Monday 30 March 2015

Quattro Fontane, the Forum, and other things

I had a bit of a flu bug on the weekend, so I used the time to sort through some recent photos, including this one of the Roman Forum, looking towards the Colosseo.

I also found a few random shots I took recently of Rome's Renaissance-era Quattro Fontane, which have had a good cleaning over the past winter. Decades of pollution from the traffic on the streets that meet at this extremely busy little intersection were removed and the four fountains look lovely.

I believe the photo above depicts the goddess Juno, who is very important to Rome; while directly below is a figure representing the river Aniene, which flows in Lazio province where Rome is located.

This fellow below represents Rome's great river Tiber, and near his feet is the legendary she-wolf who saved Remus and Romulus, founders of ancient Rome.

They can be a bit difficult to view as there is not a lot of space for pedestrians at this intersection of Via delle Quattro Fontane and Via del Quirinale. And for some reason, one did not turn out. So in fact, I have just Tre Fontane today.

Anyway, another day I was near the Celio Hill and took a photo of this great icon, representing a fraternity that used to pay ransoms for kidnapped Christians.

And heading back towards the Forum.

Monday 23 March 2015

A delicious taste of Italy

It seems that I have never had the time or the confidence to become a very good cook. But I have a few excellent go-to recipes, and I have learned a few important things about Italian cooking - particularly, the value of simplicity and finding a few, extremely good ingredients.

Most of what I know about food I have learned from my dear friend Letizia and from many of her marvellous cooking classes at her home, which is also a wonderful bed and breakfast tucked into the side of a mountain among olive groves and fruit tress and overlooking beautiful Assisi.

And now, she has finally published a cookbook, although I think that simple categorization does not do justice to everything that Letizia has included in this volume.

Recipes, of course; and very very good recipes, extremely well-explained, well-tested and deliciously illustrated. Also important information about judging ingredients such as good quality olive oil versus scary commercial crap.

But it is also something of a diary, of the seasons in Umbria and the value of living and eating according to the seasons; the recipes and ingredients that go naturally with the blustery winters or the hot, humid summers.

Her book will soon be available on Amazon, but in the meantime, she is taking orders (maybe even for autographed copies!) at the following email address (I am writing the address out to confound spammers):

madonnadp [at] gmail dot com

Letizia is a born teacher and story teller, and I find that this book, like her blog and like her cooking classes, are seasoned with anecdotes - from things she learned from her mother, to Letizia's tried-and-true recipes for making gluten-free pasta and bread, to interesting Italian women she knows and admires.

And of course, the incredible backdrop to her life in the Umbrian mountains provide images that are as beautiful as the meals she teaches us to prepare.

Sunday 1 March 2015

Avoiding the sunny Sunday crowds in central Rome

Life in Rome is very hectic and when I have some free time, I often like to stroll over the Capitoline Hill and head to the peaceful Aventine. There are still visitors strolling about in that part of Rome, especially around Circus Maximus, but in general it is far more tranquil than on my side of the hill in Monti.

There are always some lovely views around the Aventine Hill. I headed out Sunday, thinking that while it was too early yet to see the rose gardens being planted there, it would at least be very green.

I tend to follow the same route, down Via Fori Imperiali, over the Capitoline Hill walking behind the Dioscuri, the twins Castor and Pollux (one twin born mortal, the other a god)….

with its views across the Roman Forum towards the Colosseo…….

...and down the other side towards Circus Maximus where I cross its base then climb up along the side of the Aventine facing the Palatine Hill and the remains of the once-splendid aristocrat homes that were there 2,000 years ago……

…..up the Aventine to the medieval Basilica of Santa Sabina and the garden where there are always so many oranges hanging just tantalizingly out of reach……

….and  the stunning view across the Tiber River towards the Vatican, with the great dome of the Basilica of St. Peter's appearing to be relatively close…….

….. Even when standing further down the path near the entrance to the gardens of Santa Sabina,  it seems that St. Peter's is deceptively close…..

….a drink at a gruesome, ferocious fountain……

….back down a different side of the Aventine to emerge near the church Santa Maria in Cosmedin and the lines of tourists waiting to insert their hands in the Bocca della Verita