A Roman Aperitif

 The back garden of the Roman flat where we spent our first weekend away.

The back garden of the Roman flat where we spent our first weekend away.

My husband and I have recently returned from almost a month away--most of it traveling in France and then Spain with my husband's (truly excellent) parents. On the way from the Middle East to France, though, we took a weekend for just the two of us. In Rome.

 The Colosseum

The Colosseum

I've been to Rome once before, but this was my husband's first visit. We had so little time that it didn't make sense to try for some kind of mad, comprehensive sightseeing spree. Instead, we just set out on foot or on the subway from our tiny, beautiful, perfectly located rental flat. (Thank you, Giacomo and AirBnB!) 

 On the way to dinner....

On the way to dinner....

Our first night out, we dined at one of the touristy restaurants on the Piazza Navonna. The food was average. However, we were sitting at a table next to another couple, and their monumental evening was enough to make ours unforgettable as well. Halfway through dinner my husband nearly squealed with contained excitement. He was trying to be discreet, but was frantically pointing over at their table. I looked just in time to see the man slip a diamond ring onto the woman's finger! Later in the evening, we congratulated the newly engaged couple. We told them that this holiday is a celebration of 20 years of marriage for us--and 50 years for my in-laws.

  Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi on Piazza Navona

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi on Piazza Navona

The next day, we packed a picnic lunch (heavy on the pork and booze, a foreshadowing of the rest of our trip) and walked and walked through the Borghese Gardens, which are dotted with fountains and ornamental buildings as well as museums and a zoo. We just walked under the trees, ate bread and sausage, and drank Italian red wine because, after a long Middle Eastern summer, that's what we wanted to do.

 Picnic food. Okay, that's a lie: we didn't haul real dishes out to the park. This was a similar feast we had on our patio. But we did eat food just like this at the Borghese Gardens.

Picnic food. Okay, that's a lie: we didn't haul real dishes out to the park. This was a similar feast we had on our patio. But we did eat food just like this at the Borghese Gardens.

 Borghese Gardens, complete with umbrella pines, which to me are oh, so Italian.

Borghese Gardens, complete with umbrella pines, which to me are oh, so Italian.

On our last evening in Rome, we took the advice of our Air BnB host and booked a table at Pastificio, a proper restaurant (like, the kind where you'll find actual Romans, unlike the picturesque but bland--and pricey--tourist places on the Piazza Navonna.) We ate well and enjoyed being surrounded by Italians having a night out at what they consider to be a good restaurant (Pastificio had several Italian award notices on its front door, and also one from the New York Times). It was a loud and late evening! 

 Pastificio in the San Lorenzo neighborhood

Pastificio in the San Lorenzo neighborhood

Next: our adventures on the Canal du Midi in southern France, including how to navigate through a canal lock.