Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Most Expensive Meal of My Life

After more than ten years living in the Eternal City and several months researching food in Rome, I finally had a chance to try out Rome's famous Michelin starred restaurant, La Pergola. La Pergola is located on the top floor of the Hilton Cavalieri Hotel. Getting to the Hilton Cavalieri from Rome is not easy, as it is located high in the hills of Monte Mario, outside of the city centre.

From the moment we entered the service was impeccable. The ratio of staff to guests seemed to be 10 to 2. One gentleman takes the coats, another pushes in your seat, another unfolds your napkin, still another brings a water menu (there is a 300 Euro bottle of water on it!), same guy brings the water though. One man brings the wine list, another brings the bread basket (at least 12 times).
At a loss for what to order on the menu, we decided to try the gourmet tasting menu for a mere 190 Euro per person. As the courses began arriving, each was intricately put together and pleasing to the palate. The braised scallops were better than I have had anywhere in Europe.

This broth was not my favourite, but fellow diners did appreciate it. I guess when it came down to it, the dish that won me over was this interesting twist on a traditional Roman favourite:

These fagottini are filled with a purée of Carbonara (egg, pecorino, and pork jowel). These were melt in your mouth delicious and quickly rose to the top of my favourites for the evening. But not for long.

The fillet of beef with pistachio crust and chestnut purée will indeed hold a special place in my heart from now until eternity.

 As will this cheese cart. I nearly tried to roll it right into the elevator to take it home with me.

Oh, and the desserts were not too shabby either. Chocolate soufflé was light and just chocolatey enough to be sinful but not overbearing.

Complimenti chef Heinz Beck! The experience wouldn't look out of place alongside our Exclusive VIP Tours of Rome! I can't wait to return one day, after I save up for about 8 more years to be able to afford it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

World's Largest Stations of the Cross on Display at the Vatican

Via Della Conciliazione is one of Rome's broadest streets, that which leads to St. Peter's Basilica, the mother of all Catholic Churches.
As part of a Lenten blessing, the Vatican is having the world's largest stations of the cross installed along the road. 49 Statues and 11 crosses make up the series which Pasquale Nava and Giuseppe Allamprese have been working on for the last 9 years.
The Stations will remain in place throughout Easter in Rome, possibly until the canonization of Pope John Paul II on May 1 in Rome.

More about the creation of the worlds largest stations of the cross here

Monday, January 24, 2011

Colosseum Has a New Sugar Daddy

A call for bids began last July for contractors hoping to take part in the reservation of Rome's most famous monument, the Colosseum. While the bid process continues, until now it was uncertain where the actual funds for the restoration would come from. More attention has been drawn to the dilemma after an ancient dwelling in Pompeii suddenly crumbled to the ground, an embarrassing blow to the Italian state.
It appears as though help is on the way from the UK. After a grueling search for someone to pay for much needed renovations to Rome's crumbling Colosseum, Diego Della Valle, president of Tod's (UK leather goods producer) has pledged 25 million dollars in restoration funds.
As anyone who has recently been sightseeing in Rome can tell you, the Flavian Amphitheatre has seen better days. It's difficult to count all the fires, earthquakes, lightning strikes, and barbarian attacks this massive arena has endured.
Completed in 80 AD, the arena was home to all types of Ancient Roman games, from gladiator battles to mock safaris and naval battles, entertaining up to 55,000 Romans in its three levels of seating.
In an article in “Il Sole 24 Ore” today, Lazio regional president Renata Polverini was quoted as saying “Just as the world likes to imitate Tod's leather goods, let's hope they'll imitate with large donations too”.

Image courtesy of creative commons.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sightseeing in Rome

Whether it is your first time or your 10th, while sightseeing in Rome you just never know what you might stumble upon. Just since the first of the year, here are a few events that both Romans and tourists sightseeing in Rome have been able to enjoy:

Piazza Navona: the annual Christmas Market and celebration of La Befana, the good witch who brings candy-filled stockings to children on the eve of January 6

St. Peter's Square: As if the massive life sized nativity and giant christmas tree weren't enough to take in at the Vatican, this week there is an event celebrating animals and their trainers. Tourists arriving to tour the Vatican had to do a double take to figure out if they were at Old MacDonald's Farm or the Holy See today!

Piazza Re di Roma: In the middle of the city, this roundabout piazza has been transformed into an ice skating rink and lodge. For 10 Euro, residents and tourists alike can rent skates and have a spin around the piazza, amidst the hustle and bustle of Roman life.

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele: In the Nuovo Mercato Esquilino (the quarter's new covered market), tribal percussion and dance performances are breaking out when least expected. You could be there picking through the oranges and suddenly the place transforms into a hub of rhythm and movement.

(Also in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, the man in the picture, quietly stretching and meditating in the middle of the busy park).

There you have it, as you can see there is always more Sightseeing in Rome to be done, whether you have been here for a day or a decade!
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