When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
What do the Romans do? Well they get spoiled by stunning architecture, beautiful art, a helluva lot of history and delicious food every day.
John and I loved Rome. During the day, there is so much history, art and architecture to explore. At night, the city possesses a wonderful electric energy.
What I love about Rome is it was host to two incredible eras in history. The first was the heart of the Roman empire. The second was an important center of the Renaissance period.
We started by exploring the runes of ancient Rome.
As we exited the train station, we were absolutely stunned by the appearance of the Colosseum, the site of many bloody battles between Gladiators, slaves and all types of beasts, all for the entertainment of the Romans. Although the Colosseum is a shadow of its former glorious self (the marble was pillaged hundreds of years ago) it is still an imposing and impressive sight. It’s fun to imagine how it looked in its prime.
Right down the street from the Colosseum was the Forum, or the monument park of ancient Rome. Few of the runes are fully intact, but we enjoyed walking around the site and learning of the different Emperors and Roman gods that the monuments were built to honour.
Perhaps the most impressive structure left of ancient Rome is the Pantheon, the only fully intact building remaining from that era. Between the mighty marble pillars and the gigantic concrete dome, the construction of this monument is amazing.
The next morning, we headed towards the Vatican. We looked for a tour guide service and although we paid a little more, it was well worth the extra money. Our guide ushered us through all of the long line-ups and security to get us in, and guided us through what would have been a very confusing experience had we attempted the Vatican on our own.
We started by going into the main museum where we saw many statues from different eras. After the very busy museum, we were fortunate to see Michelangelo’s fresco masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo spent 4 years looking up to paint the ceiling (trying doing that for 2 minutes and see how your neck feels!) Although we weren’t allowed to take pictures, the ceiling was stunning: Michelangelo’s incorporation of the day light coming through the windows into his painting and his ability to make the images look three dimensional on the curved ceiling was simply masterful.
After the museum, we headed over to St. Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica was gigantic, and full of detailed gold accents. However, the thing to see in the Basilica is Michelangelo’s La Pieta, a stunning statue of Mary holding her crucified son that the master carved at the young age of 23.
We decided to take the hundreds of stairs to the viewpoint on top of St. Peter’s Basilica (there was an elevator option but we dumbly didn’t want to pay the extra 2 Euros each.) However, the view at the top was stunning and well worth the uphill battle!
What makes Rome really special is the sheer amount of things to see in the city. The monuments and art that you come across as you walk through the streets is simply tremendous!
The streets of Rome are bustling with locals and tourists, and lined with shops and restaurants. We were fortunate to enjoy some excellent pastas during our visit. One of my favourites was a Roman special, pasta carbonara. The rich, creamy egg-based sauce was delectable, so I decided to give it a shot in my own kitchen.
I was surprised at how quick this recipe took to make. The technique is surprisingly easy: fry the pancetta with garlic, add the pasta, remove the pan from heat and add the egg parmesan sauce and mix until it is cooked. Garnish with parsley and voila! You have a fancy pasta dinner!
- Make sure the pasta is fresh and hot when you add it to the pan ,as the heat from the pasta will help to cook the eggs.
- It is key to remove the pan from the heat before cooking the sauce as you don’t want your eggs to scramble!
- If you don’t have pancetta, you can substitute bacon
So experience a small taste of Rome with pasta carbonara!
Other posts in this series:
Part 1: Barcelona, Spain and Chicken and Sausage Paella
Part 2: Montserrat, Spain and Patatas Bravas
Part 4: Florence, Italy and Bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine Steak)
Part 5: Croatia, The Dalmatian Coast and Pasticada
Click here for printable Word version of recipe:
1 lb dry spaghetti or linguine, enough to serve 4
4-5 oz pancetta or 5 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Splash of white wine (optional)
Parsley to garnish
Parmesan cheese to garnish
- Heat a large frying pan. Add pancetta/bacon and fry until it starts to crisp. Add garlic and cook for a minute.
- While the pancetta is cooking, cook pasta to el dente.
- Combine eggs and 1 cup grated parmesan cheese in a bowl. Mix well.
- When pasta is done, add to pan with pancetta and garlic, cook until pasta is coated in the fat. Add a splash of wine if desired. You want to add the hot pasta right to the hot pan once it is cooked and drained, as the heat of the noodles will help cook the eggs in the sauce.
- Remove pan from heat. Add egg and parmesan mixture, and mix well into pasta. This is important as you don’t want the eggs to scramble! The remaining heat of the pan and pasta should cook your sauce, keeping it creamy.
- Garnish with parsley, fresh cracked pepper and parmesan cheese to serve.