Friday, October 21, 2005

Rome – Discovering the Wine and Cheese Place

“Gianluca, what are all these people still doing here,” I questioned as we entered via dei Baulari from Corso V. Emanuele?

Hundreds, no thousands of people stretching from via Baulari to Piazza Farnese. Campo dei Fiori is very different at night from the open air market of the day.

As Gianluca inches the car forward he responds, “Mr. Anderson, it’s Friday night. Many people come to Campo dei Fiori to celebrate the weekend.”

The pubs are full, restaurants still open, people packed so tight we progress about 1 yard a minute. Lots of beer, wine, music, and most of all lots and lots of people. We finally get to a cross street. I say a cross street, it actually is a service entrance to some of the restaurants, cars pack both sides and people are flowing into Campo dei Fiori. Another 10 yards and we make it to the square that acts as a parking lot, but there is no way to pass. Cars are stacked as close as the people.

A man runs up to the window, “Do you have to park?”

Gianluca responds with his usual calm, “No, they live in via Monserrato, we need to get to via Pellegrini because we could not make it through Campo dei Fiori.”

The man steps back and, with a puzzled look, surveys the square. After a few moments he shouts something across the way; 5 other men appear and start moving cars. As a very tight path begins to open, he steps in front of the car and motions for Gianluca to come forward. I look out the window and see that we have maybe an inch on either side. As we pass, the path closes again with automobiles. It reminds me of when Charlton Heston, as Moses, parts the red sea.

Another 10 minutes and we make it through the square and turn into via Pellegrini. Things are not much better, via Pellegrini is a one-way street because only one car will fit on it. Presently there are cars parked on both sides and the Mercedes 400 CDI is a pretty wide car. So again, the man appears and guides Gianluca down the street. At the astounding pace of 60 yards an hour we have the opportunity to do some window shopping from inside the car. The store windows are only about a car’s width from us so we can see everything we would want to see.

Raffaella pulls me to her side of the car and points. A restaurant, in the first window we see a wall of wine bottles, the second window frames a long rustic farmer's table with various cheeses, a cutting board, a couple of bottles of wine which seem to be Pergole Torte and some honey. The interior of the establishment is light colored and the place is full.

A quick look at me, and Raffaella exclaims, “We have to try this place!”

Raffaella, as most Italians, loves cheese. All types of cheeses, fresh, aged, smoked, spiced with wine or pepper, soft, hard, with or without the mold. If it is cheese she likes it. She likes cheese so much our favorite dinner at home is fresh bread, cheese and a bottle of wine.

Tomorrow we will try, what will become known to our friends as, the Wine and Cheese Place. Try looking for that one in the phone book…

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