Episode three of The Layover and I'm slightly warming up to it, maybe because the cities are getting better. It's hard to keep a frantic pace up in Rome - after all, it's a city where a quick cup of espresso can take an hour and about 2,000 hand gestures.
Two guys sitting on a bench: "The Romans have a famous walk. Like Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday."
Tony Bourdain: " Ideally you visit Rome slowly. You sit. You stroll. You take it slow, as it comes. You don't go to see stuff -- you let it slip up on you. But if you're in one
of those f**ked up tours five cities in ten days, there's no time to waste."
It's 6 a.m. at Rome's Fiumicino Airport. Tony's just gotten into Rome, tired and bitching. The usual cast of characters await your lousy trip into the city. A $60 taxi, shuttle buses for about $15, and the express train $20 and 30 minutes. Tony takes the train which unfortunately leaves you at Termini station.
Woman in a dress: "Whenever you have to take a bus or a metro, you have to go to Termini Station. It's hell."
Tony Bourdain: "Termini station is the center of suckdom. It has all the charm of New York's Penn station, which means none at all."
Woman in blue dress: "Cappuccino is like a coffee that you only drink in the morning. Please don't drink after 11 a.m. It's strange and you're a tourist."
Tony Bourdain: "You could have that delicious hotel breakfast, but you're a f**king idiot if you do."
Tony goes to breakfast. Here's a typical Italian breakfast: There is no breakfast! Why the hell would you waste precious calories and stomach space on pop tarts and cereal when lunch is coming? To tide you over, drink cappuccino and have a cornetto, which is a croissant (but if you call it a croissant, you'll probably have lit cigarettes flicked at you).
Hey! The f**king clock is back and it's ticking 26:32 hours to go!
Which makes it porchetta time.
Tony goes for porchetta in the Pinetto district. Tony shares that these guys are not f**king around with their pig. The pride of Rome, porchetta is a whole deboned porker stuffed with herbs and served with beer. This is just a late morning snack before lunch, by the way.
Old man: "I advise tourists to walk the narrow streets. Go touring around on foot and observe the smallest details."
Tony Bourdain: "Generally I'm picked up in a Lincoln Town Car and taken to wherever I want to go, but for the purposes of this show, I'll pretend to take public transportation."
As Tony waits for his lunch date, he complains about how chapped his ass is from the abrasive toilet paper. His much needed travel tip? Bring your own double ply.
Tony meets Gabriele Bonci, who owns a pizza shop near the Vatican for lunch at Sora Lella in a building that's over a thousand years old. Tony's food tips, handily superimposed on the screen, are to order suppli (rice croquettes), polpette (meatballs), and coratella (lambs heart liver and lungs). Like everywhere else in the world, the coratella is a traditional peasant dish from the good old days when real meat was sent to the Vatican and the tripe, heart, tail, and offal was left the peasant.
Tony asks his new friend Bonci if he's ever seen that American shitty Hawaiian pizza with the ham and pineapple. There's probably a slight language barrier because Bonci thinks that's maybe a request from the pazzo American and says, "tonight I will feed you pizza with pineapple and ham. You'll eat it."
Stylish Woman: "We can always recognize if they're tourists.
You can recognize them by their shoes.
I'm not very smiley about the French or the Americans."
Tony Bourdain: "If you go to Rome in August there are people.They're tourists boiling."
With 23 hours left
on the clock, Tony searches for pizza. Like anywhere, it's often pretty bad. You pick your slice, the toppings are standards. Tony heads to his new friend Bonchi's Pizzarium. Bonchi claims to have invented 1500 takes on pizza. Tony says, "As with all great pizza it starts with the dough."
Tony has a cherry and foie gras pizza. Then tries raspberries with goat cheese. Then mozzarella with zucchini flowers and anchovies.
Tony Bourdain: "Leave your family, abandon your children, touch yourself. You know you want it."
Bonchi makes a ham and pineapple pizza for Tony. Then adds onions and peppers, and Tony actually likes it as the clock ticks down.
Old man: Rome is a Museum. A Museum in the open.
Tony Bourdain: "That clock ticking down in the corner of your screen is bullshit. What is it? Ticking down the days that little Timmy has left before he dies from needing a new kidney? I hope Timmy dies. I'm having a Negroni. In fact I'm having several.
Suddenly I feel lighter. If Tony Bourdain hates that f**king clock as much as I do, maybe that clock is ticking down its final minutes on earth. Think happy thoughts.
Tony shops for his weakness -- Italian sunglasses. If shopping is not your weakness, he suggests maybe dead people?
Tony then disses Samantha Brown and mocks romance, before heading to Betto and Mary, a non-touristy place, for dinner.
It's quintessential Roman cuisine without catering to the tastes of tourists. Our traveler dines on antipasti of fried broccoli and mushroom, veal, and spillachi - shaved horse meat with arugula. "Sure you don't eat it in America but we kill horses by the droves and sell it to Canada", Tony reminds us. More food. Fettuccini with artichoke and sweetbreads, oxtail, tripe, heart, lemon and lung, lamb intestine.
Woman in dress: "Stay away from restaurants with a menu in English."
Tony Bourdain: "I need a f**king sausage."
Tony gets lamb on a stick and beer from a food cart that roughly translates into "the dirty fat guy".
Woman with green hair: "There is a secret about Rome when the sun hasn't risen yet. You can smell the scents and hear singing as women awaken their children."
Tony Bourdain: "Rent a scooter. You can speed through traffic, you're out there. It's cheap and the most totally awesome way to get around Rome."
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Two hours left and one final bite. Tony leaves us with one final tip. If you do one thing in Rome, forget about Vatican City. Get a bowl of cacio e pepe (plain pasta with black pepper and Pecorino cheese) guaranteed by locals, a jug of wine and eat.
Arriverderci Roma! Hola Miami (next week).
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