We have been “residents” of the Trastevere area of Rome for over a month now and love the “feel” of life here. Yes, we miss Canada, we miss our home and friends and family, but we know we may never have a chance like this to live like a local in Rome.
Trastevere’s narrow, winding streets are full of small boutiques, artisans and outdoor trattorias. I have read that it is compared to New York’s SoHo or Greenwich Village. The shops are small, some barely the size of a large closet, but they are filled with “treasures”. There is one store that we recently discovered which is stocked floor to ceiling. It reminds me of the old corner stores in Edmonton when I was growing up. Except this one also has a great selection of Limoncello.
We have also discovered the local produce market in nearby Piazza San Cosimato. We walk there with our backpack and stock up on our produce for supper for much less than what we pay in Canada. Not far from that market is another discovery. The grocery store that the locals were trying to hide from us tourists. We found it by chance and it has become “our store” for all the real “necessities” such as cheese and wine. By buying our vegetables at the market, and fresh pasta (and wine) at the grocery store, some of our suppers cost about the same as two Starbucks lattes.
Rome is one of the greenest cities in Europe. One of our favourite “discoveries” in our “neighbourhood” is Villa Doria Pamphili. It’s not what it sounds. “Villa” in Italy means large gardens or a park which in centuries past also happened to have a huge summer “villa/house” for the upper crust. Villa Doria Pamphili is an amazing 455 acres of green space in the middle of Rome. It was sold to the State in the 1960’s thanks to a slight tax problem by the then owner. It’s now a joggers/walkers paradise. One day, seeing all the runners doing their thing made us feel a bit guilty and lazy so we decided to ….. Luigi power walked while I did a slow jog/crawl. It was a pitiful attempt at jogging, but we felt less guilty and besides, where can you jog beside centuries old sculptures.
There is a huge beautiful building smack in the middle. If that was their “summer home”, I do wonder what their “winter home” looked like. The villa’s “summer house” was built in the 1600’s. As if the 455 acres of greenery where not enough for them, they also have a manicured Italian garden as their backyard along with a small pond. A large pond, or lake is a little further back and has swans, ducks and other feathered creatures (I think they are a more recent addition than the statues). Besides joggers and dog walkers in the park, we have seen a boxer in training, a soccer match, cyclists and even a kung fu-ist doing his thing. Oh yeah, on our last trip we saw two police officers on horseback. We took numerous photos of them… you would think we never saw police on horses before. After our huge, long, strenuous walk/jog in the villa, we sit down on a bench to rest and snack on some juicy clementine oranges we had bought at the market. At 5pm, we were once serenaded by vespers echoing from the nearby Basilica San Pancrazio. We then walked down the Janiculum hill to our apartment to reward ourselves with a healthy glass of ….. wine.
Sunday morning in Trastevere is reserved for a trip to the Porta Portese market. It is a huge street market, part garage sale, part antique market and a whole lot of new clothing and shoe vendors. You can buy everything there… you can probably even buy back something that was previously stolen from you. There arevendors selling every kind of small electronic gadget ever invented. That’s Luigi’s favourite part of the market. I always have to drag him away so that we can get to the porchetta (pork roast stuffed with garlic, herbs) panini seller for lunch. Recently, I was searching for a pair of boots, but when I tried them on, they felt like walking on cement. Nix the boots. I also attempted to search through the “Tutto one euro” table of sweaters. First you push your way to the table, then start digging. I never found anything I would even pay one euro for, but it made me feel like a local. I did find what I thought was a bargain…a travel size hair flat iron. I asked, in my best Italian “Quanto costa?”, her reply “Otto” (eight euros) I replied “Cinque” (five)… my first attempt at bargaining, Italian style. I got it for five. Feeling pretty smug I then tried the same tactic on the kitchen supply seller. I wanted the set of three wine glasses as I was tired of drinking wine out of our tiny juice glasses. “Quanto Costa?” He wanted 4.5 euro. I offered 4. He looked at me like I was hard of hearing. They were worth 4.5 to me anyway. What did Luigi buy, besides the porchetta panini for lunch? A multi plug-in thingy for all our electronics. Did he bargain? Nope. And it didn’t even work. But he did buy LED lights for the boat to replace the old, energy inefficient lights, and the cost was 10 % of what we would pay in Canada…. not sure why.
More about Trastevere in future posts…