Thanksgiving in Rome Because Why Not?

Spending Thanksgiving day in a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving is about as non-traditional as it gets.   We are child free and we like to travel.  I knew it was only a matter of time before something like this happened.

Transportation strikes in Italy are either a regular thing or we just get really lucky and visit when they are having them.  Four years ago we almost got shut out of Florence and Pisa because there was a strike.  Luckily, the cruise ship was able to get us on a tour, and there was no strike the day we needed the train to get to Rome.  This time our flights were straight up cancelled.  MJ was able to book us on an entirely different airline, just with a slightly later flight time.

We didn't make it there until close to midnight on Wednesday and spent Thanksgiving day touring the ancient city of Rome.  The threat of rain loomed, but the weather actually cooperated with us pretty well while we were there.  The bus stop that would take us into the city was right across the street, so we bought tickets from the news stand and waited.  This particular bus stop had an electronic screen that kept you updated on when the bus was scheduled to arrive.  The time kept getting pushed back, but eventually it showed up.
Lifts that carry animals from underground to the stage above ground

The first thing we did is head to the Colosseum.  The last time we were in Rome, we were so rushed that we didn't have time to tour the inside so I was really excited to get to do it.  It's pretty impressive on the inside and it's so crazy to think that this was the site of gladiator fights to the death and where people were sentenced to die by being torn apart by wild animals.  Even crazier is that people showed up on droves to watch.  Like a show.  The lifts that were used to carry the animals from the lower levels to the stage above are still there.
When in Rome

Palatine Ruins
We were ready for pizza by that time so we stopped for some lunch right across from the Colosseum.  The tickets include entry to the Palatine Ruins so we headed over there next and spent some time wandering the grounds until it was time to head home for dinner.

We whipped up a 4-course meal for Thanksgiving dinner.  kind of.  I poured us some wine, and when the chef showed up she taught us how to do the appetizer, the fettuccine and dessert.  The appetizer was layered pane carasau, which is a very thin Italian flatbread, with Pumpkin, meat, and cheese baked in the oven.  The fettuccine was not drowning in any kind of sauce, but was full of flavor.  The only thing we didn't help with at all was the beef, because due to time constraints she showed up with that already done.  The dessert was this amazing chocolate log that only required three ingredients.  biscoff type cookies, chocolate and oil.   

After we finished helping with dessert she shooed us out of the kitchen and finished every thing up.  When it was ready all we had to do was sit at the table while she served us a delicious traditional Italian meal.  The appetizer involved pumpkin, this pan She even cleaned up the kitchen afterward.  The whole thing was like magic.  I imagine that's how it might be if you had a live in chef.  Must be nice.  There was no turkey.  No mac and cheese.  There was nothing Thanksgiving like about this meal, except that I was thankful to be there because how often do you get to cook and eat Italian food in Italy? Not very.  It was so sweet of MJ to arrange that for us.  The wine, the food, the place, the man sitting across from me.  Everything was perfect.  Perfetto!!  

More pizza because Italy

It rained most of the night and into Friday morning, but by the afternoon it cleared up.  It was another strike day.  We asked the resort to call us a cab, but there were absolutely none to be found.  Four years ago Rome basically chewed us up and spit us out.  We had one day, part of which was eaten up by kind of a long train ride from Civitavecchia where the cruise ship was docked.  By the time we made it to Rome all we had time for was St. Peters Square, The Vatican, pizza and a peak at the Colosseum, before we had to leave.  Traffic is pretty bad there.  This time, was 100% different.  We were able to get a ride into town and took our time strolling from the Pantheon to Trevi Fountain.  We ate Gelato, and more pizza because Italy, and meandered around the city taking it all in until it got dark.  It was wonderful to stay there, take our time, and really be able to enjoy the city.

The resort helped us out with bus numbers and maps, but I would have been lost without MJ.  He is a master at navigating public transportation anywhere.  The first day we took the bus home from an entirely different place than we were dropped off.  We walked down this grassy tree filled median in the road, and I have know idea how he knew where we were going, but we kept walking and there was the bus stop.  On the second day, we were near a taxi stand and started to take a cab, but he had a sudden burst of inspiration.  We turned, boarded a train at the station, and when we got off the bus that would take us home was right outside.  How does he do this when I have just barely figured out the very limited trolley system in San Diego?  I have no idea what's happening or how.  I follow him, and we always make it home.

That night we went out to dinner at a restaurant in the Appia Antica area within walking distance from our apartment called Ristorante San Tarcisio.  We purposefully dined outside of Rome so that we were sure to have an authentic Italian dining experience, and it was exactly that.  It was so delicious.  We had an appetizer, and I helped myself to the bread basket.  I went for the lasagna and we shared a bottle of wine between us.  I can honestly say it is officially the best lasagna I've ever had, and I was stuffed.

When I realized that we were within walking distance of the largest catacomb in Rome, I wanted to take a tour, so we spent our 3rd and last morning at the Catacombs of St. Callixtus. I have a thing for catacombs, and it was one of the things we did when we were in Naples four years ago.  I just find the history and the mystery of it to be so fascinating.  The place was a maze.  I think it would be really interesting to be let loose in there and try to find our way out, but it was all guided.  It was hallway after hallway of dark underground tombs, and we probably didn't even see half of it.  We had to get up kind of early to fit it in, but it was worth it.

It took us about an hour to walk home from there.  It was a little chilly, and a little muddy on parts of the road but it was a nice walk through Appia Antica which is the largest green space in Rome.  We encountered many walkers and bikers along the way and made it back to our apartment just in time to be whisked away in the same black car and the same driver that brought us there.

Thanksgiving was different this year.  We were away from home and family, but we had each other, and it was wonderful.  Rome was so good to us! I'm so glad we got another chance to experience it together.  


Tia @ GoodGenes said...

Your Thanksgiving sounds amazing!! I would take an authentic Italian meal from an in-home chef ANY DAY over the norm. What a blast! I hope to get to do something like this in the future. :)

Carly Blogs Here said...

Thanksgiving in Rome sounds amazing! So amazing to have your own personal chef for your Thanksgiving meal-- all of the food looks sooo much better than anything people traditionally eat for Thanksgiving. MJ sounds like a master at getting around, and I'm so glad all of your traveling plans worked out even with the strikes. You guys got some amazing photos!

Faith said...

I seriously need to get to Rome! So many places I want to go, so little time! I love your untraditional thanksgiving! And having your own chef. What dreams are made of!

Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad said...

That meal sounds amazing! We had a chef come and cook for us the first night of our honeymoon (also in Italy!) and it was the best thing ever. Wouldn't a personal chef be the ultimate luxury?! Sorry to hear the public transport was a bit iffy, but it sounds like you had an amazing break together. An extremely belated happy Thanksgiving :)

Catherine Gacad said...

i love how a chef came to make you a meal. i want that! except i don't need to assist. ha! just bring me the food :)