Eating well on holidays is not an easy thing to achieve. It doesn’t have to mean finding the perfect French bistro in France because often you’ll find excellent global cuisine in the most unexpected places. Even in your home town, finding good food takes time and is usually the result of taking risks; and sadly, both risk and time are things you can’t really spare when you’re abroad.
I didn’t simply ‘get lucky’ in my recent Parisian trip, I put the effort in before I left to find restaurants, take personal recommendations and I didn’t have the kids tagging along so I was able to seek out lunch or dinner a little further afield. However on my trip to Rome last week, those three elements were not working in my favour. We stayed right near the Spanish Steps, a location I would highly recommend by the way because you walk to everything, but it meant that we were in the midst of tourist-trap conditions, struggling constantly with over-priced cafes and the confusing pricing structure of Roman food vendors.
But I did try. I researched a little but found that the good food was mostly located outside of our area, and the best places didn’t serve pizza which was a problem because it seems I’ve raised two stubborn lads who were not willing to bend as far as pasta for dinner. But I’m pleased to report that despite my considerable handicaps on this particular trip, I did not have one bad meal. The Internet is full of advice, particularly TripAdvisor, which I try to steer clear of. The official ‘foodie’ opinion was that the menu in Rome was geared towards to American tourists and not fit for the mainstream gourmand. But the Internet was wrong. Sure, the restaurants are serving pedestrian fare, but frankly, I found it to be, for the most part, well-priced and delicious. I had pasta three nights in a row – as I’d gleaned that pasta laced with bacon in particular, was Rome’s specialty. Each meal we had, bucatini carbonara, walnut ravioli and gnocchi gorgonzola was lovely. And all the incidental meals we had along the way were also wonderful. We enjoyed pastries and beautifully fresh donuts, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast and we enjoyed pizza by the slice and panini for lunches and in-between we delighted in gelato which can be found on almost every corner.
In short, you can’t really screw up in Rome. The vendors are coming around to the notion that tourists like to rest their weary feet when they have a coffee or a snack and so while there are some places that charge like wounded bulls for a dine-in experience, most restaurants are reasonably priced. But it’s a good idea to always check the prices on the menu first, especially for branded soft drinks like Coke which can cost up to 7 Euros! Even the most experienced travellers can get caught out. *Ahem*