June 2, 2015

June 2, 2015
7 Things You Never Knew About Rome

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Tuesday and I hope you are having a beary safe and great week so far. Dab the AIDS Bear is still on the AIDS Life Cycle going from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Rome is a beautiful city if you have never been. But there are many things tourists miss if they only stick to the tourist attractions. So today I will blog about seven things you probably never knew about Rome.

A visit to Rome is as much about soaking up the lifestyle as it is about seeing the epic monuments and decaying ruins. The best way to immerse yourself is to let it seep into your soul—a masterpiece here, a fountain there, and a few bottles of wine in between. We checked in with art historian and second-generation Roman Simona Palmisano of Walks of Italy for her tips (and secrets) on seeing the "Eternal City" through local eyes

You never drink a cappuccino after breakfast.

Antonini is where to go for homemade cornetto, a local favorite that's like Rome’s version of the croissant. If the sun is shining, take a seat on the cafe's patio, where you can enjoy views of the tree-lined Tiber and, if you look carefully, the Ara Pacis. For those with a few extra calories to spare, Maritozzo con panna, a pastry filled with whipped cream, is another popular morning treat. To taste the pastry in all of its luscious goodness, head to Pasticceria Riccomi near Saint Peter's Basilica. Make sure to enjoy your cappuccino in the morning — after that it's a big faux pas to order one.

There are, in fact, excellent museums without crowds.

Art is everywhere in Rome, so much so, that Palmisano jokes that "you can almost feel it in the cracks of walls." Palazzo Massimo alle Terme (The National Roman Museum) wows without the crowds. It houses one of the most complete collections of ancient Roman art in the world. Located near Termini Station, the museum features magnificent frescos and bronze statues, like 1st-century BC Boxer and Prince, as well as mosaics, jewelry, coins, and marble statues of gods and emperors. Admission to the museum also includes entrance to three other excellent museums — Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, and Baths of Diocletian — which are all close by.

It's okay to eat pizza for breakfast.

You'll likely smell pizza bianca (white pizza) baking well before you lay eyes on it. The plain pizza is topped with only sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, and sold by the weight. Most bakeries make the pizza throughout the morning. When it comes to the city's best pizza bianca, Forno Campo De Fiori (pictured), Roscioli, and Colapicchioni are all contenders, each offering an excellent balance between a soft inside and crunchy crust.

A cannon fires every day at noon.

Few spots in Rome allow for a better panorama than Piazza Garibaldi on Gianicolo Hill. Furthermore, every day at noon, a cannon fires once in the direction of the Tiber. Dating back to the 19th century, the tradition marks the exact time and signals the bell towers around the city to ring their bells.

Madonna is everywhere.

Images and altars to Madonna can be found all over Rome. All Romans know the Madonnelle (little Madonnas) and pay respect to them, regardless of whether they're religious or not. Currently, it's possible to count more than 500 of them in Rome. Usually placed on the corners of buildings, the Madonnelle are made in various mediums, such as mosaic, wood, and marble; some even have vases for flowers and candles. In the past, the candles provided an extra level of luminary protection by keeping the streets safe from the dangers of darkness.

It's okay to drink water from taps on the street.

Like sampietrini (cobblestones), the innumerable churches, and pasta alla carbonara, the nasoni (cast iron fountains) are an institution in Rome. These "big nosed" fountains can be found throughout the city on nearly every block, and deliver what Romans considered one of the city's greatest riches: fresh, calcium-rich water. The easiest way to drink directly from the fountains is to plug the faucet with your finger, which will force a stream of water up through a little hole on the upper part.

Roman pizza isn't chewy.

Unlike Napoletana pizza, which tends to have a thicker crust, Roman pizza is thin and crunchy, and Palmisano wouldn't have it any other way. Her favorite pizzerias are: Pizzeria Montecarlo and Baffetto, which are close to Piazza Navona; Pizzeria Ai Marmi, in the Trastevere neighborhood; and Giacomelli near the Vatican in the Prati district, a favorite Pizzeria from Palmisano's youth. (Don't fear a slightly burnt crust—that's where the flavor is.)

Hope you have a beary safe and great Tuesday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab