Tag Archives: Monti

Good Bio Bugs (And Bad Botswana Bugs)

30 Jan

I found a huge caterpillar in my cabbage the other day. After getting over the screaming fit that proceeded, I couldn’t stop smiling.

First, I need to exlain the screaming fit because I can hear everyone (and my mum) reminding me that  I was brought up in Africa and lived on everything that squirmed. I rememeber picking termites off a tree when I was 12 to eat for energy before running 5km BAREFOOT. I was a real African child. 

Anyway, I was once standing behind the bar at a party in the middle-of-nowhere town that I lived in and I felt something climbing up my leg, tickling me as it went.

I was 16 years old and, with all the hormonally intoxicated 16 year old boys running around at the time, didn’t think anything of it. Someone may have had one too many smirnoff ices.

Whatever it was kept moving up my leg and I looked down, only to see the biggest centipede ever! I screamed and jumped, and it jumped. We both landed back on the ground and it ran away. I am still scarred from this event (it probably is too). 

Now, the reason I smiled was because, after living in London for 10 years and not being able to buy fresh fruit and veg ( Yes, I mean fresh, because Tesco apples that remain unripe for 3 weeks and never go off don’t count), I have finally found a great bio market down my road. 

 Organic shop cafe Italy

Mia Market sells seasonal, organic and local produce that is fresh and tasty (and they contain bugs- the nice kind- which means that there have been no harmful chemicals sprayed on them). 

The best thing about the ‘market’ is that it is very well priced for organic produce. I was never able to ‘go organic’ in London, or I’d have to sell my body (like a few of my neighbours do now (#seepreviouspost), though I doubt it’s to buy organic produce.)

italian food vegetables

The shop is also a little cafe and offers lovely, healthy lunches and snacks, offering all that stuff that everyone tells you to eat, but you never have time to cook. You just choose what you want, they weigh it and warm it for you. 

Italy biological food slow food

Along with other organic produce (including wine), Mia Market also has fresh cakes, tarts and quiches, as well as lovely eggs from happy chickens. It is also a great place to relax and have an organic cup of tea if you’re in the area (and want to feel like a happy chicken).

slow food italy

Located on Via Panisperna 225, Monti. To find out opening hours, call them on 06 4782461. Check out the blog: http://miamarket.blogspot.it/



Getting To Know Monti’s Locals

26 Jan

ImageWell, we’ve moved neighbourhoods and we now find overselves residing in the ‘hip’ side of town (apparently). In Monti- translates as mountains.

Formerly known as the ancient city’s brothel area, and it seems things haven’t changed in that department. The local eastern european working girls sit on their scooters on the side of the main road and it is only at second glance you realise that they aren’t waiting for their nonna’s in the hairdresser opposite.

I’ve been told their mother started the family business and it has been passed down (as any traditional trade is in Italy) to her daughters, who stand around with their faces caked in makeup and negotiating prices with passersby.

Around the time when we had just moved and had no internet (for two months- that’s Italia!) I would pass one of the girls every morning on my way to the internet cafe.

I hadn’t realised who, or should I say what, she was yet, as she’d sit on her scooter most of the time and I had imagined she was waiting for someone she knew. Plus, even if I had known, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta (you get the point)…..

Anyway, she had one a lovely pair of flat leather boots, so I walked over to her and asked her where she’d bought them.

To say she nearly fell off her bike was an understatement! Obviously, she wasn’t used to getting friendly with the neighbours. Either that or she thought I was taking the piss. When she realised I wasn’t, she gave me the directions.

After our little encounter, I assumed I must have broken the ice and considering we are sharing the same neighbourhood, albeit in a diifferent manner, I thought we’d be aquinated.

Plus, I’m all for girl power and probably hate men as much as she does, so the next time I walked passed her I said ‘Ciao, come stai?’. She looked at me with an icy face as if I were last piece of proscuitto on the aperitvo plate and said: ‘Lascami stare!’ (Leave me alone). 

It was near the first anniversary of my move to Rome and I was being accused of harrassing (mental picture of myself as a rampant Italian teenage boy) the local brass flute (cockney rhyming slang)! Let’s not even mention the fact that she’s made her ‘office’ my doorstep, and I never had any say in the matter.

So how did I respond? Well, I laughed and remembered what I have learnt living in this country (and how you can only respond to its craziness with three words before you carry on as ‘normal’). As the old expat motto goes: …Only in Italy!

Monti’s Golden Lunch Gem

3 Oct

Where to eat in Rome

While Italy is famous for its food, finding somewhere good to eat in the country’s capital is quite a feat.

In fact, eating badly in Rome is very easy to do. 

Many restaurants feed on the tourist trail and are more concerned with getting your money, serving you an excuse of a plate of pasta and hoping to never see you again. 

A friend’s boyfriend, who works in a restaurant in central Rome, tells some ghastly tales of mouldy, week-old ragu being used for fresh pastas, house wine being sold as expensive stuff and pests in the kitchen (and I’m not talking about the chefs). Every diner’s nightmare!

 As for finding authentic italian chefs/cooks (think fat, old italian mamma in the kitchen using her old mamma’s cookbooks) is a fantasy that has long been extinct. Most of the kitchens in Rome tend to use Sri-Lankans, Bangladeshis or other immigrants that will work for peanuts (and usually don’t hold a certificate in ‘elf & safety). 

There are the hidden rules taught to me by R- avoid anywhere with pictures or photos of food displayed outside, don’t EVER go anywhere with a ‘Menu Turistico’ (no matter how good the deal sounds), always have gnocchi on a Thursday, and never order fish on a Monday (fishermen never go fishing on a Sunday, so it will be old).

With all of this in mind, there is immense pressure to find ‘a keeper’ and become ‘a regular’. And, lo and behold, I’ve managed to do that-I’ve (literally) found my golden donkey! 

eating well in italy

L’Asino D’Oro is ideally located on Via Del Boschetto in the Monti area (minutes from the Colosseum), and is run by Lucio Sforza- as intriguing and distinctive in character as he is in the kitchen. And here, you are guaranteed to taste italian food at its best.

There is no old mamma in the kitchen, but if you’re looking for her, she’ll probably be at the table next to yours

italian chef rome restaurants where to eat 

Since leaving London, I have struggled to find the deals I once thrived on from TopTable, but in this little Roman gem, lunch is a mere  12 euros for 3 courses with bread, a bottle of water and a lovely glass of vino. For the quality of the food, the lunch deal is a steal.

The menu changes daily and the food is always fresh, inventive and surprising. Surprising, in a sense that often things I don’t usually like are served in a way that I find delicious.

Apart from the heart warming dishes (think piping hot, spiced pumpkin soup; rich, chunky meat balls served in a bitter chocolate sauce, souffle-like tortino packed with fresh chicory and riccotta, and rustic, hearty lasagna with a fresh fish sauce),the other highlight of the place is the waiting staff. 

Stefano, with his handle bar moustache, heads the front of house and, though stern and no-nonsense in attitude, will have you feeling like an old friend in no time.

With a golden opportunity to taste italian fare at its best, if you don’t take this one, the only donkey is you! 

where to eat in rome italian food Lucio Sforza

L’Asino D’Oro is also open for dinner (only a la carte), featuring more gamey meats and twists on the traditional italian style. 

Booking is essential (06 489 138 32) and they only accept cash at lunchtime. 

Five Things

28 Mar

Last weekend was the Rome Marathon, and as I watched the runners running around all the historic sites, I kicked myself for not signing up to join in.

Then I thought of the training that goes into marathon running and how much vino and tiramisu goes into my mouth, and thought it best I didn’t enter!

Rome Marathon Piazza Venezia

The next day as I took my little electronic bus to school, Piazza Venezia was completely blocked off again. 

This time an official ceremony was taking place (though no one seemed to know what for), and we all had to get off the bus and walk. Not that I minded as it was another beautiful day.

But, in Rome, you are never warned about these sort of obstacles to your day and everyone seems to take them on the chin.

Piazza Venezia Roma Italy


On our way to the market this week, we crossed Circo Massimo and once AGAIN found a posse of people and pooches.

It all looked a bit exciting- photos were being taken, owners were hugging and petting pets! As this was the third time we had seen this, we went over to inspect ‘the gathering’.

It seems we have encountered some sort of dog lovers club- with a prevalence to one type of pooch.

What type of dog is it? And, more importantly, if they all let their dogs go at the same time, how will they know who’s is who’s?

Circo massimo dogs owners Ben Hur Rome Italy

Speaking of strange things (in a good way)..I think this guy would fit right in in Shoreditch. I liked his art style…taking something classic and giving it his own touch.

He was more than happy to pose for me. Hold on…what’s John Galliano doing in Rome?

Clothing market Monti Rome

And finally, for everyone who says italian men are all the same….

Our local flower seller spends most of the afternoon chatting to the ladies in his little truck. (This is how you buy plants for your garden in Rome, from one of these guys.)

I think he fancies himself as a bit of a Jude Law lookalike. R pointed out how he’s posing for the photo..hahah

Flower seller Monti Rome


Five Things

6 Mar

Living with a football crazy italian is never easy. Not only do I have Gazzetta Dello Sport newspapers cluttering the house on a daily basis, I have to deal with fantasy football texts waking me up at 6:45am on Monday mornings…

As I write this post, I have two crazy italians screaming expletives in the lounge as AC Milan battles Arsenal.

But the story of Filippo I have to share. This 9-year-old Inter Milan fan became an overnight internet sensation when he held up a sign saying ‘Inter can you please win, otherwise they tease me at school’ during a match last week.

This photo appeared in the paper the next day and sparked a flurry of celeb tweets (and hilarious responses-see below), he held up more signs (one saying: In life you have to know how to lose, I’ve learned the lesson, Inter- forget it!). Don’t feel sorry for him, he has now met all his football idols and is somewhat of a celebrity over here.

Inter Milan Filippo football italy

Translations below: (1st) Filippo, either you change school or you change team. (2nd) Milan keep winning so I can tease Filippo in school. Signed Alice.

Filippo Inter Milan fan

As summer approaches, the weekends are warming up. This Sunday we went for a passeggiata in Villa Borghese. The views as you walk from Piazza di Spagna to the park are worth the effort (rather than going through the metro station).Villa Borghese Spanish Steps RomeIt is rather funny because it seems that whenever the sun hits Villa Borghese, all the young lovers descend on the grassy slopes to embrace. (Cue couple in the corner of the photo). Apart from R stepping in dog poo and being forced to publicly wash his trainer in the fountain, the stroll passed without incident. (Unfortunately, we did not join the masses in embracing after that).


The good news is that I have found Monti. No, not the aging Prime Minister, but the area. It reminds me of Notting Hill in London. In the past it would have been one of the ghetto areas, but it is now an artistic, hip area with cute, original clothing shops and wine bars. And with cute residents like this, what is not to love?

Monti Rome Italy Santa Maria ai Monti

And, it is in this wonderful area that I have discovered the most fantastic bakery. They sell the most delicious cakes, doughnut balls filled with sweet ricotta, little pies, apple tarts. Plus, you can watch the pastry chefs at work. Thank goodness I have found a gym and am safely back in the spinning saddle to work off my daily treats (no lie- DAILY)!


Yes, those are doughnuts (italian style) with custard and nutella.


It’s like pick n’ mix. And this is where the magic happens. I could stand here for hours.

Monti Rome Roma bakery via serpenti

 The hunt for Italy’s smallest car continues. Here is the latest entry. Parking? No problemo!

Fiat Rome Italy small car