“Visit Rome.” was on my bucket list for the longest time. Home to hundreds of beautiful monuments, a clutterful of landmarks, and of course, Vatican city. I was able to tick it off the list a couple of weeks ago for a short (but memorable) visit to the Eternal City. And it was even better than I imagined. Every turn of a corner brought us to a new magical place- an intricately designed fountain here, a magnificent church there, a pile of ancient ruins on the next block. I felt like
Bim a kid in a toy store.
What made the trip extra special was finding out that the Filipino community is alive and kicking in Rome. Besides beautiful sights, you’d also find a friendly kababayan or two in nearly all corners of the city. In Europe, hearing snippets of conversation in Filipino is like a warm hug from home. Or at least I think so. Add in the terrible traffic and Rome felt almost like home.
1. Pizza Express (Via Marsala, n° 34 /A-B, Rome, Italy)
One of the first kababayans that we met was Ate Nida. She owns Pizza Express, an awesome little pizza stop sandwiched between Hotel Stromboli and Hotel Marsala (both of which she also owns) across the Roma Termini station. They serve quick meals at affordable prices.
What’s fun is that Pizza Express reminds me a little of sari sari stores in Manila. Besides main courses on the menu, you can also get popsicles, drinks and various little snacks on display, just like in your suking sari sari store! Also, Ate Nida told us that she cooked up all the recipes on the menu. We ate there more than once and I definitely liked everything I ordered. If you’re in that area (the city center, right across Termini station), you should definitely try out their pizzas (and then thank me). Did I say that you get 10% off in Pizza Express if you’re booked in either of the two hotels flanking it? Yup.
2. Pio err Caffe (Borgo Pio, 136 (San Pietro), Rome, Italy)
Now this little restaurant along the sidestreets outside Vatican City isn’t owned by kababayan. But the servers are Pinoys and are extra helpful (even for queries not concerning the menu, read below). They are located conveniently along the street full of of inexpensive souvenir boutiques just outside the Vatican walls. The nomz are regular fare at restaurant prices, but what’s juicy is the tidbits of chismis that we picked up while dining there. (Chismis#1: Papa Piolo himself had lunch there not too long ago and was his usual pogi self.)
3. Pinoy Fastfood (Via Gaeta 21, Rome, Italy)
Last in the Pinoy connection list is this Pinoy Fastfood not far from the central train station. With a name like that, there’s no doubt that they serve Pinoy nomz and are run by Pinoys. We found out about this restaurant through other kababayans we met along the way. At the entrance, we were welcomed by Filipino staff and crew (it seemed like it was a family business). Not unlike Pinoy carinderias, they had a selection of cooked Pinoy food like Afritada, Bicol Express, you get the drill.
What got me excited were the silogs on the menu (thank you self, I’m now hankering for SEx’s tapsilog or Good Ah’s tocilog. Heck, I’d even take jollijeep’s longgalog). The nomz okay at best, but the novelty is that you get very Filipino dishes in Europe. They didn’t have adobo that night, which is kind of wierd, because it’s possibly the most common Pinoy dish of all time.
I’m way too sleepy to be completely coherent at this point (but let’s face it, I’m rarely coherent) so this shall be my disclaimer for anything stupid that I might say or have said.
Running into many kababayans in a foreign land was icing on the cake that was the great Rome trip. It’s an amazing city and that trip was enjoyable than Paris (shh, don’t tell anyone I said that). It’s far more interesting than they make it out to be.
Watch out for more posts in the Rome Diaries, I’ll get around to writing them eventually (if I don’t get sidetracked
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