Rome's Botanical Garden

Entrance to the Botanical Garden

We had planned a walk in the area of the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo, but the mere thought of the heat in Rome's city centre is unappealing. Helle in particular is uncomfortable with the heat, which aggravates her skin condition.

Instead we go to Trastevere and walk to the Botanical Garden, where we sit on a shadowy bench in the company of our books. A ticket to the garden costs 2.07 Euros.

The garden is a popular place for nannies and mothers with small children. Entrance is free for children under the age of 6. There is also a group from the local home for the mentally deficient.

Evening in the neighbourhood

The afternoon is spent relaxing and reading in our room. The turmoil of Trastevere on a Saturday night does not appeal, and we prefer a pizza in the neighbourhood. Just around the corner we have seen a pizzeria with tables outside.

Although there are many tourists, there are free tables, and we get one with very little room for the legs. There is an English menu, but it does not give a clue as to what is on the various pizzas: Pizza Napoli is described as Pizza the Naples Way. A band with a shrill violin and an accompanying accordion sounds more hysterical than romantic. As one we get up and leave before it gets any worse. The waitress asks Helle: "No good?" She is quite right.

We walk the 100 metres back to L'Angelo de Napoli, where we dined the other day. There are tables outside, but as it is still fairly hot and the traffic is noisy, we prefer the air conditioned room inside.

We have an excellent pizza. The house red wine has very sympathetically been cooled, so the carafe is moist with dew. There are many guests - most are locals. The waiters are busy, but manage to be busy and attentive at the same time. There is time for a twinkle and a joke. For dessert we have delicious Italian ice cream. Yummy!

Caffé Fantini is closed so we have a pint at the bar opposite, Druid's Rock. It is a shabby place that we do not recommend.

Evening song

Back home in bed I hear faint singing. The windows are good at keeping out the noise and it is hard to figure out where the singing is coming from. It turns out to be the Germans sitting in the hotel's garden. Apparently it is a choir, because we hear part-singing Lieder, and they are very good! They finish with "Gute Nacht, gute Nacht…" (Good night, good night..). And trust the Germans to be honest - they did go to bed.

Sunday June 15th

Now the Germans are singing again! They stand in the garden outside the breakfast hall. If they are praising the breakfast, it is taking things a bit too far.

The Palatine Hill

We take the metro to Colosseo and go straight to the Palatine Hill. We have no intention of studying ruins, but want to find a shadowy place, preferably a bit airy too, and then relax with our books. For more than an hour we have birds singing and perfect idyll in the shadow of the pine trees. If you look up from the book, you have a splendid view over the roofs of Rome with the dome of St. Peter's in the distance.

Ruins on Palatine Hill Peace and shadow on Palatine

The Farnese pavilions Forum seen from Palatine

Heading for Forum Stone pine on Palatine
Click to enlarge

After another half hour the place is teeming with tourists and the shade below the pines is in retreat, so we return via Forum to the metro. In the big book-store at Termini I find Colin Dexter's last Inspector Morse novel - the one where Morse efficiently ends the series by dying.

Afterwards we ask at the Tourist Information Office if they have any leaflets about Frascati. They don't. In fact they do not have much except maps of Rome and some brochures of operas yet to come. But the nice lady tells us that Frascati is a lovely place. She knows for sure, because she lives there!

I ask her what the sign at the station says, and a bit puzzled she answers that it says "Frascati", that it is last stop of the train, and that you just have to walk up the stairs outside the station to be right in the city centre.

We thank her. We know positively that the sign reads "Albano", but otherwise the description fits. So Albano is in fact Frascati!

Having accompanied Helle home for siesta I go to the Internet café. The weather forecast promises thunder showers this evening, so we have better bring our umbrellas. But it will be nice to have the air cleaned.

On my way home I suddenly hear beautiful singing. At first I think it is the Germans singing again in the hotel's garden, but then I realize that the singing comes from an open door a little further ahead.

A sign says it is the Evangelic church, and the leading male voice must be the parish clerk. A piano accompanies. I smoke a pipe outside on the pavement while I enjoy the hymn singing. When the minister starts to drone I continue towards the hotel.

Evening in Trastevere

On our way to the bus we overtake an Asian couple walking close together with their arms around each other.

"They must be on honeymoon", I say.
"Yes, no one would walk like that in this heat if they had been married a couple of years Helle answers.

We expected the wine bar to be closed on a Sunday, but no. It is open, and Grand-Mamma and the yorkie are there. Grand-Mamma is wearing a dress today. It is Sunday.

Eric, peace and Frascati

It is less hot tonight, which is nice, and there are lots of people. Some places you can hardly pass because street merchants set up tables everywhere - or, if they have no tables, lay out blankets on the cobblestones in the narrow street.

A street musician we have not seen or heard before plays the violin, and it sounds good. He has clearly had a classical education. Just a pity the violin isn't better. We happily contribute to the survival of the fittest.

La Villetta in Via del buco is crowded. We get a table outside where I can smoke. There are many local guests enjoying the evening. Food samples are exchanged across the tables. Helle has Spaghetti alla Carbonara again, which is really good here, and I have pasta in tomato sauce with peas and bacon.

As second course Helle has ordered Saltimbocca alla Romana, and I want to try the veal tails. But the tails are finished (I actually saw and smelled the last ones being carried past me only minutes ago!) so instead I choose Osso Buco. Everything is delicious.

Even though we are full to the brim, we'll not miss dessert. Lemon sorbet for Helle and truffle ice cream for me. The truffle ice is round, rolled in cocoa and with a shell of chocolate ice cream so that it actually resembles a black truffle.

Aahh, Italian gelato! Some Danish manufacturers need an Italian education!