgin asking for a special favour or miracle, there are hundreds of little notes. The priests who administer this church had 500 years ago commissioned the painter Caravaggio to paint a scene with a theme on the Virgin Mary. Caravaggio wanted something realistic and so he used the corpse of a famous prostitute who had drowned in the Tiber a few days earlier as his model of the Virgin Mary. This famous painting is in the Louvre Museum today, the priests were so scandalized when they recognized the features of the dead prostitute that they refused outright the painting.  

    Santa Maria alla Scala and Pontifical Drug store 

    Side view of the church with brickwork of the 4th century

    We had lunch with a friend just outside the Aurelian Walls in our old neighbourhood a 15 minute bus ride from Trastevere up the hill across the Tiber near Porta Pia. It was nice to go see the old neighbourhood. Things have changed and they have not. Restaurants are empty now at lunch time, the owner told us that these difficult economic times made everyone afraid. There is talk that Italy as a country could disintegrate, the wealthy North (North of Rome) could secede and abandon the South (south of Rome) to its own devices. This would be a true disaster. We have seen more beggars now in the streets, many are simply old people who have been squeezed and cannot manage any more.

     Fruit stand on Viale Regina Margherita

    Our neighbourhood, intersection of Via Nomentana and Viale Regina Margherita

    We had a lovely lunch and then went to walk along Via Nomentana towards Viale Regina Margherita
    Will wanted an ice cream and we went to a shop we know well. The owner told us that he sold his business, things are difficult and he wants to do something else. We did notice that one of our favourite restaurant had disappeared and has been replaced by a pizza joint, another steak house had also disappeared replaced by a McDonald, the horror. Our fruit and vegetable vendor was still there and we chatted with him, he is doing great and so is the flower shop. I felt a little disoriented by all these changes, it is visible that people are worried. Many young people are immigrating since there is no work for them here. It is said that for the under 35 year old the unemployment rate is 40%.

    This evening we are going further down the Tiber River on bus no 23 to the area of the Pyramid of Cestius to a new trendy restaurant to meet with friends called Porto Fluviale at no 22 Porto Fluviale.

                         Centro Piazza Venezia

    On our way home we went through Piazza Venezia, the centre of Rome, and then crossed the Tiber at Ponte Garibaldi unto Via Trastevere. Just a block away from our B&B we came upon a cheese shop, the rich, creamy and sweet smell of Italian cheeses brought us to look at the wonderful assortments. Including hams of wild boar meat. What a fantastic meal you could make right there and then with a few purchases.

    Boar meat hams 

    Italian cheeses and wines

    I still have to talk about EATALY a huge modern food emporium devoted to all Italian made foods on 4 floors unbelievable place. Located in the old Airport Train terminal now a huge food market with 8 restaurants simply beautiful for the gourmand and gourmet. You can also take the High Speed train to Milan, the connection Rome-Milan takes only 2:56 minutes at train speed of 330 Km. More on this later.

    Tomorrow we are to meet with a friend who is an historian and archeologist to visit an historical site with special permission to enter. The weather is lovely and we are enjoying ourselves though a little nostalgic.

    Sunday, 27 October 2013

    Roma arrival

    Today we travelled from Ottawa to Montreal to Rome. We were all packed and prepared to leave. Met with the dog sitter, puppies were a little confused with the luggage and this person who appeared to be now in charge. So they of course wanted to be cuddled and petted, we obliged and gave them little biscuits, which always helps a lot. We did take a lot of arrangements for their well being. Taxi took us to the Bus depot in Ottawa, a place I do not recommend, it is derelict, Grey Hound should be ashamed, it has not been updated since 1980 and looks it. They make a parody of security measures none of which are implemented and this after a string of gruesome and deadly incidents on their buses. The trip on a broken down bus to the P.E.Trudeau Airport (formely Dorval) Montreal took two hours.

    The airport in Montreal has changed a lot in the last 10 years, I remember Dorval as it was then known in the days of the DC8 when flying anywhere was a luxury and exotic. It had one restaurant the Kebec and the menu was prime roastbeef and a huge buffet. People would come and have a huge festive meal prior to their flight. It was very nice and the food was wonderful. The airport today is many times the size it was then, we went for a bite to eat at the U Bar, the light changes from blue to red to white with the music, the food is good and they have good wines. Our flight on Air Transat left on time. This is the second time we take this airline, they brought us back from Rome in 2011. Good service and a pleasant flight, they do not serve a full meal on the evening flight which takes off after 9 PM, a good idea since most people do not have the stomach for a full meal late at night. The light also in the cabin is shade a light blue which is very pleasant, then it turns to soft pink, more relaxing to help you sleep. There is an attention to small details, including the bread buns and at breakfast nice hot cinnamon buns, good coffee and the fruits were very fresh.

    The flight was wonderful and we arrived at Fiumicino-Rome Airport 90 minutes ahead of time and got our luggage in 10 minutes, unheard of really. Shaving that much time on a flight is wonderful.

     The view from our room at Baylon Suites in Trastevere.

     On the old bridge from Trastevere to the Isola on the Tiber
    which has been used as hospital island since antiquity. The temple to Aesclepius has been 
    replaced by the basilica to Saint Bartholomew (skinned alive).

    Ponte Rotto (broken bridge) next to the Palatine bridge.

    Looking towards the Gianicolo Hill 

    It was wonderful to see the Pines of Rome, those great big umbrella like trees everywhere you look.
    When we arrived at our B&B we had a shower and then slept for a few hours. Around 4 pm we went out for a coffee on Piazza Piscinula at Bar Marcucci, the waiter recognized us and greeted us like long lost friends, it was such a pleasure. The coffee Espresso and a Tramenzino (white bread sandwich with white cheese and ham toasted hot).

    Next to the bar is a small 4 century AD Church San Benedetto in Piscinula currently housing the statue of the Virgin of Fatima. The statue has been brought to Rome for a few days and is said to be miraculous. It is guarded by a Confraternity who wear highly polished riding boots and a uniform of a penitent knight. The Virgin statue is only a painted plaster statue not very nice looking but of immense importance in the RC Church. The Pope himself blessed the statue in St-Peter's square and thousands of pilgrims came to see it.

    We then crossed over to the Rome side of the City by using the antique bridge over the Tiber river and walked into the old Jewish ghetto at the Portico d'Ottavia and the Teatro di Marcello area. The swallows by their thousands were circling above as they do in Rome at this time of the year. It is an incredible spectacle to see at sunset. We had dinner at the Old Taverna of the Ghetto, a favourite of ours. Jewish food in Rome has nothing to do with the European Jewish food known in North America. In Rome most recipes date from Antiquity from the time of Herod and as the Roman Jews say ''We have been here for 3000 years so we got stories to tell. We also went to see two renovated temples in the Forum Boarium near the Arc of Janus, one is the Temple of Virtue Virilis and the other of Hercules often called Vestale temple because it is round but there is no connection at all. The temples have been under renovation for at least 25 years and the final results are beautiful, considering that the building are at least 2200 years old.

     Temple of Virtue Virilis

     Temple of Hercule 

    Fountain of the Tritone and the Church where is located the Boca della Verita

    Fountain of the Turtles

    Prior to our dinner we walked in the old ghetto to the Fountain of the Turtles my favourite and on Piazza Campitelli we went into the Church of Santa Maria al Portico della Piazza Campitelli. There is a shrine there to the patron Saint of Pharmacist, San Giovanni Leonardi.
    The bells of the church were pealing as it was the end of Vespers. On Sunday night most churches are open for Vespers and at this time of the year only the immediate area where the service is held is lighted, the rest is in total darkness. I had a scotch and water at a Pub prior to dinner, love it for $7 dollars you get 2 oz of single malt scotch, now that is a drink. Served with 3 small pieces of 70% dark chocolate, goes very well together take my word for it.

    Scotch single malt and 70% chocolate

    After dinner we walked back to our B&B and will try to recuperate now.

    Friday, 25 October 2013

    Anniversary 1978-2013

    This is our anniversary trip, our 35 years, so we decided to go on this cruise with Azamara, a line we like we have travelled in the past with them.

    At first we thought of going across the Atlantic but at this time of the year when most cruise ship reposition themselves for the Winter traffic in the Caribbean, the crossing from Europe to North America can be choppy at best. I have sea legs but nonetheless, we thought best not to attempt it.

    Well 35 years is a long time in anyone's life and we have been through so much including 32 years of Foreign Service with 8 postings around the world. We lived in so many places and had 4 dogs.
    Bundnie, Reesie and now Nicky and Nora, all dachshunds, short hair, long hair, wire hair, born in different countries Egypt, USA, Italy.

    Through the years we bought two houses and sold them, we lived in Crown Accommodation also know as Staff quarters on post with the same banged up government issued furniture from Colonial in Ottawa. You made the best of what they gave you, being inventive was a plus on posting. We lived through wars, riots, violence and food shortages, learned to be flexible and have a stiff upper lip. Most of it was at a time when the only means of communication was a postal box or a landline phone, there was no computers, internet or email, not invented yet. There was a job to do and no need or time to mope, you could not go home to Canada if you did not like where you landed. We maintained a long distance relationship when for many reasons it was not possible to be together at a given post.

    So we are celebrating our life on this anniversary trip and we will have a dinner celebration on our cruise.  Azamara has 2 ships, we will be on the Quest, a 30,000 ton ship, 180 meters long, with a capacity for 690 passengers and a crew of 400. Smaller cruise ships are best.

    I remember our last cruise with them, the crew was great and we had the nicest of time. The ship is beautiful, clean and the service, food and drinks top quality. What I liked most was the fact that the barman poured the drinks and did not measure, made for a nice stiff drink the way cocktails were meant to be at sea.

    We have taken so many wonderful trips of anniversaries like the one to Vietnam for Will's 60, that was a great trip, full of fun memories from the Northern border to the South. Our annual trip to Salzburg to the Whitsun Music Festival, our trip around the island of Sicily or our cruise to Alaska or the Baltic Sea or again our 30th Anniversary spent on the slope of Mount Parnassos in Arachova and Delphi. Or that funny trip to Dresden for no purpose other than to see the City and the massive rebuilding efforts. The trip on the Danube from Budapest to Nuremberg was also spectacular though I was very tired on that trip, still beautiful.

    So here we go, stay tuned!

    Omaggio a Roma

    This film was made by Franco Zeffirelli who we met once at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, I think it was in 2009 for the opening of the Season, he was sitting in our box. It was also that night that Will had a conversation with a Principessa. So many memories we have of Rome.

    This homage to Rome shows the beauty of the Città.

    Roma Belleza Aeterna.

    This clip is used in touristic promotion of the city.

    Wednesday, 23 October 2013

    Tu non vedrai nessuna cosa al mondo maggior di Roma!

    Just a reminder that we are going in just 3 days to the greatest city in the world ROME!
    As the title of my post indicates you will never see anything greater in the world.

    Just last night I was looking at all our favourite restaurants, we wish to return too. We have now our tickets to the special exhibits we want to see and have made appointments to meet our friends for lunch or dinner.

    Will last night was saying that he hoped Rome would be like he remembered it from two years ago. I told him not to worry Rome never changes it is eternal in its beauty.

    I am posting this Hymn to Rome by Puccini, sung here by Beniamino Gigli, it says it all. Pictured is the Vittoriano or the Altar to the Italian Nation on Piazza Venezia. A little fact about this monument built in 1890, prior to its construction stood the hill on which was the ARX or Citadel of Rome with the sacred Geese. It was bulldozed to put this monument in its place, behind it is the Roman Forum. During our trip I will be updating regularly how things are going with pictures and description.
    An excerpt from the Hymn; The rising sun on the chariot of the god Apollo streams across the sky. You will never see a greater city in the world as Rome.

    Sunday, 20 October 2013

    Sunday in Autumn

    Today was a beautiful sunny Autumn day. The air was crisp and the colours bright in the sunlight. The Rideau Canal has been emptied over the Thanksgiving Weekend another boating season has come and gone. It is now full of ducks and Canada geese who just sun themselves and pick at the fish in shallow waters.

    Took a few pictures of the Canal now drained for winter, ready to be turned into a skating rink. Hopefully the weather this coming winter will be cold enough for skaters. Last year we had good weather for skating, one of the best season in 20 years.

    In the meantime we can enjoy a beautiful day. I looked at the weather for Rome and it appears that 20 to 22 C is the norm at this time of year. Warmer in Spain up to 25 C. easy to take, but still at night around 14 C so a sweater is in order. I got my European Nokia phone out today and charged it. I bought it in Italy 2 years ago for a fraction of what it would cost here in Canada. This way I have a local cel phone with a Roman number so I can call friends easily in town. I also bought a chip for the UK which I can use in the same phone. The phone and chip cost next to nothing when compared to what you have to pay in Canada.

     A rose bouquet brought to us by our friend J.H. the other night, beautiful

     The water in the Rideau Canal is very clear and you can see the fish swimming about.

     One of the many old and beautiful trees along the Canal

     The George Patterson inlet branching off from the Rideau Canal

    Looking South towards Lansdowne Park

    Saturday, 19 October 2013

    Europa, the champagne cure.

    We are just a few days away from our European Cruise and thinking of it next Sunday we will be in Rome, not a bad prospect.

    We return to Rome for a few days to see our friends and to visit the City, as if we did not walk it enough in all the years we live there. But Rome, Eternal Beauty has always something to show. We have our tickets to the special exhibits we wish to see on Augustus and Cleopatra, he disliked her big time unlike his uncle Julius Caesar who liked her. We will also go to see the Domus Romane a roman house under the Valentini Palace discovered and restored. Patrician house from antiquity in central Rome. Not to mention going to our favourite restaurants for Roman cuisine and great wines and real coffee.

     Museum of Modern Art

     Pyramid of Caius Cestius, Tribune of the People and gate of St-Paul

    View of the Roman Forum
    Piazza Spagna

    Official Entrance to the Holy See

     The Museum of the Villa Borghese 

    The Altar to the Nation, Piazza Venezia, the largest marble monument in the world.

    The Fountain of the Turtles, a personal favourite, built for Muzio Mattei on a design by Giacomo della Porta in 1581 with sculptures by Taddeo Landini.