30 Jun,2017 By Jagabond
“Black and white is salt and pepper of colors, for life tastes bland without them.”
Some places in the world are better in black and white. Not every city in Europe can be blessed with the colors of Scandinavia, and not every Italian city can be bright and vibrant like Cinque Terre. Rome, with its preponderance of ancient ruins and history, is the perfect black and white city. Let me walk you through some examples.
Woman with artichokes
This is Claudia, guide for the street food tour in Rome. The fried artichokes she’s holding are characteristic of the Jewish District, and would make great pub food in America. I highly recommend this tour, find out more info here.
Amongst the ancient Roman forum stands a line of headless female statues. They are from the House of the Vestal Virgins – women who took a thirty-year oath of celibacy and watched over a sacred flame. Sounds like a boring life, especially considering all the hedonism the rest of Rome participated in.
This is one of the best preserved Roman buildings, and has become a centerpiece for a square lined with bars and cafes. Originally a temple for the gods, it has had many different uses throughout history, and is currently an active Catholic Church.
A fine chocolate cake from the even finer Rome Glam Hotel, which has my highest recommendation for your accommodation. This hotel has the most perfect location, nestled within the Monti district and within walking distance to the main train station and the most popular attractions. Order a bottle of vino at the rooftop bar, and share a kiss with your lover while admiring the view.
An otherwise boring intersection is made more exciting by the ‘four fountains’ display. Shown below in her black and white beauty is the goddess Juno, protector of the state and guardian for the women of Rome.
One of the main squares in Rome is also home to a majestic fountain, representing the four rivers of the four continents where the Pope’s authority had spread.
Fontana di Trevi
The granddaddy of all fountains in Rome is the Trevi. Oceanus, god of the sea, watches over tourists as they toss coins into the water, with hopes of luck and romance.
I’ve eaten rabbit twice in my life, once in New Orleans and the other time in Belgium. The flavor isn’t distinct or good enough to justify eating such a cute animal, in my opinion. This was part of a nice meal at Suburra 1930, a spot with a hip vibe and a long cocktail list.
I might end up like this one day, though I prefer dogs. This elderly gentleman has quite the relationship with the residents at the famous cat sanctuary, formerly the site of Caesar’s death. Minutes after this picture was taken, I witnessed the cats scaring off a seagull who tried to join in on the action.
There are so many crowded churches in Rome, but try visiting one off the tourist track for a more serene experience. This smallish church nearby Campo di Fiori had an impressive altar and overhead fresco.
The food of choice on a sweltering summer afternoon! I personally recommend the cinnamon flavor, and chocolate lovers should definitely try the stracciatella.
The Colosseum just feels like it should be in black and white. The tour guide referred back to the movie ‘Gladiator’, first remarking that Russel Crowe didn’t have a gladiator’s body (too slender), and then that Commodus, played in the film by Joaquin Phoenix, was very much known negatively within gladiator circles. As emperor he was enamored with the tradition, and even competed himself but only against weaker opponents…either crippled men or non-savage animals like ostriches. Not surprisingly for this and many other reasons, Commodus is routinely listed as one of Rome’s worst emperors.
A gladiator story
The tour guide enthusiastically weaved the tale of ancient gladiator battles. Interestingly, the top gladiators would bottle their sweat and blood after a match and sell it as an aphrodisiac…lovely.
It wouldn’t be Italy without…pasta!
In America, I grew up thinking the most upscale Italian cuisine was spaghetti with giant meatballs and tons of cheese. Imagine my surprise to learn differently. Cuoco & Camicia served an astonishingly good spaghetti with caramelized onions and cured ham. After living in Italy, I’m never going back to canned pasta.