Monday, 11 September 2017 08:12

When you are in Rome, eat like a Roman

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When you are in Italy, eat like a local.

Yes, because if you do not know Italian cuisine you might think you are eating a typical Amatriciana in Florence, or enjoying a typical Mortadella in Venice. The fact is that Italian cuisine is not a national but a regional cuisine, and each region has its own specialties: if you find the same dishes in another region, many times the "national" version is far from the original, “local” one. So, it's time to venture into a world of typical restaurants where you will not find Italians but Romans, Venetians, Florentines, Neapolitans.

“All roads lead to Rome”, the Romans said. This is a motto that could be used also for my tours: we always end up (or start) in Rome. So Rome is the highlight of every trip, and I love it. When it comes to Roman monuments, you cannot miss the most magnificent ones: the Colosseum, Hadrian’s Tomb (Castel S. Angelo), the ruins of the Palatine have more majestic measures, imprinting themselves indelibly in everyone’s imagination. But I always take special care in including a monument which, besides being very well preserved, is the quintessence of Roman history: Trajan's Column on Via dei Fori Imperiali (the road from Altare della Patria to the Colosseum).
There is always a chance to taste Parmigiano Reggiano when we are on a tour, in every part of the country. Yes, because Parmigiano Reggiano is somehow the “national” cheese. Not really in the sense that it is the best, but it is by far the most popular. And to be the national cheese in the land of 1,000 cheeses you must really be special. But even if Parmigiano Reggiano is eaten all over the country, from the Alps to Pantelleria, like all Italian cheeses it is deeply rooted in its motherland, the provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia, and this link is essential. 
To me, as well as to many Italians who love Siena and often pay a visit to the city, the Palio is a combination of colors, sounds and emotions.
The colors, from yellow ocher turf lying on the Piazza del Campo to those of the flags and the handkerchiefs of the “contradaioli”.
The sounds, from the tolls rolling down from the great bell on top of Torre del Mangia, to the songs launched as a  challenge from one group, the same theme with different words, but almost always concluded with "by force or love you must respect us", from the silver trumpets on the Carroccio carrying the Palio (a silk painting with a religious theme), to the firecracker bursting when the jockeys come out from the “Entrone” (the Entrance to the Piazza), to that of horses' hooves beating on the turf, to the strangled cry of the contradaioli.
Romans, what a people. They conquered half of Europe, the Middle East and the northern coasts of Africa, so to call the Mediterranean Sea “Mare Nostrum”, Our Sea. Here they imposed their civilization, their laws but first of all their language: Latin.
 
Latin was spoken from the marshes of England to the deserts of Lybia, as a sign of a united world. Laws were written in Latin, Justice was administered in Latin, trade was managed in Latin.
 
Why should you go on a private tour to Italy? There are several reasons, and one of the most important is the language. A private tour gives you the possibility to learn some italian with your Tour Leader, and to understand Italy better through its language! Italy is wonderful because its language is. And its language reflects its history and its traditions, so don’t be surprised we use water, priests and devils in some popular sayings. So, let’s discover some of them, people will identify you as an Italian, or at least will compliment you!
 

It is difficult to speak of Rome in a few words, just as it is hard to believe that this wonderful city has emerged from a small settlement of shepherds on the Palatine hill and a she-wolf nursed two children as if they were her cubs. Perhaps it is this magic thousands of tourists go looking for around the city every day. They may make Rome less romantic than expected, but despite this the capital of Italy is beautiful like few cities in the world. So here I list the 5 things you must see in Rome if you do not have enough time (but please do come back for all the rest as soon as you can).