Food Fumbles in Campo de’ Fiori

Rome 6

Campo de' Fiori

Our second day of sightseeing began at noon. Not ideal. Traveling with a toddler means small tasks such as eating breakfast, getting dressed, packing the day-bag, take twice as long. By the time we stumbled out of the apartment, the air smelled of imminent rain, I was impatient and annoyed. I soon discovered that these feeling were to become the day’s theme.

Today’s target was Campo de’ Fiori. This piazza has been a lively outdoor market since the 15th century. It’s also where the artist Caravaggio murdered a man and the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake.  I’m a sucker for morbid history. Today it’s a happier place, surrounded by bars and smothered in tourists.

The rhythm of Aaron’s walking lulled Ada into another backpack nap. We ambled between the stalls, marveling at the variety of fruit and vegetables, bags of pungent spices, as well as the variety of kitchen gadgets and typical touristy souvenirs.

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Bags of Spices, Campo de' Fiori

The fish mongers hosing fish gunk off the cobblestones signaled the close of the market and reminded me that we arrived late. Ada woke up and our collective stomachs rumbled for lunch.

We left the tourist laden piazza and found a ristorante within a five minute walk. Its outdoor tables were full of Italians, including a family with a baby.  We stood there watching people eat, because I couldn’t remember if we could seat ourselves or not. After several embarrassing moments, Aaron finally asked the nearest couple if we could “just sit anywhere.”  In perfectly accented English they replied “of course!”

We ordered seafood ravioli and tagalli with zucchini flowers. Ada joyfully played with bread sticks while nibbling off our plates. This was an ideal setting: eating lunch on a quiet piazza tucked between charming cobbled streets. But I was too busy berating myself for leaving the apartment late and forgetting to just sit down. I was too annoyed to relax and enjoy my authentic experience.

That night we hit the streets in the pouring rain searching for dinner. My goal was to practice making mistakes, as silly as that sounds. We wandered back into Piazza Navona. The Four Rivers Fountain created an inviting blue oasis, the murmurs of the diners added to the gentle plops of rain on our umbrella. The ambiance lured us into staying.

We sat outside under layered umbrellas. The waiters laughed at Ada who entertained herself with fists full of broken bread sticks. Speaking clunky Italian, we ordered roasted chicken and potatoes and a bottle of wine. We fumbled our way through another meal. This time, it was a little easier and my annoyance at my imperfections slowly slipped away.