last day in Rome

We went to some new places and some old places.  The newest was in the morning when we went over to Mercato Testaccio, a new indoor marketplace that is really a local store of vendors for the neighborhood.

There are the fruit and vegetable stores.

The cheese and charcuterie shop.

The fish store and more.

In the center there is seating for all.  Really well done spot.

We did not have breakfast there but headed a few blocks to a local spot where people stand over the counter, toss back their coffee, have an Italian pastry and start their day.  We joined in the fun.

A block down the street is Volpetti.  A place that I had been to before.  Think Zabars of Rome.

We soldiered onward to a local Greenmarket that is held every day except Sunday from morning until mid-afternoon.  It is very community-based.  There is a large playground for kids and an outdoor movie screen set up for nightly summer viewings.

It was seriously hot and it will only get hotter as the summer progresses.  We probably put in 6 miles of walking today and it isn’t easy walking on these streets.  They still have the old cobblestones.

Next stop is a small bakery behind the Jewish Museum.  I honestly do not know the name but there is always a line.  Run by a small family of Jewish women who make mandel bread and loaves of bread with dried fruit inside. When we first found this place they only made four items, they have expanded outside of that in the past years but the dried fruit bread is still quite delicious.  When we first found this place they only made four items, they have expanded outside of that in the past years but the dried fruit bread is still quite delicious.

We walked over to Campo Fiori.  I have been coming to Rome over the past 30 years.  When we were here with the family over a decade ago, Campo Fiori was charming and authentic.  Today, not so much.  It is laden with tourist stands shouting out in English signs to ship the pastas home.  I found it depressing.  Not one of those stands was authentic even the local fruits were not being sold by the farmers.  It is pure tourism.

For lunch we returned to a place we discovered over a decade ago, Antico Forno, run by the Roscioli family.  That too as gone way downhill.  Once you could go in and get a pizza hot out of the oven where they would cut it in half and then create a sandwich wrapped in plastic wrap, it is no longer.  Nothing is heated.  You can no longer even see the ovens and the food has gone way down hill.  Another major disappointment.

It is always wonderful just to see the beauty of the buidings and the greenery draping down the building.

We were sweaty and exhausted so we went back for a little rest and relaxation before making our way out to dinner.  We went to Bistrot 64, a Michelin starred restaurant that is a bit more creative than your average Italian restaurant.  I wasn’t sure if we should go but in the end I figured a little different was a good thing.  In the past, I have been less than impressed with the Michelin star recognition in Europe.  I should have trusted my gut.

The restaurant is serene and beautiful yet the food, although creative and interesting in presentation was honestly inedible.

A green pasta dish ( I can’t remember what it was )

Black sea bass.

Cuttlefish with peas.  All so beautiful but inedible.  Such a bummer.

My wrap up on Italy is that their economy is resting on the beauty of the country and tourism.  I left Rome feeling empty.  In the past I have always felt a romantic connection with Italy.  The food has been delicious, the people are warm and inviting, the country is just beautiful but I did not feel that this time.  I felt like they are resting on their laurels and even the people felt tired.  Made me sad.  It is a place I have always loved visiting.  Particularly as we are watching many governments attempt to line up with the past instead of thinking about the future.  My guess is as Europe has become one, the really smart entrepreneurial spirits are leaving to go to other areas of Europe where there is opportunity.  It has been good for Europe but not for individual countries who are not forward thinking.  Italy needs to think about their future because tourism can’t be the only thing that keeps their GNP running.