After leaving Barcelona we found ourselves in the first European city I ever visited as a child, Rome. While some may find this city crowded and chaotic, to me it is still a magical place. Perhaps I still have my childhood blinkers on but to me Rome is all about elegant men in well cut suits and gelato drips and walking through history. I am enchanted by the city. Although it's no hidden secret the Spanish Steps are a perfect spot for lunch, especially when you're on a four hour whirlwind tour as we were.
Tucked away under the Spanish Steps, Ristorante alla Rampa knows how to please tourists and locals alike. The staff are warm, attentive and flamboyant. It is an absolute delight to dine here and on a summery day there are few better places to sit quietly and take in this wonderful city. Unlike many dining destinations in this tourist locale this definitely is not a case of style over substance. Just like Rome this restaurant has both in hefty doses.
We nibble on grissini and delightfully chewy bread while sipping wine and browsing the menu.
We start with an excellent plate of bresaola drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. The bresaola is meltingly tender and deeply flavourful. We fight over the last slice. A perfect way to start a Summer lunch.
The Writer chooses the "Mare e Monti" or tagliolini with clams, calmari, mushrooms and mussels I quickly devour a forkful or two. It is fresh, simple and flavourful. The perfect summer pasta dish.
I opt for the tacconelle pasta Roman style with lamb and pecorino cheese. The fresh ragged strips of pasta have enough substance to pair perfectly with the tender, rich, herbey lamb. Without fuss or pretension it is a beautiful balance of flavours and textures.
Unlike the locals our meal ends there but one day we will be able to handle the second meat or fish course. Instead we relax in the sun with an espresso and tiramisu. The tiramisu is topped with a rich custard not dissimilar to a zabaglione that makes our restraint seem wise.
Unfortunately after lunch we have to rush to Termini for the train to the coast so as to catch our ferry to Croatia the following day.
Ristorante Alla Rampa
Piazza Mignanelli 18
06 6782 621
The Abruzzo Region
We take a train through the striking countryside of the Abruzzo region. The landscape is studded with mountaintop villages and serene winding streams. Luckily the rain holds off and we spend a sunny day at an Italian seaside resort.
The following evening we take the overnight ferry to Croatia and farewell this beautiful country at sunset to wake up to stunning Croatia at sunrise.
Fortunately that wasn't the last we saw of Italy. While in Northern Croatia we hopped over to Slovenia and drove into Italy for lunch. It all seemed very indulgent. This time our lunch destination was Trieste.
We found ourselves in a charming little trattoria with a strong local following. We sampled the antipasti, pasta with a basil-less garlicky pesto and a rich, sticky ragú.
After lunch we settle in a sunny square with excellent coffee and even better desserts.