Reporters flying to Rome and back
Life starts and ends in Stokey, a famous man once said.
Our trip to Rome did start in Stokey, long before the actual date of flight. We were flaneuring somewhere between Clissold Park and a Turkish barber shop, watching summer walk by.
We both love Nook. And that day we did the most unsurprising thing: we entered the little shop with no intention to buy anything whatsoever. We just wanted to “get some inspiration”. Julie found this foldable city guide called “Rome, moods and places”. I was excited watching her eyes getting bigger. We were making jokes about how I would carelessly enjoy the trip while Julie would be taking the perfect pictures. I would be writing the story afterwards, trying to retrace our steps.
Flying with Brussels Airlines is great, and especially when your companion is an official #brusselsairlinesreporter. Vertically-challenged travelers don’t have to worry about leg room, and those who are sensitive to great customer service notice that the flight crew has the most genuine smiles.
We decided to stay in a hotel in the city center to improve our chances of finding a gelateria on our way back to the hotel. There’s nothing better than having gelato al pistacchio to end a day of touristy stuff. Cool down.
We started our first night with cocktails and antipasti at Bar del Fico. Old Italian men were sitting outside playing chess. Tourists and locals gathered around, all united in the pace of the game. Julie had the famous Moscow Mule and I went for the Honey Basil with Jamaican rum. We both tried the delicious focaccia bread for free.
It was quite difficult to find a proper place for dinner as there are so many restaurants in the old streets of Rome. It seems many restaurants tailor their menus towards a slightly more touristy audience, while others firmly believe in a menu that reflects authenticity.
We were looking for the latter, because that’s what we do. We enjoyed some real Italian food in a place called Cibo. Italian families were having dinner and sharing plates. They were looking at us, scanning our clothes and faces. They concluded we were Nordic locals.
Walking through the streets at night is both epic and soothing. All that remains of Roman imperialism is lit by night, and there’s a certain calm surrounding these monuments. It’s as if the rule for time is different here.
On the next day, we decided to dial up those moments of tourism. We took the sightseeing bus and promoted ourselves to tourists of the year. We took snaps of the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, the Vatican and Fontana di Navona. We listened to classical music through our headphones when the tour guide was taking a break.
During one of our stops, we went to Urbana 47 to have lunch. We had gnocchi with beef ragu and it was splendid. Urbana 47 changes their menu from time to time, which allows you to eat the seasons.
We decided to go for an afternoon stroll with no real purpose. We walked through narrow streets, climbed the steps and could occasionally peep into city people’s walls to discover the most beautiful patios.
Julie had this thing with these massive Roman bonsai. From time to time, she was looking up and staring at these ginormous trees. It took me a while to understand where her fascination came from, but then I realized: these trees were holding up the sky.
That night, we crossed the Tiber and went to Trastevere. On our way, we saw an outdoor cinema screen next to the river. Locals were queueing up without blankets. We were strolling down the streets and we were surprised about how different this area is.
We concluded that Trastevere is the Kreuzberg of Rome. Instead of Club Mate with vodka, we had Aperol Spritz on the little terrace of Ombre Rosse. We had the freshest Bruschetta and were staring at the Tarot card readers who were having a hard time attracting people. We were both curious what the future will bring.
On our last day we took a break from the traditional monuments, and decided to spend our morning at the MAXXI museum. One of the great exhibitions, called Food Dal Cucchiaio Al Mondo, explored how food crosses, changes and influences the body, houses, streets, cities and the landscape of the entire world. From the meaning of kitchens in the Soviet Union to Tesco’s Virtual Subway store billboard.
We ended our trip on a Tintin plane back to Brussels and reflected on three amazing days.