Rome, Take 2

A plate of pasta carbonara at Hostaria Romana in Rome, Italy

Our cruise ended, we still had a few days left in our trip to explore Rome and Venice. Before we left the ship, we went to O’Sheehan’s for one more pub style breakfast. There was a mix-up with our shuttle and we were nearly stranded at the cruise terminal.

By the time we made it back and settled into our hotel, we were ready for lunch. Our guide for Taste of Testaccio had recommended a pizza joint called Trieste. Small, cramped, cash only, with staff who begrudgingly spoke English, it was good that the crispy, personal pan-sized pizzas didn’t disappoint. We tried the margherita, salsiccia, and carbonara.

Mini pizzas at Trieste in Rome, Italy
Small in size, big in flavor.

Post-pizza, we went on a Crypts and Catacombs tour provided by Dark Rome. No photos were allowed, but the tour ranked as one of our favorites. We saw the Catacombs, San Clemente, and (our favorite) the Capuchin Crypt. The guide did a great job of illustrating how the Capuchins’ desire to continue beyond their death has been realized, as people visit their bones and talk about them hundreds of years after their death. It was a powerful reminder of the fleetingness of life and humanity’s struggle for permanence.

Continuing our tour of sobering realizations, we saw the balcony where Mussolini declared Italy’s involvement in WWII.

The balcony where Mussolini declared World War II
Not an official part of the Dark Rome Tour, but probably should be.

After a lengthy tour (nearly 4 hours of walking and lots of stairs), we were ready for spritzes and dinner. We had made reservations at Hostaria Romana, but major language barrier issues meant they didn’t have us on their roster when we arrived. Thankfully, the iPhone logs calls, so I could prove I’d called them before. The owner set us up with a last minute table downstairs and the food was so incredible, it almost made us forget about the basement’s oppressive heat.

The meal started with complimentary potato puffs. I chose caprese salad as a starter, while Paul had a Pecorino and Parmesan heavy cheese plate. The fried artichoke offered crispy, salty, utter perfection convincing even avowed veggie-hater Paul to indulge.

A caprese salad at Hostaria Romana in Rome, Italy
The caprese salad.
A plate of cheeses at Hostaria Romana in Rome, Italy
The Italian cheese plate of your dreams.
A fried artichoke at Hostaria Romana in Rome, Italy
Romans really, really know what to do with veggies.

Their bucatini alla amatriciana was my favorite of the trip. Savory umami cloaking every thick pasta strand, the dish brought me back to fond memories of my paternal grandmother’s gravy. She stopped cooking that dish sometime in my teens and tasting the familiar flavors in a foreign restaurant some 20-years later forged a powerful connection between the old and new.

Pasta amatriciana at Hostaria Romana in Rome, Italy
Kathleen’s favorite pasta in Rome.

Again, Paul couldn’t resist the siren song of carbonara. The heaviness of the appetizers and pasta, combined with the cloying heat, had us begging off the secondi we ordered. It’s rare a meal defeats us, but Hostaria Romana was the victor that day.

The inside of Hostaria Romana in Rome, Italy
Inside Hostaria Romana.

The restaurant’s décor featured a wallpaper of handwritten marker scrawls, messages of love, remembrance, and hate (a totally appropriate fuck Trump declaration). I chose the slightly more romantic message below.

Our message on the wall at Hostaria Romana in Rome, Italy
One day, when we’re famous, people visiting Hostaria Romana will search for this.

We wrapped up the night with a walk to the Trevi fountain. The fountain was immense and the marble shone in the night. We turned around, threw our coins over our shoulders, and wished we would come back to Rome someday soon.

A picture of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy
The pinnacle of Rome’s many fountains.

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