Pasticceria Barberini

Delicious sweets behind the counter at Pasticceria Barberini in Rome Italy
One of Each Please!

Enjoy Una Merenda!



Nothing goes better with an espresso than un dolce. While I was on my travels around Rome trying various delicious espressi, while walking near the Pyramid of Cestius, I noticed on my google map that one of the outposts of a fantastic pasticceria was nearby. I had read a recommendation by @eminchilli that Pasticceria Barberini was a good place to try, but my surprise was the quality of the sweets!

Delicious sweets and coffee at Pasticceria Barberini in Rome, Italy
Delicious Afternoon Energy Boost
There are multiple locations around Rome and I highly recommend a stop, either for breakfast, or as I did, after a day of walking when you just need a jolt of caffeine and sugar.


Pro Tip


One suggestion: if you look at the picture you see two sweets on a plate, and the bottom layer looks like some type of a square of chocolate (or at least something edible). It isn't! It's the cardboard each delicious piece is placed on for ease of handling!

Enjoy!

A presto,

- Beppe

Roman Hostaria Dino & Tony


Hostaria Dino and Tony in Rome Italy
Toni or Tony?

Dining in Rome


During my recent trip to Rome, a friend and local recommended Hostaria Dino & Tony, The selling point was that it is affordable, great quality and traditional Roman fare. Without knowing it, my friend gave a description that perfectly aligned with what I like most about Roman food, so I was excited to give it a try!

Tony or Toni


Carafe of Red Wine At Hostaria Dino And Tony in Rome Italy
I Love Vino Sfuso!
While I am still learning to speak Italian (slowly), I usually feel fairly confident in a restaurant. Tonight, however, I was tired and Dino (or Tony, not sure which) greeted me, sat me down and asked if I wanted some wine with blinding speed. I was so overwhelmed that I think I said I wanted both Red and White wine. I didn't, he understood and returned with a delicious half-carafe of Vino della Casa and water.

Antipasto


First of two antipasto plates with sliced meats and fried bits.
I hadn't realized that this hostaria didn't see the need for menus. I'm sure I was asked what I wanted to eat, or at least if I wanted what they were making, but all I'm certain of is that I confirmed I was interested in an antipasto, so I was brought one. There were two plates, as if I was eating for two, which is a theme that would be repeated.  The first was a collection of sliced meats, and a few fried bits.


Second Plate of Antipasto
Conveniently, this was something I probably would have ordered, given the chance, so I dug in and enjoyed the entire plate. This seemed like a reasonable amount of food for an antipasto platter for one, so imagine my surprise when the next plate came out. It was what I would best describe as a pizza divided into sections with different toppings on each. There was one section of vegetables, broccoli I think, a couple of different cheeses and a section of marinara sauce. I ate it all, and trembled with fear when I realized there were more plates still to come!


Primo Piatto


Continuing with the theme of eating for two, my pasta course surprisingly included both a Red and a White pasta. The white was a delicious Pasta alla Gricia, which if you were as unfamiliar as I was, is similar to Carbonara, but without the egg.

I'm not sure if  my picture is doing it justice, but it was delicious, creamy and the pasta was cooked to a perfect level of al dente. The guanciale was delicious and I couldn't have been happier. The bowl size seemed typical for Europe, and Italy in particular, for a pasta dish. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted with a second bowl of pasta. I'm not certain of the name of the dish, but it was a pomodoro sauce also with guanciale and cheese. Delicious as well, but I was really getting full.



Senza Secondo Piatto


After I struggled to complete both bowls (I'm no hero!), a younger waiter (i.e. not Tony or Dino) was confused when I declined a Secondo Piatto. I was a bit unsure what I said and wondered if I misunderstood something. The sizes of meals in Italy are typically well portioned. I certainly don't leave a restaurant hungry, but I'm also rarely stuffed. This night was an exception. I couldn't eat another bite, somehow conveyed that to the waiter, and ordered a coffee. It was close to 9:00pm, and even though coffee might keep me awake, I'm no savage and I appreciate the finer points of Italian culture, so I drank what was probably my tenth espresso of the day.

Finale


Espresso Italian Coffee At Hostaria Dino and Tony
Keep It Coming


As an expectation, it was suggested I would get a great meal for around €30, and I was not disappointed. I believe the bill was exactly €30, an oddly round number, and worth every penny. It was delicious, a surprise and I highly recommend that you check it out, especially if you are near Il Vaticano or the Ottaviao Metro stop.

A Presto!

- Beppe




Italian Culture – Mobile Phones For The Traveler In Italy




Tray Of Italian Cannoli. A Prize of Italian Culture That Goes Well With Coffee!
Cannoli Per Te!

Travel Suggestions


During previous trips to Italy, in order to have voice and data service on our cell phones, we had chosen to use our existing Verizon SIM and just add the international plan. This seemed to be the easiest approach, but we quickly learned that their plan is garbage. During our first trip (with a cell) we quickly ran out of the 100Mb of data as we leveraged Google Maps to help us navigate around. Verizon ‘helpfully’ charged us an additional $40 to add more data and we continued on our merry way. After returning home and seeing the huge bill, we were certain that there must be a better way.

Local service


One our next trip, I still stuck with Verizon’s plan, knowing it was bad, but also wanting to be able to receive work calls on this phone. I was such a good worker! My wife had read a bit and learned that getting a SIM from a local provider was a good option, so we tried it. We had probably 10X the amount of data available, a local number and voice. The price was around $25 for longer than the duration of the trip and worked flawlessly. I limited my data usage on my Verizon phone, didn’t receive or make any calls, and once again decided that I had chosen poorly.

On my recent trip, I decided work didn’t need me and I would communicate with my family solely using WhatsApp. While I continue to be suspicious of Facebook (owner of WhatsApp), I also knew it was hugely popular in Europe and could work as an alternative to cellular. After I arrived in Rome, and checked into my beautiful hotel room at the Residenza Cellini, I walked back to the TIM store in Termini and bought a SIM.

TIM, Telecom Italia


They were helpful and had plans available for travelers. There were various options (see picture) and while I could’ve made it my life’s work to find the best plan, for 26, they offered 30Gb data, Unlimited Chat (WhatsApp) for a month. This seemed to meet my needs and 26 seems reasonable. Again, in hindsight, I didn’t need all that data, but I won’t lose any sleep with my decision.

TIM Italia Telecom Tourist Package SIM Card Options
Yup, that's my thumb!

Advice #1:


Travelers have some limitations that local customers don’t. Importantly, one is how you can track your usage. You cannot register and use the MyTIM website. The only way is to download the MyTIM Mobile app from the app store and check when you AREN’T connected to Wi-Fi. Admittedly, I had to make an additional visit to the TIM store to square this away, but hopefully this guidance will save you a step.

WhatsApp Setting Dialog


Advice #2:


As my plan didn’t include SMS, since that is over the voice network, I got charged a few coins when I accidentally sent a text. I say ‘accidentally’ because being new to WhatsApp, I was not as clear as I should’ve been regarding how I was sending texts. Totally my bad, but a good lesson learned.


Advice #3 (Final!):


Bring a paperclip and a small box. I used a plastic box from my SD card, which worked well. The salesperson at the SIM store will offer to help, but if you run into issues or need a safe place to store your local SIM while abroad, you’ll be happy you have them.

Conclusion:


I believe this was the right choice for me, and unless you need to get calls on your local phone number, it may be a good option for you!

Forza e Coraggio!

-          Beppe




Holiday shopping, Italian Style!

So it's that time of year again when you need gifts for friends and family and guess what?  Some of those folks are hard to buy for!  How many years can you give a dude a tie?  Or your mother yet another bathrobe? Let's talk Italian gifts and get you out of the gift giving slump you've been in (whether you know it or not)!

If you were in Italy, you could hit one of the many outdoor Christmas markets where in addition to hand crafted goods, you could sample local cuisines with a glass of mulled wine while listening to live music or watching various performers.  The 2 minute video below from Siim V gives you a lovely glimpse into the Milano market.



Sounds delightful, yes?  Agreed, but if that's not a possibility for you this year (it's not for us!), let's get you hooked up with Italian gifts minus the plane trip.

Before I get into the options, just remember that you'll get free shipping on all orders over $50 (as always) so don't throw away money on shipping if you're close to that threshold, better to get extra product!  You'll see that notice at the top of all our pages.

The easiest way to go is a gift pack.  It's already put together with a moka pot, espresso and a replacement gasket (molto importante!).

If you just want a moka (without the gasket and espresso), there are lots of great options in various colors.  And don't forget you can get 10% off all Alessi stovetop espresso makers with code ALESSIBF10 (active for late Nov./early Dec. 2018).

If your recipient already has a moka, other great gift options are: 

Alessi spoon set - this is a great option as it comes already boxed, a set of 8 espresso spoons with different styles so you can just wrap it or have it shipped directly to them and be done.

Alessi Bavero cups/saucers set - these come boxed as a set of 2 cups and 2 saucers.  They're beautiful and a great gift.  To give you a sense of their size, see below.  They're 'mocha' cups which means just slightly larger than an espresso cup to allow for some milk. 

In the picture, the largest Illy cup to the far left is a regular American coffee cup size.  The Illy cup next to it is an espresso cup.  The next one, third from the left that's more square in shape is the Alessi cups, set of 4 (no saucers).  And then finally the Alessi Bavero cups/saucers set on the far right.

4 coffee cups of varying sizes displayed side by side for a comparison
From left to right: coffee cup, espresso cup, Alessi mocha cup, Alessi Bavero mocha cup

And finally, il caffè!  Especially for someone who already has their espresso game going, an assortment of coffee is a great way to gift a coffee lover.  While we carry more familiar Illy and Lavazza (also in decaf...very hard to find) we also carry a hard to find brand from Naples called Kimbo as well as a brand from Trieste called San Giusto that is not carried by any other retailer in the United States!  We're the only ones carrying this historic Italian brand...you'd have to go to Italy to get this stuff!  And it comes in a beautiful tin, perfect for gift giving.

So that's a round-up of ideas to get you started. 

Questions?  Email me, I love to talk through the details of gift giving!

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Trieste, Italy (la città del caffè) - Things to do


 
So my week in Trieste was mostly taken up with the 3 day Trieste Espresso Expo (which fyi, only happens once every two years so the next one will be in 2020 in case you're interested).  BTW, the Expo, while a trade show, had people there who were not in the business...students, families with strollers, etc.  The reduced entry 3 day ticket was 21 euro so a day pass without the reduced price couldn't have been more than 10 euro. 

When I wasn't at the show, I managed to squeeze in a couple of the sights below but there was so much more I wanted to do but didn't have time for.  Drop me a comment if you've been to any of these sites or have other ones I need to hit next time!

Castello di Miramare

 This was totally worth the trek outside of the city.  You had to catch the number 6 bus (there's a stop at the train station, Trieste Centrale) although I caught it closer to my B&B (you can read my review of this amazing place on TripAdvisor).  It was about a 30 minute bus ride and you get off at the end of the line, before the bus heads back to Trieste.  You get off in a marina with a couple of restaurants and you have to go past the restaurants and take a left and go up the stairs.  That takes you in to the gardens of the Castello.  Then if you follow the paths along the water, you'll eventually end up at the Castle.

side view of the miramare castle in trieseI paid the 12 euro to tour the castle itself but didn't opt for the tour or audio tour.  There was signage throughout that was also in English so I was able to get a sense of the history and of those who had lived there.  The view from the grounds and castle were truly spectacular, every vista was Instagram worthy! 




There were bathrooms that were outside the castle, down the stairs (to the right of the castle if you're facing it) and around the semi-circle to the right.  There was also a cafe that was about a five minute walk from the castle (you might pass it on your way from the bus stop to the castle) where I sat and had un panino e un po di vino bianco (Friulano, my new favorite from that region).

view of the cafe on the castle grounds with a glass of wine and panino on the table

The whole round trip was probably around 4-5 hours, depending on how much time you spend on touring and wandering the expansive grounds.  If you're in Trieste, do it!

Piazza Unità D'Italia

This is the hub of city, a place everyone comes to, tourists and locals alike.  If you're a tourist, there are pictures to take, coffee or aperitivi to sip or the tourist office to visit.  Locals use it as a meeting point or as a place to let the kids run around a bit before heading to dinner.

I had un aperitivo one afternoon at Caffè degli Specchi and it was such a treat!  The people watching was a great way to pass an hour or two while snapping pics and relaxing.  I ordered an Aperol Spritz, tramezzino and water.  Because it was aperitivo time, they brought everyone a jar of potato chips and a plate of three small sandwiches (so I could have passed on ordering the tramezzino but who knew!).

view onto piazza unita d'italia from caffe degli specchi, overlooking a table with a spritz and food on it

There's also a live webcam that looks down onto the piazza so we set up a time for Beppe to see me in real time!  I was a bit small, standing next to the lamp post but he could tell it was me.

Roman Amphitheater or Teatro Romano

view of the Roman Amphitheater in Trieste at night
Although I'd read this was in Trieste, I came across it as I made my way to my B&B.  This is something I love about Italy, the notion that you can just turn a corner and see a piece of history there!  There's a grocery store next to it which I stopped in to get some water but I returned at night to see it all lit up, super cool!







night view of the statue of Neptune at Piazza della Borsa in Trieste
Piazza della Borsa

This piazza ended up being my center as it was close to the B&B (and next to Piazza Unità D'Italia) but it also had shops, restaurants and most importantly, the TIM store where I got my SIM card. 


A couple of nights I sat outside with the rest of the Triestinos and had my apperitivi; I ducked into a few of the shops to try on shoes or look at scarves; I had dinner one evening; I went souvenir shopping.  There are statues, a fountain and the old stock exchange building so it's a great place to get some pictures as well.