Our third day in Rome was a tour de force of quintessential Roman sites and Roman food. To put it simply in Roman terms, everything was perfecto from the start to the end when we made it back to our hotel at 11pm.
We began with another walk around the old city before meeting our tour guide. We ended up going to Ristorante Fortunato in the shadow of the Pantheon. The lunch was magnificent on a little street leading to the Pantheon. The staff showed me the four different pastas that they made daily as well as the fresh mushrooms that they used for dishes. Leslie had the tonnarelli al fungi porcini that was unbelievable. I had pasta with black truffles that was breathtaking. The pasta was freshly made and the dishes made perfectly. The salad was equally wonderful with the freshest ingredients and an olive oil that was addictive (with a slight peppery and clean taste). The manager also brought over a complimentary dish of their fried zucchini and mozzarella dish which was to die for. It was one of the best meals that I have had in Italy and I recommend it to any of our readers who find themselves at the Pantheon with a little time to combine a magical historical site with a magnificent meal.
After the triumph at Fortunado, we walked to the colosseum to meet our guide. We hired Cristina Giannicchi as a personal tour guide. We hired Cristina Giannicchi as a personal tour guide. Cristina’s company,crisromanguide, was highly recommended by friends and her reputation was well-earned. Highly educated in art and Roman history, Cristina walked us around the ruins and old city sharing a rich array of information on the history and meaning of different sites. She was able to show us pictures of the original sites of these ruins as well as to insights into life at that time. It was fascinating. The tour last over four hours and it was like drinking for a fire hose of information. She is simply amazing. She is simply amazing. She made these sites come alive with detailed and contextual descriptions. We walked from the colosseum to the forum to the Jewish Ghetto to the Pantheon and various churches in between. It included see the skull of St. Agnes preserved in gilded box in the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone in Rome’s Piazza Navona. (It is said that, when she was ordered to be stripped and marched through the streets naked, her hair grew to cover her body). A bit creepy to be sure. Throughout the walk, Cristina supplied a continual narrative that was incredibly informative and engaging.
Before leaving Cristina this evening, we asked her for a suggestion for dinner. We prefer local spots that are not too touristy and Cristina suggested one of her favorite, La Pigna, on Piazza della Pigna. This is not an easy place to find but it is not far from the Coleseum. It is as local as it gets and (again) Cristina was right on the money. The unpretentious, small restaurant had dishes that we incredible. We have archicokes and antipasta to start followed by gnocchi with basil and pasta with pesto. It was incredibly fresh and perfectly prepared. We also had the restaurants unique sunflower cake, Girasole, which we devoured. In a city that is renowned for its desserts, this remains our favorite. The restaurant is a special slice of Roman cuisine and cultural. If you want a genuine Roman meal, go to La Pigna, the Pine Cone.
We walked back to the Villa Pinciana for a glass of wine in our room after an extraordinary day. We leave in the morning for Sicily but we will be returning to Rome for one more night next week before our flight back to Washington. We cannot wait to return to The City of the Seven Hills.