He wanted to start the trip with a quick spin through London. Long on my bucket list, I was thrilled with the idea of a visit to London. It turned out to be another Rome to me; a place where I felt immediately at home and where the tug to return began the minute the wheels were up on the plane as we left. But the bulk of the trip was about Italy. We would follow our brief London visit with 4 days in Sorrento and 5 days in Rome. The itinerary? Find a seat at a cafe near something beautiful and drink wine. That was it. Relax, people watch and consume great wine and food.
|What's cuter than a red Mini Cooper?|
This was our first time to Italy by ourselves. Each trip before had been with friends or family and we were always playing tour guide and working hard to keep the masses happy. With the luxury of time and no agenda whatsoever, I spent a little time thinking of things that I had wanted to do in visits past, but did not follow through on, either because of group dynamics or lack of time. And then it dawned on me, I realized that I could take a private tour with Elizabeth Minchilli.
Elizabeth had several styles of tours available; group, individual, day long, week long, all centered around the food and lifestyle of various areas of Rome. We were looking for a slice of Roman life, which lead us to the Insider's Tour of Testaccio, a real Roman neighborhood, just outside of the central tourist belt.
This private tour started in the Piazza Testaccio and took us through the cafes, storefronts, market and abandoned meat processing plant that are built in, on and around the Monte Testaccio. The hill and it's surrounding neighborhood are unique and interesting and Elizabeth peppered us with fascinating information about how it came to be and it's very long and distinctive history.
|Beautiful and fragrant oranges|
|Artichokes that made me green with envy at their quality.|
|Amazing fried artichokes|
We ate lunch at Flavio Velavevodetto, a restaurant literally built into the Monte Testaccio. The food was otherworldly delicious. We enjoyed Caccio e Pepe, pillowy, herb and cheese stuffed ravioli and yes, even some "quinto quarto" favorites like lungs, liver and tripe. Elizabeth can claim accomplishment of being the first person to get me to eat tripe. Not just one bite, but two! This is a bigger accomplishment than she will ever know.
|Cacio e Pepe|
|This ravioli is what angels use for pillows.|
|Pizza Bianca with Mortadella|
|Gelato. A sweet ending.|
After our tour ended, we walked along the Tiber as the sun came down behind the buildings along its bank. We reflected on our fabulous day, all that we learned and the stunning beauty and distinctive charm of Rome. We felt closer to it than ever before and had a warm and comforting feeling in our hearts and in our bellies. Elizabeth helped to further cement our love for Rome and fuel our desire to return and learn more. Arrivederci Roma. Until we meet again...