Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rome in the rain

Porta del Popolo
I headed out early on another rainy day to meet some friends in Rome. Actually, they are friends of Deborah, the woman I'm house-sitting for, but they invited me to meet them for lunch that day. I arrived several hours early so I could explore the area between Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna, where we planned to meet.

Piazza del Popolo
First, I went to Santa Maria del Popolo to see two Caravaggio paintings in the Chigi chapel of the church. Then I made my way down Via del Corso to view the house where Goethe lived when he stayed in Rome. A few streets over I found the decrepit mausoleum of Emperor Augustus and his family (from 26 BC!), then the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace), built about the same time, but still in pristine condition, as it is made of marble rather than the brick of the mausoleum.

A flower vendor stops on Via del Corso to make a sale
Titti and Luana had asked me to meet them at Babington's, a tea house near Piazza di Spagna. I was confused by this, as drinking tea in Rome is not something I am eager to do in Rome, and the prices at this particular spot are a bit high: at least 10 euros for a single cup of tea! I'd rather spend my money on Italian food. But situated as it is across from Gucci, Dior and Prada stores, and the Keats-Shelley museum, it seems they can get away with charging whatever they want.

Titti met me in front of Babington's, carrying a large umbrella with the American flag on it in my honor. Fortunately, tea was not on the agenda for the day: it turns out that the tea house is simply a convenient place to meet. Instead, we proceeded to the Antica Enoteca, where we met Luana, and settled in with glasses of wine and aperitivi (appetizers), served by the lovely sommelier, Silvia. For more info, here's a link:

Antica Enoteca Wine Bar/Restaurant

Titti and Luana at Antica Enoteca
Titti, Luana and Deborah had all worked as flight attendants for more than 20 years on the Alitalia airline, until they were laid off three years ago. Their layoff entitled them to cassa integrazione, a kind of monthly payment, until they are old enough to retire. However, with the current economic situation in Italy, the cassa integrazione is in danger of being eliminated, which would leave these three women and numerous other Italians with no income until they can retire. Since job options are few and far between in Italy, even for the young, they are worried about their future, and rightfully so. In fact, there was a protest in Rome at Piazza della Repubblica that day about the cassa integrazione situation.

Titti and Luana headed for the Pantheon

After the aperitivi, we headed out to locate a restaurant that Silvia had recommended near the Pantheon, Osteria del Sostegno. By this time, it was raining pretty steadily, and the streets were filled with colorful umbrellas. At the Pantheon, we watched the rain coming through the oculus (opening) in the center of the dome, and stopped to view the tomb of Rafael. At the restaurant, we had a feast of antipasti that Silvia had recommended we try. Everything was exquisitely delicious. Then we each had a primo (first course), along with more wine, and an exceptional tiramisu for dessert. Another fabulous meal in Rome! I was happy to make the acquaintance of Titti and Luana, and we have plans to meet for lunch again in a few weeks.

For more info on the restaurant, here's a link:  Il Sostegno

Le ragazze all' Antica Enoteca

1 comment:

LindyLouMac said...

We do need the rain, but I think we have had enough now, although it did not spoil your day by the sounds of it.