Thursday, July 4, 2013

A new Bridge in Rome: Ponte Fabricio

Well, not really new, but maybe a new one to seek out.  No doubt you've walked past it many times - right in the centre of the city. Ponte Fabricio (not far from the Ponte Garibaldi).
It's named after its first builder Lucio Fabricius, built in 62BC to join the left bank of the river Tevere to the island of Tiberina.  It's 57.3m long, 5.6m wide, and faced with traventina stone.  It's also known as the Bridge of the 4 Heads: legend tells they represent the architects who restored the bridge - although sadly later  a Pope had them beheaded because of their non-perfect life styles in the late 1500s.
In 1746 history tells us there were 8 mills, most floating mills, and most anchored to the pillions of the bridges.

Nowdays, if you walk across the bridge to the island you'll find a Piazza with a Basilica, another church, a ristorante, a gelateria, and a large fountain.  What more do you want?
Antico Caffe dell'Isola is a good spot to stop for a caffe or bite to eat.

Piazza Navona early

Piazza Navona is one of the main hubs of Rome, and usually filled with locals and tourists alike.  But if you get there early (like, before 10am!!) it's interesting watching the stand holders setting up their wares.  Quite a social occasion for them, chatty, finding the best spot - or at least the best one available without honing in on someone else's pad.

Beware on the Spanish Steps

If you are in the habit of singing or shouting, BEWARE!  On the so-called Spanish Steps (La Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti in fact) it is forbidden to shout, squall or sing.  Just to let you know! And keep out of the way of cleaners when they're working.

Tripa: a Fiorentine Favourite

I remember as a child being expected to eat tripe.  No doubt the way it was prepared, cooked, served put me off this dish for life.  But then there's Maria's trip - synonymous with "WOW" amongst her friends.  First 10kg tripe is purchased from a specialist tripe "factory" nearby.  Whilst the basis for the sauce is slowly cooking, the vitello (veal) tripe is then carefully sliced up into small thin pieces.  It's washed several times, tehn added to the base, along with tomatoes, and cooked on top of the stove for at least 3 hours.
If you don't know Maria, there are many other places to try tripa in Firenze - including several tripa trolly shops (usually one near San Ambrogia church next to Cibreo, and another behind the small market with the bronze cinghiale),  for a tripa panino at lunch time - or at Mario's trattoria, or  Nerbone at the San Lorenzo market.   Try the tripa Fiorentina..... much better than the tripe we've been used to!