Sunday, November 16, 2008
Rome: Wine, Taxi Drivers and Ruins
We spent six nights in Rome so we could maximize our time visiting with Brhea, who is in the fall of her senior year at Loyola's campus in the Italian capital.
Rome has some of the most interesting sites to visit in all of Europe. From Vatican City to roaming ancient ruins to checking out museums, there is a ton to see and do.
For all that is good about Rome, the city can also be difficult for visitors. It's cliche to say that Italian drivers are crazy. The folks on motorcycles appear to have a collective death wish and the driving styles of the locals would qualify as road rage in most parts of the world. The cab drivers can run the spectrum from semi-helpful to thieves -- and I don't just mean taking the long way to the airport. From bumping the rate from daytime to nighttime during the afternoon, to claiming you gave them a 10 Euro note when you paid with a 50 Euro bill, the taxi drivers of Rome really harm the image of the city.
When it comes to food and drink, get ready to open your wallet wide. A good meal in a good restaurant is expensive. It's hard to have a very simple lunch at a cafeteria-style place for under 20 Euro a person. If you want to have a Bellini at the Harry's Bar at the top of the fashionable Via Veneto it will cost you 18 Euro -- about $24. It's not news that when you travel to a big city you can expect to pay inflated prices. In the case of Rome, however, you will find it difficult to find moderately priced places that are worth your time and money.
We did get one pleasant surprise during our visit in the form of a restaurant that we had enjoyed six years ago during our last visit to Rome. Girarrosto Toscano on Via Campania -- a quick walk off Via Veneto, near the city wall and Villa Borghese -- has kept serving some very nice meals at prices that are "reasonable" for Rome. In a city full of restaurants, this is one that I can recommend that will not disappoint, from the olives and bread at the start of the meal to the vin santo and biscotti at the end of the meal.
I did have several nice bottles of wine while in Rome. My three favorites were:
Villa Sandi Prosecco Valdobbiadene D.O.C.: This sparkler is a crisp and clean wine. There is a good level of tart green apple and acidity in this wine. Finer bubbles and more Champagne-like than most preseccos you will drink.
La Scolca Gavi 2007 Bianco Secco: A very nice wine to go with a late lunch. A straw, slightly green color. Tasty minerally texture with some slight grapefruit notes around the edges.
Capsula Viola 2007 Toscana: This is a blended Tuscan white that is fairly affordable. Nice floral aromas, light flavor. Pear and apple notes.