The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Italy: Rome Part IIb - a fountain, some San Crispino gelato, and lots of steps

{continuing from my previous post}

Walking down one of the brick-paved side streets towards Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), surrounded by beautiful old architecture:

By the time lunchtime rolled around, we'd done a fair bit of walking and worked up an appetite, so we stopped for a quick lunch at one of the cafe diners near (but not too near) Fontana di Trevi. Here we saw many patrons choosing to stand by the bar to drink their coffees and eat their paninis, presumably to avoid the pricey table charge that our B&B guy had warned us the night before. The food was decent enough for somewhere close to such a big tourist attraction, but nothing fantastic. It was good enough to keep us going.

The lasagna was tastier than the ravioli:

Spinach ricotta ravioli, some pieces were hard:

After lunch, we saw the beautiful Trevi Fountain, which was absolutely teeming with tourists (no surprise there). We stayed long enough for me to grab a few snapshots on my dSLR, then we were off on a very important mission: to eat gelato.

Fontana di Trevi, stitched together from three images because the structure was too wide to fit in one frame from where I stood (the massive tourist crowd didn't allow much room to move):

We are huge fans of gelato, and we knew that we had to eat this Italian frozen dessert in its homeland. There were gelaterias everywhere, but we wanted to eat the best (who doesn't?). San Crispino Gelateria is touted to have the best gelato in Rome, and you may even have heard of it from Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Eat Pray Love" or the movie adaptation of the book. Neither of us had seen the movie nor read the book, but we were told by two separate sources (an Italian local and Rob's American colleague) that we had to try out the gelato at San Crispino. Unlike most of the gelaterias we encountered during our trip in Italy where, the gelato are not piled high in their tubs but instead hidden under lids.

Delicious frozen treasures hidden under metal lids:

And there are no cones here either because, according to one of San Crispino's founders, cones are "contaminated" by greasing agents and thus shouldn't be in contact with gelato (source). This gelateria is indeed very popular, and in spite of its relatively hidden location, there was a long line snaking out of its doorway when we arrived. The queue moved fairly quickly, and when our turn came up to the counter, we felt tremendous pressure to make a quick decision. We went with the original San Crispino flavour (honey) and the Dark Chocolate flavour (made with Valrhona chocolate), and both were excellent! They were so good with such great intense flavours and gorgeously smooth texture, that I didn't mind at all not having cones.

Heavenly chocolate-flavoured and honey-flavoured gelati from San Crispino:

Full of energy after the carb-laden lunch and sugary gelati, we walked over to the Spanish Steps. There were so many steps, and so many people sitting on them. The 2-year-old was a real trooper and climbed all of those steps willingly on his own (in fact he refused any help).

The Spanish Steps, also teeming with people. Is there anywhere in Rome not overrun by tourists?

Once at the top of the steps, we continued up the road and climbed to the top of the Pincian Hill, where we were rewarded with a great view of Rome. We didn't have time to explore the adjacent Villa Borghese gardens, which looked like a great place to spend a few hours at.

Panoramic view from the top of the Pincian Hill (click for larger image):

A sight lovelier to behold than the scenic view (to my eyes anyway):

After that, we headed back towards the Colosseum to squeeze in the final hour before sunset to look around Foro Romano (Roman Forum) which we'd bypassed earlier in favour of looking for lunch. By this time, my feet were aching from walking around all day, and when it proved difficult to get around the Forum with the stroller, I took the opportunity to just hang with the boy while Rob took a look around. Since it was evening, there wasn't that many people at the Forum and it was the first time all day we weren't surrounded by tourists all around.

The Roman Forum was oozing with ancient history:

After that we had a very disappointing dinner at a restaurant we'd just walked in from the street, that it's not even worth a brief mention (it was also the most expensive meal during our time in Rome). I'm not one to self-praise, but I think I can cook better food than what we ate that night. The next day we stuck to recommendations for both lunch and dinner, and I'm glad to say that both were good meals.

The setting sun casted a lovely colour on the Colosseum, and we took the opportunity for a rare mummy-and-son shot:

Next up will be our visit to the Vatican, lots of delicious Italian food and the best espresso we've ever had! Stay tuned!


  1. Hi Jean
    Great post. Reminds me of my brief trip to Rome before i had the kids.

  2. Thanks Van. I imagine our experience would have been a lot different without Zak, but I wouldn't change a thing :)

  3. OMG... that gelato looks so yummy! Especially the honey-flavored gelato.

  4. Hi Stephanie, the honey one was very nice! I wish I could go back to try all the flavours!!

  5. Yumm! The lasagna looks like what I ate at Ristorante Babbo's near Termini. Sadly, I did not take a picture of that meal. May I use your picture and link it to your blog with appropriate credit as to ownership?

    1. Hi Katrina, sure you can! I sometimes forget to take photos of memorable food too so I understand :)

  6. Hi EG -- I'd really like to reproduce your panorama from the Pincian in a book -- my website is below, which has a link to my email. If you can send me a note, I'll happily tell you more. AL