Friday, February 27, 2009

Rome: Life

Right around the corner from our apartment was a beautiful restaurant that we had walked past. After a full day at the Vatican we were spent, but that didn't stop us from wanting to enjoy a delicious Italian meal.

Little did we know it would be fantastic. Stefan and I both ordered appetizers, pizza, wine and cocktails, and everything was spot on. We also did not expect the super attentive wait staff. They were very helpful and service oriented, which can be a real rarity in Europe.

After our meal our waiter was joking around with us and said he'd only give us the bill if we could ask in Italian. Stefan replied 'Sconti' and the table next to us got a good laugh, as did our waiter. Apparently if you and an 's' before the word it tends to be the opposite, so in essence he was asking for a discount.

The waiter came back with our bill and a Limoncello apertief and said 'here's your cheque and here's your discount'.

The table next two us was two young women who we began chatting with. The heard us speaking a mix of English and German and assumed I was the German and Stefan was the American. It turns out they were an American (Maya) from New York City who has been living in Rome for 10 months and a Polish woman (Karolina) who has been living there for 8 years.

Karolina was heading to New York City for the first time the very next day, so Maya was giving her tips on visiting her hometown. We all discussed being ex-pats and how being foreign can occasionally set you up for being taken advantage of, which is Karolina's experience every time she gets a cab even after 8 years living there and speaking fluent Italian.

I loved Maya's seasoned approach to things. She was talking about how people can get fussy with you, especially when they don't have patience for you learning their language and trying your best. Being American, we both know that it's not our nature to treat people so disrespectfully, but as she said, sometimes you have to give them the same treatment since this is how they are accustomed to communicating. This isn't something that would or will ever come easy to me, but I understand her rational. Often times people who don't even know you will offer criticisms and ridiculous comments, especially if they aren't certain you understand what they are saying. I'm really amazed at the blatant rudeness and from our conversation things are no different in Italy.

We had such a fantastic conversation and they offered a multitude of tips, which I am happy to share, because they were wonderful and helped shape the rest of our days. The consensus was that Life was their favorite restaurant and just a couple doors down was their favorite gelato at Mio desiderio.

Karolina's Tips:

  • Near the Colosseum - Parco Colle Oppio
  • Trattoria Morgana Via Mecenate
  • Salotto 42 - a beautiful bar
  • TAD - a design concept store
  • Caffe Greco - cafe on the posh Via Condotti, 86. An extra tip: if you have an espresso, or whatever kind of drink, drink it like an Italian at the bar -you pay 90 cents as opposed to 5€, simply for sitting down at a table. You pay at the little cashier in the corner before getting your drink at the bar. 

Maya's Tips:
  • Aventine hill - Parco degli aranci: a beautiful view over the city. It's so very romantic. 
  • Jewish ghetto - Sora Margherita on via Cinque Scole. This is a hidden restaurant. There is no sign and it is more similar to a family kitchen. Zoning laws required that it be shut down, however they found a loophole and it's now an association, so they may ask to fill out a form to 'join'.
  • Santa Maria Maggiore - the miracle church that had snow in August, which is why it was built. 
  • Near the Colosseum - San Clemente 'cursing church'. On the wall is one of the first examples of written Italian, which contains early cursing. 
  • Caravaggio paintings - Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Church of Sant'Agostino, and Church of Santa Maria del Popolo (cited in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons). 
Unfortunately we didn't have time to do everything, but we were highly impressed about everything we were able to do on their list of suggestions.

1 comment:

JoernandAllison said...

The people you meet when you travel certainly bring your experience to an entirely different level. Especially when those people live there.

That is great that you were able to swap experiences, and find out that things are similar in other countries as well. Although, I have seen my fair share of American store employees yelling at customers who could not communicate in English. I think rudeness over communication is universal. Sadly.

Even though you weren't able to make it to all the suggested places, at least you'll have a few "hidden gems" to add to your list when you return!