Archive | April, 2012

Growing With Delight In Rome

23 Apr

farmers markets in rome central Campagna amica lazio italy

They say that the best things in life happen when you least expect them to.

But being a mild OCD who loves to plan everything from the exact journey times to the hourly itinerary, I never really gave way in my life for this saying to ring true.

Until an event that I shall refer to (as all life changes moments that start with something silly and irrelevant) as ‘Bag-gate’.

It happened on a Sunday, R and I had planned to walk up the Aventine Hill to see the keyhole (refer to earlier post).

We were eating italian doughnuts (small fried doughnut balls stuffed with sweet ricotta) and while I was on the phone, R blew up the empty bag (they didn’t last long), crept up behind me and burst the bag in my ear.

I can only imagine what spectators to the scene must have seen – a blonde blur moving across Circo Massimo ( the big arena where they filmed Ben Hur) at speeds to rival Usain Bolt.

After I eventually stopped running and told R (through a phone call from opposite sides of Circo Massimo) that I never wanted to speak to him again, I started walking home using Piazza Venezia as a guide as I was unsure of my location.

Suddenly, after turning a corner I found myself in a kerfuffle of people trying to get into a large hall, so being a nosey journo, it was natural that I went with the crowd.

 Lo and behold! I had just stumbled upon the biggest farmers’ market in Rome.

farmers markets Rome central cheese stall Campagna amica lazio italy

Hosted by the Campagna Amica group, who are the actual farmers and normally sell to the supermarkets, I was informed that the market is open all day, every weekend.

The stall holders bring all their fresh fruit and veg,cheeses, meats, wine and other products from within the Lazio Rome to sell at a fraction of the supermarket price.

It is the only market in Rome with a ‘zero kilometer rule’, meaning only locally grown and prepared goodies are permitted to be sold.

farmers markets Rome central fruit vegetables campo dei fiori  Campagna amica lazio italy

I called R ( who couldn’t understand my change of heart, well, I did  need an extra pair of hands!) and we bought all groceries for the week.

In London, trying to buy organic, regional products often requires you to sell your soul. It seems that the supermarkets find it cheaper to air freight fruit and veg in than support the local farmers.

Every weekend, we go to the market instead of the supermarket, mingling with all the italians, many who see going to the market as more of  a social event than a shopping experience.

 Farmers' market rome italy circo massimo campagna amica pecorino

So if you visit Rome, be sure to go to the market to get your olive oil ( it should taste fruity and light not lemony or sour), jams made by the farmers’ wives, and salamis/meat cuts that you can taste before you buy.

Rome farmers' market circo massimo central italy dried olives

They also have a local brewer with his unusual but tasty concoctions and a florist that sells plants and herb (I buy a pot plant a week for our garden; be it lavender or strawberries plants) .

Rome farmers' market circo massimo central italy flowers and plants

But, if you buy anything, make sure it’s a porchetta roll for lunch. They roast the pig and bring it out when its nice and hot to slice into fresh homemade rolls.

And the Romans, won’t bat an eyelid if you pull up a chair outside in the sun, to sit and scoff it.

Rome farmers' market circo massimo central italy porchetta hog roast


What Not To Doo In Rome

12 Apr

First of all, I would like to point out that I am a dog lover. My family loved our dogs so much, they would have their own presents under the tree at Christmas time.

What I am not though, is a dog-owner lover.

I would also like to point out that no dogs were harmed in the series of events you are about to read about. Though, I have been scared- mentally.

I will start this ‘tail’,by telling you that I have been living in central Rome now for 3 months.

The road we live on is charming and quaint. I find this wonderful- and so, it seems, do most of the dog lovers/walkers in our area.

Therefore, when I walk down the street in the morning, I am greeted by little piles of doggie doo -sometimes not so little- (often smack bang in the centre of the road) which these pet owners haven’t bothered to poopie-scoop.

Now, I believe I am a rather alert person who watches where she walks, but the rest of our street dwellers don’t seem to be. So, we are often left with a street skidded and iced with dog excrement. Fun times.

It just amazes me that despite living in the historic centre of a beautiful city, some of the residents don’t seem to care if they shit on their own doorsteps?!?

I realise this is a big problem in most big cities, but, as a lone crusader against the crap, I decided to take matters into my own hands recently.

So, armed with my new printer and a couple of free internet templates, I produced and deployed my own little secret weapons to put a stink up the culprits’ noses.

Rome Dog Poop Shit Animal lovers Italy scoop

I do realise the signs are in English, but every Italian I know was busy when I needed the translating, so these had to do.

Rome Dog laws Poop Shit Sign Animal lovers Italy scoop

The signs seemed to be successful for awhile, but after speaking to my Italian teacher, I realised I needed to make some in the mother tongue.

So back to the drawing board I went. The teacher told me to look up the fines for not picking up dog doo on the police website and add it to the sign to make it look ‘more official’.

I did just that. The fine it turns out is up to 250 euro. I wrote a draft and sent it to R for translating.

Then I produced phase 2 of my plan.

Rome Roma dogs legal rules police sign Italy

I also created a CCTV sign for added va-va-voom. I needed to stop these pooches pooping!

Rome central CCTV sign Italy

I was keen to see what would happen, now that most of the guilty parties could read the sign.

(To my suprise)The next morning, the signs were still there. There were also no little ‘presents’ in the road much to my relief.

But when I returned home from the shops, this sight greeted me.

Rome dog poo sign italy cctv sign security

I kept seeing myself as the main character in Lord Of The Flies, looking at the other children who had become savages…the Psycho theme tune ringing in my ears. They say Italians are hot blooded people- but really?

Rome dog shit laws doo doo poo Italy

So what did I do? Well, I printed off another and stuck it back up.

Only to have this one disappear! This was war…

But just as I was giving up on humanity (and plotting revenge), I came back the next day to find the missing sign had been covered in plastic and stuck back up with official tape.

Roma Italy dog poo sign

It seems I wasn’t the only one perturbed by the turds.

And so far, me and my unknown ally have not had any retailiation to deal with- human or canine.

Rome dog sign legal police italy