Just back from dinner at a beautiful trattoria around the corner from our small apartment in Sant’Estachio. It is amazing to me how so many small restaurants and bars can exist in these seemingly obscure back alleyways and all of them are busy. There are restaurants literally everywhere in this area. And the majority of them are excellent.
We have moved our group of four from Termini, near the Colosseum and the main train station in Rome, just across the Forum, past the giant building with the huge statues all over it that is only a hundred and fifty years old and less than ten minutes drive away. We are staying in a two-roomed apartment that we rented online. It is a basement that is lovely in its décor and kind of moist-smelling as you descend under the block of apartments above into our space. We feel really happy about having two rooms instead of sharing one between the four of us as we have for the past few weeks.
This area is lovely – there are leather goods, clothes shops, world-renowned gelataria and restaurants in small cobbled streets that fan out from piazza after piazza. Fountains, churches and small moments of nostalgia and coolness are imminently discoverable.
We have spent the last couple of days literally wandering from square (“piazza”) to square and from alley to alley, dodging motorbikes, taxis and cars with the intermittent crowds of people. There are sparkling lights strung up across from one side to the other that illuminate the wet cobbled streets in soft colour and people chat and meander and eat and drink and all seems well with the world.
This morning we went to the Colosseum in the rain. It was strangely still in its antiquity despite being covered in large numbers of tourists, their umbrellas and their many tour guides. I decided to research the history myself (feeling qualified – I am a history teacher after all) rather than pay the 200 Euro for a kids’ tour.
It felt good to tell stories and engage the family with the little I had crammed yesterday. The place is fascinating and bittersweet. The things it is famous for are ultimately brutal and bloody, with a death toll of a million slaves, convicted criminals and other performers as well as two species of animal – the Balkan lion and the north African elephant – notoriously sent to extinction by the demand placed on them by the hunting shows there. Nonetheless, it is a world heritage listed building because of its sheer size and importance. The building is still the template for stadiums even 2000 years after is construction – by mainly Jewish slaves, and funded by the sacking of the 2nd Jerusalem temple. I had mixed feelings being there and being wowed by its glory.
Lunch was spent over another fortuitous meeting – an Italian friend who we know from Sydney taking us to a local eatery that spoiled us with the sheer delight of simple and tasty fare. We laughed, drank and ate thoroughly enjoying this understated establishment, typically humble in furnishings and delivering above expectation in flavour. Chairs too close together don’t’ matter when the food and the half carafe of house wine are that good. I found yet another dish I would like to learn to make at home. Italian food was and is still one of my favourite cuisines the world over.
And the street art continues to bring me great joy.