We know for many of you lovely ladies that this isn’t your first Roman Rodeo so to speak. However, if it’s been awhile since your last trip to the Eternal City or if this is in fact your first trip to Rome, Kelly and I thought it would be fun to provide you with some helpful hints and some lighthearted reminders on how to seamlessly slip into la dolce vita or the sweet Italian life. My heritage is known for its passion for life especially when it comes to food and wine. That’s why many of the tips have to do with those topics. We’re sharing these suggestions so you don’t incur the same embarrassing stares (malocchio-evil eye) or comments we received on our first trips to sunny boot. So as we say in Italia, “Andiamo” or let’s go.
o Every Italian worth their weight in pasta begins the day with a cappuccino. Notice I said “begins the day” which means if you don’t want to look like a tourist, don’t enjoy this beverage after the noon hour. Cappuccino is for the morning, After the lunch hour it’s espresso or go home or straight back to the hotel. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars.
o If you don’t want to see me burst into tears or the head chef of the ristorante call the Polizia, then for crying out loud, please do not cut your pasta! In my family this would mean a fate worse than death; almost as bad as serving a spaghetti sauce from a jar. Heaven forbid! This is also an insult to the cooks; akin to putting cheese on your fish dish. Perish the thought! If you want a pasta that’s easier to handle and if you haven’t mastered the twirling of the pasta on your fork, then order rigatoni or another short pasta variety. Joan Lewis and I will be happy to share what happened to a good friend of ours who actually cut her pasta at a very nice restaurant in which we were dining a few years ago. We’re still in therapy over the frightening incident and are still banned from the restaurant. Well not quite but almost and talking about the trauma does help ease the pain.
o And speaking of ristorantes, unless you plan to eat at the one or two McDonald’s in Italy, (and please don’t tell me if you do grab a Big Mac while in the food capital of the entire universe) don’t expect to have dinner before 8pm. Most eateries don’t open for “cena” or dinner until 8pm or later. So showing up any earlier will be a dead give-away that you’re a tourist not willing to adapt to the Italian way of life. June is super busy with lots of al fresco dining so talk to the concierge at our hotels about reservations.
o “Waiter check please.” Once you are seated for “cena” (dinner) or “pronzo” (lunch but also the main meal of the day) the table is yours for as long as you like. Meals are savored in Italy. It’s a time for relaxing, re-connecting, and just enjoying life. You will have to ask for the check in any decent eatery. Savor this approach and enjoy taking your time rather than rushing through a meal as we do so often in America.
o Remember “l’arte di non fare niente” or “the art of doing nothing”. Doing nothing is doing something very important. I did an entire chapter on this in my book “God’s Bucket List.” I learned this from my Mother’s father. My grandfather, Pasquale Tomeo, who was born near Salerno, Italy taught me a great deal about being able to be still. He could often be found in the park across the street from his Jersey City apartment home sitting on a bench feeding the pigeons and at other times just doing absolutely nothing. What he was doing however was so important for peace of mind and soul. Here in the U.S we are always so busy; running around to the next item on our “to do” list. In Italy you will notice many people just sitting in the piazzas appearing to do “nothing”. Take a hint from them and do the same. Whether it’s strolling ever so slowly through Piazza Navona or Campo de Fiore, enjoy the sights, the sounds, the smells relax and really make the most of the downtime. After all we’ll be back in the USA all too soon.
As the saying goes “when in Rome do as the Romans do.” Viva Italia!