Crossing a street in Roma is about taking a deep breath and just going for it. It’s exhilarating and terrifying to step in front of 400 scooters, taxis, and a bus or two, but if you don’t swallow the fear of certain death, you’ll never get anywhere.
(If you need help getting started, lock step with an old lady or purposeful businessman. It took me 3 hours to start throwing myself into traffic like a true Roman. Just keep walking.)
And just as I’m becoming confident in my avenue-crossing skills, clever navigation of the inscrutable bus map, and a near-faultless sense of direction and comfort with the winding streets of the Centro Storico (read: ability to walk home well over a few blocks without consulting a map after drinking half a bottle of wine), it’s about time to go. And possibly at the right moment, after my second and most winning bowl of bucatini all’amatriciana (god, that’s good). On to Napoli and then Positano, where, according to Lonely Planet, the food is generally mediocre tourist fare, and expensive to boot. Here’s hoping for a surprise. Or molti sorpresi. I dreamed of vongole tonight — maybe that’s a good sign.
The novelty of arrival having worn off, plus the combination of overeating on day one, heat, and loneliness, has actually made me want to eat less, which is better on the stomach, and on the pocketbook, honestly. Swearing off secondi (well, eschewing for the moment, anyway) and a post-cena espresso is an experiment in progress. On the loneliness, it waited until day 4 (or is it 5?) to set in, but I’m banking on a change of scenery and the challenges of navigating a completely unknown city to squelch it.
Today’s deliciousness: Not starving but knowing full well that I’d never find anything worth ingesting near Piazza di Spagna later, I found a nice little place in Monti near Via de Serpenti (Street of Snakes) that served up crispy, chewy pizza with bufala, carfiofi (artichokes), and prosciutto, a perfect light meal paired with a beer, ideal not least because it didn’t require a post-meal nap. Unfortunately, my outing later to Trastevere and a leisurely couple of Proseccos at a neighborhood bar did me in, but this is why I love Roma, and Italy in general: You can wake up at 9:45 pm and not worry about missing dinner. In fact, you might have trouble finding a table.
For dinner, simplicity: prosciutto e melone, and that fantastic pasta. And wine. Lots of wine.
A few things that suck about dining alone:
- You can’t try everything.
- You feel like a cow when you attempt it anyway.
- Indifferent service feels like a personal affront.
A few great things about dining alone:
- You can go wherever, whenever you want.
- You can embrace wanton people-watching.
- Indifferent service can strangely turn into very earnest entreaties to walk that way for the ottimo view, or smiles and a very firm handshake and grazie mille at the end of the meal.