We spent NYE 2021 in Rome
Abby and I spent the 2021 NYE holidays in Rome for the first time.
My brother lives in Rome, so we naturally tend to spend quite some time in the city, but we never experienced it during this period of the year.
Personally for us, it has been an incredibly crappy year.
Mainly, it was due to our respective visa statuses which makes it very hard to live together; add to this the misery of the unnecessarily complex Italian bureaucracy, its legal system, and the PA administrators in my village who (for some reason) are prevening us from forming a civil partnership.
So, yes, we really did need a break.
It hasn't gone exactly as planned: my brother and his wife got sick (thankfully it was a simple cold), but didn't allow us to spend as much time together as we wanted to. And my other brother's wife too.
With that said, we made the best of it.
Rome: an open Museum
Rome is a city with many, many problems. Outside of the center and the good parts, it's dirty, forgotten, and maybe even dangerous.
But, it's also one of the most beautiful cities in the world: lots of history, food culture, warm people and plenty of things to discover.
It's not my type of city, but I cannot deny my marvel at all the details you can find at every turn.
This time we had enough time to simply walk the city aimlessly, and stare at the countless buildings, churches, statues, gates, doors, plazas, and coffee shops (a "bar" in Italian) along the way. What I like to do.
"How can it be this beautiful wherever I turn my head to?", I asked Abby. Rome's inner city really is like that.
Below, I am going to list some moments from our holiday.
Breakfast in Italy is... sweet. Very sweet. Not quite my preference, but it's undeniably a nice treat.
8 years in London have taught me that salty and rich of protein is the right way, and am fully converted to such doctrine.
That said, the croissant below was super tasty, packed with Nutella:
We took this at Via dei Portoghesi, near where we were staying. The croissant's cost was $1.58, while the coffee was $1.24.
Asian food in Rome? Yes, Please
As Abby is Taiwanese, she naturally misses Asian food pretty badly. We are not staying in a city right now, which means access to good food is limited. One of the reasons we went to Rome was exactly getting some good Asian food.
Rome isn't particularly famous for it: we had in the past and weren't impressed. This time around, though, we managed to find exactly what we were looking for: authentic Japanese Ramen.
We went to Shiroya, near Piazza Navona. Michelin star, fairly priced, very near us. "This is it", we thought.
Full of hope, but still wary.
The first few servings, Gyoza and Karaake, were delicious.
"Great", I thought. Ramen, though, is more complex. And then it finally arrives:
It was absolutely spectacular. I am by no means an expert, but I have had authentic Japanese Ramen both in London and Taiwan, and Abby has been to Japan many times. It was authentic. Yay!
And here is my weird reaction to the first sip:
The soup though was very very salty. Not everyone may appreciate it, but it was OK by me. In fact, it was so good we went back!
The staff was also nice and welcoming.
The cost was approximaely $70 for:
- 1 serving of Karaake (5 pieces)
- 1 serving of Gyoza (4 pieces)
- 2 Ramen bowls
- 1 Bottle of Water
- 2 Beers
For a Michelin star restaurant in the heart of Rome, not too bad.
Sightseeing Rome's marvels
It doesn't matter how many times one sees the Coloseum, the excitement is always the same. I have seen it countless times by now, but my eyes are always wide open every time I go there.
The weather was fortunately good, so we managed to take some good shots.
And here is with the astounding Arch of Constantine:
The Vatican was about 10 minutes from where we were staying.
It was a nice walk along the Tiberis river: at some point, you can start seeing St. Peter's Dome. Such a spectacular sight.
St. Peter's square was weirdly pleasant to walk through. If you've been at the Vatican pre-pandemic, you know what I mean.
Shout out to the Vatican for having a real Taiwanese embassy, you don't see many around the world. We appreciate.
Pizza Al Taglio
One of the things we enjoy the most in Rome is Alice's Pizza. It's a chain you can find throughout the city, with plenty of delicious types of pizza al taglio.
The pizzas above (enough for a group of four), cost $30.
Focaccia at the Pantheon
Another unmissable stop is at the Antica Salumeria right near the Pantheon. Despite the prices skyrocketed since I last went, it's always a huge pleasure.
It's a butcher shop who also sell Focaccia and sandwiches stuffed with local meats or fish. One of the must-try local meats in Rome is Porchetta di Ariccia, which they sell. Thank me later!
The price for each focaccia depends on the stuffing, but you can expect to pay $5-8.
NYE / Capodanno
Federica, my brother's wife, kindly hosted us for the NYE dinner. She prepared a ton of food which we, unfortunately, couldn't finish.
The most particular thing we ate, as I had no idea existed, was the Panettone Farcito.
This sandwich tower is a traditional lightweight (to eat more in the evening) lunch eaten by Romans on NYE. I am not really sure if serving this helps not stuffing yourself, because I would eat it all.
And then, Abby's favorite meal. A boat full of raw fish:
What's next for 2022
Let's be honest, Omicron isn't good news and we don't know what is going to happen.
Furthermore, Abby's visa status is being challenged in court by my village's local council (unbelievable, I know) and until we know the result, it's going to be hard to make any sort of plan.
We would really love to settle in Italy, while also travelling and nomading abroad, and maybe spend time in Taiwan, which is fully closed to non-residents; what was very normal a couple of years ago, seems like a unreachable dream today.
We keep working hard, and hoping this year will be better.
Ciao Roma, see you soon!