A Perfect Weekend with my Dad

Though I stayed in Roma this past weekend, it was one of the best weekends I’ve had since I’ve arrived in Europe. Why? Because I had a pretty special visitor!

My dad!

Fortunately for me, my dad needed to travel to Europe for work and arranged for a quick, 2-day visit to Roma to see his favorite daughter before the “workweek” began.

He arrived on Saturday morning around 11, and after meeting him at the train station nearby my campus, we rolled our suitcases (this proved difficult as there are countless potholes, cracked sidewalks, and fresh, ooey gooey dog poop all over the streets) and carried my 200-lb. duffel to his hotel. You’d have thought I was staying a week instead of a night with all the stuff I brought along to the hotel, including disc 4 of Modern Family (still savoring every last episode, Stephy!) and an accompanying laptop in order to watch it. Duh!

After dropping our stuff off and changing into our running gear (actually, I had worn it to the hotel because I’m that cool), we headed out for one of our favorite pasttimes. We ran down to the Vatican, traversing through tiny side streets, past pedestrian-packed piazzas, and even pausing to semi-stroll past St. Peter’s Basilica. We had to check out the gorgeous view of the river & the Castel St’Angelo, too. (History tidbit: In 1277, the Castel St’Angelo was acquired by the papacy to use as a refuge in case of danger. A secret corridor connects it with the Vatican, and in 1527, it was used by Pope Clement VII and his Swiss Guards to escape from an attacking army during the sack of Rome!)

Famous last words by my dad (mind you, this is while running downhill)

Dad: I know it’s easy to say this now, but I think I could run forever in a city. There’s just so much to see. (long pause) Hmm…maybe I should have waited to say that until the way back.

(On our way back…which is. ALL. UPHILL.)

Dad: Wow, this is pretty steep. I think I spoke too soon.

Me: Yeah, dad. What did you say again about running forever?…

Regardless, it was an awesome run…and a great way to start off our weekend together. My dad’s actually the one person who got me into running in the first place. I remember I was in middle school and he’d head out every weekend morning for a run, asking me to come along. I finally took him up on the offer — and I’ve been hooked ever since. He always used to beat me and now, if he’s lucky, I’ll still let him win 🙂

After showering and making ourselves not look disgusting and sweaty look presentable, we were starvin’ marvin’s. Just our luck, I got us on the bus headed in the exact oppositve direction of where we wanted to go. (As you can see, I’m still getting used to the ever-confusing bus system here.) We tried to look on the bright side of the whole, 1+ situation: hey, at least we get to see a different part of Roma, right? Right…

Since it was around 3:30 and we still hadn’t eaten lunch (and, mind you, this is after my dad had been up since who knows when and had a 7+ hour flight), we stopped at the first place we came across that had sandwiches. Which translates into…not the best “meal” I’ve had in Roma. My dad ordered a simple ham & cheese panini and I had my first tramezzino, which is a triangular sandwich (really, 1/2 of a sandwich) cut from 2 slices of soft white bread, sans crusts (which in all actuality, is really the best part. Agree?). The flava of this quick pranzo was chicken salad. Alongside it was a greek yogurt…which I have oh-so-missed since traveling halfway across the world.

(Sorry for the lack of “lunch” photos; we were so hungry we just inhaled it — meaning, I forgot to even whip out my camera.)

The rest of the day was spent exploring. Since we had taken a family trip to Rome, Florence, and Venice a few years ago, my dad didn’t necessarily need to do all of the uber-touristy things (Colosseum, tour of the Vatican, etc.). We enjoyed just wandering around…

A beautiful government building near the Pantheon

(My dad was more than willing to “chum” with the Italian police/guards in front of the government buildings. As a result of his ability to basically talk to anyone, we found out that one of the buildings we came across was the location of the Italian President’s office.)

Since my dad enjoys indulging in a couple scoops of ice cream every now and again, I made sure to take him to the 2 most famous gelato shops in all of Roma during his visit:

 This place is legendary. I was delighted I got to try it for the first time right alongside my dad. And let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. Creamy decadence. Though the interior was beyond hectic when we placed our order.
The best gelato I have ever eaten. My selections of pistachio and nocciola (hazelnut) were beyond delectable. So creamy & luscious…and the flavor was so profound. Think actual pistachio bits in the smooth “greenness” that is Gialitti’s pistachio perfection. And the nocciola? Don’t even get me started. Just the right amount of nutty taste and a sinfully sweet almost chocolate taste. A main component of Nutella, nocciola satisfied my desire for something indulgent, yet not over-the-top, meticulously.
My dad enjoyed his cone just as much as I enjoyed mine:

Since we’re like 2 peas in a pod, he also got pistachio & nocciola, but he also added a scoop of straciatella (see my experience with it here).

We had such a hard time selecting our favorite flavors (and I still don’t know!). However, we did not have a hard time cracking up at a dropped-ice-cream-debacle that went down right before our very eyes. We knew the cone had fallen, but no one else seemed to! I guess you had to be there, but we just could not stop laughing. Let’s just say it included: the owner of the dropped ice cream cone’s dog attempting to inhale it on the way out of the place as she draggeeeddd the poor pup out with a vengeance; a fashion-conscious Italian teenager absolutely stunned her suede boots were now full of what was supposed to be said “ice cream cone dropper’s” afternoon treat; and a man almost breaking his back after slipping on the quickly melting sweetness. Such an AFHV moment. (Didn’t Danny Tanner/Bob Saget used to host that? Back when he was a solid, family guy? Ahh…those were the days.)

Here’s a little recap of the remainder of the day:

Naturally, he had to check out the Italian plumbing products...

(I staged the above photo…haha)

A long day of traveling, running around (literally), and exploring one of the most beautiful cities in the world left both of us dog-tired. While we had originally talked about going out to eat, we decided that a little trip to Pizza Magi would be just as good:

While not as tasty as my first visit, it still did the job. I jumped on the chance to get 2 slices of the fresh-outta-the-oven pizza (just mozzarella & sausage) and a tiny taste of what I thought was ham & pineapple. Turns out, it was actually ham & potato! I think my dad selected the best with the forerunner of the above pic: mushrooms, cheese, oregano…yum!

After a restful night (& an episode of Modern Family. Omg Cam playing the drums in Haley’s boyfriend’s band? I die!) of almost 11(!) hours of sleep (he was jet-lagged. I have no excuse.), we woke up ready to hit the Trastevere flea market, also known as the Porta Portese flea market, the largest in Rome.

Before we left, we took advantage of the (in my opinion) delicious hotel breakfast. Perhaps this is because my campus doesn’t have breakfast…so I’ve been living on special k granola bars and fruit I steal rightly-deserve-to-take from mensa? I had my first cappuccino (so good! ohhhhmmyyyygossshhhh), perfectly soft-but-not-runny scrambled eggs with ham, and a small, Nutella-filled croissiant. To “healthify” the meal and round it out a little, I also had a small serving of mixed fruit: apple, pear, maraschino cherries, and my first ever prune, which was actually delish. (Is this a sign that my love of staying in and watching movies, accompanied with my new-found love of prunes, is a sign that I’m really an 80-year-old woman?)

Our stomachs full…to the Porta Portese flea market we go!

My dad was such a trooper. Though I know he’s not at all a shopper (he usually brings Reader’s Digest along with him on our family trips to the mall), I think he really enjoyed perusing the…shall we say…interesting selections at the endless market (we strolled around for hours and we still didn’t reach the end):

Because I know you’re curious, let’s review a few of the offerings:

Bins & bins of inexpensive clothing...sweaters & shirts galore!

Jackets of allll types (even American NBA team selections)

(Andrew, remember when you had a jacket just like this? Sorry, Layne, I didn’t see a Phoenix Suns’ version…)



Powertools. Get' er done.You came to the market looking for a chainsaw, right?


"Where is the motherboard?"

In case you wanted a shark to hang on your wall.

Layne, you know how I said I'd get you something?...

Just kidding of course; I got you THIS instead!

My dad enjoyed looking for a new pair of reading glasses (after all, we always joke that he loses a pair every time he buys another one!) and ended up purchasing 2 for super cheap. I bargained down a “blood-red” scarf (made in India, bahaha) and a 3 euro brown, snakeskin watch. Bada bing bada boom! Shopping = done.

After the market, we decided to walk across the river, and then alongside it, to end up near Piazza Navona. Just for fun, we wanted to find the place where we had had dinner one night during our trip here a few summers back. Along the way, we satisfied our thirst for water with a couple “handfuls” from the public fountains. Not bad tasting at all!

An hour or so later, we arrived at our destination:

I told my dad that he had the best weekend weather-wise I’ve had to-date! While it got a little chilly in the evenings, during the day I had to take off my puff-daddy jacket. Yikes!

My dad's words after he took this: "Anna, your head is tilted." Haha. I'm sooo cheesy!After a phone-call home to my mom (because, clearly, this was bothing us), we found the restaurant at last! Rather than eating there, we just crept around and took photos. We plan on coming back & actually dining there when my mom & dad visit together in a couple of weeks.All I remember is that I ordered gnocchi here...and some kid named Mario!

It’s funny that, originally, we kept saying, This isn’t the place. I don’t remember it like this. It was closed-in and it was to the right of the piazza. But then, once you know you’ve found it — it all clicks together. Now I know that it all looked different because we had entered the piazza from a different direction, and it had been dark out. Crazy crazy stuff!

(My favorite part about this restaurant’s display is the “Free Wi-Fi” sign. Like, really? Do you REALLY need Wi-fi when you’re sitting down to enjoy a meal with family & friends?)

We walked to a nearby “sports bar” to grab a quick sandwich for lunch:

This was before  I had asked them to warm it up a little more. Can you see that the cheese is not even melted? So much better after it was, though, I’ve gotta say. And they were happy to do so! (Though asking for something to be warmed up more “piu caldo” is such a typical Anna move.)

On my sandwich — slices of delish mozzarella, thin cuts of “beef,” and sprigs of fresh-outta-the-garden-tasting arugula. All on a crispy on the outside/cloud-like soft on the inside foccacia? I’d say it’s a winner.

One more stop for Rome’s (second best) gelato at Old Bridge. I mean, my dad is pretty much the coolest person ever (no joke) and my personal hero. So he really deserves the best, right? 😉

I surprised myself by going with semi-fruity flavors. (I know my sister’s response would be something along the lines of, Well, you’re a fruitcake. But I like to be nicer to myself, personally. It’s a confidence-booster thing.) I usually go straight for something that, while not uber-chocolatey, will satisfy my lil’ sweet tooth: mint chocolate chip, straciatella, nocciola, birthday cake remix (holla!)…but I decided on blueberry yogurt with color-bursting, plump berries and a simple, vanilla-esque gelato with candied fruit. Oh. em. gee. This second flava knocked my socks off! (And yes, I wear socks with my mocassins. ‘Cuz I’m cool like that.) My papa & I sat on a bench in the middle of the piazza in front of the Vatican and indulged ourselves as we watched the people go by. My dad even commented that, seemingly everyone walked back from the direction of Old Bridge with an ice cream cup or cone in hand!

Throughout my short weekend with my dad, we walked to and from the Vatican more times than I care to count. Needless to say, I now (finally) know the way — and am hoping to sneak in a few runs to & from there in the days ahead. (I’m in such a treadmill rut it’s not even funny.) We talked about everything from past vacations (laughing a lot during this part) to the differences in the types of taxes people have to pay. Get my drift? We covered it all.

It was one of the most special weekends I’ve ever had, and I think the reason it was so special was because I’ve never truly had a “father-daughter” 2-day bonding extravaganza. It was solely my dad and I, and though I absolutely adore spending time with the rest of my immediate family, I really valued the time alone with my dad. He truly is one of the most selfless, hardworking people I’ve ever met…and the cool thing is, he’s my dad!

Besides, who else will carry my approximately 80 lb. duffel allll the way (uphill!) back to campus? He’s a gem 🙂

Also, a special shout-out goes to my mom, who sent along with my dad (to bestow upon me, which he was verrrryyy excited about because it lightened his suitcase by about 5 lbs.) countless “Valentine’s Day” treats. The goodies included:

  • Sweetheart candy hearts, wildberry Skittles, & a dark chocolate bar
  • Honey Teddy Grahams (me & every other 5-year-olds favorite “snack food”)
  • Monster trail mix from Target
  • Nature Valley Peanut Butter granola bars
  • Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 2 Chocolate Chip Clif Bars
  • Floss (don’t you know my New Year’s resolution by now?!)
  • Neutrogena face wash
  • 2 magazines
  • a scarf, a pair of capris, & my Steve Madden gladiator sandals I “forgot” at home!
  • a beanie baby called “Big Kiss” (so awesome…I didn’t even know they MADE these anymore!)
  • a beautiful 3-heart necklace that I’ve worn every day since I opened it

Wow, do I not have the most thoughtful parents in the world?

Instead of sleeping at the hotel the 2nd night, I decided to head back to campus so I could wake up a little later than I’d need to had I been with my dad (who had an early train out of Rome). While it was tough saying goodbye, I know I have so much to look foward to in the weeks to come. And guess what? My two favorite people are coming back to visit in just a few short weeks 🙂

And I ask you: What is your favorite ice cream/gelato flavor? Is there a flavor you CAN’T stand?!

-Back in “the states,” I much prefer the Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip Brownie at Coldstone Creamery, as well as the birthday cake flavor with rainbow sprinkles. Anything cookie-dough is also a winner, though. As for gelato, I’m really digging the nocciola, not gonna lie. And the flavor I can’t stand (it makes me cringe): chocolate. I know, sue me 🙂


About ciaotochow

ciao to chow: initially created as a little spot on the web devoted to the "chow" I find while studying abroad in Rome. But really, ciao to chow is about my life: the day-to-day experiences, funny stories, moments of laughter, and the food...that continue to inspire me and make me grateful for each new day.
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10 Responses to A Perfect Weekend with my Dad

  1. Julie says:

    I love anything with chocolate. 🙂 And, in the summer especially, I die for vanilla custard with fresh fruit on top–raspberries and strawberries are my fave!

  2. Kenz says:

    LOVE this one!! Nocciola is definitely one of the best flavors out there!:)

  3. I’m glad that you enjoyed you time with your DAD! 😀 Geleto is one of my FAVORITES!!! 😀

    LOVE the Valentine goodies! 😀

  4. MareMare says:

    Your dad is absolutely the BEST!!
    One scoop strawberry and one scoop pralines and cream, preferrably in a waffle cone!

  5. Layne says:

    Love the pics – you did good!

    Also, love the yellow flamenco dress. I couldn’t ask for a cuter outfit.

    I can’t believe you didn’t go in and say hi to Mario!!!

  6. Allison says:

    I have to say I love the section dedicated to the flee market! I know it’s not about food but it was hilarious!!

  7. LinnE says:

    LOVED this. Can’t believe it took me this long to realize you had a new entry (I’m not on top of my stalking game). I MISS STEVE!! Love him to death. Personal favorite parts: Steve-y’s photo shoot with the plumbing products. Classic. Also, “Anna, your head is tilted.” Classic Steve. Miss you. Love you.

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