Thursday, December 21, 2017


The air was brisk and the sun was shinning, as it should be when your day starts out around noon. We were all a bit bleary-eyed trying our best to get onto a Roman holiday schedule. Rome doesn't seem to possess the same kind of hustle and bustle New York has at this time of the year. Perhaps the sharpness of the air kept the locals inside. The streets of Rome are far less crowded than New York at Christmas where the streets are so packed you cannot move unless the crowd moves with you.
I'm also guessing that in Rome the Vatican plays a bit of a roll in subduing the commercialism of the season. At Christmas most pilgrimages to this city are religious with sanctity of purpose. You see a lot more crèches than Santas, which was fine with us since we came to shop and eat and this made for a lot less competition at the specialty shop counters.
The toney shopping sector of Rome centers around the Via Condotti, strategically placed just a short walk down the Spanish Steps from our hotel.
Along these streets are the shops of Tiffany
and Cartier.
You need to keep your eyes peeled and your senses about you so as not to miss any of the beautiful shops hiding down a vaulted alley.
Strolling around the area we had a little trip in time as we walked past Pure, a children's shop, where fifteen years ago we bought Emmy many an outfit that we now keep wrapped in a cedar box as a keepsake of her toddler years.
Every street you turn down has an assortment of tea and coffee shops where the aroma of steaming espressos and custard pastries waft through the open air.
And if the smell of espresso and sweets isn't enough there are flower stalls located at almost every corner where the fragrant perfume of roses and Christmas pine can bring the scent of the holiday right through your nose and into your heart.
On almost every lane art stares you in the face where the locals walk down the middle of the streets daring the dodging cars and delivery vehicles that are sometimes smaller than a go-cart.
We discovered a great shop JU'STO which makes these combination bags and backpacks that are the perfect size for the young and hip or rad or badass whatever the current term might be. Made out of a hard core plastic with faux fur and leather details these bags should find an American distributor.
Even though the temperature outside would indicate winter wear, Emmy managed to fall in love with a shop, Antica Sartoria Positano that specializes in summer seaside hippie attire and spoke to her Mangy Gypsy heart!  Follow Emmy on Instagram @themangygypsy.
Dyed fabrics rich with embroidery, beading and fringe were right up her alley. It was just that her seasonal timing was a little off. Still, we managed to spend several hours with Christina, the store manager, watching Emmy try on outfit after outfit.
Shopping always makes us hungry and right across the street was a restaurant where the pasta is made fresh right on the street. Fortunately for the chef a heat lamp had been installed overhead to keep him warm and toasty and our pasta from freezing.
We lunched on pappardelle e funghi (mushrooms) and fettuccini Alfredo. What else do you order when you're in Rome?
Around dusk the shopping streets drape necklaces of lights overhead making a spectacular light display turning the window shopping into one big outdoor jewelry store.
Block after block are transformed into winter wonderlands
and candy cane lanes with chandeliers fit for a snow princess and her horse drawn sleigh.
After a day of shopping and a short giotto (an Italian siesta) we headed out to the Piazza Navona hoping to find a holiday market in full swing. Rome is not big on the whole market scene. In the summer the Piazza is teaming with street performers and has restaurants with tables stretching five and six deep but much to our surprise it was virtually empty.
Only this carousel stood at one end its lights blazing but not a single kid in sight to ride on one of its beautifully carved horses.
We decided to become very Roman and put our dining hour at ten in the evening. In Rome we were still not even close to being the last to ask for a table. We've always known to stay away from any restaurant with a barker outside trying to entice you to come in for Italy's finest food. What we look for are tables with locals sitting at them. That's how we found La Rotonda restaurant with a table of eleven burly Italian men eating family style. The restaurant was rustic and rich in the smell of aged wood. They specialized in grilled meats and we were not going to venture out of their specialty with our order. Emmy ordered a filet with a red wine reduction, Rick had grilled lamp chops and I had a filet in a green pepper sauce but even more impressive than the meats were our first courses of bruschetta, an Italian version of onion soup and grilled artichokes. Delizioso!
We didn't leave until after midnight after our new best friend, Ricardo, treated us to glass after glass of grappa, Prosecco and limoncello. Fortunately, a taxi stand was only a short block away.

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