My brother and sister-in-law came for a visit last week after dropping my niece Louisa off in Siena where she will be studying for the next four months. Over lunch before she left, we had a fine time regaling her with precautionary Amanda Knox stories. In Rome, we spent a significant amount of time
eating sightseeing. Here are some highlights.
The centerpiece of the Villa d”Este’s gardens is the Water Organ, which was completed in 1611. The Fountain has recently been restored and plays a few minutes of classical music every hour or so. Don’t ask me how it works; it’s something to do with hydraulics. This is what the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, who visited Villa d’Este, had to say about the matter: “The music of the Organ Fountain is true music, naturally created…made by water which falls with great violence into a cave, rounded and vaulted, and agitates the air, which is forced to exit through the pipes of an organ. Other water, passing through a wheel, strikes in a certain order the keyboard of the organ. The organ also imitates the sound of trumpets, the sound of cannon, and the sound of muskets, made by the sudden fall of water.” For those of you missing your WW2 fix, Villa d’Este was bombed by the Allies in 1944 and badly damaged.
My relatives were not very daring when it came to testing Gabriele Bonci’s famous pizza, choosing plain red sauce and mozzarella with basil toppings. I had bacon and pumpkin puree on mine and it was fantastic. In fairness, we had eaten a big lunch and none of us were particularly hungry. But we were nearby enjoying the Vatican Museum and you cannot enjoy the Vatican Museum without stopping off at the Pizzarium now can you? The crust was so light I actually felt less full when I finished!
I just realized that I’ve never devoted a full blog post to Hostaria Costanza, a favorite from way back. Will have to remedy that soon.
The two pastas you see above were unbelievably tasty. And I don’t even like pasta that much! I adore Antico Arco, even if they insist on playing Eric Clapton really loud during dinner. They’ve been doing that for years so I’m used to it by now.
Entertaining relatives in Rome is a tough business. But somebody’s got to do it!