One of the most common questions my friends ask me is where did you get that? Often my answer is “In Italy”. Italian craftsman and artisans make everything you can think of and often these products are considered the best of the best. Paper, Wine, Bedding, Shoes, Fountain Pens, Perfume, Chocolate, Clothing, Jewelry, Cars, etc. etc. etc. etc…………………..!!!
I have created a permanent page on this blog where I continue to add links to some of my favorite products and stores where you can find them both in Italy and the United States. Divertiti!!
Romans, like most of us, love to shop and I am not talking about window shopping!
Outdoor and weekend markets, upscale clothing, kitchen wares, decorative design and furniture – there is something for everyone. Via Cavour, Via Condotti, Via Veneto, Via del Corso all great streets for shopping and worth a visit. One of my favorites, however, is Via Margutta. A narrow street in the historical center near both the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. Sometimes referred to a “the foreigner’s quarter”. Originally home to craftsman and artisans, workshops and stables, you will now now discover art galleries, restaurants, chic hotels, and boutiques selling decorative arts and clothing.
Beyond Via Margutta there are several special shops that I discovered while living in Rome and would encourage you to visit if you have the time.
Gusto – For the latest in kitchen gadgets. You can literally spend hours here. Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 7
Ditta G. Poggi – Art supplies, fountain pens, paper, inks, etc. Via del Gesù, 74/75
Confetteria Moriondo & Gariglio – Amazing homemade chocolates and candies. Stepping into this shop is like stepping back in time. Via del Pie’ di Marmo, 21/22
Roscioli Salumeria – A wine bar, delicatessen, bakery, gourmet emporium. I can’t say enough about the staff or some of the amazing prosciutto including venison. Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22
It took me a few trips to Rome to finally take advantage of the many weekend markets. Partially because these markets don’t occur in the same place and you have to know the schedule to take advantage of them. I have listed some of my favorites and by no means are these all of the markets. I encourage you to share any markets that you have found and enjoy. Spending a weekend morning wandering the many stalls is one of my favorite activities. Getting to and from the markets is also a wonderful way to discover new rione of Rome. A special thanks to my friend at the American Embassy in Rome who guided me to many of these incredible markets!!
Ponte Milvio Market– 1st Sunday of every month. Located just next to the Ponte Milvio Bridge north of the city. Accessible by taxi or the # 2 tram from Piazza del Popolo. This is one of my favorite markets not only due to its location along the river and near the bridge but for the wide array of antiques, old prints, rugs, jewelry, silver, glass, linens, and objet d’art.
Porta Portese Market – Every sunday. Located next to the old gate Porta Portese in Trestevere this market is HUGE and gets very crowded. If you are looking for kitchen items, new and used clothing, dvd’s, small electronics, shoes, and knick knacks then you will love this hodge podge of vendors.
Verdi Market– 4th Sunday of every month. Located near the Borghese Gardens. This market is not to terribly large and has some very good quality antiques, linens, furniture, rugs, prints, books, housewares, ceramics, silver, and jewelry. I highly recommend going if you can.
Borghetto Flamino Market– Every Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm. This market charges a nominal entry fee of 1.60 euros. Antiques, vintage clothing, handcrafted items, vintage signs – postcards – jewelry, unusual items.
We all have our favorites – blues, greens, reds, pinks, oranges, yellows. No two places seem to have used the same paint but rather are a variation of the other. Every time I went for a walk I had the pleasure of discovering a new color – even routes travelled every day. As hard as I might try with the camera to capture the authenticism of the colors in my photographs I felt it was impossible.
Only after I picked up a paintbrush and attempted to paint with watercolor, what was in front of me, did I feel I had a fighting chance to get it right. If you ever wanted to try something new, artistically, Rome is the place to inspire you – Painting, Photography, Drawing.
My favorite store to visit and browse art supplies is Ditta G. Poggi, located near the Pantheon. They carry everything you could possibly need or want to be creative. UNLEASH YOUR INNER ARTIST!
View of the Vatican from Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill, Rome, 2012
Within the ancient walls of Rome are the Seven Hills upon which the city was built – Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinial, and Viminal. In addition there are many other hills outside the walls of the historic center – Cispian, Janiculium, Monte Mario, Oppian, Pinican, Vatican, and Velian. All of them offer spectacular views and I encourage anyone visiting Rome to take the time to climb one or more. One of my favorites is the Aventine. There you can enjoy one of the best views of the city as well as the church of Santa Sabina, mother church for the order of Dominicans. I recommend approaching the hill from the north near the Circus Maximus and departing down the hill toward Via Marmorata. Time permitting visit Vopetti and the Protestant Cemetery. You can spend an entire day in this rione (Ripa)
One of the best adventures you can have in Rome is to take a cooking class. You meet interesting people from around the globe, have a wonderful shared experience, and you get to eat what you make. WARNING: It can be addictive!
One of the most intimidating foods for me was pasta. It is an investment of time and you need the proper equipment. Like most things the investment is worth it! I had tried and tried at home but to no avail. I am a visual learner and will always be grateful to Andrea for showing me the proper way to prepare delicious pasta. The following recipe is easy to make and I know you will not only enjoy the experience but you will also impress your friends. Once you get the hang of it you can make pasta in about 30 minutes.
Ingredients for pasta for four people:
– 4 cups of flour (Important to get flour that is tipo 00 – this is a very finely sieved flour, In Italy it’s called farina di grano tenero, which means ‘tender’ or ‘soft’ flour. Most Italian speciality stores carry this item)
– 4 eggs and a pinch of salt
– Pasta Maker(I recommend the Imperia Pasta Machine)
– Bowl, Fork, Pastry Scraper, large plastic pan/tray filled with semolina flour
Mix 4 cups/400gr tipo 00 flour with 4 eggs. Pour the flour on a flat stable surface, I prefer the countertop, and create a well in the middle of the flour about the size of your fist. It should look like a squat volcano. Crack the eggs into a bowl to ensure that you don’t get any egg shells in your pasta. Pour the eggs into the well you have created in the flour. Add a pinch of salt. Carefully and slowly begin to whisk the eggs with a fork incorporating flour from the sides of the well. You can also pick up some of the flour between your fingers and slowly drop into the egg mixture from about 4 or 5 inches above – keep whisking. Continue doing this until the flour and egg mixture are well incorporated. If the well breaks it is ok just have a pastry scraper handy so you can keep pushing everything together. At some point you need to use your hands and knead the ingredients together. Don’t be intimidated. When you are finished you should have a ball of dough about the size of a baseball.
Now you are ready to crank the pasta through the pasta machine. Cut the dough into four equal size pieces with your pastry scraper. Pat the dough flat so you can feed it into the opening on the machine. Rub with some flour so the dough doesn’t get stuck in the machine. Begin cranking the pasta through the machine with the setting set to the widest width. Do this about three times and then reduce the width to about half and crank through three or four more times. The pasta will get thinner and longer – you may need to cut the resulting strip (4 inches wide and possibly 18 inches long) of pasta in half at some point and then feed both halves through. Reduce the width again to the slimmest setting and crank the pasta through again a few more times. You will be amazed at how the pasta “grows”. Andrea’s advice to me – “You know the pasta is perfect when it feels like a baby’s bottom” smooth smooth smooth. Once you achieve the desired thinness you can then use the cutting mechanism to make linguini, fettuccine, or spaghetti. One secret that Andrea showed me – have a large plastic pan/tray filled with semolina flour to put the cut pasta into. You can then shake the pasta around gently in the pan and the flour will keep the pasta from sticking together before you cook it. Let the pasta sit and rest for few minutes before cooking, then put a large pot of boiling water over high heat. When the water is boiling, toss in a tablespoon of salt with the pasta. Stir to keep the pasta from sticking. Cook for a few minutes (1 to 2 minutes, fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried) until a piece of pasta tastes cooked. You are now ready to serve your spectacular effort with a variety of choices for sauce, Bolognese, Marinara, Alfredo, etc.