Sunday, December 7, 2008

Coffee please

When in Rome do as the Romans do.

It goes without saying that the Romans have realized the perfect way to start their day, keeping it simple...A coffee and cornetto at one of the countless coffee bars in Rome.

I haven't always been a coffee enthusiast, in fact it took an unfortunate event for me to make the swift switch. I had been regularly visiting a relative, in the Rome countryside and on this particular visit was invited to make my own cup of tea while "Nonna" needed to take care of another matter. So there I was, alone in her kitchen pouring hot water into a cup and too my horror a ghastly sight of maggots came floating to the surface ! You can imagine Nonna's surprise of my newly found love of coffee on my following visit. I'm guessing those teabags had been reserved for "stranieri" (foreigners) like me !

I love the fact that coffee in Rome is at it's best anytime of the day. On just about every street corner sits a bar "coffee bar" each one enticing patrons inside. Some offer a student special " cappucino & cornetto, 1 euro". In the window of another, a sign reads "Happy Hour,"while for most of the coffee bars it is simply the wonderful aroma of coffee itself.

There is a such a variety to choose from. A very simple establishment to even the grand, boasting chandeliers and seating inside and out, you are bound to pay more for such comforts (and we do). Then you stumble across a coffee bar that welcomes a steady flow of patrons, many of whom are familiar faces to the bartender, and there is standing room only. Here, tucked neatly away behind the dome glass counter an assortment of "pasticcini mignons" little cakes await! So tempting they are. The only thing that hindered me was my lack of the Italian language. I managed only to buy a few "cioccolato" that day. And the coffee here, in my humble opinion ..... Just perfect.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gypsies who make their children beg - is it slavery? Not if it's only part-time!

Once again, the Italian courts have outdone themselves. An article published today in La Repubblica outlines how a Rom woman who was sentenced to 5 years in prison for "child slavery" has just had the conviction overturned and re-established as a lesser crime of "child mistreatment". According to the courts, there is a fine line between the two crimes, and if the hours that a child is forced to beg for money do not exceed 4 per day, then this cannot possibly be tried as child enslavement.

Since street begging is considered a deep rooted practice in the Rom culture, the Italian courts have decided to simply apply a few simple child labor law limits and give them its blessing?

Mia V, the gypsy woman in mention, will now await a second trial, and who knows if she'll be punished. My guess is that she will get a fine, probably less one one that any of us would get for passing a red traffic light - and be sent on her way to beg with her child by lunchtime.

The Cassation courts justified their actions by stating that it is wrong to "criminalize behavior that is rooted in the culture and tradition of a people".

Moral of the story, by all means let your children get used to a life of begging from birth, but be sure they punch out after 4 hours or so, or you could be in trouble!

Comments, opinions anyone?! In my own humble opinion, this is topped only by the law recently taken off the books that stated a woman who was wearing jeans could not possibly be raped...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Arrivederci Roma

With Christmas just weeks away it was time for a little shopping !. I decided on something different and caught an early train ( Euro Star ) from Stazione Termini for a day shopping in Florence.

The journey took a couple of hours but it was very relaxing with not as many tourists about this time of the year.Before I began my shopping frenzy I had a coffee and checked my map scouting the best route to take.

It wasn't far to walk and before I knew I was standing in front of Duomo Firenze, a spectacular sight of grand architecture and it was when I was up close that I realized the entire structure was covered in a soft hue of pink and green marble. ( i wouldn't mind some of that gracing my kitchen ).

Around the site of the Dome there were plenty of little shops and stalls selling specialities of the region.

Not time for a coffee stop yet, further along I found a Coin department store, than a "Guess" store on Via Por Santa Maria...full of handbags all calling my name ! they were less expensive than those in Rome ( I had done my research ).A short distance away is Ponte Vecchio, this bridge is so charming and with a history worth knowing . The bridge is now home to small and beautiful jewelery shops , time for a photo , the scenery beyond the bridges arches were like a painting of centuries past.

Some more shopping in the open Market San Lorenzo, with plenty of stalls selling leather products and pasmina scarfs all made locally and genuine.

Time for two Italian rituals of Pasticcerie & Pausa.....plenty of choice, and on a day like this I didn't hesitate on a spot with a view.

Florence was a perfect day. Small enough to wander and take in the sights of spectacular water fountains; bronze statues, larger than I imagined. And I could not leave Florence without seeing " David" , just the replica, the original is further out of town and would probably need more time to view that one........Next time I think I will make it a Weekend event.

Monday, November 17, 2008


It's FREEZING IN ROME! I guess it's about time we had a taste of winter, but this morning gave me a bit of a startle when I opened my balcony doors to look for a broom in order to sweet up the remnants of a pizza party my Roman mutt had on the kitchen floor last night. It was an arctic blast, coming right in from my fourth floor window. The high temp today was about 16 degrees Celsius, and the low about 6.

The one small consolation is that with winter come the holidays. In just a few short weeks we'll start celebrating with the Immacolata on Dec. 8, then Christmas, Santo Stefano, New Years, and La Befana. Let's hope that this year is like most other winters in Rome, with the weather not sinking far below 4 or 5 degrees at the lowest. Otherwise, it may be time to hibernate until the spring?

Stay warm readers, and buona notte!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Roman treasures

Since my arrival to Rome I have been wanting to find some treasure troves; to find a market where your eyes are caught by something exquisite and affordable and a true "must have".

I have in my possession a little book showing locations of all the collectible, food, you name it markets that are to be found in this great explorable city. To venture out with this little book is like panning for's out there somewhere, and when you find that market you are ecstatic !

A few of my explorations ( all with good intention ) have been unsuccessful. One market I followed to instruction catching numerous modes of transportation only to find nothing or "niente" as we way here in Italy. Other attempts have me travel as far as my front door, really !!. Weather changes, or accepting that the four hours spent trying to get myself and the kids ready has just been too much time spent. And finally, in our perseverance we have "struck gold". A great little antique market in the Historic City, aptly named "La soffitta ai portici" was truly a Roman treasure, we came away with a few little treasures as well as a leaflet advertising the following dates for this market.

Another type of market I have discovered while being here in Rome is of a different kind, one in which you can browse at your leisure from the comfort of your home...ebay. Not nearly as fun but something to do when insomnia is ever present.

And then there is another market day, the carboot sale...a friend with a car and its boot invited me to join her for this day out , selling in a small field close by the Sea. Here we enjoyed sunshine, fresh air, great food and there were lots of bargins, I mean treasures to be found.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rome has come to play

My family and I have recently relocated to Ostia after having my second child , and are now enjoying life here in " the playground of Rome" with Sunshine, Sea air...but with the colder days approaching and much less time spent taking walks on the Lido I have searched for other enjoyments.

Here in Ostia I have found an assortment of playgrounds and have seen an abundance of friendly Kids who enjoy playing on them , whatever the weather! One excellent playground "Fanta Parco"( Via Pietro ) has a lot to offer with covered areas for Parents to sit, relax while the children use all that extra energy gained from breathing sea air and eating yummy pizza. There are security cameras for that extra piece of mind, giving space to unwind a little.It is always well kept so I can be assured it is cleaned well where the Children are playing and enjoying!

Now my kind of "enjoyment" is ( and has been for a number of years ) beading. In these few years the number of women who can now string a few pearls together is in the thousands , are we all as gifted as we think ? I only hope !

A great find for me here is " La Cartareccia "(Via A. Piola Casalli ). Here they have everything and anything needed to create a piece of FINE : swarovski , pearls ; FUNKY : chunky , plastic ; or just FABULOUS , whatever makes you happy !. My " playground " has now become a favorite for my 6yr old son , he is busy creating the funkier kind !

The store runs classes through the week and on Saturday....just maybe i'll leave the Kids with my husband at "Fanta Parco" while I head over to "La Cartareccia" for my own playtime.

There are other areas in Rome's centre where you can shop for beads. In a little street near the Spanish steps, Via Margutta ; you will find a great selection of Swarovski. Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II has many shops boasting strands of Pearls, coral and semi precious stone. Last but not least are the markets, any that you may stumble across. Look for old necklaces for vintage beads.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sun Makes a Sneak Appearance in Rome!

After ten days of rain, the sun is once again shining in Roma. Just when I had pretty much accepted the fact that the days of sun and warmth were over and winter had reared its ugly face once and for all, there is hope!

I took advantage of the beautiful morning and had a long walk through the Terme di Caracalla, the Circus Maximus, and the Villa Celimontana. My blissful zen state was nearly ruined however when I needed to use the public bathroom inside the park - which clearly states opening hour of 10:00. come 10:05, I began to lose patience and yelled at the lazy workers who just shrugged and said someone would be along. Persistence paid off today though, after a few more insults they finally got the keymaster to open up.

All in all, a lovely start to the day, and to the month of November in Rome.
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