‘Grazie Mille’ is a term we had grown accustom to saying as we departed the trattoria after a hearty, long and lazy lunch. Invariably, the response of ‘prego’ was offered in return, along with a cheerful smile.
Our first trip to Rome opened us up to new and wondrous sights. The Eternal City has many eye-catching edifices and visually outstanding historical monuments that you become absorbed with wanting to see everything. But this, our return visit, is different. This time, we are spoilt by delightful culinary offerings, intrigued by the nuances of the same dish between trattorias. This is the passion that Italians have for their food. Individually, their dish is how it should be made, a recipe passed down through the generations. Romans are proud of their city and their dishes, and travellers revel in the choices. Trying to find the best osteria or trattoria to sample these offerings can be hit-and-miss and this becomes part of the challenge.
Being presented with a plateful of pasta alla pepe, a simple pasta with pecorino cheese and pepper, you want to savour the moment but are also eager to eat. As you take the first mouthful, nicely accompanied with a soft red wine, it is easy to settle in and relax and taking in the surrounding of the small trattoria in the Trastevere laneway. It is a warm afternoon and leaning back in the chair, we savour this moment in time amongst the renaissance styled buildings. The sound of Italian chatter reminds you that you are in the heart of Rome. Approaching the hour, church bells can be heard in the distance, a sound only broken by the vespa buzzing past your outdoor table. Our waiter interrupts our reflective moment with the sound of a wine cork being popped followed by that familiar ‘glug, glug’ sound as our glasses are filled. A chink of the glasses, ‘salute’ and the slow lunch commences.
Charming, romantic and inspiring. There is no need to rush the meal, nor feel that you need to race to the next attraction. The long lunch has long held an attraction for travellers returning to their favourite town, city or region. Here, it’s not just the history of Rome, it’s the wondrously tasty food, softness of the wine and bustling surroundings amidst the architecture of historic buildings.
We are told that Romans think about food from their first espresso through to lunch and onto dinner. They have created la dolce vita, maintaining their culinary traditions and dishes. Long lunches and raucous dinners are fuelled by wine. And why not when you are in a country with such a rich viticultural heritage – and the worship of the wine God, Bacchus.
To get a taste of traditional Roman dining, accessing home meals through BonAppetour becomes a quintessential and memorable experience. Hosts, such as Fabio and Rocco in Rome, wine and dine their guests with tasty and authentic homemade creations, matched beautifully with regional wines. Your hosts shop for ingredients at local grocers, delicatessens and markets. Such dinners are catered for two couples, which lends itself to convivial chatter and laughter, learning much about the city that you are embracing. This is also a terrific way of obtaining exclusive information on the host’s favourite osteria or trattoria, taking the guess work out of the next lunch or dinner venue. It is such experiences that will linger with you well after you arrive home.
For a first timer with limited time in Rome, a long lunch would be an extravagance, a wasted opportunity to walk the city and absorb the sights. But immersion in the food culture, the very fabric of the city, has an untold wealth of experience. Simply…bellissimo!