Gaby enjoying fresh OJ (spremuta) made with Sicilian blood oranges.

Last week, two families of friends from Madison, Wisconsin, came to visit us. One family was Ruth and Gaby, who arrived on a Wednesday. And the second family was Stacy, Jonathan, Zach, and Samantha, who arrived on Saturday.

For the first two nights that Gaby was here, Eli was on an overnight field trip with his class. You can read his blog post about it. This is what we did the first two days that Gaby came to visit. The first night, we made dinner for Ruth and Gaby on the terrace, and then brought them to one of our favorite gelato places, named Il Gelato. That means: “The Gelato”. Then the next day, I went to school, and my mom and dad gave Ruth and Gaby a tour to the Pantheon, Campo de’ Fiori, and they took them to Alberto Pica for more gelato. That night, we took them to a restaurant called Orso 80, where what most food writers say is you should just order their appetizers (antipasti) for the meal. Here are some things they brought: cauliflower, zucchini, beans with a red sauce, potatoes, the best melon in the world, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, and a plate with celery marinated with cubes of parmigiano cheese. For dessert, me and Gaby had fresh frutti di bosco (which means fruits of the forest, like raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries).

Outside Il Gelato with everyone.

The next day, I stayed home because I was sick. My mom took Ruth and Gaby to see the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill, and the Forum. Then later that day, Eli came home from his school trip. That night, Eli, Gaby, Ruth, and Dad went to a restaurant called Dal Pollarolo 1936 in our neighborhood. It’s one of Eli’s favorite restaurants because it has both good pizza, good pasta, and good roasted chicken, and it’s been there since 1936. I had to stay home and my mom offered to stay home with me.

Can you find us in the crowd at the Spanish Steps?

The next day, Samantha, Zach, Jonathan, and Stacy arrived in the morning. We served them a huge lunch on the terrace. My dad was slaving in the kitchen to prepare the lunch. Then after lunch we went to Il Gelato (again), because we like to always take our visitors there for their first gelato in Rome. Then we walked to the Spanish Steps and did a Where’s Waldo photo with all the tourists in the background. Then we went to the Villa Borghese, a huge park at the top of the Spanish Steps. We watched the rollerbladers do tricks. Then we went home for a few reasons.

The rollerblader went under the rope on the right doing a split. You can see us gasping while we watch.

For dinner that night, we went to this place called Baffetto 2. It’s known for its AMAZING pizza. In Italy, when they bring you your pizza they don’t cut it. So the grownups were all rushing around helping us cut our pizzas and some waiters helped us, too.

At the Sicilian restaurant.

The next day, Sunday, Ruth and Gaby took a train to Florence. And we took S, J, Z, and S to a Sicilian restaurant that is OUT OF THIS WORLD. And when I say out of this world, I really mean it. After we finished our lunch at the Sicilian place, we went to the Cat Sanctuary at Largo Argentina, because we thought Samantha would like to see cats because she LOVES animals. And seriously, she really loves animals. In the cat sanctuary, we saw a blind cat. All the cats wander around in the Roman ruins. They are free to go wherever they want. That night we had the best pasta from the fresh pasta store with the best pesto sauce for dinner at our house.

A few of the hundreds of cats at the Largo Argentina cat sanctuary.

On Monday, it turned out I had an ear infection so I had to stay home, again. My dad stayed home with me. My mom took our guests to join a tour in the Jewish Ghetto. The Roman Jews have a very old and very interesting history and culture, and they got to hear all about the tour-guide’s own family and how they survived World War 2. They then had lunch at a famous Roman Jewish restaurant called Sora Margerita, where they got to try Roman fried artichokes; Gaby particularly loved them. They had gelato at Alberto Pica. Zachary loves coffee and he really liked the coffee gelato.

More gelato, anyone?

When they all got home, Gaby and Ruth got ready to leave Rome which was sad for us. Then that night, our parents all went out to dinner at Al Duello, which is one of their favorite restaurants. We had a sitter that was a student. Her name is Jordan. My dad made a special pasta for our dinner that was a Lecce recipe. It was basically really good pasta with tomatoes that were kind of smooshed, just like in Puglia. We had fresh strawberries that are in season here.

Boys in front of a great bakery, Forno Campo de' Fiori

On Tuesday, finally I went to school. Our visitors went to see the Forum and Coloseum and Palatine Hill and Circo Massimo. Right when I got home from school, they got home and we went to a Sicilian gelato place in our neighborhood. There were two flavors that everyone really liked. One was chocolate orange and one was After Eight, which was mint ice cream with chunks of chocolate.  When we got home the kids [Samantha, Zach, Eli, and I] were practicing for doing a show for everybody. It was an improv comedy show, with jokes, dancing, singing, and everything.

On Wednesday and Thursday we took the train to see Bologna, which we will tell about in one of the next blog posts.

Stacy and Jonathan enjoying the pizza a taglio at Roscioli.

Friday was our friends’ last day in Rome. Luckily it was Easter break so we could have the day with them. We called it Stacy’s Day of Desserts because Stacy had missed dessert two nights in a row and was having her last day in Rome.  In the morning, we strolled to a bakery and then a coffee place and then an ice cream place and a chocolate place, and then another bakery. We all tried a little bit of everything. For lunch, we went to the best pizza rosso and pizza bianca place in rome: Roscioli. We ate standing up at the counter. We tried to have gelato at a new Sicilian bakery but their freezer was broken, so we had gelato at the Gelateria de la Teatro which was excellent. Then we met up with another family. There was a 15 year old girl, Aliza, and there was an 11 year old boy named Zach. They live in Princeton, and my mom knows their mom from work. They were on vacation in Rome. We played soccer all together in the Villa Borghese park. Unfortunately a soccer ball hit my face but otherwise it was fun.

Girls out on the town.

That night, for our friends’ last dinner in Rome, we went to our favorite non-pizza place in Rome: da Gino. Unfortunately, the nicest waiter in the whole world, who we have every single time we went to da Gino, apparently only works for lunch now. But still the food was good. Me and Samantha had the exact same dinner. First we shared a caprese salad, which is tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Then we both had this good dish called cacio e pepe, which is a long pasta with cheese sauce and pepper, and for dessert we both had mousse al cioccolato, which is a chocolate mousse.

And Samantha and I wore matching scarves, a slightly different color but the same design.

On Saturday we said goodbye to each other and they left. It was a pleasure for both families to stay and I’m looking forward to seeing them again in Madison, and all of you too.

– Nell (and a little help from Jenny)