As you all know, August is the month when Europeans take their own holidays, and the Italians are no exception. The vibe around the neighborhood is different as some shops have signs up saying closed for August or closed this week or whatever the signs say. This is August here in Rome and I suspect other places in Italy and the Italians take their summer holiday. This week Rosa and I did some exploring in some of the parks earlier this week and this past weekend, we took the train Saturday to Bracciano, which has an amazing medieval castle and a gorgeous volcanic lake with the same name. As you may have seen on Facebook and the pictures I shared earlier. Rosa pointed out that Tom Cruise got married at the castle to Katie Holmes, but that, like Roman history is ancient. Still have not seen the Top Gun Maverick movie, but it can be seen here in Rome with Italian subtitles. We will see.
And yesterday, after a very leisurely morning, we took an afternoon drive to Castelli Romani and she shared three of the amazing towns in the part of Italy, with the beautiful mountains, the volcanic lakes and what these places are famous for. She is a guide and sometimes wants to be with me, but I just want to enjoy the time with her. The three places we went to, wandered about, tasted some foods were Nemi, Ariccia and Frascati. Ariccia is known for its porchetta and also a very high bridge, where many took their own lives. We did not do either, but just enjoyed the views and then when we got to Frascati, we enjoyed the porchetta and it was worth it. The crispy skin is amazing. In any case, it was a very enjoyable day, but the evening was to be also……. as we were going to celebrate our time together, coming up on 2 ½ years.
Of course, I am sure many of you have heard of Eataly, maybe not. It is a large venue near the train station Roma Ostiense and apparently, this building was first built during the World Cup here in Rome, but at one point, it was also a disco, so Rosa tells me. Now, it is a very large supermarket, with many different authentic, but high-priced foods from not just around Italy, but other parts of Europe, as well. It is bio (organic), and I am sure tastes good. We went there as they have a restaurant that was doing Italian regional food weeks and this week was Sardinia, and the offering, and not having been to Sardinia yet, was intriguing to try, so we made a reservation at the Cucina and Pizza. Now, while this was the last day of this event, it was still advertised and, in the reservation, we stated the reason we wanted to come in and do this, not the regular menu, which we could have done anytime. In short, they did not have the items, or should I say they ran out, but tried to make something in its place, that was neither inspiring, tasty, or looked good and as I said about Eataly in the first place, overpriced. I realize this is a tourist attraction for some. The tour bus they use, was parked outside, this was not only my first time there, but also my last time there, not the reason to come to Rome and I can recommend many other foodie experiences that will give you pleasure and not be rip off to your wallet.
Authenticity is not what this place was about in my opinion, the restaurant, and the food was lackluster at best and the service was even less so. The little shops inside seemed authentic enough, but I would not recommend this place. Yes, I am an American and have a different point of view, but my fiancé, is an Italian, as you well know, and she was not impressed either. She even expressed to the “manager”, if that is what he was, that as an Italian, she was embarrassed, by the experience and that, if they did not have what was advertised, and they had our contact information, they should have contacted us, but they did not as the Sardinian menu was the reason for going there, not just to see another tourist attraction. As I said, there are many other authentic experiences in the neighborhoods of Rome and the agritourismo experiences in the towns and villages across Italy which we had in Bracciano and in Castello Romani. Eataly is just another tourist trap and not even in the historic center. If you want to go, you need to get to Roma Ostiense and even though that is only one stop from where we live, I won’t return. Rosa even said, maybe the locals go here once or twice a month, or was it once or twice a year, I don’t remember, but she had not been there in years, and she was not impressed by the food when she went with friends the last time she was there.
To get off the subject of the place above, this week, I start my practicum with two potential students in English, so I can get my certification, hopefully by month’s end, and we will see, but also, another avenue to share in my experiences here in Italy. I am excited and a bit nervous, but tomorrow I jump right in, do some assessments, and move forward. Rosa and I also have some other things going on, but those to be shared in next week’s blog post of this American in Rome and a few more words added to my Italian vocabulary in any case. It has and continues to be a very special experience here in Rome and beyond and the second half of my time continues and excited to see what happens next.
Until next week and the continual sharing of pictures of my experiences here from this American in Rome and beyond, as always, I am interested in your thoughts, comments, questions and adding to the discourse is always appreciated be in on the site itself or on Facebook, Twitter or wherever you read this. Thank you for your support of my crazy little world and of my small business. It is truly appreciated!!!
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Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin