Italy: Part 5

This will be my final Italy post! One of the major activities Noah and I did while I was Rome was a trip to the Great Synagogue and Museum. The Synagogue is located in what was formerly the Jewish ghetto, and it is still a working synagogue with services held three times a day.

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The Great Synagogue was beautiful – very large and ornately decorated. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed inside the synagogue or museum, so I don’t have photographs to share. I was unaware of this before, but Roman Jews consider themselves to be separate from both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. They have their own distinct pronunciation of Hebrew and their own tunes for prayers. There are currently 17 functioning synagogues in Rome (all orthodox – like most of the world outside of the US), and the Jewish community in Italy numbers about 35,000.

The former ghetto area around the synagogue still has a high Jewish population, and there are several kosher restaurants and bakeries, Judaica shops, and a Jewish school.

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Although Rome doesn’t have a particularly bright history with regard to the Jews, they are one of the only European cities to have never expelled the Jews. The ghetto was imposed as a side effect of the Catholic Counter-Reformation to the Protestant Reformation. In response to the Protestant movement, the Catholic Revival cracked down on ‘heretics’ of all kinds and – as a result – reduced the rights of Jews. Until that time, Jews had enjoyed a fairly comfortable place within Roman society.

The ghetto, of course, changed all that and up to 9,000 Jews were forced in the seven-acre ghetto for 300 years. Although most of the original ghetto storefronts and buildings are destroyed, there are still some remnants of the past – such as this 6 story building:

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And a church that stood at one of ghetto’s exits:

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The church was strategically placed at the ghetto’s exit so Jews would be forced to see it upon leaving. Many Jews were made to go to the church on Shabbat to listen.

Although the area has a negative history, it is now a bustling and vibrant reflection of the thriving Jewish life that still exists within the city. They even have free wifi on the streets!

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Or claim to…we couldn’t really get it to work. 🙂

After a long afternoon touring the Great Synagogue, museum, and ghetto, it was time for lunch.

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pizza and veggie antipasto

For my last night in Italy, we decided to have a great feast. We went to a pizzeria called Da Francesco.

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Although technically a pizzeria, the restaurant had an extensive menu. Since it was my last night, we decided to do as the Romans do and go for the multi-course meal. To start, there was bruschetta, antipasto, and roman style artichoke (basically just an artichoke with tons of olive oil…as far as I could tell).

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For the primo (first) course, we shared a pasta dish – homemade spaghetti with porcino cheese and black pepper:

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For the secondo (second, and main) course, I ordered a roasted chicken breast dish and Noah had pizza:

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Everything was delicious, but our eyes were a little bigger than our stomachs and we weren’t able to finish everything:

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Overall, my trip was amazing. Between seeing the sights, eating great food, and visiting the most wonderful boyfriend in the history of the world, I had a great week. 🙂

Other Italy Posts
Italy: Part 1
Italy: Part 2
Italy: Part 3
Italy: Part 4

 

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Italy: Part 3

One of the biggest highlights of my Italy trip was biking the Appian Way.

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The Appian Way, or via Appia, is an early and strategically important Roman road. This was the first long road that could be used to transport troops outside of Rome. The road connects to areas south of Rome, and it was the main way to transport military supplies and troops. Now, the road is used as a walking, jogging, and biking trail amid beautiful landscapes. Along the trail are also several sights, including several churches, catacombs, and circus of maxentius.

Noah and I decided that biking the Appian Way would be a great way to spend one of our weekend days together. We took a bus out to the road and rented bikes at a small cafe.

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We traveled leisurely, stopping to look at all the sights:

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The trail was beautiful:

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The secluded trails felt so distant from central Rome even though we weren’t that far away:

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After biking the length of trail and backtracking to the bike-rental cafe, we decided to get lunch:

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After lunch, we read more Rick Steves while we waiting for the bus:

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Rick Steves is the best. All of his walking tours are incredibly informative, easy to follow, and interesting! I would highly recommend his guidebooks to anyone interested in self-directed travel.

When the bus came, instead of heading straight back to the city, we made a detour at Aqueduct Park. The park was really neat for two reasons. First, it shows the remains of Rome aqueducts – an incredible engineering accomplishment! Second, the park was full of Italians having picnics, grilling, and enjoying the sunshine. It was fun to be in an area with real Italians living their regular lives instead of in the city center surrounded by tourists.

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Walking through the park and exploring the aqueducts gave us a little hike, and we had a lot of fun making our way through the park’s trails:

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When we got back after the park, we were both exhausted from all the adventures and time outside. The solution to our fatigue took the delicious form of a restaurant call Il Brillo Parlante.

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Il Brillo is a wine bar/restaurant with an assortment of traditional Italian dishes and homemade pastas

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I ordered a pesto pasta dish and a side of veggies. Noah ordered bruschetta and lamb.

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This pasta dish may have been the best meal I had during my visit. The noodles were small and tightly twisted with a wonderfully chewy consistency. The pesto sauce was phenomenal, and the pasta was served inside of a fried bread shell that was DELICIOUS. The vegetables tasted so fresh and flavorful even though they were only prepared by boiling. Big win for the restaurant!

Other Italy Posts
Italy: Part 1
Italy: Part 2
Italy: Part 4
Italy: Part 5

Amore Victoria

Even though I generally have trouble picking favorite restaurants, Amore Victoria in the heart of Uptown at Irving and Lake is definitely a favorite. My love for this restaurant can be illustrated by the fact that I have gone here over 5 times since I moved here (a statement that could probably only be repeated for Mesa Pizza). Amore is a little on the nicer end, so I really only go when my family is around or for a special occasion. During their most recent, I went with my family the first night they arrived.

As soon as you’re seated, you can expect to be greeted with a nice basket of fresh bread, olive oil, and shredded cheese:

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Not all of Amore’s pastas are homemade, but the fettucine is and it is SUPERB. Usually I ask to sub the pasta in whatever dish I’m getting with the fettucine. This time, I ordered chicken breast stuffed with spinach, pesto, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes with fettucine. It was delicious and enormous. An entire half of the dish was leftover for lunch the next day:

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My dad ordered the homemade gnocchi with pesto, chicken breast, and broccoli. My brother ordered gnocchi with a gorgonzola cream sauce and pistachios. Everything was excellent, as to be expected.

Now, to conclude my own personal restaurant week, I would like to introduce my brand new Minneapolis page! Check it out for links to all of the restaurants and activities where I’ve been out and about around the Twin Cities.

My Personal Restaurant Week

My family is visiting from out of town, so the next few days are going to be sort of like my own personal restaurant week. I don’t normally eat many meals out at all, so this is an exciting treat and opportunity to try several restaurants I’ve had my eye on.

First up, Broders’ Pasta Bar in the Linden Hills neighborhood. This restaurant features homemade pastas and a wide selection of traditional Italian dishes.

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The menu had a lot of enticing dishes. The most interesting to me were a ricotta gnocchi with peppered beef, spaghetti with meatballs, and a fettuccine with salmon, capers, and pistachios. While I was trying to decide, a basket of focaccia, sourdough, and salted crackers were brought to the table:

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On the waitress’ recommendation, I finally decided on the meatballs. I substituted linguine for the spaghetti though because the linguine was homemade and the spaghetti wasn’t. Direct quote from the waitress, “It’s the best meatballs and sauce I’ve ever had – and I’ve tried a lot.”

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The dish was fabulous. The sauce wasn’t too overwhelming, and the meatballs had a great flavor. If I went back, I would probably want to try another one of the appealing dishes though since there were so many good looking items!

Since I stayed at the hotel with my family, I took a quick stop by Dunn Brothers with my father for breakfast.

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This Dunn Brothers is inside of the Minneapolis Convention Center. I tried a vegetarian breakfast sandwich and had a yogurt parfait minus the granola:

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This was not good. I feel strongly about eating my own sort of breakfast, and the weird food in the morning didn’t make me feel very good. Neither item was too tasted – I’m going to pack my own breakfast from home if I stay at the hotel again. This breakfast incident made me realize that I have two primary meal preferences.

1) I don’t like to switch up breakfast. I know what I like, and I like to make it in my own kitchen.
2) I like to eat lunch alone.

I can try, but I just don’t like switching these rules up. Call me a creature of habit.

What are your meal preferences?