On a gorgeous, sunny morning we decided to visit the Vatican. No tickets, no plans on going in but who knows? It was a few days after Easter and when we got to St. Peter’s Square, it was jammed. So, we sat at the base of a column looking at all the statues, and other surroundings wondering what to do next. Perhaps we’ll go in? You should have seen the line-up! I am not up for standing in line for tickets on quite a warm day! Guess we should have pre-bought those tickets after all! But then, it seems like a good excuse, among others, to go back to Rome.
Before we go on vacation, I make a “wish-list” booklet of things we would like to see. It’s a good way to remind ourselves of things of interest, so I carry it with me. This day, we looked over the list and thought, let’s go to Pigneto! We had read a review of a restaurant (what else) there, so why not give it a go; so off to the tram stop!
It seemed further than we thought! We got off at the wrong stop, as per usual and started our wanderings. We found that a lot of places were not open, there probably being more action in the evenings. It seemed sort of sketchy or at least not pretty. The neighbourhood was historically working-class-communist but has morphed into Rome’s latest alternative hot spot; attracting young professionals, artists, directors and architects. So far, it is relatively “undiscovered” by tourists.
Our quest for the restaurant paid off. Primo al Pigneto on Via del Pigneto at #46. The via is a pedestrian only strip and in the early mornings has a fresh fruit and vegetable market. Of course, as usual, by the time we get there all that’s left are some scraps of veggies strewn about! Never mind because we had a great lunch; sat outside on the tree lined street where we sat at a table under an umbrella. To start, we shared a rabbit breast rolled in herbs, rosemary and fennel, traditionally used to make porchetta, served with greens drizzled with balsamic and EVO. My partner in eating ordered fresh tagliolini with artichokes being as it was artichoke season and bottarga, salted and cured roe of grey mullet and I had fresh fettuccine with cherry tomatoes, eggplant and smoked ricotta. We loved our pasta’s! Our wait person, a lovely, friendly, young woman, thought we should try the locally made artisanal goat cheese; she was right, fabulous! With the lunch we had a bottle of red made in Lazio by a young winemaker. Definitely two thumbs up!
Well satisfied with our little journey it’s time to go back to the apartment. On the way to Pigneto we noticed a Roman ruin; it turned out to be the Porta Maggiore built by the Emperor Claudius. We took the #19 tram back to Rome; not without incident, though; about halfway through the journey, our driver stopped the tram and told everyone they had to get off! Yikes…my Italian is not great now and was worse then. There we all are standing around the tram stop wondering what to do next. Another tram with the same #19 cames along in the next few minutes and the same thing happened to those passengers? Like what’s going on? After a number of minutes, our driver says we now can re-board the tram! When we get on the tram I say to the driver “andiamo” (we go) and he nods, si. It’s a mystery!
Speaking of “porchetta”, Anthony Bordain, in a programme called “The Layover” travels to Pignetto to sample the “best” porchetta at I Porchettoni at #68 Via del Pignetto only a short distance from where we had our fab. lunch! Next time!
If you have never had the opportunity to sample Italian porchetta, what can I say? My favourite so far is at Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano, Chianti, Tuscany. As I am writing this, my mouth is watering!
Since the writing of this post Anthony Bourdain is no longer with us and Prmo al Pignetto, sadly closed it’s doors in 2017.