Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Trionfale Farmers Market...I found my market!

I've been living here for over a year and just heard about about this market a few weeks ago. Within one week several different people told me I had to check it out.

I thought they were talking about the market on Via Cola di Rienzo, which I've been to a couple of times. It's housed in the white building pictured.

Apparently there was another market in Prati, near the Vatican Museum. Today I walked over, cutting through St. Peter's square.

I almost lost my mind. It was love at first sight.

Is it me or have the prices in Campo dei Fiori skyrocketed since spring? This wouldn't have anything to do with the start of the tourist season? hmm

I did some comparison shopping a few weeks back. Cherries in Campo, avg. 8 euros a kilo. Testaccio market, avg. 4 euros a kilo.

Campo is fine if I have to run out and get something quickly. Shopping for a few days? No. Forget that. I'm not paying tourists prices.

The Trionfale market prices are lower than Campo, more in line with Testaccio, and Piazza Vittorio (a good market but too far for me. It's by Termini).

Like the latter it also has a few vendors (not as many as Pz. Vittorio) selling ethnic foods. I saw okra and plantains.

There was a vendor selling balsamic vinegar by the liter. The market has a wide variety of vendors selling: cheese, honey, meat, baked goods, fish, wines, fresh pasta, vegetables, fruits, etc. There are also a few dry goods vendors.

There's a flower mart nearby but it opens later in the day.

The market has underground parking as the lot is also used for the Vatican Museum.

Distance wise Trionfale is a little closer than Testaccio. I really liked the vibe of it. It's clean, bright and well laid out. Folks were super friendly, which I didn't expect. Everyone was all, "buona giornata, grazie lei!" Or maybe it's because I was there super early. Perhaps by the end of the day, the vendors are salty and just want to go home.

I need to go back with someone who shops there all the time. I feel like I just scratched the surface of it this morning. I walked out of there wishing I had a bigger kitchen. I was inspired to throw down.

If you're visiting Rome and staying in an apartment any where near this area, I highly recommend this market. I don't know how much English is spoken as I didn't see a single tourist in this huge space. However, given how close it is to the Vatican they must get a few.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lo Shopping: The Lion Bookshop

First, why did I not know today is a big holiday in Rome? It's St. Peter's Day. I walked all the way to the Prati market and was surprised to find it closed. I noticed there were no people on the street and many stores were closed. Of course Prati is much quieter than the Center but I was puzzled.

Later talking to a friend she told me everyone is pretty much at the beach. Okay that is why I only see tourists out and about.

Anyway, The Lion Bookshop is one of the best bookstores in Rome for English language books. They will also order books for you (with a deposit). Well stocked and friendly this is one place I must avoid. Last time I was there I saw at least twenty books I wanted. As expats know, English language books are not cheap overseas.

The store has been in Rome for over 50 years and is the oldest English language bookstore in Italy. They have over 30,000 titles.

If you are visiting Italy they also have a well stocked guidebooks section. Their children's section is one of the best in town.

The store is off Via del Corso, just south of Piazza del Popolo. During the summer they are closed on Sundays.

Via dei Greci, 33/36
00187 - Roma

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson dead at 50

Some people younger than me might only know him as a freak but I grew up with this man. I don't go crazy when famous people die. I feel bad for their families of course but I don't get hysterical as I didn't know them personally.

THIS however breaks my heart into a million pieces. It just does.

This photo takes me back to me and my three year old brother dancing in our NYC apartment to "ABC". My parents, who didn't like us to watch too much TV, would let us watch American Bandstand and Soul Train just in case the Jackson Five were going to be on and the J5 cartoon.

The first album I ever had was J5's "Looking Through the Window". It was a present. My poor parents almost went deaf with all my screaming. I asked for money to buy Right On! and Teen Beat magazines whenever Michael or Jermaine were on the cover. Tito was too old for me. ha.

Then we moved out to the 'burbs and it was the era of "Off The Wall". I can still see my classmates, all who were white except for two, dancing to "Working Day and Night". Many discussions were had as to who was really going to marry MJ.

I have mentioned before meeting him around 12 years ago for work and it was sad. He had changed so much and not in a good way.

The Michael Jackson I grew up with "died" a long time ago. While this news doesn't shock me, part of me still doesn't believe he's dead at only 50.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sweety Rome...a carrot cake almost as good as my mom's.

A few weeks ago I went to a baptism for E.'s baby. After a beautiful and moving ceremony, there was a little party with carrot cake and cupcakes for dessert.

The cake was outstanding. Moist not dry. I asked E. where she got it and she answered, "Sweety Rome."

This is a new place in the Monti area. I've heard other expats mention it. In L.A. I was surrounded by high-end cupcake places so I had to try Sweety Rome's.

The cupcakes are not supersized and they are yummy. I had the lemon one.

If you have a craving for an American type dessert, this is the place.

Sweety Rome
Via Milano, 48
06 489 13713

I could eat a couple of these. They are just right, not too sweet.

On my next visit, I'm trying that tart.

The infamous carrot cake. My mom doesn't use frosting but her cake is one of my favorites of all time. This one hit the spot.

How good do these look?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Perfect weather for sipping a Mojito outside.

I just came back from running errands and don't feel like doing a lick of work.

I did some writing this morning and I'm supposed to get back into the script after lunch. However, after spending times outdoors I'm really feel like chilling outside instead.

I'm so glad the heat wave has broken. I hope this weather lasts a couple of days. I know it would be pushing it to ask for the weather to stay glorious for a few weeks.

Alright, time to get off the Internet and back to work.

I leave you with a lovely picture of the Ginger Mojitos at Freni e Frizioni. I took this photo when I went there withErin during her trip Rome last month. These drinks are the bomb!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Return to Sperlonga, Grottos, Cherries and the Macarena.

On Friday I took the train down to Sperlonga. This time I went to check out ruins of Emperor Tiberius's Villa and the archaeological museum.

The museum is small and a little run down but the 4 euro admission price is worth it. The price includes the villa's ruins and the incredible grotto.

I walked down from the Old Town to the gate of the grotto.

I took off my shoes and walked along the shore. The beach wasn't crowded at all. It was mostly grandparents and their grandchildren. This was my first time on the South Beach (which is south of the Tower). It's smaller and more laid back.

The water here was just beautiful, clear and the perfect temperature.

As I walked along the beach, I started to hear the opening of a very catch and yet annoying song. I came upon a group of children and their grandparents getting down to the Macarena at one of the beach clubs. The DJ was into too.

Later I was taking photos in the Old Town's piazza, right by the bridge. This older gentleman and his wife gave me a bunch of cherries they had bought at the market that morning. We rinsed them off in the fountain. They were delicious. At first I said, "no thank you" but he insisted.

It was a perfect day. I was in a much better mood afterwards. The fresh ocean air does wonders.

More pictures of the ruins, grotto and beach are on my Flickr page.

View from the grotto.

Look how clear the water is.

Not sure why I took this photo but it made me chuckle.

A cat with a fish in his mouth.

The Tower.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Flashback Friday – (on Thursday) - Delta V- "Un Estate Fa"

I first heard about this version of the Mina song on Milanese Marsala's blog.

I played it to death last summer and listened to it today during my morning workout. It's so "summery". The lead singer is American. I couldn't tell at first but now I can pick up her accent.

I'm in a horrendous mood these days. I'm broke, single (true, some guy tried to pick me up in Monti on Monday but that's not how I roll..I have to write about that craziness some time) and it's so freaking hot in Rome.

I've decided to look for a freelance/part-time/short contract job. As I told one of my friends back in Hollywood, positive feedback doesn't pay the bills. Things are moving so slowly on my "wedding movie" script. We can't move forward until the production company figures out what's going on with one of their "go" movies.

That said, my expat and Italian friends here are amazing. The best way to find a job is Word of Mouth and they are getting the word out. Part of me feels like a loser. I mean, I'm a writer, right? I should be making money as one. The other side (the practical one) knows I need to earn a living. I realize I need to get over that feeling. I don't have a trust fund.

David E. Kelley wrote scripts while working as a lawyer as did Ron Bass. I know people say this all the time, writers write. Paying bills is another story.

I'm going to be upbeat about this. Writing is so solitary. It will be nice to be in an office and/or work with other people.

My manager told me last night several of his well established screenwriter clients are not working. Hollywood studios have reduced the number of scripts they are buying. They're all about remakes and comic books these these days.

I was lucky TRAITOR happened. My producers fee from that movie enabled me to move here and change my life. I wrote five scripts and one treatment (three scripts completed, two still working on) in the past year. One of those scripts lead to my "wedding movie" script.

All the money I received from my birthday (way back in August) and for Christmas from my family is paying bills not anything fun. I'm so tempted to whip out my credit card (I ran up Via Condotti this morning. Prada, Gucci, etc. were calling my name) and go crazy but I know I'll feel bad once the bills come in.

My parents surprised me a few weeks back by putting money in my American bank account. They always ask me if I need money. I always lie and say no but then my siblings tell them the truth. Well, now at least my July expenses are covered. (thanks fam).

I wonder if I will ever reach a point in my life where I have a bunch of money in the bank and won't have to worry about the future. What am I saying? I'm freaked out about the present!! ha

Anyway I'm taking quick, cheap train ride tomorrow. I just finished the rough draft of my latest spec script and need a mental health day.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What will happen in Iran?

I have been glued to the news coming out of Iran.

I would like to know who was advising Ahmadenijad? Who though it was a good idea to say he won by a landslide? Why would he receive almost twice the number of votes than the last time, when he is less popular now? Or than some of his opponents apparently "lost" in their hometowns.

At first I thought maybe there was some to Ahmadenijad's claim, that the Western press was wrong about the polling which predicted the race would be close and a high turnout would spell defeat for him.

Well there was a very high turnout. His government shut down Facebook and other social network programs. They told people no to protest but as you see from the photo angry voters protested anyway.

What happened to the votes? Many of the protesters are women furious with Ahmadenijad's regime for trying to take away their rights. Even something as simple as what color nail polish you wore was becoming an issue and he also tried to change the marriage laws. The new laws would've negatively impact women. Over 60% of university students are women.

Ahmadenijad must be stunned by what is happening in his country. He probably thought he could do whatever he wanted and the people would just accept it. There are rumors that he actually came in THIRD. If this is true no wonder folks are in the streets. He's trying to ban foreign press, forcing them to stay away from the protests but Iranians are using the Internet to get images out. Several protesters were killed yesterday.

I fear things are only going to get worse. People do not give up power easily.

photo: L.A. Times

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Amanda Knox takes the stand.

I don't know what to think about this case.

The slant of the majority of the American press is, "poor innocent Amanda is being railroaded by overzealous prosecutor."

The majority of the British press is the exact opposite, "Amanda is a lying psychopath who doesn't seem upset about her brutally murdered roommate."

I read Meredith's injuries were caused by more than one person. But Amanda's lawyers and PR team (yes her parents hired one), say the DNA/evidence was tainted.

Her ex boyfriend said they weren't together. Why wouldn't their alibis be the same?

I hope the jury focuses on the facts and finds justice for Meredith. I don't envy them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Best Darn Lemonade Ever!

I've made lemonade before. It's simple...lemons, sugar and water.

But in the past something was off. I finally figured it out. Simple syrup. Melting the sugar makes the lemonade's consistency better.

Oh how I love lemons. I can't wait to have a lemon tree in my backyard.

The Best Lemonade Ever

1 ¾ white sugar
8 cups water
1 ½ cup lemon juice (about 10 lemons)

In a small saucepan combine sugar with 1 cup of the water. Bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool to room temperature then refrigerate until chilled.

Put the lemons in hot water for 10 minutes then roll to loosen up the juice.

Remove seeds from lemons (leave in as much or as little pulp as you like). Squeeze the lemons in a pitcher, added the chilled sugar syrup and then 7 cups cold water.

You can add some lemon slices for decoration

I also like to add a couple mint leaves.

This a great jump off for Strawberry, Peach or Cherry Lemonade.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Flashback Friday – Patente Di Guida edition - Jay-Z - "Show Me What You Got"

Remember when Jay-Z said he was going to retire? This was his first single back. I recognized the sax intro from that Teddy Riley song from the 90s and the P.E. song from the 80s.

This video cracked me up. I wish I could have been in the pitch meeting. "So look Jay-Z, I'm thinking Monte Carlo, you, Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr."

I cannot think of a more random grouping in a hip/hop video. Love it.

I look forward to the day I can drive standard on a road with hairpin turns and not freak out. I would also like to drive a one of the sporty Italian cars in the video. Looks like fun. I don't want to own one...not my style but maybe I could test drive one.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Italian Driving School Diaries - I HAVE AN ITALIAN LICENSE!!

Sorry for the caps but this situation calls for it. I passed the driving exam today.

I still don't believe it. After months of studying and freaking out about the written test and four weeks of driving lessons to learn how to drive a standard/stick it came down to 10 minutes this afternoon.

Yes my driving exam was only 10 minutes long. Let me break down the scene.

I went to the Autoscuola to meet my teacher, Bruno. We (and another student) went to the Parco della Musica to take the exam. Bruno gave us some last minutes tips.

The examiner arrives. She had a lot of style. Seriously, her shoes was fab. She kept her sunglasses on and got in the back seat. I went first. I remembered to use the indicators, check mirrors, etc. I didn't stall once. Phew. Finally I was able to go from 1st to 2nd then to 3rd gear no problem. I remembered to downshift to 2nd before making a turn.

Then I had to parallel park. I reversed too quickly and I did turn my head once to look in front of me. The examiner said, "Signora (in very quickly spoken Italian I didn't understand here)" basically, "what are you doing? Keeping looking behind you." I felt sick to my stomach because I thought she was going to fail me. At least the parking job ended up well. I wasn't too close or too far from the pavement.

After my two fellow classmates took the test, we went over to meet Bruno who had our licenses. We all passed. I held my Patente di Guida to my chest and whisper thank you to the examiner. She smiled. One of the girls pulled me and our other classmate into a group hug. I haven't been this happy since...uhm, it's been a while.

One classmate is going to organize an aperitivo since we live near each other. Both of my former classmates are super sweet. Seniors in high school. I don't think they realize I'm old enough to be their mom.

Anyway, I cannot say enough good things about this school. Yes it's a pain to get your license here but they make the process as smooth as possible. The school is worth every single euro.

Andrea was great. I wish I understood Italian better as the class kept cracking up. I missed most of the jokes/humor. Andrea took the time to answer all my questions. There is no way I would have passed the written exam without taking his classes.

Bruno was my driving instructor. He speaks some English. The man deserves a medal. I was so nervous about learning standard after 20 plus years of driving automatic. He has a ton of patience. Bruno corrected all my bad driving habits. I'm definitely a better driver now after taking lessons with him.

Here is their website.:


If you know some who needs to sign up with an autoscuola in Rome, this school is the bomb. In a weird way I'm going to miss them. I've been going to the school every week for the past five months.

My next challenge is become fluent in Italian. I think this is going to take a little longer than five months. Ha.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Big ups to Mother Nature....it's cherry season!!

How excited am I? Cherry season is so short. Maybe that's one reason I appreciate them so much.

Since moving to Italy I've been able to eat more in tune with the seasons.

You would think this is common sense. Michelle Obama planted a garden at the White House. Sounds petty uncontroversial. But no... apparently growing local foods in season is ELITIST. Really? How about our grandparents who used to grow veggies? The woman can't win.

I saw the story on Jezebel. This part cracked me up. I get that's homeslice's job but come on.

Some people are even taking issue with Michelle's decision to emphasize local food. Xavier Equihua of the Chilean Exporters Association and the Chilean Avocado Committee says local food is "a charming idea and everything, but it's not practical," because local food is seasonal. He asks, "what happens if you want some grapes during the month of December? What are you going to do? Not eat grapes?" Uh, yeah? I like grapes as much as the next person, but they are not essential for survival, and while some transportation of food will always be necessary, it would do us a lot of good if we could return to a more seasonal way of eating. And really, how would Michelle, go about growing a garden that was not local? Outsource it to India? Water her avocado plants in Chile via Skype?

As wrote before my dad used to grow tomatoes along with other some other veggies. They were delicious. I wonder if the reason so many Americans hate veggies is because the ones they buy from the supermarket taste like crap. I get it. Eating a supermarket tomato in New York City during the winter is not fun. They taste like cardboard. Eating one from your garden or from Sicily that was picked maybe a day or two ago as opposed to a week ago/then refrigerated makes a big difference.

Now that summer is approaching I'm starting to see plums and melons at the market. What are your favorite summer fruits?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Some inspiration from Decor8.

Since the demise of my favorite shelter magazine, DOMINO, Decor8 has helped ease the pain.

Recently I read this post. Holly Becker and her husband are moving to Germany. The stores she linked to do deliver. Good thing I'm broke or that white console table would be on it's way to Italy.

I know what she means about moving overseas. It was a pain but it also forced me to be ruthless when figuring out what to bring, donate or sell.

I don't know why I didn't do the same when I moved from New York City to Los Angeles. Maybe because I was able to bring furniture and it was only cross country (therefore cheaper) then sending a crate overseas?

While I hate clutter, I still had a lot of files. They were just stored well. It took me forever to shred documents and throw out the things I didn't need.

Holly's blog is fantastic. I've tried to stop looking at home design shows, blogs, magazines etc. but I can't help it. I know I'm going to buy a house one day. It might be a cottage and it might be years from now but I will. And I will finally have a garden of my own.

In the meantime let me figure out how the heck I'm going to pay my rent later this year.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Flashback Friday – Prince - "Purple Rain"

It's been 25 (!!!) years since Prince dropped this album. The movie was no Academy Award winner (remember the scene when Prince runs to break up his parent's fight? It was, uhm, unfortunate) but the music and the clothes were amazing.

This soundtrack is truly one of the greatest albums ever. Almost ever track could be a stand alone single. Today you're lucky if you get two, which is why CD sales are down and iTunes sales are up.

I still remember the first time I heard "When Doves Cry" aka "The Song With No Base". Brilliant, freaking brilliant.

Prince has changed. He's not yet at the Michael Jackson level of bat shit crazy but getting there. He's one of the most talented musicians out there and it pains me that he's so weird now.

He refuses to let his music be on YouTube so all I can post is the album cover.

What is your favorite track off this album?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Italian Driving School Diaries - A gold star day.

Today I only stalled out once! We were on a darn hill and I came off the clutch too fast.

However, it was a gold star day because I drove from the school to the Auditorium (Parco della Musica) parking lot, then out of the city. My lesson was for two hours.

Driving a manual in the city is a pain in the butt. Driving on a country road, is bliss. I finally got to go to 4th gear. We were north of the city, in an area called Cassia. Very pretty.

I didn't love the merging lanes on my way out of the city but everything turned out okay.

I really have to watch downshifting from 3rd to 2nd. I keep going to 4th. Bruno told me, while lighting up a cigarette, that I will fail my exam if I do that.

We also practiced parallel parking and u-turns.

This whole experience has been humbling. I do know how to drive and I used to be an excellent parallel parker. The first time I tried to do it with a standard/stick, was not pretty.

I might practice with a friend this weekend.

Does anyone watch the British show TOP GEAR? I was speaking (if you can call it that with my butchered Italian) with Bruno about it. Watching the show makes me want to go out and race some cars. Perhaps I should focus on going from 3rd to 2nd first. Baby steps.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Cristalli di Zucchero Pasticceria

I've walked past this shop after working out by Circo Massimo. I finally went in one day. Why did I do such a thing to myself? It makes no sense to work out then buy pastries. ha

This is their second shop and opened about six months ago. The first shop is in Monteverde on Via di Val Tellina.

This tiny place is deadly. The woman working behind the counter was so nice and insisted that I try some sorbetto. I didn't want to be rude so I said yes. We proceeded to have a half hour conversation in Italian.

Their website is being update, but the Circo Massimo store is located on Via di San Teodoro.

On my way home from the doctor's last week I stopped by. It was lunch time and several people were inside buying sandwiches. Those looked good as well.

These pastries are the bomb. I know should try another kind but you know how I get fixated on things. The combination of apples, cinnamon and puffy pastry is sooooo good.

I had one of the cherry ones. Very good.

So pretty.