As we flew to Rome on Christmas night, my 12 year old daughter woke up from the Alitalia stupor to say, “Mom, when we get to Rome, let’s do some serious eating.” Perhaps a modicum of running may be in order.
We arrive on our ancient street at 9:00 am and immediately see a group of runners in sleek, Boston Marathon-blue jackets, running on the cobblestones. The men are happily conversing together up front, while the women, also chatting, are running behind them. Throughout the trip, I often came upon this group, running on the cobblestones, each time on a rainy morning.
Rome at Christmastime evokes breathtaking sites, colors and design. The fashion is understated, classic and waistlines are back in style; winter coats are cinched and belted. Roman dogs are dressed impeccably (though they don’t seem to have read the understated memo.)
In our family, lunch, vino and lattes are equal partners to the sites. We enjoyed incredible, one euro lattes (don’t kid yourself: I observed not a hint of low fat milk in Rome), long, delicious, moderately priced lunches, red wine to die for and vividly flavored gelato.
During Christmastime, Rome abounds with lovely holiday decorations and crèches (ranging from classic and gorgeous to tacky and time bending.) The weather was warmer than Philadelphia and, perhaps, the woeful economy caused very few American tourists to visit.
The bitter memory of plantar fasciitis ruled out running on the cobblestones, so I ventured up and down the Tiber. I would begin at Ponte Umberto (the lovely bridge near the Piazza Navona) and ran north to the Villa Borghese area where a bike path runs along the west bank of the River, crossing back on the Ponte Flamino. Alternately, I would run towards Trastevere, past the Isola Tiberina, crossing over at the Ponte Palatino. I would usually begin running at 9:30 am. The traffic was brisk and I tended to run on the Trastevere/Vatican side to avoid the fumes. I ran on the sidewalks and saw many runners out there as well. I felt safe, comfortable and completely engaged with Rome.
The perfect (running) moment: the sun was glinting on the Bernini designed angel statues of the Ponte Sant’Angelo (a bridge built by Hadrian in 134), my ipod is playing The Skin on my Yellow Country Teeth (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and I just have to wonder—is this what it takes for me to have a fabulous workout?
Our favorite guide book was written by (the far too earnest) Rick Steves (Rome 2009). It is well organized, clearly written, provides good tips and terrific restaurant suggestions.
For those of us watching our euros, the following moderately priced restaurant choices serve classic Roman food—to Romans!!
Osteria Ponte Sisto/Trastevere
Osteria Checco er Carettiere/Trastevere
Trattoria da Lucia/Trastevere (are you sensing a theme here?)
Ristorante Enoteca Corsi/near the Pantheon
Gelateria Caffe Pasticceria Giolitti for gelato (the hoards do get it right sometimes!)/near the Pantheon
Tazza d’Oro(one euro latte/cappuccino perfection-visit often!! And such attractive baristas!)/near the Pantheon
While facing the hoards at the Vatican museum, on the way to visit the Sistine Chapel, spend some time in the Raphael Room marveling at the School of Athens painting featuring the great thinkers, mathematicians, scientists and philosophers of the age.