CASRome - Brooke

Enjoy reading my blog throughout my 7 weeks in Roma this summer! Ciao!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Throughout my seven weeks in Rome I was able to explore many piazzas, have breakfast in numerous cafes, and sample different kinds of Italian wine.

I chose piazzas as one of my places to blog about because they are an extremely important part of Italian life and culture. You can run into a piazza in Rome on almost every walk you take. Piazza Navona was one of the main piazzas I chose to focus on. It is one of the larger piazzas in Rome and contains The Fontana del Nettuno and Sant'Agnese in Agone.

I chose wine as one of my themes because Italy is known for its wine and I knew I would be traveling to Tuscany during my seven weeks. I have always enjoyed wine but have never taken the time to understand how it made or the proper way to drink it.

Finally, I chose cafes and Italian breakfast as my last theme because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. The Italian morning routine in cafes is entirely different than American morning routine. In cafes, Italians stand and socialize while sipping cappuccino or caffes. They enjoy pastries in the morning as opposed to cereal or eggs. Most cafe shelves are filled with croissants, donuts, or creme filled pastries. The cafe is a meeting place for Italians in the morning and afternoon.

I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the Italian culture by visiting the piazzas, drinking the wine, and dining in the cafes. I loved learning about my themes and places and hope that these blogs allowed you all to learn about them as well!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Last Morning in a Cafe in Rome

On my last day in Rome I figured I had to have one more breakfast at a cafe. Some of the girls and I decided to go to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere to Caffe delle Arance. We had passed this cafe many times before and admired the many oranges that were displayed in the windows and the large flute glass that the spremuta came in.

When our spremuta arrived at our table I was elated. The spremuta was the best I had had since I arrived in Rome. It was so fresh and sweet. It woke me right up to explore Rome for the last time. I finished the entire glass, which is about a foot tall, within five minutes, and I felt great about it. The only thing to note about the spremuta is that it costs seven Euro, but it is well worth it.

I know that my Tropicana orange juice (which is my absolute favorite at home) won't even come close in comparison to a freshly squeezed glass of spremuta. I am considering buying a juicer at home so that I can make my own fresh squeezed orange juice.

Kosher Wine

Today I was finally able to go to dinner in the Jewish Ghetto at a Kosher ristorante with Ilana and her mom. To go along with my dinner I decided to try some Kosher wine. While doing some research about Kosher wine in Italy to my surprise I found an article that said Kosher wine is on the rise in Italy, especially in Milan and Rome.

To be considered Kosher wine there are many rules that must be followed. First, to abide by Jewish law only followers of the Jewish faith may come in contact with the wine. Second, no yeast products made from animals may be used in the production of the wine. Finally, the vineyard producing the wine must shut down production every seven years and rest.

There are about twelve vineyards in Italy currently producing Kosher wine. "Giordano is the biggest, producing two million bottles a year, all of which is destined for the markets in the United states and Canada".
I have to admit that back in the States the only Kosher wine I have ever had was Manishevitz, and I am not very fond of it. The wine I had tonight at dinner was delicious. It was a little sweet and so much better than the cheap Manishevitz wine we typically have for Jewish holidays.

"Kosher wine production in Italy on the rise." Italy 16 June 2008 25 Jun 2008.

An Overview of Piazzas

I thought it would be nice to begin wrapping up my blog posts about piazzas in Rome by defining what a space needs to have to be considered a piazza. I thought about this the other day on my 20 minute walk home from class because in that time I passed at least ten areas that are considered piazzas. All of these spaces were extremely different though. Some were incredibly large, full of tourists, restaurants, and entertainers while others were simply a place for cars to park.

It turns out that to be considered a piazza there just needs to be an open public space. There are no specific guidelines besides that. Although piazzas are typical in Italy, they are found in other regions and can be compared to the Spanish plaza.

Piazzas are used for social gatherings and entertainment. They are the center of Italian life and are almost always filled with people engaging with one another and the culture around them. Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo are three of the largest piazzas in Rome and my three favorite.They are big tourist attractions but are also frequented by locals as well. Some of my favorite memories of the past seven weeks have occurred in these piazzas.

In Piazza Navona, at night, I was able to see Tom Hanks and Ron Howard during the filming of Angels and Demons. I was only twenty feet from two of the biggest names in Hollywood. It was something I will remember for the rest of my life. I can not wait for the film to come out in theaters so that I can recognize different places in Rome that appear and to see the scene that I saw them film.

In Piazza di Spagna, at night, most of the people in the CAS program and myself gathered to experience the piazza at night on the steps. It was a great way for everyone to bond together, outside under the clear night's sky. It was interesting to see how we interacted with each other compared to the Italian teenagers. Besides the obvious clothing attire difference, I found the Italians to be enjoying themselves in much smaller groups than we were. The live music they provided us with though was wonderful and all in English!

"Piazza." Wikipedia. 22 Jan 2008. 25 Jun 2008.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Botanical Garden in Trastevere

While the heat was still tolerable last week a few of the girls and I decided to explore the Botanical Garden called Orto Botanico in Trastevere. Although it is only a short walk from our apartment, once inside you feel like you are in a completely different place. The annoying sounds of the city disappear, along with the horrid smell of trash and body odor. Instead you hear birds chirping, ducks splashing in the pond, and smell fresh flowers and sap. It is the perfect place to escape the hectic and rapid pace of the city and clear your head as you walk around the grounds.

Although I was expecting to see many more flowers in bloom, I was still impressed by what was there. Immediately upon entering the garden you were greeted by enormously tall trees, with long leafy branches. At our first stop we all different types
of cactus plants. I've never actually seen cactus in nature so it was neat to see how it grows. As we moved along through the grounds we wondered into a green room filled with the most interesting cactus I have ever seen. There were cactus roses that were green with red edges. If you didn't look close enough you would think that they were real roses.

Further along on our exploration of the garden we saw bamboo stalks that were at least 15 feet high. I couldn't believe that one space was able to allow cactus, bamboo, and roses to grow. I didn't know that all three were able to survive in similar climates.

As we continued walking we climbed up the top of hill and saw an incredible view of Rome. The trees in the garden acted like a frame around St. Peter's dome. It turned out to be a great picture!

I was sad to leave the garden and enter the noisy city of Rome again. I liked the peacefulness of the garden and the ability to clear my head. I wish I would have found the space sooner so that I could have escaped their when the apartment was too much for me to handle, but I am just glad I was able to see when I did.

A walking tour of cafes & piazzas in Rome

Monday morning in Campo de'Fiori we started our tour of cafes and piazzas led by the one and only Carley Bria. In Campo de'Fiori we were able to salivate over the fresh produce, which we didn't purchase because the prices were a bit too high, and shop for some souvenirs at the different vendor tables.

Following our leader we stopped in Piazza della Rotonda
to sample some granitade caffé con pannas at the cafe La Tazza d'Oro. The cafe is known for its exotic coffee beans, espresso, and granita. Everyone that tried the icy beverage enjoyed it, except me. I have come to the conclusion that I just don't the taste buds for coffee!

After all of the cups were empty we made our way to Via Condotti, which is known for its expensive shops. I could
only dream about purchasing something in the designer stores and take pictures of their store fronts. It was such a tease to be in front of so many exquisite pieces of clothes knowing I could not afford any of it.

Once we got to the end of Via Condotti we were met by Piazza di Spagna. It was still relatively early in the morning
but the sweltering heat from the sun seemed to be keeping the piazza fairly empty. This was the first time I saw the Spanish Steps during the day and due to the overwhelming heat I hardly had a chance to stop and appreciate them before we moved down Via del Babuino to Piazza del Popolo. In Piazza del Popolo, the largest piazza in Rome I have been to, they were setting up for an appreciation rally for rescue personnel. There was a giant red cross at the one end of the piazza and a platform covered in red at the other end of the piazza. Located on either side of the twin chruches are two political based rival cafes. Cafe Canova, situated on the right side, is a more conservative cafe. It was full of people sitting at the numerous outdoor tables. Cafe Rosati, situated on the left side, is more liberal. Although it was much less crowded than Cafe Canova I enjoyed it just the same. The pastries that filled the glass shelves inside were miniature in size and brightly colored. I tried a mini chocolate eclair and was in heaven. The pastry shell was so fresh and the chocolate center oozed out as I bit it. It was a great way to end our walk and forget about the intense heat awaiting outside.

A Cafe to Try

If you are looking for a new cafe to try and want to people watch at the same time I suggest trying Ristorante di Rienzo. It is located in Piazza della Rotonda and to the left of the Pantheon if you are looking into the piazza from the Pantheon. The city block is stands on is Palazzo Giustiniani, which was commissioned by Monsignor Francesco Vento in the 1850's. Mr. Michele di Rienzo opened the ristornate and caffe in the early fifties and it has been an important stop ever since for tourists and important locals alike.

At Ristorante di Rienzo you can sample a wide variety of pastries like
"the “mimosa”, the “sacher”, profitterols" or have a bite sized cookie. There is also 36 different flavors of gelato to try. To go along with your pastry you can either try a cappuccino (before 11:00 am of course) or a caffe.

The relaxing atmosphere and abundance of outdoor seating make this a great place to people watch or just relax with the Pantheon in full view. I recommend avoiding the mid afternoon hours because the piazza tends to be extremely crowded with tourists at those hours.

"Ristorante di Rienzo." 24 Jun 2008.