JetSet Coco

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quick Jaunt in Rome

Before embarking our Mediterranean cruise adventure, we stayed a weekend in Rome, near the port of Civitacecchia. Although I have spent time in Rome while living abroad in Florence, it was a new experience showing the city to my husband, who was a Roma virgin. While I won't go into details of all the necessary sites to see in Rome such as the Colosseum, Pantheon, etc... I will share with you a few insights of great restaurants and shopping I discovered this trip to Rome where I focused less on sight seeing and more just enjoying "La Dolce Vita".

Trastevere by night
Trastevere by day

This trip to Rome, I uncovered my new favorite part of the city, the quaint neighborhood of Trastevere which resides on the opposite side of the river Fiume Tevere.  Easily accessible via taxi from the main sites in Rome, Trastevere in the quintessential place to fritter away an afternoon people watching with locals at a cafe, or better yet, wandering aimlessly at night in search of the perfect restaurant. With less tourists and more authentic restaurants boasting traditional food at affordable prices, Trastevere is the obvious choice when deciding on a place to eat with the local Romans.We wandered for an hour just perusing menus and enjoying people watching until we settled on a great restaurant with a long list of Italians waiting to be seated. Any time you see a wait, you now the food must be worth it, so we added our name to the list. While not seated until about 11pm, the wait was well worth it. We tried a local favorite, fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese... amazing! For my entree I ate a scrumptious spaghetti frutti di mare while my husband had a fantastic pizza with arugola, mazzarella and tomato. The ambiance while sitting al fresco while sipping on local house wine could not have been more perfect!


Just steps from the main piazzas of Trastevere, a new delight opens in the summer as the edge of the river is lined with portable restaurant after restaurant. Think food trucks but with a much more sophisticated edge and outdoor seating under the moon and twinkle lights, reflecting on the adjacent river. Offering every type of cuisine from typical Roman cibo to ethnic foods such as Indian and Middle Eastern (and we all know how rare it is to find a wide selection of cuisine in Italy where they regard theirs as the best). Bustling with locals, the scene really ignites in the evening when the restaurants are in full swing.

Giolotti Gelateria

During the peak of summer, the heat can be so unbearable, well over 110 degrees F, that it is imperative to indulge in the best gelato the city has to offer. Giolitti is just that. With the most extensive cases of colorful gelato flavors I have ever set eyes on, it was like ice cream lover's paradise. The flavors ranged from the typical to absurd such as champagne. I chose the "Opera" flavor, which consisted of hazelnut, Baci candy, almonds, and pistachios. Divine! Even the inside of this old famous gelateria is fantastic, dripping with marble and opulent chandeliers.

Bar at Il Palazzetto
Spanish Steps

 Another way to escape the heat is to cool off with a nice refreshment, vino being my poison of choice when in Italia. While doing a routine visit to the Spanish Steps monument, I noticed a perfectly situated bar on the rooftop of the Il Palazzetto hotel, overlooking the steps. It was the quintessential place to rest, take in the beauty of the Spanish Steps, and people watch with the comfort of wine in hand.

Campo dei Fiori
If you're in the mood for culinary delights, head to Campo dei Fiori, where chefs, locals, and tourists can all shop at the same outdoor food market for produce, pasta, oils, and any other food product you could imagine. Note that it is best to visit the market Mon-Sat, as Sunday most of the shops aren't open. One vendor not to miss is Mauro & Marco Berardi. With a vast selection of jarred truffles and truffle spreads to try, this booth is a culinary destination, not just a shop. After trying, I kid you not, an entire jar's worth of different truffle varieties, we settled on buying several jars to enjoy at home when missing Rome. Also in the Campo dei Fiori piazza is a fantastic mozzarella bar called Obika, which specializes in every sort of mozzarella that exists.

As you can see, there is no shortage of fantastic food in Rome, and this was just the beginning of the trip! Stay tuned for more posts from our Mediterranean adventures.

Cruising Through The Eastern Mediterranean

This week I returned from the most FABULOUS trip gallivanting through Italy, Greece and Turkey with my husband. Although cruising isn't my typical mode of vacation, this itinerary was the perfect excuse to maximize the benefits of a cruise while covering the most sightseeing ground. We boarded the Celebrity Equinox (one of the newest and nicest ships in Celebrity's fleet) in Civitavecchia, the port an hour outside of Rome. While this cruise itinerary is 11 nights, we checked out a day early in Naples to take advantage of the Amalfi Coast for our final three days of vacation. By staying in Rome for three days before boarding the ship and completing the trip in Positano, we made a perfect balance of sightseeing and simply enjoying a city in its entirety, something you rarely have the opportunity to do when meeting the daily time restrictions of cruise traveling. Below is the lovely itinerary of our cruise. Stay tuned for posts about each of these destinations for travel insights and plenty of photos!

Date Port/City Activity Arrival Departure
Day 1 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
5:00 PM
Day 2 At Sea

Day 3 Santorini, Greece Tendered 2:00 PM 10:00 PM
Day 4 At Sea

Day 5 Istanbul, Turkey Docked 7:00 AM
Day 6 Istanbul, Turkey Docked
1:00 PM
Day 7 Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey Docked 10:00 AM 7:00 PM
Day 8 Mykonos, Greece Tendered 7:00 AM 6:00 PM
Day 9 Athens (Piraeus), Greece Docked 6:00 AM 6:00 PM
Day 10 At Sea

Day 11 Naples, Italy Docked 7:00 AM 6:30 PM
Day 12 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy 5:00 AM