On The Road Again

With just one sip of cappuccino I knew I was back in Italy. It’s been three months since I experienced the joy of perfect coffee. Some people say the secret is the water; others insist it’s the milk. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that even the best coffeehouses in America can’t duplicate the silky, satisfying flavor.


A Perfect Cappuccino


Surrounded by men in tailored suits and women in stylish outfits, I finish my coffee with a contended smile and walk back into the beautiful chaos that is Rome. It’s business as usual–pedestrians scurrying through the cobbled streets only to be stopped in their tracks by guide book-reading tourists and darting Vespas.


I had just arrived on what seemed to be a maiden voyage of the new double-decker Airbus…little did I know untiI I stepped off the plane to a throng of aircraft paparazzi.

I had some clues along the way though:

–At check-in, I was offered a row of four, instead of the aisle seat I had booked.

–When boarding, the line for first class was longer than coach.

–In the back of the plane, a spiral staircase stood in lieu of the standard hub of toilets.

–The staff smiled, was actually giddy, from start to finish, all while giving away stacks of Toblerone chocolate bars.

I was in the twilight zone of air travel.


Pepperoncini at market


Enjoying the comfort, I stretched out and covered myself with a pile of blankets, dosing until the baby in front of me, and then his twin, started to cry.  It was a contest that lasted for hours, only to be won by the Turkish man seated behind me. I had thought it cute when he shouted, “Bravo, Lufthansa!” at the beginning of our flight; however, I later diagnosed his non-stop enthusiasm as an advanced case of Tourette’s.

But back to Rome with its breathtaking campos adorned with sculpted marble fountains and tranquil back alleys. When the sun sets I head to the Pantheon, the Roman temple built in 126AD. I peek inside and marvel at its very existence, before tucking myself into one of the outdoor restaurants around its square. They are full this time of year with people enjoying the last days of good weather. I never tire of the view, even though I can’t really recommend the food. I order a prosecco and toast my good fortune. I’m home again—at least my home on the other side of the world.


Bucatini all’Amatriciana


Bucatini all’Amatriciana

 This quick and easy pasta dish (originally served with spaghetti) is a favorite in Rome, even though it comes from the small town of Amatrice in the Abruzzo region. It calls for guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), but if you can’t find any, substitute pancetta.

4-6 servings


1             tablespoon olive oil

1/2      pound guanciale, diced

1            medium onion, minced

1/2      cup white wine

6          ripe Roma tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped

1            pepperoncino, crushed or 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes*

1/2      cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus extra for garnishing

salt to taste

1 pound bucatini or thick stranded spaghetti

Basil leaves to garnish


1. Place the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the guanciale. Cook until browned. Remove.all

2. Add the onion and cook until transparent. Pour in the wine. When it’s evaporated add the tomatoes and pepperoncino. Cook about 15 minutes, or until sauce starts to develop.

3. Return the guanciale to the pan. Stir in cheese. Salt.

4. Make the bucatini while the sauce is cooking. When done, strain and stir with sauce. Garnish with more cheese and basil leaves.

*if you like spicy, add 1 teaspoon pepper flakes

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