Just to ensure that I got back and write about the Coliseum!!
We hung out in St Peter’s Square again eating Gelati… well I was eating Lemon gelati again while the girls checked out the fake Prada and Gucci bags being hawked by the West African guys around the square. Now there are some interesting sales tactics these guys use while trying to get you to buy their fake wares. They will come and sidle up to you and offer the bag. They let you keep it for a bit and say “Keep it, no problem”. Of course, when someone says this in North America, it means you keep whatever it is. Well here, it doesn’t work like that….they come back after you and then ask for money, and they are quite insistent about things. In fact, I would wager that a lot of the sales, they get are from people getting seriously tired and annoyed with these sales tactics and buy stuff just to get the vendors away. Of course, one can quickly come to a realization that this is a negative feedback cycle
- “Turista” don’t want crappy fake bags and refuse to buy
- Vendors bug the shit of the “Turista” to buy shitty bags
- “Turista” get fed up and want to see/take pictures/walk around, and hence buys bag to get rid of annoying vendors
- Vendors get money – which is the desired result – hence the tactics work.
- Repeat tactic and abuse!
However, this type of sales tactic leads to the vendors being seriously abused by certain types of ““Turista””! I personally had no problem with these guys, since a firm insistent “Not interested!” has worked perfectly so far on this trip. This is quite good compared to the sales tactics in Cambodia, where these amazingly cute kids come up to you with stuff to sell and pester and hassle the %$%$! out of you. They never take no for an answer, but rather say “you buy later”. One would think if you respond with sure “I’ll buy later” means a brush off, but you’re now so screwed it isn’t funny. You have now verbally committed to buying later, which means whenever you were done with a temple, and of course they remember you saying “you buy later”, and I saw many Tourists being guilted into buying stuff. People don’t like saying “NO!”, and these little kids abuse the Adult tourists!!! I had to learn how to say “NO!” in Khmer and Thai, to get them off my back, since English “NO!” means nothing to these kids.
Once we were back on the bus, the next stop was the Pantheon. There was much frustration in trying to find the Pantheon, since the tour bus dropped us off at Piazza Navonna and then expected us to find the Pantheon. Did they not figure out that we are ““Turista”” and we know nothing?!? After Amanda’s experience with the people speaking Italian, she was a bit hesitant; we took to speaking English, which seems to work better for us, but it does nothing for Amanda’s Italian. By the time we got to the Pantheon, it was after 7.30pm, so it was closing, so I could only get one shot of the Oculus inside the Pantheon
And Me standing at the Pantheon!!
Once we were done with the 2.5 mins of the Pantheon, we had two choices, either we should go find St Eustachio restaurant or go to the Trevi fountain and Spanish Steps. We picked the former rather than the latter. This would prove to be a spectacularly amazing choice as the following restaurant review will detail:
Restaurant: St Eustachio
Cuisine: Rustic/Modern Italian
Wheelchair Accessible: Si
Turista Friendly: Si
English service: Si but with heavy Italian accent by Gianni
Price: $$$ out of $$$$$
BYOW: No, but great wine list available <Insert pictures>
Di Loreto enhancements upon proof of Luigi: Affirmative
So after a long day of touring, we decided to go see Amanda’s dad’s first cousin Bruno at his restaurant. The restaurant St Eustachio is a very nice mid scale Italian restaurant located about three blocks away from the Pantheon. Now for anyone that has not been to Roma, the area around the Pantheon is nice and quite upscale in many ways with many little bars and restaurants. Most of the restaurants are mid tier and higher restaurants.
Now this was a tough choice, since Amanda did not know what type of reception we would get when we got there. In my mind, I was quite sure, we would get the Treatment Royale, once the Di Loreto link was proven. Amanda was not convinced and was a bit anxious at the whole thing for about 10 minutes. Upon asking for Bruno, Gianni seated us, since Bruno was not there at the time, but Gianni promised that Bruno would be back in 10 minutes. We ordered three Antipasti plates for dinner, since we didn’t want to spend a heap of money at an expensive place in Roma:
· Seafood Antipasti plate: Swordfish, Scallops, Octopus and Calamari all drenched in Extra Virgin Olive oil infused with Sea Salt and Lemon
· Fried Artichokes
· Zucchini florets stuffed with Anchovy Paste and Pecorino cheese.
The first two were very good and the girls like the last antipasti. At this time, the bread and oil came out, as well as three glasses of Champagne (!) on the house! Gianni brought it out for us, and this by itself was a great touch. At this point, we were happy with the service and the meal itself. I was bit hungry so I ordered some pasta – Buccatini Arabiata (Completely got that wrong, but it was like very thin macaroni, with Tomato sauce, chili and pork fat.
We were about 45 minutes into dinner, and we had not seen Bruno, so I asked Gianni about Bruno, since our thoughts were to leave and head over to the Trevi fountain if Bruno could not come or wasn’t there. We made the effort to see Bruno, and Amanda’s dad would be pleased that we still went to his cousin’s restaurant, even though his cousin was not there. I was about to ask for the check when Bruno shows up, introduced by Gianni, and then the Quantum leap happened!!!
Once Amanda was introduced and the link established, something amazing and fantabulous happened! Lots of talking then Bruno takes Amanda and Beth inside, while I stay outside with the bags and gives them the Royal tour, and they come outside and more food comes
· Two bowls of Pasta and Chickpea soup come out along (They didn’t ask for this btw) with my Pasta dish that was ordered a while ago.
The soup itself was not on the menu but was tasty and very rustic. By this time, we are full, and second round of champagne comes out, so of course more happiness ensues. I am personally grinning from ear to ear at how spectacular the food and service are. While we are eating this stuff, Gianni comes out and asks me if I like Seafood, to which I nod and try to say no more, but he insisted and twisted my rubber arm. 10 minutes later, a plate of antipasti comes out:
· Giant Fried Prawns, seasoned mini shrimp and some amazing Calamari (I didn’t ask for this btw)
Now, all this time, a very sweet older couple is sitting next to us. They lived Yorkshire but the wife was Scottish and the husband was English. This was both their second marriage as we learned, since the wife’s first husband had died from a heart attack and the husband’s first wife has passed from Cancer. She had issues with her eyes after Cataract surgery. We learnt quite a lot about them in our dinner courses, since they had issues with the menu, but they were amazingly sweet in one way: they were so happy in love in their 60’s. Let’s call the couple, Tom and Lisa.
Tom and Lisa were looking on during the whole transaction with Gianni and then Bruno, and were amazed at the service and treatment we were getting, so we told them about how we came to being there at St Eustachio. At which point, Amanda points to us together and utters the line of the night,
“Well, we are kind of a big deal here!!!”
I laughed so hard at this point, since this is something that Andrea (another mutual friend) would be howling at (in fact, Andrea… Amanda really fricking said that!!)
After all of this, then a dessert comes which was
· Pistachio Gelati with Warm Chocolate sauce and cream (We didn’t ask for this btw)
Followed about 10 minutes later by three amazing Profiteroles stuffed with thick cream. (We didn’t ask for this btw). How do I know they were amazing, since I don’t eat dairy, well the reaction on Beth’s face kinda told me that they were great. Then after that we had some coffee, espresso and tea to finish off a truly spectacular meal. Now at this point we had spent about 2.5 hours at dinner, and it was time to head out and grab some pictures, so we ask Gianni for the bill and this is where I truly understand hospitality (Italian or West Indian).
He comes up to the table, looks at the three of us, points at each one of us and goes: “One!” points at Amanda, “Two!” points at me and “Three!” and points at Beth, then smiles, shakes each of our hands and says “Arrivederci!!!” and walks off! We were all stunned at this, since although we thought there would be a discount or something, but we did not expect them to offer the whole meal gratis!!!!!
I cannot say how amazing the whole dinner was, not just because it was gratis but because Amanda loved seeing the kitchen, and seeing the pictures of her family on the walls, and of course because how amazingly spectacular were treated. *sigh* We wont have a better dinner than this in Italy, for sure, full stop! Like what really can top that?? Gratis dinner with dancing Italian Bellas, Limoncello on tap with Prosecco and Grappa for digestivos, never ending Osso Bucco and Risotto? Like seriously! Anyway it is 4.20 am now, and I still have not written about the Trevi Fountain at night (Spectacular) and the Spanish Steps at night (Overrated!!!!)
The overrated Spanish Steps at night!!
I’ll just include the pictures later on! Tomorrow, we are heading to the Vatican….maybe the Pope will come out again, but this time give Amanda personal communion, since that would be the only way things could really get better right now!!!
Well to add about the Trevi Fountain, I think it would be best just to add pictures from the night!!
more Trevi Fountain