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Blog, Bologna, Italy

Caffe Terzi, Bologna – DRINK

July 10, 2016
Caffe Terzi, Bologna

I love scouting out the best places for coffee.  In Italy it’s not hard to find a good coffee.  But Caffe Terzi offers a very cute venue as well as excellent, beautifully presented coffee (or tea, if you prefer).   And you know you’re in the right place when all the locals are lined up at the bar sipping Espressos.

Caffe Terzi, Bologna

But Caffe Terzi isn’t just a place to shot an Espresso and go.  Its colourful red and yellow striped wall paper and small but cosy sitting area makes it a pretty place to stop and rest your weary feet after a morning of sightseeing.  Even the biscuits you are served with your coffee are phenomenal. Terzi reminded me a bit of a cross between a Viennese Cafe and an Italian one.  The staff are all exceptionally friendly and helpful, and I’d happily have stayed here all morning sampling their various coffees and teas.

Caffe Terzi, BolognaCaffe Terzi, Bologna

It’s tiny, so blink and you might miss it.  But make sure you make the effort to come here for at least one coffee, because it truly is the best coffee in town.

Caffe Terzi

Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 10/d

 

Blog, Bologna, Italy

Vineria Favalli, Bologna – DRINK

May 22, 2016
Vineria Favelli, Bologna

Wine bars are my favourite places to drink, and Italians get them so right.  As we wandered through the winding streets of Bologna we came across a charming looking wine bar, which seemed ideal for a pre-dinner drink.

We seemed to have picked the right place.  This is really a local hangout, right in the centre of town.  We got lucky upon arrival as a table just came available, but it’s tiny and you definitely want to sit in the front room (there are more tables at the back, but it’s a bit quiet and lacking of atmosphere).  A lot of people just stood by the bar sipping wine, and they could have done with another member of staff.

Vineria Favalli, Bologna

But the wines were excellent, and it had such a wonderful, upbeat, authentic Italian feel.  Further more, the setting was delightful, and you’re in the best location for dinner afterwards (Cesarina is 2 minutes walk, and Drogheria della Rossa probably about 5 minutes).

Definitely one of the best – and non-touristy – bars we came across.

Vineria Favalli

Via Santo Stefano, 5/A

Blog, Bologna, Italy

Ristorante Cesarina, Bologna – EAT

May 22, 2016
Cesarina, Bologna

Bologna is full of beautiful squares and countless stunning churches, but the one square that stands out is the Piazza Santa Stefano, famous for having seven churches.  At night it’s incredibly atmospheric, and so there are few places like Cesarina in Bologna: where you can eat delicious food and (weather permitting) sit outside and enjoy the view of the square.

Cesarina, Bologna

We were not so lucky with the weather, so sat inside – a lovely and refined dining room, very Italian, simple but elegant.  I would always encourage you to book, and if possible to book a table outside, under the charming portico which Bologna is so famous for.

It was here that we enjoyed a dish we had long been waiting to try, Bologna’s signature dish: the tortellini in ‘brodo’ (chicken broth).  We all had this as a starter and it was well worth the wait.  I then continued carb loading and had a wonderful asparagus risotto, which the Italians do so well.  The rest of the party had a mixture of beef and other pasta dishes.  The food was really good, the prices fair and the service excellent.

Cesarina, Bologna

To finish with, while some of us had sambuccas, I was very tempted by the pistachio semi freddo, which I called the leaning tower of Bologna.  A little like panna cotta, but not quite as soft, it was exquisite, and a wonderful end to the dinner.  Rob and I then headed into the more student part of town for a drink at Le Stanze (a bar in a church, worth it for a drink).

Cesarina, Bologna

Cesarina

Via Santo Stefano, 19/B,

40125 Bologna

Blog, Bologna, Italy

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna – EAT

May 22, 2016
Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna

Only in Italy will you find a place like this. Dinner here is not like a normal dinner; it is a unique and memorable experience, for most people will be one of the many highlights of Bologna.

It’s probably fair to say this is not for everyone. If you like being in control of your evening, when and what you eat and if you prefer to be left alone to enjoy your dinner, then you may not like Drogheria della Rossa. Having said that, I’m a bit of a control freak, yet totally loved it.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna
The owner is very much present throughout the evening, getting steadily more merry as the evening proceeds.  You’re warmly welcomed and shown to your table, in a small, cosy, eccentric space, which used to be an old pharmacy.  There is bric a brac everywhere, and a rose on every table. You’re instantly served a glass of prosecco and swiftly afterwards your aperitivo arrives. After half an hour we still hadn’t seen a menu, despite asking for it.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna
Eventually the wine list arrived and we ordered a wonderful Barbera D’Asti, so smooth and easy to drink. Then the owner showed up and listed the pasta options.  Tortellini with courgette flowers, ravioli with aubergine filling, tagliatelle with the famous Ragu. We ordered all of them and were delighted – once it eventually arrived.  Instead of a ‘secondi platti’ we ordered dessert.  I had a typical cake from Bologna, with chocolate and nuts. Rob had an incredible chocolate flan.  Rob’s father had an orange semi Freddo and his mother strawberries in the most incredible cream.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna
At this point the owner was back and had grabbed a chair to chat with us. Noting our wine was finished he promptly ordered another bottle of Barbera – on the house.

Drogheria della Rossa, BolognaDrogheria della Rossa, BolognaDrogheria della Rossa, Bologna
It was a very merry evening, with fantastic food and a lovely atmosphere. The owner transforms the restaurant into one big dinner party, whereby the guests end up meeting and interacting with each other.

When we left we were presented with a rose each from the charming owner, something which is apparently quite common, yet he absolutely had the ability to make you feel very special as guests. An absolute must go.

Drogheria della Rossa

Via Cartoleria, 10, 40124 Bologna

 

Blog, Italy, Rome

Roscioli, Rome – EAT

March 25, 2016

When I lived in Rome, six years ago now, we used to walk past Roscioli all the time.  And sometimes pop in and buy something delicious from the Deli.  But we never ate here.

When I returned in January, the delightful Bellini Travel recommended I try it for lunch.  And wow, what a lunch we had.  A table overflowing with delectable antipasto.

The stuffed oxtail stew courgette flowers deserve a paragraph of their own.  I’ve eaten a lot of courgette flowers in my time.  I love battered courgette flowers, stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy (they do these brilliantly at La Quercia).  But this was in a league of its own.

Roscioli, Rome

The service is hit and miss here, perhaps a little typically Roman.  Their pastas looked amazing, but we stuck to fat balls of creamy burrata with baby dry tomatoes, large plates of cured meats (their prosciutto is insane) and a wintery salad of artichokes, carrots and rocket, washed down with a crisp dry white wine.

Photo by pbgastronomica.com

This was our first meal in Rome of the weekend, and what a perfect introduction to our favourite city.  After lunch here make sure you visit Piazza Mattei and see the Fontana della Tartarughe (turtle fountain), and afterwards wander around the Jewish Ghetto, check out the colossal French Embassy (also known as Piazza Farnese) on Piazza Farnese and walk down Via Guilia.  It’s a wonderful part of the city.

Roscioli

Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22

Photo credit: my own and pbgastronomica.com

Blog, Italy, Rome

The best Brunch places in Rome

March 25, 2016
Coromandel, Rome

Romans don’t really do brunch.  An espresso for €1, standing at the bar perhaps, or a quick pastry on the go.  Brunch is not really a ‘thing’ in Rome, nothing like the craze in London.  But in the past years the city has started adapting to tourists needs and wants, and brunch is right up there.  Still, manage your own expectations as the standard is not near what you’d expect in New York or London.

Here are some of my favourite brunch hangouts in Rome:

LA. VI. LATTERIA & VINERIA for the buffet

Via Tomacelli, 23

Arguably more a lunch than a brunch place, but brilliant for its €20 per person all you can eat brunch.  Ideal if you’re not quite sure what you feel like, as they have everything from pasta to incredible salads, meats and vegetables.  Definitely leave space for pudding, as they have stacks of pancakes, incredible tiramisu and cheesecake.  They have a huge terrace/balcony which is clearly the place to sit when the weather is good (January was a little too cold).  Inside the interiors are attractive, with high ceilings and quirky touches.  Apparently also quite fun for cocktails in the evening.

La. Vi. RomeLa. Vi. Rome

 

COROMANDEL – for your traditional brunch

Via di Monte Giordano, 60

This is probably you’re best bet if you’re looking for a traditional brunch.  They offer everything from pastries, to pancakes to eggs in all kinds and forms.  However, before you get all excited to see Eggs Benedict on the menu, I’d strongly avoid this option.  They just can’t get it right, trust me.  What they do do very well are juices, coffee and pastries.  The pain au chocolat was fresh and still warm.  The pancakes with berry coulis were simple, but good too (and huge portion). The place itself is very centrally located and cute, a cosy place to start the day.

Coromandel, RomeCoromandel, Rome

 

ACTIVE NATURAL EATING – for the healthy brunch

Piazza di Pietra, 62

Rome is all about pasta and pizza, and bottles of excellent red wine.  Healthy juices aren’t first on your agenda.  But should you want a health boost, head here.  Here you can enjoy a huge range of juices and smoothies, as well as salads and soups, bowls of fruit and healthy snacks.  It’s well done and a nice place to sit and relax, or grab something for on the go.

Active Natural Eating, Rome

 

PLATZ GRAND BISTROT – for brunch on a piazza

Piazza Sant’ Eustacio, 54

We came across this place during our wanderings through ‘centro storico’ and I liked the large terrace of the quiet Piazza Sant’ Eustacio.  We had excellent cappuccinos, juices and croissants and enjoyed watching Rome go by.  The interiors are contemporary, and it’s a good place to sit to read the newspapers they offer.  The service is slow, but it was a busy Sunday morning.  I’m not sure about the rest of the food, but if you’re looking for a simple breakfast then it’s perfect.

Platz Grand Bistrot, Rome

 

Blog, Italy, Rome

Maccheroni, Rome – EAT

February 28, 2016

I’ve walked past this restaurant so many times, mainly because it is next to my favourite date restaurant Casa Coppelle. On Saturday evening we walked past Maccheroni after dinner at the excellent Marzapane (a taxi away), and noted how many locals were spilling out of it, and how cosy it looked.

Maccheroni, RomeMaccheroni, Rome
So for Sunday lunch (and with pasta cravings continuing), we decided to try it.

The place is deceptively huge. The upstairs area looks fairly modest, but we were led downstairs through one (full) room after another. It’s quite amazing how many little rooms there are under curved brick arches. Wine bottles line shelves on the walls.  It is a cosy place, but not a glamorous one. We sat next a huge Roman family, who devoured course after course washed down with lots of red wine. They reminded me of a slightly less beautiful version of those D&G adverts.

Maccheroni, Rome
It’s the vibe here that’s so wonderful. The service is brisk and friendly. People are happy.  As were we, as the pastas, while not necessarily delicate, were delicious. I shared a creamy ravioli with zucchini flowers (why we don’t have them more in the UK God knows), and a truffle linguini (which you can smell as you enter).

Maccheroni, RomeMaccheroni, Rome
And then, after a quick espresso, we headed to a cab and drove to the airport.  A great way to end another epic weekend in Rome.

NB Note they don’t serve pizza here.  Yes, we were disappointed too.  But trust me, the pasta makes up for it.

Maccheroni

Piazza delle Coppelle, 49,

00186 Roma

Blog, Italy, Rome

Taverna Trilussa, Rome – EAT

February 28, 2016
Taverna Trilussa, Rome

I’m never sure about taking restaurant recommendations from five star hotels, as find they often recommend expensive, pretentious restaurants which never go down well with me. But when JK Place recommended Taverna Trilussa in Trastevere (just across the bridge from Piazza Farnese), I was confident we were going to enjoy it.

If you’re looking for an upmarket local taverna, with excellent food and jolly, professional service, Trilussa is your place. Their signature is serving their (large array of) pasta dishes in a pan. The portion are ridiculously huge.  My pan of moorish gnocchi was so large that by the time I’d got half way I was so full even the thought of panna cotta was off putting (obviously after a short rest, we ordered multiple panna cottas).  

If you order just the ‘primi’ dishes (effectively the carb options – pasta, risotto and gnocchi), the prices are surprisingly low for such a well-known establishment.  Their wines too, are reasonable, even some of their Piedmonte wines.  They have a huge terrace which is covered and heated in the winter, and they’ll give you rugs to keep you warm. The guests are mostly Italians and some tourists; a nice mixture.

And when dinner is over you can grab a cocktail at the very trendy and completely different Coffee Pot (bizarrely serving tacos, sushi and mezcal – sounds terrible, is great).  Or head back across the bridge to the Camponeschi on Piazza Farnese for a cocktail or glass of wine.

Taverna Trilussa

Via del Politeama, 23 – 25

Blog, Italy, Rome

Etabli, Rome – DRINK

February 14, 2016
Etabli, Rome

It’s unusual that I find a place I love while on a city break which I have not researched in advance. I’m not very good at being spontaneous, and am also quite bad at giving places I don’t know or have not heard of ‘a chance’.

But when we passed Etabli and I had a look inside, it looked so appealing, so welcoming with a fire place in the corner and a sitting room-esque vibe that we decided to try it for pre-dinner drinks. My sister Jo ended up loving it so much she wanted to return at every opportunity.

Etabli, Rome
This lovely place is perfect for afternoon drinks, or cocktails or even dinner. It’s quite a large open space, with distressed decor, and sofas and comfy armchairs in the corners.  The seats by the fireplace are unsurprisingly the most popular. The bar is spacious and the cocktail list diverse (the Espresso Martini was excellent).  During the day it’s very laid back, it’s ideal to come here after a day of sightseeing in the late afternoon to relax with a book and a cappuccino (or glass of wine).

Etabli, Rome
It definitely livens up in the evening. As we were leaving they were preparing all the tables for dinner. A DJ was also getting ready.  As we didn’t have dinner here, I’m not sure how good the food is.  We did order a platter of antipasti which we enjoyed: a bulgar wheat salad, bruschetta and cold meats.  They offer brunch on the weekends too.

What’s close? Bar del Fico and Cafe Della Pace are around the corner, as is Piazza Navona.  But if you want a place to sit and chat in relative peace and quiet, Etabli certainly gives you that option.

Etabli

Vicolo delle Vacche, 9/9A,

00186 Rome

Photo credit: Etabli

Blog, Italy, Rome

Marzapane, Rome – EAT

February 9, 2016
Marzapane, Rome

Rome has some fantastic restaurants.  My favourite for a long time was Casa Coppelle, and it is still one of the loveliest restaurants for a date in Rome.  I’m also a fan of some of the more traditional, proper ‘local’ places, like La Quercia, Maccheroni and Taverna Trilussa.  However, I recently read about Marzapane, a restaurant not in the ‘centro storico’ like the rest, but in the more residential Rome.  Having lived in Rome for a year, I’d never actually been here and so I persuaded the family to bundle into a cab and take the short 15 minute ride across town.

The initial hesitation of leaving the beloved historical centre was abandoned upon walking into this wonderful place.  It is very different to most Roman restaurants.  The interiors are bordering on Scandi, but without being too minimalist.  There is plenty of light wood and the design is simple, but it’s cosy and welcoming and yes, stylish.  Small touches like little wooden chairs for your bag (or your dog, I was thinking) are welcome.  Wine bottles stacked in the wall add more warmth.

Marzapane, Rome

And then comes the food. If you’re hungry, go for the tasting menu at EUR39 for five courses.  It’s a steal.  We decided to just choose a starter, main and pudding.  Choosing was the tough part.  The carpaccio with an Asian twist was a hit with my father who normally doesn’t even really like Asian, the prawn tartare with burrata was fresh and unique (and I loved the pistachio biscuit). The vegetable starter was also a surprising hit (they’re really into the word Crucifer in Rome), we’re not sure how they got the cauliflower cream like they did.

Marzapane, RomeMarzapane, RomeMarzapane, Rome

And the main courses were equally delightful.  The carbonara was more delicious and heavier than any we have tasted before.  The lamb with a Mexican hit (chilli), was so tender and delicious, even the fat was a joy to eat. The roe egg linguini was another treat.

Marzapane, RomeMarzapane, Rome

Pudding maintained the high standard, as did the petite fours which came with the coffee in a remarkable dish.  By which point none of us could fit anything more in our mouthes (meanwhile I’m writing this hungry and wishing we’d eaten them all).

Marzapane, RomeMarzapane, RomeMarzapane, Rome

And the wines we had were all different, all wonderful (and Italian of course – mostly either Sicilian or form Piedmonte), and all very reasonably priced.  My Dad did see a Gaja on the menu but the EUR200 price tag kept that one at bay.  Next time.

So, bottom line.  It is worth parting form the historical centre, and taking a 15 minute (10 euro) taxi across town.  It is also worth booking ahead, as this is apparently one of the most popular restaurants in town (it was completely full when we dined).  For me, it was fine dining without the ridiculous price tag, and I’d recommend it to all.

Marzapane

Via Velletri 39

Rome

Phone: +39 06 6478 1692

Blog, Italy, Rome

JK Place, Rome – STAY

February 8, 2016
JK Place Rome

I’ve stayed or at least seen a number of Rome’s best hotels.  From a room with a view (of the Colosseum) at the Palazzo Manfredi, to the fashionable and modern Portrait Suites, to the grand Hotel de Russie (with that incredible garden).  And then suddenly, JK Place Roma (which opened mid-2013) caught my eye, the third to join the JK properties (others being in Capri and Florence).  On Instagram and in travel magazines it looked bright and contemporary, and very chic.  And so during my recent visit to Rome, I checked it out.

JK Place Rome

JK Place is my kind of hotel.  Despite the large and beautiful building it’s in (an old university building), it’s small, with only 33 rooms.  It’s grand but homely.  I could easily curl up with a book in their divine cream coloured library.  Their ‘lobby’ is more like a seriously over-sized sitting room, with the light pouring in from above, and a mixture of greys and blacks and creams, contemporary furniture and quirky art.  It may not be to everyone’s tastes (my father didn’t like it), but I was very happy sitting there, sipping a delicious espresso.

JK Place RomeJK Place RomeJK Place Rome

The bedrooms vary in size, and if you want a fourposter bed (of course you do), go for the Superior rooms and up.  Their beds really are to die for, with engraved pillowcases and the crispest linen.  My favourite room was the Deluxe, spacious with wonderful green walls.  The bathrooms tend to be quite small and lack bathtubs, but you can expect a lot of beautiful Italian marble and mega power-showers, so there’s no room for complaint.

JK Place RomeJK Place RomeJK Place RomeJK Place Rome

Their New York style Bistro ‘JK Cafe’, is worth having lunch or dinner at.  I loved their use of rich colours and textures, lots of bold greens and yellows, combined with velvet and polished wood. They offer a weekend brunch to non-guests, and for EUR 50 per person you can eat as much as you want.  They also serve a laid back dinner, with burgers and such like.

JK Place RomeJK Place RomeJK Place Rome

The staff were utterly charming, and Marina doubles up as concierge and booked us Taverna Trilussa for dinner. An excellent recommendation (blog to follow soon).

In short, I highly recommend this beautiful hotel in the heart of Rome (literally around the corner from the Spanish Steps).

JK Place Roma

Via di Monte d’Oro, 30

Rome

Blog, Italy, Rome

2016: Travel Plans

January 9, 2016
Rome

I’m excited about 2016 and all that’s in store, especially on the weekend break side (my favourite).

Here are my trips planned for the first half of 2016:

January – Rome, Italy

My favourite city. Despite having lived there, visiting this city never gets old.  This year I’m going with my father and sisters, and we’re staying at this lovely new Airbnb behind Piazza Navona. Incredible location and the perfect base.  I will be checking out boutique hotel JK Place, as have been hearing a lot of good things about it. F&B wise, I want to go for a cocktail at speakeasy the Jerry Project (my Dad agrees to come along as you can smoke inside). Apart from that I will most likely be visiting La Quercia for lunch (an old favourite of ours) as well as the wine bar La Vi, trying out Marzepane for dinner, and going bar hopping in Trastevere of course.  For more tips of Rome check out my Italy page (and Rome tab).

Colosseum, Rome

February – Prague, Czech Republic

While I did a day trip to Prague when I was about 12, I have not been back since and this time I want to do a proper weekend break there.  I will be staying at the wonderful Mandarin Oriental, which is just across the river on the South side, and walking distance to all the sights. It looks so beautiful, I’m excited!  Here, apart from visiting all my main highlights (the castle etc), I’ll be checking out the Mucha museum (as the friend coming with me is an artist).  I still need to do a lot of research into where we’re going to eat and drink, so any tips are welcome!

prague-winter-pink-sky

End of March/April – The Keukenhof, The Netherlands

I’m Dutch and while I’ve of course driven past the phenomenon that is the Keukenhof before, I’ve never properly visited. So that’s what we’re doing. For those who have not heard of it, the Keukenhof is where you can find hundreds of thousands of tulips, beautifully laid out. They tend to bloom in March and April (though who knows what will happen this year). It is a real sight to behold.

Keukenhof

First Bank Holiday May – Bologna, Italy

An Italian city I have never been to, but which has been on my list for so long. I can’t wait to explore the beautiful city of Bologna, in the province of Emilia Romagna.  Known for the oldest university in the world, it’s stunning red tiled roofs and home to spaghetti bolognese, I look forward to this foodie and carb-heavy weekend.

Bologna

Second Bank Holiday May – Istanbul, Turkey

The minute Soho House Istanbul (the photo below is theirs) opened I knew I’d found my excuse to return to Istanbul for the fourth time. Soho House is the perfect base to explore the city, and the weather should be good by the end of May (I’m hoping the Bosphorus outdoor clubs will have opened by then too)!  I’m going with some Turkish friends so I hope they’ll take me to some off the beaten track places.  Apparently the best place for a proper authentic kebab is Sehsade Erzurum Cag Kebabi, and I’ll definitely be going back to my favourite bar 360 for a cocktail at sunset with fantastic views.

soho house, Istanbul - this is their photo

June – Hvar, Croatia

One of my best friends is getting married here, so I couldn’t say no to returning to Hvar for the second time. I loved it the first time (7 years ago now!) so can’t wait for my return, and revisiting old haunts like Carpe Diem, Hula Hula bar and the super affordable but delicious Marinero restaurant .  Here’s the blog I wrote about it in 2012, I’m wondering how much has changed.  We’re all staying at the raved about Amfora, so it should be a really fun few days, and a magical place for a wedding!

Hvar

July – Sicily

Every year we do a family holiday to Italy, last year was our highly successful trip to Puglia (highly recommended), which will be hard to beat. While we spent some time in the north east of Sicily a few years ago, and visited towns like Taormina, this year we’ll be exploring the South East, relatively tourist-free and filled with incredibly beautiful Baroque towns like Ragusa (photo below fromwww.permesola.com), Modica, Noto and Scicli. We’ve rented the beautiful Villa Carcara and I’ll be starting my research soon! If you want to be inspired, Conde Nast Traveller wrote a beautiful article about the area in their January issue, or read about the cuisine here.

Ragusa, Sicily

Apart from that I’ll be returning to Paris for a weekend, and staying at the beautiful Westminster Hotel off Place Vendome. And who knows what else 2016 has in store!

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