Monday, July 12, 2010

Talkin' Turkey!

As much as I hate the thought of leaving bella Roma, I have to admit that I am really getting excited for my next travel destination - Turkey! I will be spending the first week in Istanbul with my brilliant group of Honors students and my colleagues from the University of Washington. This will be an amazing adventure. I have been to Istanbul before, but only for a few days - it will be fantastic to return. And since we have hired a professional tour guide for the entire week I will actually get to relax and see the sites con calma! The mosques, the museums, the food, a cruise down the Bosphorus ... and of course the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market! Weeee!

And, after the students leave, my friend Marina and I are off to explore the Turkish Aegean coast. We have a whirlwind trip planned - we will take a short flight from Istanbul to Izmir, heading to Selcuk where we will spend some time exploring one of the greatest ruined cites of the western world - Ephesus. Next, a brief stop in Kusadasi to pick up our rental car, and then we are off to exciting Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus). From there we will venture further down the coast to the Lycian tombs and beautiful beaches of the Turkish Mediterranean, searching for the Chimaera. Last but not least, we will have one night in stunning Fethiye before heading over to the Greek island of Rhodes where we catch our flight back to Rome.

You can bet I will be posting from all of these places, reporting back on the local sites, smells, sounds, and tastes ... not to mention the unique shops and artisan goods I encounter along the way.

Seninle sonra görüşürüz! (whoa!)


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Around the Campo: Cartoleria Pantheon

I have always had an affinity for office supply shops. Perhaps it is the rows and rows of neatly lined pens and markers, glue sticks and scotch tape, scissors .... all arranged by color, size, and type, that appeal to my obsessive appreciation of order. Or maybe it is the tremendous potential of all the stacks of empty notebooks and journals ... what will end up filling all those pages?

Well, Cartoleria Pantheon in Rome is no ordinary office supply shop - but it holds the same appeal - only the wow factor is amplified by a thousand percent. The walls of this tiny store are lined from floor to ceiling with beautiful hand-bound leather journals, sketchbooks, notebooks and
albums for photos - all produced using traditional artisan techniques. They also have a tremendous assortment of fine paper, paper diaries, handmade marbled paper ... not to mention pens, inks, and wax seals.

Situated right next to the Pantheon the Cartoleria opened in February 1910 - so they are celebrating their 100 year anniversary this year. The shop was originally called "the pupils workshop" since upstairs in the same building, there was and still is a school. Back in the day, their entire business was selling stationery for the school children: inkwells, nibs, many styles of notebooks and book bags for the school. But over the years, they became a popular stop for Romans, and anyone with a passion for writing. Or, in my case, a vicarious passion for the tools of the writers trade.

Few of us are still putting pen to paper these days but there is a certain romantic nostalgia for writing that persists - especially when you visit a store like this. You are filled with dreamy notions of going to exotic places and doing amazing things worthy of writing about on the beautiful pages of these books. I have several of these leather bound journals with lovely marbled covers already, yet somehow, I can never resist the urge for another. Now I just need to get writing!


Monday, July 5, 2010

Markets: Porta Portese

Last weekend was my last visit to Porta Portese for a long while - sadly, I will be leaving Rome soon. Sniff. But luckily for me, my good friend Renee was in town and she was up for some serious marketing. So off we went early Sunday morning!

As we entered the market I spotted these really great terracotta jugs. Made me wonder what they could be used for? They sure would look great on top of cabinets in a country kitchen...or bunched together in the corner on an old hardwood floor? Or maybe out in the garden filled with plants?

Within minutes I found an amazing set of water glasses - there were probably 20 there and they looked great! I could envision them all cleaned up and sparkly on my farm table in Seattle, no problem. And I actually need a set of glasses like this ... but alas. How to get them home?? Had to pass. I Cry.

It was Renee who had the first hit with this cool old hubcap. She already has one from Milan so this Roma one would fit perfectly in her collection. On the first round of haggling the vendor would not meet our price, so we walked. But on a return pass later, he acquiesced and Renee got her prize!

But that hub cap purchase didn't hold a candle to Renee's bling purchase here ... ooh yah! Rich!

And what about this amazing leather box from an artisan shop in Florence? 5 euro?? SOLD!

My problem is that I like big things - like this amazing old pasta plate with the rooster. Huge and heavy and beautiful!! I actually thought about it for a while, momentarily slipped into a dreamy vision of how good it would look in my house while the Neapolitan vendor tried to tempt me with a price that would close the deal ... but decided there was just no way. (Lauren would be so happy.) Maybe someday when I live in Rome ...

But I did score on a pile of these beauties - take a look:

Remember when I first spotted them a few weeks ago? This time the guy had a whole box full of rusty metal medallions and lamp fittings of varying shapes and sizes. they looked so great together ... still not sure how they will be reused/refunctioned/reinvented at Chez Schultz ... but I will let you know as soon as I figure it out!

So, Porta P., we had a good run this summer! I will be looking forward to a return visit next winter. In the meantime this girl will be on the hunt for cool markets in other parts of the globe so stay tuned!


Sunday, July 4, 2010


Saldi, Rome's bi-annual retail sales, began on Saturday! Here in Italy, sales are regulated by regional law. Everything goes on sale at the same time, twice a year, in February ... and right now! Prices are discounted from 30-70%! The dilemma is always the same, buy now when the selection is good, or wait for the prices to go even lower. The sales continue into August, and the prices get continually lower as time goes on. Maybe I will shop a little now, and then shop a little more later ...


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Around the Campo: Forno!

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.

Robert Browning hit it right on! And luckily for all of us living in the Campo, we don't have to go very far to find our own little slice of heaven. Tucked behind the flower stalls in the far corner of our dear piazza is the Forno Campo de' Fiori. The spot has a less-than-lofty history - it was once a famous tavern owned by Vanozza de’ Cataneis, the beautiful mistress to Pope Alexander VI and mother to his 4 children including Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. The facade still bears the family coat of arms.

In 1970 Mario Roscioli, his son Fabrizio and their partner Dino Bartocci acquired the space and began making bread fit for a Caesar using old artisan methods. The quality, texture and flavor cannot be beat. As testament, Romans line up in the early morning and late afternoon for fresh, hot piazza bianca and pizza rosa (flat pizza bread seasoned with either olive oil and sea salt, or fresh tomato sauce.) They also will find typical Roman style breads such as a crusty ciabatta, airy rosetta rolls, hearty olive, and whole wheat, and nut filled loaves ...and sweet things such as tarts, cakes and cookies. Over the holidays the Forno makes seasonal favorites such as castagnole (Italian-style donut holes), frappe (dough fried light as air and dusted with powdered sugar), and ravioli di ricotta for Carnivale; as well as Panattone and Ricciarelli for Christmas, and colomba and pastiera at Easter.

Fabrizio recently opened a shop next door that serves sandwiches that pair the fruits of their labors with the fruits from the Campo (such as fresh figs and prosciutto.) The shop also carries a mouth-watering assortment of Italian cookies.

Watch the Forno in action here!

Great baking runs in the Roscioli family. Mario's nephew, Pierluigi Roscioli, also runs a bakery in the neighborhood along with his father Alessandro.

Antico Forno Roscioli offers a less traditional, but greater selection of products. In fact they produce over 120 varieties of breads! One of the bakery’s specialties is Lariano bread, a naturally risen, oven-baked bread, filled with raisins, nuts or olives. They also have a fine selection of Kosher and gluten-free breads, crunchy bread sticks and wine biscuits, salmon croissants, vegetable pizzas, small pizzette ... Of course, the pizza bianca and pizza rosa are also delicious. Yes please!

Tasting the stars and the heavens as often as I do feels rather ... sinful! Well, when in Rome!


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