Tag Archives: living in Rome

Garbatella stopover in January

Garbatella in January

It’s been a busy few weeks: Christmas in Norway, back to Accra for New Year’s, now a two-week trip to Rome for work, and we head back to Accra this weekend. Unfortunately I picked up a bad cold in Norway, which turned into acute bronchitis. Denial and paracet only gets you so far, I discovered, though I tried! January is also harmattan season in Accra, with dry dusty winds from the Sahara making the city look foggy from dust, which did not help the coughing. So I have had some days sick in bed while in Rome, missing work, and am slowly recovering. Wonderful to be home in our own apartment (the friend of a friend staying here moved out while we are back). We felt the four earthquakes last Wednesday, spooky though no damage here.

Bar dei Cesaroni
 It is weird being back in Rome after 14 months in Accra. The bar up the hill still has good coffee,  tattered Roma signs and the grey parrot outside. Good coffee bars everywhere, lots of public buses! Romans may complain about AMA (rubbish collection), but AMA just collected our broken washing machine and and old armchair, free of charge. No open sewers, no chickens. Lots of people wearing black, and the cars look so small and new! Wonderful food — fresh salads, pizza margherita, mozzarella, rughetta, pasta amatriciana: it’s all been amazing.

Cheese at Garbatella farmers market ….and CHEESE! Real cheese!! Not just expensive plastic “Irish cheddar” from Shoprite. We bought cheese at the farmers’ market up the hill: pecorino stagionato, ricotta fresca con tartufo, carciocavallo affumicato, scamorza, more pecorino with walnuts, with pepper and with peperoncino, formaggio di capra, ricotta secca…….ahhhhhhh. Much of it vacuum packed, going back to Accra with us, and some it being enjoyed fresh now. Bliss.


Here in Garbatella we have an excellent pasta shop downstairs. We had a busy schedule to see friends for dinners most nights, but with me being sick, we had to cancel most and have been living off cheese, and fresh pasta: ravioli con pistachio, agnolotti (meat stuffing), ravioli all’ carbonara….  I am hoping to squeeze in ravioli con carciofi before we go. Every day the selection   changes slightly. Maybe I can get some fresh pasta Friday, and hope it survives the flight back.

Garbatella cat Random Garbatella cat enjoying January sunshine. My goodness, just going for a walk in a pretty neighbourhood seems such a luxury now.  Like being able to drink the tap water, or have an elevator. Internet fast enough to watch videos! Seeing friends and neighbours is lovely too.

Garbatella Via Passino, Garbatella. The pine trees look like they are leaning more than last year. There are changes since we were last here in July last year: the corner pub is now a tattoo parlour, and the ferramenta (hardware store) that closed is now a nail salon. The bar across the piazza that was renovating for ages opened last year and is still there, quite trendy – we went for a drink last summer, and there were actual hipsters there. But most things are reassuringly familiar, which nice. Nice if not too gentrified here, I love this neighbourhood.

We fly back to Accra this weekend, which will be nice too. Accra is great in a very different way, and I am really looking forward to Ghana mango and pineapple again, as well as seeing the wonderful people we know there too. Now we just need to think about what we pack in our 2×23 kilos of checked luggage each: cheese, pasta, more cheese, what else?


Fave e pecorino for May Day

fave e pecorino

It is May Day, a public holiday in Italy (as in many countries) and our neighbourhood is deserted. I see lots of laundry flapping in the wind, but many will have gone to the beach, or for a picnic out of town. What many Romans will be enjoying is Fave e Pecorino: fresh fava beans, and pecorino cheese, a combination traditionally eaten today. So that is what we just had for lunch, sweet crunchy fava beans and salty pecorino. Very nice!

imageThere is no cooking involved: take one hunk of pecorino cheese, which is a salty, hard cheese made from sheep’s milk, and cut some wedges of it. Pile up the raw fava beans, in pods, and  everyone peels their own pods. There is a thick membrane around each bean, which you peel off before eating the beans. They taste a bit like raw peas, and go very well with the cheese. With cold white wine, this is delicious. (Also without wine, very tasty too!)

fave e pecorinoHappy May Day to all! I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday #66, as this is a great picnic dish, and very seasonal. Peeling the fava beans takes time, so there is plenty of time for a good chat. Many thanks to the hosts, Angie@thenovicegardener and   Anna @Anna International!

Fiesta Friday

Walking tour of Garbatella: Part 2

imageLast week we went on a walking tour of Garbatella, which was really interesting: see Part 1. This is our neighbourhood in Rome, a working-class area which is well worth a visit for the architecture and ambience. Here, the Roma logo, on a house wall.

imageHere, an internal courtyard, where our excellent guide Franco pointed out the decorative pillars on the facade. Many of the houses have decorations of pillars, reliefs and mythical figures, part of the barochetto romano movement. Decorations were done with simple materials, not marble.

imageWalking up Via Passino: the fire brigade was out (parked next to a progressive social club). They were inspecting a tree that was leaning a bit too  much. (Still there this week, though)

imageThis is a fervently Roma supporting quartiere, and you see the giallorosso (yellow and red) echoed on lampposts,  bricks and walls. More Roma-fandom (with added grafitti, I noticed later…..) There is a lot of grafitti in Rome, unfortunately.

imageCesare Battisti school on Piazza Sauli, example of civil architecture in Fascist era. See the massive eagles! This school is also featured in “I Cesaroni”, a soap opera that has been on for years. It is mainly set in Garbatella, at the bar just around the corner. The 673 bus ends here, three stops after the Garbatella metro, and there are often Italian tourists on the bus, doing a Cesaroni pigrimage.

imageArchitecture buffs might especially enjoy Lotto 24, which has the 13 “model houses”, built for the International Congress of Housing and Town Planning in 1929. Look for them on the triangle of Via delle Sette Chiese, Via De Jacobis and Via Borri. Here, we arrived at Piazza Eurosia. This is one of several excellent areas for eating out.

We ambled down Via Rubino, a tree-lined little street with litlle houses and beautiful gardens, and arrived here at Piazza Sapeto.. If you go straight through the piazza, you come down the steps to the Fontana di Carlotta.  We went left instead.

imageFranco pointed out the communal washing lines in some of the internal courtyards, still very much in use. Many of the courtyards have lovely gardens, well looked after by the inhabitants, and there are footpaths so you can criss-cross  through and have a look.

imageMore laundry in afternoon sun. See that box on the tree? It is a bat box, to encourage bats: they sleep there in the day. When it is dark, you see them swooping around eating insects.

What we found really interesting about this walk through Garbatella is seeing how people live: people walking dogs, hanging out laundry, the smells of dinner cooking, the sounds of conversations drifting from windows, the sun illuminating the faded reds and yellows of the buildings, and getting the feel of Garbatella as a neighbourhood.

In Rome and interested in seeing Garbatella? Contact Garbatella Mon Amour: https://www.facebook.com/garbatellatour regarding the new free walking tour around Garbatella, offered in English. About two hours, very enjoyable and highly recommended. For information and booking, call or text +39 351 1245 664. PS Generally this is offered in the morning at 10AM.