Italy · Travel · Writing , life

Dinner In Trastevere, Rome

“We have to visit Trastevere to experience the real Italian vibe” , Mami declared emphatically.

Trastevere, in Rome? It rang a bell.

I had devoured the Italian section of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Love and Pray as a part of my travel research. She definitely ate in that neighbourhood.

Well, I wasn’t going to say no even if it meant we walk all the way to our destination.

Step by Step in Rome.

Actually that’s exactly what we did. We started on foot from our B&B with Google map open on Mami’s phone directing our footsteps.

First stop was the most famous of all Piazza, the sweeping grey courtyard of St Peter’s Square with the Bascilica looming majestically. You have to stand there, see the beauty, the grandeur and feel the rush of pure joy coursing through you.

I wish I could explain but it’s magic! No wonder, I kept going back on all the three days I spent in Rome.

It was never enough!

A gigantic spider installation on a man's back made up of plastic bottles.
Spider alert in St Peter’s Square! Photo by Juhirk

I guess, it will always take my breath away.

It was a short walk to Castel San’Angelo, its unmistakable cylindrical walls glowed in the light of the fiery sun.

Castel on the Hill!

Strains of music wafted in the breeze.

A placard propped in a guitar case caught my eye.

“I need money to fix my time machine and take me back to the 50s.”

Not me! I had surrendered to the moment.

I walked entranced to Ponte San’Angelo, the Bridge of Angels; gigantic winged beings stood frozen on both sides all the way to the end of the bridge.

In contrast, the shimmering blue-grey waters of River Tiber flowed without any drama.

Bridge over Tiber’s waters.

People sat, strolled, held hands, held phones, bulky cameras. A painter had grabbed a corner to display his artwork for sale. Watercolor sketches in glorious oranges, blue, black and white; the fountains, the Dome, the squares, pretty tables crowding the alleys, a souvenier from Rome.

Dodging curio sellers, there were quite a few, we raced towards U2.

‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for‘ . A band played the song made famous by U2 right there on the bridge.

A sign to keep walking perhaps?

Hello! Calling all Angels.

Over the bridge, through streets, we followed the blue line on Mami’s phone till we had to ask. A girl laden with bags pointed to a lane, ‘Trastevere’!

Once again I heard the music before I saw the musician strumming his guitar and crooning a song.

Maybe Shakespeare was inspired by the Italians, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

Trastevere wasn’t anything like I had imagined.

It was made up of narrow lanes that split and wound its way between tall building. Ivy clung on some, covering the brownish- gold surface in a picturesque manner. Yellow light spilled from the glass fronted shops and trattorias on to the shiny grey cobblestones.

Another lively tune and boisterous clapping and we were once again a part of a merry concert.

Turn up the music! Photo by Juhirk

As we left the music behind, our lane unexpectedly grew very quiet and the shadows longer and darker. Wandering aimlessly had lost its charm.

“Dinner! Pick a place pronto.”

No longer ambling, we turned a corner and it was a wonderland of lights, laughter, chatter and the inevitable music. Tiny tables with enormous handwritten white menu boards on stands hogged most of the passage.

Maybe we looked lost or famished or simply confused as we peered at one of the menu board to make sense of what we wanted to eat.

An old man popped like a genie and over a stream of Italian shepherded us to one of the small tables sandwiched between two.

We had found our spot, food and wine. It was perfect!

Next to us sat a father and daughter duo, Andres from Atlanta and Vinnie, studying in Copenhagen. A shared laughter, some genuine curiosity on both ends and soon conversation flew thick and fast.

“That’s us in our tent on our way to Santiago in Spain”, Andres excitedly swiped his photo gallery on his phone to show where they had been before coming to Rome. He was on a spiritual trip with his daughter. Articulate with a ready smile, Vinnie was outspoken about her lack of faith but it was heartwarming to see her indulge her father.

We, as Indians I suppose, brought our secular Hindu perspective of ‘many gods, one goal’ to the conversation.

She talks to Angels! (Ponte San’Angelo) Photo by Juhirk

Time flew, communication flowed unhindered- Hindu faith, Catholic Church, Buddhism, Trump policies, Roman art and architecture, Chianti wines.

Then there was that intractable old Italian server who had taken us under his wings. He bustled about, hand flying, face expressively conveying what his non-stop Italian speech couldn’t. He refused to follow our cries in English or Andres’ Italian.

He insisted we eat dessert as well and round off our meal with a Limoncello.

This old man, he said, “Eat! Photo by Juhirk

It was an evening tinged with warmth of making connections in a strange land.

Till it hit me, “It’s late!”

My mellow warmth evaporated, replaced by sheer panic and prayer, “A taxi please, now.”

That day, all the powers in the universe looked out for us, I dare not think otherwise.

Andres rustled a taxi. Coincidentally, the father – daughter duo had their hotel in our neighbourhood and we ended sharing their ride. The relief was unimaginable and I just remember spending the whole ride gratefully babbling our thanks.

That was the last we ever saw or heard of them quite like , ‘Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing’ .

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Trastevere Glow!

I think of Andres and Vinnie often, their affection for each other, their warmth and friendliness, their boundless curiosity. They rose to our help when least expected and turned our dinner in Trastevere, a night to remember.

Jo’s Monday Walk

Weekend Challenge: Story

22 thoughts on “Dinner In Trastevere, Rome

  1. A great section of Rome. I was there nine years ago. There’s a church there that was built circa 1300. It has large stone columns within. Those columns were savaged from some ancient Roman structures. The columns are probably about 2,000 years old.

    Hi. Take care.

    Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neil, I am only discovering now that there is so much more to Trastevere other than its eating place and general vibe . To think I may have walked past the church you mentioned and missed the opportunity to peep in. I wish I had seen those 2000 year old columns that time travelled into the present. You are a lucky man Neil and now you’ve given me something to Google. Thank you😊 Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to survive this corona to be in Itlay one day! Your story of the chanced meeting with the father and daughter duo works as a perfect background for the place rather than the other way around. This is what happens when the places have their own unique spirits. Fantastic narration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Manjari! No one know it better than you how my love affair with Italy only grows stronger with each passing day. Thank you for always reading my posts and for travelling with me virtually everytime . Your perspective adds its unique charm to make my journey tales even more special.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My favourite photo, she talks to angels. πŸ™‚ And that happy band playing in the streets. Warm evenings. Good company. Not much more I need. I’m just home from similar here in the Algarve, but It’s not so lively right now. Many thanks! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jo for joining my walk and leaving such a wonderful comment. The sun is up here and my day is already looking good thanks to you. As for Algarve, you do a swell job of making it one of the ‘Must visit places in Portugal’. 😊

      Like

    1. You are a lucky lady Debbie. The weather, the place and the time must have all been perfect. I’m sure you must have explored the length and breath of Trastevere. It’s only now I realize that I barely scratched its surface. Any favourite bits from your time out there? Do share. Also much appreciate your comments for my post. Have a lovely !

      Like

  4. Every so often I read an article or a blog post and think.. Yes! That’s what travel is all about! This is definitely one of those posts. Heart warming, and such beautiful images. I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

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