After a most wonderful week around Tuscany, it was time to return to Roma. Zorba drove the Fiat cinquecento back to Firenze, with Tom Tom giving us easy directions to the car hire office, and we trudged in 35 degree heat in high humidity with all our luggage to the train station. Our train to Rome wasn’t for 1.45 hours, but we couldn’t leave our luggage at the station like we had planned because there was a strike. Ugh! How annoying. We sat at the station and waited for our train and got to Rome without incident.
Our apartment we rented for our last five days together, and in Italia, was very close to Ponte Sisto, the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Tiber River between Rome historical centre and Trastevere, my old neighbourhood. It was tiny, cute, functional, but really quite tiny. At least we had a teeeny balcony so we could sit outside, and more importantly, open up the place to let some air in.
On our first night back in the eternal city, Zorba insisted I go out with my lovely Roman friend Cathy while he goes on a ‘giro’ (walk around). For Zorba’s giro, he struggles and perseveres with the world’s tiniest iron and ironing board to press his best linen shirt. He dresses up in his best clothes to go out without me!! Greeks!
Cat and I had a fab night. We went for a drink in Trastevere and I met some of her friends, and then we went to a trendy place for dinner. The surroundings were ace – a mish-mash of antique furniture and decorations. Lots of retro objects too – and all of them were for sale. They were expensive, super expensive, but cool too look at. The food was not much chop and not worth a mention, but the waiter was cute and Cat enjoyed talking to him about his studies – the waiter was a screen play writer. Anyway, it was just awesome to catch up with her and have some quality girl time.
The next day we went to our favourite place, the markets at Campo de Fiori. Of course Zorba has to buy tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella from the great deli they have there. Cat picked us up at midday to take us to the beach at midday. The beach was about a 45 min drive. It was sooooo hot in Rome that going to the beach was the best idea. There was sand (yay) but the water was not that nice – bit murky – but it was still nice to be by the sea on such a hot day.
With my tan topped up, it was approaching 7pm and almost time for aperitivo. This beach we were at has a famous aperitivo. Barbara and her lovely Polish friend Suza joined us. The lettini (sun lounges) were packed away and bit white sheets with cushions and low coffee tables were set up – more than a hundred of them. As the sunset over the ocean, a male genie-looking guy hits a big brass gong once the sun has completely gone down. His little female sidekick does some dance moves with fire sticks to give the gonger a sense of importance. The sunset was lovely and sitting altogether on the beach on a big white sheet was also really cool.
Aperitivo in Italia means drinks with some food – snacks or grazing plates. The food came out at the beach and 2000 Italians turned into 2000 seagulls, swamping the food tables, almost stampeding on each other. What for? Some crappy cold pasta with pesto, a farro (grain) dish that looked like bird seed, and a rice salad dish. The food looked so average, and the fact that so many of the Italian seagulls left food on their paper plates shows that the food wasn’t good. We decided to enjoy our mojitos instead and go somewhere else to eat. After trying about six restaurants by the beach that were all full, we finally found one that would take a table of five. We had a really fun waiter who turned our impatience and frustration into a fun night.
Sunday was shopping day! Zorba and I met Cat at Termini station and we caught the bus to a factory outlet mall. We were there from about 11am until 5pm. I bought some cool tan coloured sandals with an ankle cuff, a Replay dress and tank, some travel tops, and a couple of other bits. Zorba went off on his own and he also did well. He bought himself some really cool white cargo shorts and a couple of sports tops for the gym.
After shopping for Australia, where I exercised EXTREME control, we went to an area called Testaccio – the next suburb further out from Trastevere. Cat arranged for us to watch the World Cup Final at a cool pub called Testaccio on the Rocks. We got there about an hour before kickoff, so decided to eat. Barbara and Suza were there too and we chose to eat at the restaurant next door to the pub called Pecorino (little sheep). We were short on time so just dived into mains – Zorba had a cabonara – the absolute dead-set best cabonara I have ever had. The sauce was so orange – too orange for just egg yolk, so I asked the waitress how they made the sauce. She said that the chickens were fed food with tumeric, so their yolks were extra orange in colour. It was the flavour that won me over. Soooo amazing! I had straccetto – sliced beef cooked in balsamic and served with rocket, a traditional roman dish. Mine was also delicious. I was very VERY happy with dinner.
Now it was time for the game. The pub was ram packed. The game was good fun – initially I was the only one cheering for the Dutch – everyone else was going for Spain. As the game went on, I did a really Italian thing and changed sides! The Dutch weren’t playing a style of football I like and it felt like they were trying to cheat. Anyway, the whole pub was ecstatic that Spain won.
On Monday we got a great surprise when we learned that Simone Woodard and Henrietta Farrell were in Rome! Their flight to Croatia got cancelled at the last minute and they took a flight to Rome instead and from there were heading to the beautiful island of Capri on the Amalfi coast. We arranged to meet up in the evening for dinner and Cat joined us too. We had dinner at a restaurant called Ponte Sisto and had a pretty good meal. It wasn’t as good as it was when Cat and I had lunch there a couple of years prior, but it was a most enjoyable night. I’m so glad I got to catch up with the girls in Rome, I didn’t think I was going to. Again, Zorba was a trooper having another night out with all girls. It was a lovely evening. It was really hard saying good bye to Cat – who knows how long it will be before we see each other again. She is a great great girl and I loved hanging out with her.
Our last day in Rome was spent shopping. We went to a Vespa shop and Zorba bought a motorbike helmet and jacket – he plans on riding my Vespa around while I’m away. I posted a big box of stuff back home that I don’t need, including some shoes I’d bought. Zorba and I had our last dinner together at Da Giggetto, a roman restaurant in the Jewish quarter. Again, when Cat and I ate there a couple of years beforehand, we had a faultless meal. On this particular night, it wasn’t so great…and a bit expensive. It was a shame that we didn’t’ finish on a high from a top meal. But that’s ok. Zorba and I still had a nice night.
Our last day in Roma was hard. Too hard. Too emotional. Saying good bye to Zorba at the airport was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and I really don’t ever want to have to do it again. There weren’t just tears, there were floods of tears and I spent the hour after he left in the toilets trying to calm myself down and walking around in a daze. I tried to make myself feel better by buying the latest little handbag from the Gucci store, but it didn’t work. The only thing that did was make me feel guilty, and get my bank account defrauded…the store obviously had a crook working for them or a skimming device on their credit card machine. What a hassle!
It was really hard to get excited about going to London after leaving my future husband….