8 July, 2012

It’s the second to last week of school for the kids, and I’m feeling some pressure to get as much work done as possible before they are home and work essentially ceases until we get back to Madison. But the weather is spectacular; hot and breezy and the seagulls circling all around our terrace are crying out just one thing: beach, beach, beach. And our friend Reka is calling too, offering to drive us 45 minutes out of town to the coast near Ostia for some oceanside sunning and lunching.

I know I should work. But then again, how often can we play hooky and go to the beach? In Madison, that would take a plane flight (or two). So we metro out to Reka’s house and we drive down a road lined with umbrella pine trees and fragrant bushes to the coast.

Reka, Seth, seafood, sand, and sea.

Romans we know like to denigrate the local beaches. They prefer the more sightly sands north of here, in Tuscany, or south toward Sperlonga. So we were pleasantly surprised by how nice the beach here is! As we’ve found elsewhere in Europe, there are restaurants and clubs lining the sands where one can rent an umbrella and deck chairs. And the restaurants are real restaurants! In tempting us to join her today, Reka told us that the spaghetti a la vongole (with clams) was particularly good at this beach restaurant. And I don’t know if it was the sea air or the bracing wind or the dip in the sea, but it really was. How fun to walk from one’s beach umbrella to sit in a real restaurant with wine and fresh seafood, all without getting the sand off one’s feet?

Afterwards, we drove back with Reka to the kids’ school. But instead of heading right home, we decided to try to find a gelateria that was rumored to be excellent, about 20 minutes walk away in an interesting neighborhood called Monteverde Nuovo (to be constrasted with Monteverde Vecchio, or old Monteverde).

Gelateria Tony

Gelateria Tony was teeming with locals on the hot afternoon, and Seth and the kids gave the gelato rave reviews. I was actually too hot for gelato, and chose my favorite summery sweet: granita (which is sort of like a slurpy but with real fruit and juice – incredibly refreshing). The cantaloupe granita really tasted like the fruit, but the winner was the lemon, tart and cooling.

The granita came with a cookie straw; now that’s a first!

We then walked another 20 minutes to the tram, which took us to Largo Argentina. Nearby is a famous Roman restaurant, Trattoria Filetti di Baccalà, that serves only one thing, fried cod. There is of course also salad (excellent, with anchovy dressing) to cut the fat and salt. But the cod is the thing. Still salty from the ocean hours earlier, we filled up on fried fish, always appropriate on Friday. When searching for the restaurant’s actual name, I came across a youtube video that captures the experience of dining there; here is the link.

And to cool off, one last granita, this time at Corona in Largo Argentina (hat tip to our friends Monica, Patrik, Michael, and Daniel for this find). But since I had enjoyed a granita earlier, I opted for their lemon basil flavored gelato. Possibly my favorite flavor in Rome. And a perfect way to end a day of playing hooky!

– Jenny

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