Monday, March 2, 2015

{Vacation ReCap} Rome Italy: Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, & theColleseum at Night

After wrapping up the Vatican tour, we walked back to our neighborhood to grab lunch (it was only noon after all).  We were starving and randomly chose Sette Oche Ristorante because it had outdoor seating.  It ended up being a great choice!  I had perhaps the best gluten free pasta yet, and the blanco house wine was only 8 Euros - Score!

Tom made friends with the cat who joined us for Lunch

After satisfying everything but our sweet tooth, we decided to grab some gelato and head back to the apartment to rest up a bit before heading out again.

Refreshed from the afternoon downtime, we got ready and began the walk to the Spanish Steps and Trevi fountain before dinner.   The walk itself was beautiful...

Unfortunately for us, when we arrived we realized that the Trevi Fountain was closed for repairs. It was completly dry and almost entirely obstructed...womp womp.  We found out that the House of Fendi took it upon themselves to restore it which was unfortunatley timed with our trip.  Oh well.

It was then time to check out the Spanish Steps and I have to say, we weren't the biggest fans...and not just because the Trinit√† dei Monti was also under construction...

I had heard that it was a cool place to sit and people watch and generally hang out, but I couldn't wait to leave almost as soon as we got there. There were pushy guys thrusting roses into my face everywhere I turned, and they didnt take simple "No's!" for an answer.  Thoroughly annoyed, we decided to climb to the top to enjoy the view and then move on to grab a much needed cocktail.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to find the Hotel Hassler where we had origionally planned to enjoy drinks, we decided to go ahead and get dinner instead.  A co-worker highly recommended the restaurant we had in mind and knowing that they have great taste in food, we were excited to give it a try.

Ristorante Pietro Valentini  exceeded all expectations.  Not only was it perhaps one of the best meals we have EVER had, we were blown away at the hospitality and warmth of the owner, Semona.

Once she found out I was gluten free, she asked me my name and everytime a course came out, as she walked by she would say "Megan, tell me:  how is that gluten free?" in the most adorable, kind way.  Beyond that, the food itself was outstanding.   We heard this place was known for their generous use of Tuscan truffles and when our pasta arrived, we were not disapointed. Semona brought over a huge truffle and proceeded to shave it onto our pasta like it was just a normal hunk of parmesean cheese.  Our only regret is that we split this dish instead of ordering our own.

I mean, just look at all those truffle shavings...yummm....

In addition to the pasta starter, we also split a bottle of wine, fresh fish (we saw them walk the fish into the kitchen after we ordered it!) and steak.  While it was a relatively simple meal, the quality of the food and the way it was prepared made it stand out.

The restaurant was small and intimate and thankfully not overrun with tourists (There were definitely a few solo Italians enjoying a meal), we sat next to a nice couple and found out we had a TON in common.

Not only were they also from the Chicago area, the husband, like Tom, works in Finance.  Beyond that, they too had just come to Rome from Florence and like us, were on their way to Positano the very next day.  Furthermore, they were staying at the same hotel we were heading to!  They were even leaving Italy the same day we were and gave us a heads up that we should keep an eye out for the airline strike that was rumored to hit around then.   What a small world.

Making the world feel even smaller, another gentleman accross the restaurant overheard Tom say where he worked - and even though he lives in NY - wanted to know if Tom knew his financial advisor.  Figuring it a long shot because there are several offices all over Chicago, he indulged him. And whadda know?  Tom knew of the guy and said he would pass along his regards.  Too funny!

After stuffing ourselves, we decided against drinks elsewhere as we knew we should think about heading back soon to pack.  Even though the day was starting to catchup with us, we couldn't resist jumping into a cab to see the Colleseum at night. I have heard it is so beautiful and knew this would be our only opportunity to see it lit up.  Semona kindly hailed a cab for us ("I get you cab, Megan...Gluten Free!"  I died).

The somewhat out of the way stop was totally worth it. Seeing this at night is a sight I won't soon forget.

Random:  how cool are these ancient fountains which still provide incredibly fresh spring water?

We called it at that point, figuring we could enjoy a drink while packing up back at the apartment.  We would need to be ready to leave straight away after finishing our tour of the Colleseum the next day!

I have to mention that a few months later, we recieved a fun surpirse that took us back to this awesome night:  Semona sent a Christmas card and it put ridiculously huge smiles on our faces!  What a great lady!


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