Tonight we had our second cooking class this one was with a delightful architect turned chef and cooking teacher, Aurelio Carraffa, who introduced us to "la cuchina romana". Even though we had made or attempted to make each of the dishes previously in Australia, these were a new experience. First off we started with bruschetta made with real tasting tomatoes, olive oil and basil. Then we started preparing our dessert which was to be tiramisu but unlike any we have ever tasted before. It included egg yolks and whites as well as mascarpone cheese - boy was it rich - I could only eat half my serve. The primo piato was a spaghetti carbonara which used six egg yolks and three kinds of cheese but no cream. It was very yum! While preparing the secundo piato, saltimboccaca alla romana, Aurelio whipped up a quick tempura-like batter and coated some fresh sage leaves which he then shallow fried in oil. What a hit they were. The saltimbocca used sage leaves and prosciutto and was quickly fried with butter and later white wine. It made any of my previous efforts appear plain and stodgy. All In all, a very pleasant night with good company and lessons learned.
Earlier in the day we went out with Salvatore for a quick, 3 hour, tour of Rome. First he showed us Trajan's column which is an original column from the 2nd century. It has withstood the damage to other parts of Trajan's Forum and celebrates Trajan's victory against the Dacians in 106AD. There is a spiral of relief carvings all the way up the 50 m tall column which tells the story of his victories. Currently a statue of St Peter stands atop the column but it used to be Trajan.Salvatore explained that it was actually Mussolini who was responsible for removing the houses and businesses that had established themselves on top of the old forums and began the process of revealing the old history of Romans.
We moved on to the piazza of the four fountains where a fountain is located on each street corner. Two represent the rivers Tiber and Arno and the other two represent the goddesses Juno and Diana. We passed by the Quirinale, home of the President, and moved on to the Spanish steps and the Trevi fountain both of which are under repair with barriers keeping the crowds at bay. It is amazing how many people there were around these sites. There are also hundreds of, mostly men, selling 'selfie sticks, fake designer handbags, squish things that they throw on the ground and lots of other rubbish. Quite a few beggars about too, although Kai commented that one particular female beggar had remarkably well manicured nails on her fingers. Today we also saw groups of young people trying to get us to sign up "against drugs" and then presumably ask for a donation.
One interesting feature of the Trevi fountain is an unusual egg shaped carving on one side near the road. Legend suggests that Salvi, the artist who finished the fountain started 200 years earlier by Bernini, put this object here to annoy a shopkeeper who had been complaining about the fountain and the nuisance it caused his business. Apparently Salvi put the object there so that the shopkeeper did not get a view of the completed fountain.
Our next stop was the Pantheon, this is a building that survived almost intact from the 1st century because the Catholics took it over as a church. Inside it holds many wonderful art works as well as the graves of two Italian kings and the painter Raphael. We then moved on to the Piazza Navona where I had a minute or so of panic when I couldn't find Maree or any of the others. I was contemplating just staying where I was and hoping that they would come back for me when I spotted the familiar figure of Salvatore. For a while there I was a bit discomfited to say the least. Salvatore's tour finished at the markets in the Campo di Fiori where we left him to wander down to the river and along to the Isola which is reputed to be the spot where the first settlement of Rome occurred. It's main claim to fame now are the very tasty gelati for sale. Maree had a lemon one and I had some cactus (prickly pear) and chocolate.
We returned to the hotel via the Circus Maximus and the Colosseum to have a bit of a break before catching a bus to the cooking school.b