It’s been Old Home Week here. Not officially, but at least for the Abels. Jordan (the boys’ second cousin) was in Europe, and decided to join us for a few days in Rome. She arived Saturday evening, and the boys were so excited to see her. They stood on the balcony waiting for her arrival, and every time a cab drove down the street, they would say, “I think she’s here!” The same evening, a good friend of ours also arrived in Rome, and the boys asked me what time it was every 10 minutes until she arrived.
The six of us went to dinner that night at a place just down the street called Settimio. I had been wanting to try it, but felt a little intimidated to make a reservation. It is not a fancy place at all. In fact, it is very simple home cooking, but it is not a tourist destination. I had read that you have to ring the bell to get in, and if you have not made a reservation, the owner will scrutinize you before deciding if he’ll let you in or not.
Because we wanted to make sure we could get in somewhere decent with our new guests, we tried making reservations at a few other restaurants, but between a bank holiday (not sure why that translates into a restaurant holiday), and difficulty getting through to some of the others, Jeffrey finally called Settimio to make a reservation. Jeffrey doesn’t speak much Italian, but usually the person who answers the phone at a restaurant speaks English, and since I hate the phone, he dove on the grenade. When Mario answered the phone, and Jeffrey asked “Parla Inglese?” Mario said no. But Jeffrey did great, and used his broken Italian to get us a reservation, at what we had dubbed “the secret place.”
When we arrived, Mario showed us to our table, and we learned that he didn’t speak ANY English. Not one bit. And this is a place with no menu. He tells you what they have course by course, and I tried to translate for the table. There were times when we weren’t sure exactly what we were ordering, but that was part of the fun.
Shortly after we sat down, the bell rang, and I see Mario staring with a blank look on his face at the man at the door. Then he says “a mangiare?” with the typical Italian hand gesture for eating (fingers to lips), and a couple of tourists walk in. They were led to a table for two, but it only had one chair. So they waited for a few minutes for someone to bring them a second chair, and when that didn’t happen, they decided to leave. The whole scene was quite strange. And funny.
By then we had dubbed Mario the food Nazi, as he seemed a little reminiscent of the soup Nazi from Seinfeld. We were afraid if we did anything wrong, we might get kicked out. But then, I had to show Carter to the restroom, and everything changed. A man at another table stopped me and asked where we were from, and continued talking to me in Italian for at least 10 minutes. As it turns out, the restaurant was started in 1931 by his grandmother. His parents (Mario and Teresa) now run the restaurant, but he is an attorney and his brother is a doctor, so I don’t know what will happen to Settimio in the future. Surprisingly, the son also spoke very little English, but they were VERY nice, and it turns out Mario is not a food Nazi after all. After we finished our primi, secondi, and gelato, he brought out the bottle of limoncello and left it on the table for us to help ourselves.
On Sunday, we went to another exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci’s machines, had a big lunch at a nearby pizzeria, and visited St. Peter’s again. This time, we went to the top of the cupola and enjoyed the view looking down inside the basilica, and also the view of Rome. On the way home, Jordan took the boys for gelato and they headed back to the apartment. Jeffrey, Julia, and I headed to Glass, in the Trastevere neighborhood, for dinner. Jeffrey and I ate here several years ago, and since then, the restaurant has earned a Michelin star. It was a great treat, and a welcome change from our typical meals.
Afterward, we went to Lungo il Tevere..Roma, a summer festival on the banks of the Tiber. Every summer, they set up temporary white tent structures along the Tiber, and there are bars, restaurants, tons of foosball tables (yep, you read that correctly), and vendors selling everything from clothing, hats and scarves, hair products, to vacuum cleaners. I don’t think the vacuum cleaners were getting much action, and need a new marketing director. A great time was had by all.
Today Jordan and Jeffrey took the kids to the park at Villa Borghese. Unfortunately, the boys were too small to ride the Segways, so they rented a four-person bike instead. I finally got in some much needed girl-time, which consisted of lunch, gelato, shopping, and wine. Aaaahhh.