The first night we were welcomed with a wonderful Italian feast at our hotel. Five courses! The pasta course was exceptional…the sauce so fresh tasting. Food was plentiful, the wine flowed freely, and everyone was full of excitement as Marco and Kathleen (our Adventures by Disney tour Managers) briefed us on our itinerary for the next several days. Of course, what would dinner be without dessert. Gelato was a given for my grandsons, but the adults enjoyed a few other options. I had a wonderful Tiramisu.
Our first full day was spent touring the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and the gorgeous fountains of Rome. We also visited Trevi Fountain, one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions. Although it was being renovated, it still drew a large crowd to view the spectacular carvings. As I stood in the Coliseum, all I could think about was all the history that had happened in this special and ancient place. It is a jaw dropping, awe inspiring structure, once the center of the Western Civilization!
The next day was spent touring the Vatican. St Peter’s Basilica was our first stop. From our hotel, which was right across the street from the Vatican, our guides walked us over to the Basilica quite early, to avoid lines. We pretty much walked right in. The staggering size and ornate detail of St Peters was phenomenal. There were markers along the center isle denoting its size compared to all the largest Cathedrals throughout the world. The Basilica has been standing inside the Vatican, since 1626, and is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. The Pietà by Michelangelo is housed in the Basilica. It is simply breathtaking!
It has long been a favorite of mine, and seeing it in person was thrilling.One last thing to see before our lunch break was a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo, once the tallest building in Rome. It sits on the edge of the Vatican and was once used as a papal fortress and prison. It is a true gem among Rome’s historic sights. It’s connected to the Vatican by an elevated passage called the Passetto di Borgo. If you've read Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown…the castel is even more interesting!
|The Vatican…St. Peter’s Basilica|
|The Swiss Guard|
|Castel Sant’Angelo stock photo|
So much more to tell, but it will have to wait! I think I am running out of space!
|We had a wonderful lunch in Trastevere at Sabitinis|
|One of the Sabitini brothers…both in their 80’s…carving the thinest prosciutto I’ve ever seen|
|Great food, and wonderful atmosphere|
|The view from our table…Ryan and Bill checking out the fountain in Piazza Santa Maria|
When I got home, I was so missing the wonderful Italian tarts and cakes that we were served everyday, that I had to bake something! Here is a tart that brings back Italy to me. Hope you give it a try! Fresh figs and Mascarpone…yum!
Gourmet | July 2003
Makes 6 servings
active time:1 1/4 hour
total time:1 3/4 hour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (not stone-ground)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup (8oz.) mascarpone cheese (you could substitute cream cheese)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red-currant jelly
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 lb fresh figs
Special equipment: an 11 1/4- by 8- by 1-inch rectangular or 10-inch round fluted tart pan (1 inch deep) with a removable bottom
Pulse together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and rosemary and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until just incorporated.
Gently squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition and continuing to test.
Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of tart pan with floured fingers. Smooth dough with a small offset metal spatula or back of a spoon (floured if necessary), then roll a rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough flush with rim. Chill crust until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Bake crust in middle of oven until center and edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes (don't worry if bottom of crust cracks), then cool in pan on a rack.
Prepare filling and assemble tart:
Whisk together sour cream, mascarpone, sugar, zest, and salt in a bowl.
Heat jelly and honey in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, whisking, until jelly is melted, about 4 minutes, then cool glaze slightly.
Remove side of tart pan and spread mascarpone cream in shell. Cut figs lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and arrange decoratively over cream. Brush figs with honey glaze.