“Have you (physically) been to Rome?” “Yes! Ten years ago!”
“Have you really seen Rome?” “…No.”
Ten years ago, I arrived Rome with my best friend. Of course we visited Rome in the Chinese way: we went to the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill, the Vatican City, tracing a famous gelateria listed on the tourist guide, then the Spanish Steps for a little shopping before ending our one-day trip in the eternal city. Given the fact that back then most of Chinese traveled abroad in groups, we, two Chinese girls from university, traveling independently were considered very fashionable! If at that time we were updating Facebook as much as we do nowadays, I would probably spam my friends’ wall by all the Check-ins!
Years later when I look back to that trip to Rome, besides the pictures I took while moving fast from one spot to another, I feel missing certain “take away” of this city. I searched for the high-lights and knowledge gained from that trip, the result was in vain. That’s how I find myself ready to visit the city again.
Last week I hopped on the train with Valentina (TooMuchTuscany) and headed to Rome for a #WinterInRome weekend together with some other bloggers. We joined some private tours with local culture & food mavens, which turned out to be an awesome educational experience for me. I was even able to “teach” certain knowledge about Roman culture to my Italian husband after this week! Not only he was surprised, he was also jealous~
The whole weekend was too rich for me to put everything into writing, you can follow #WinterInRome on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more interesting content shared by other bloggers, photographers, etc. Here below are my three high-lights:
A COZY STAY AT HOSTEL: THE BEEHIVE ROME
We stayed at The Beehive Rome, a hostel full of family vibe run by a couple: Linda and Steve. It is within five minutes by walk from the Roma Termini station. Once entered the front door, I was carried away by the Beehive’s little yard. It is an open area surrounded by greens, with a few tables paring with soft chairs. What adds more vibrancy is the colorful drawings on the wall. It makes the little hostel a small oasis next to the busy train/metro station.
I immediately fell in love with the little yard at the entrance. It is easy to imagine how nice it can be to have a chat here with friends over beer in a summer evening.
I admired Linda and Steve not only because they offer such nice place for tourists, but also for the care they showed to the community. During my stay, I learned that they offer works to refugees from Africa, letting them help renovating the hostel; they made donations to protecting threatened tropical forest in South America. I could also feel their love to the environment from the little monument made for their passed-away cat. All of these made me feel proud to stay at The Beehive, as I know somehow my staying is contributing to the good things Linda and Steve are doing to the society!
A glance of my not fancy but cozy Sweet Room
THE BEEHIVE ROME HO(S)TEL
Address: Via Marghera 8, 00185 Roma
HISTORY & CULINARY WALK WITH CASA MIA
After a few meals in Rome, I couldn’t help to notice that lots of the Roman antipasti and popular street food are fried dishes: fried zucchini flowers, fried eggplant, deep-fried arancini, etc. While I was wondering why, I found the reason during our food & culture tour to the Jewish Ghetto with Casa Mia Wine & Food Tour.
Rome has the oldest Jewish community in the Western Europe, dated back to 1555. The Jewish were confined inside their ghetto, were only allowed to come out during a fixed period of the day. For 300 years, they lived in such harsh environment, and were treated like prisoners in the city. At that time only people in the high level of society: the emperor, the church, the republic, got the food with the best quality. Ordinary Romans could only eat left-overs: the tongue of the animals, the tripe, the brains, etc. The roman Jewish community had to forage all over Rome, collected vegetables that people didn’t want: zucchini blossoms, wheat, etc. They brought those thrown-away back, and fried them. This is how the Roman Jewish invented fried dishes with the limited things they could have, which eventually became the most popular food through Rome.
We were brought to restaurant Nonna Betta, where the Jewish chef Gamel showed us how he prepared the fried artichoke, one of the most popular antipasti in the Roman cuisine.
First, peel the artichoke! I didn’t know how to peel and which part of the artichoke are we suppose to eat, until seeing Gamel’s demo. What a good learning for me!
Then, double fry. Gamel fried the artichokes twice inside 300C oil, while taking out the artichokes from time to time. Everything inside the kitchen smelt so good! And of course I ate a whole carciofi alla giudia (fried artichoke) when it was ready.
Fried artichoke, a creation by the Roman Jewish out of hardship.
CASA MIA WINE & FOOD TOUR
EXPLORING ROME ON TWO WHEELS WITH SCOOTEROMA TOURS
This is definitely the most FUN part of the whole weekend! Not only it satisfied my fantasy of being a princess, like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, but also showed me the city from a different perspective.
When visiting the city on Vespa, the whole city turned into a big museum, and all the constructions were sculptures and installations inside! The Colosseum was no longer only a giant monument, it became a piece of art which you can have a 360C view.
Besides the three vespas, Scooteroma also sent a blue Ape (fancy~!) for our tour of six people. Although I glued myself to that cute red vespa for most of the tour, I do think the Ape is a cool option for those, who wants to be more relaxed, take selfies, take video, and stay close to friends.
We started from Testaccio, went to the Gianicolo Hill where we had a nice panorama view, then Rione Monti, Terme Dili Caracalla, the Garden of Orange, and finished at the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, where has the famous keyhole.
The marble white makes the leading color tone of Rome, which is completely different from the terracotta brown in Florence.
There won’t be so many times I can wear a helmet and sit on a scooter in Rome, so for the sake of this precious opportunity, I took many pictures as I want!
Finally I am ending my #WinterInRome post with a video done by my tour-mate Ashley from No Half Measure Film. Thanks to her I can see how I looked on the red vespa. And lots of kisses to the eternal city for being such a great host! To Rome, with LOVE!