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Author Topic: 6 Ore di Roma 2012  (Read 11264 times)

Offline Alianora La Canta

6 Ore di Roma 2012
« on: December 08, 2012, 10:42:19 PM »
As some of you probably know, I went to the 6 Ore di Roma towards the end of last month. Foolishly, I haven't updated GP Wizard properly yet. The lack of internet access in Italy might have been excusable, but leaving it almost 2 weeks after arriving back home is not. Thank you, F1FanaticBD, for reminding me to do my duty to you. So here's Part 1 of it.

My trip to the 6 Ore di Roma was brilliant, though it didn't entirely go according to plan.

After my plane got me to Rome in good time (and I spent 30 minutes trying to figure out which of the many carousels was carrying my luggage), I got on the bus to go to the city centre. The highlight of the trip was seeing the outside of the Colosseum from the giant roundabout that's been constructed around it.

When I got into Termini station (which is the hub of public transport in Rome), I decided to get myself a proper plate of Italian pasta. After all, everyone knows the worst place to try finding an authentic meal is at a transportation hub, and not just because this particular one had the largest branch of McDonald's I've ever seen. But where to go? That was quite an easy decision for me to make. I'd come to Italy to watch Giancarlo Fisichella race his Ferrari 458 round his home circuit. Why not take the opportunity to go and look at Pietralata, the district of Rome where he grew up?

So I picked up an all-day public transport ticket for the princely sum of 6, hopped onto Metro Line B train* and went 5 stations east, to Pietralata. It's an area full of red-bricked high-rise flats. Built in the late 1960s and early 1970s to house an influx of immigrants from other parts of Italy (which is probably why Giancarlo's father, who was born in Sicily, ended up there), it's pretty but not exactly prosperous. It came across as a slightly more genteel version of the British 1960s high-rise flats.

There was a small restaurant five doors down from the metro station, and this was where I decided to get my plate of pasta. It looked promising; there were quite a few people in there, they looked local, but there was no queue (the fact it was nearly 3 pm may have helped) so there'd be time for me to remember how to order.

I made a complete mess of the first attempt at ordering pasta, which the restaurant staff found amusing... ...until they noticed I wasn't local. Then they were surprised - apparently I was the first non-Italian in there for a few years. Eventually I managed to order a huge plate of spaghetti carbonary. It was very tasty - springy, smooth pasta with a satisfying crunch and light seasoning, with the meat still juicy.

After that, I went to the local mini-supermarket (between the restaurant and the metro stop) to get some supplies. I didn't want to depend on the circuit catering for food, and so I bought a bunch of bananas (not very Italian I know, but useful for mid-afternoon snacks), 2 strawberry yoghurts made in the farms south of Rome (planning to use the mini-bar to keep them cool when not in transit) and a bag of 10 chocolate orange cakes by a company in Milan. In case you were wondering, the plan was to fill my big sports bottle with hotel water and use that as my drink. It was nice to see people helping each other at the checkout, which tends not to happen where I come from.

Shopping is hungry work, so after I'd looked around Pietralata a bit more (didn't find the catacombs someone stumbled upon last month while chasing a wayward cat) I decided to walk back to the city centre, preferably with some proper Italian ice cream to eat on the way. Unfortunately, the first two places I checked only had Wall's ice cream, which I can get at home, thank you very much.

After walking into the east side of Tiburtina district (next door to Pietralata), I saw a garage and thought, "Many British garages have ice cream". By this point I wasn't so worried about it being "proper" Italian ice cream because I was beginning to doubt I could find any that side of Termini station. I looked around, discovered it was not that kind of garage (it sold petrol, what appeared to be carburettors and not a lot else) and was about to continue on my way when I spotted a sign.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the sign was for the garage behind the one I'd been looking at. Bad news: it didn't look like it sold ice cream either. Good news: I'd stopped feeling hungry. Because surprising and wonderful news: it was the Fisichella family garage, and I was feeling very excited instead. So I went up there with my 15 kg of luggage, hoping to get a couple of photos of this place I'd heard so much about and which had played such a role in Fisico's upbringing.

I got the photos, and then noticed some of the staff were calling to me. I explained as best I could why I was there, and I got introduced to Giancarlo's father and older brother. Pierangelo (the older brother) runs the garage, with the help of his father (who I seem to remember is called Paolo) and what appears to be the majority of the other members of the family. Pierangelo doesn't speak English, so it was Giancarlo's father who ended up doing most of the talking. He showed me around the office. It's pretty much covered with posters of Fisico. It was obvious the family was really proud of their illustrious son. They gave me some photos of Fisico in the Ferrari F60 and 458, and I gave them some Derbyshire chocolate. It was a wonderful experience.

Oh, and I did get my proper Italian ice cream in the end - there was a gelateria 20 minutes down the road**.

Eventually, I got fed up of walking as I reached Tiburtina station (tripping over a metal bar that was inexplicably attached to a step that I didn't see in the darkness didn't help!) So I went to the metro stop and boarded the train. Or rather, I tried to board it. By this point it was the rush hour. The train was packed, and in the hubbub I missed the "doors closing" warning. Hence, when the doors closed, my luggage was in the way - with me and my rucksack still on the platform. Thankfully, I managed to release the luggage just before the train started moving. The next train was 90 seconds down the track and considerably less busy, so it wasn't too bad.

At Termini, I swapped to Metro Line A to reach Flaminio. Then I bought a bottle of blood orange juice (don't worry, there was no blood in it) and got an overland metro train to the giant bus station at Saxe Bura. Unlike the metro trains, I was able to get a seat - a green plastic seat. At Saxe Bura, I found a very helpful local named Josephine^. She made sure I got the right bus, got off at the right stop, and that the hotel understood where to send the hotel shuttle to collect me. By this point I was a bit tired out and would have struggled to convey the information I needed in Italian.

Finally, I made it to the hotel. It was built in 1718 and is very much still in character. Later in the trip, I'd appreciate that, but at this point the random stone steps on the route to my room were a bit awkward. I opted out of eating dinner, choosing instead to get my track bag ready for the morning and then sleep.

Tune in for Part 2, where I get spectacularly lost, get close to some quick cars and deliver some post.

* - Warning: if you know more than the merest smattering of Italian, don't spend too long looking at the sides of the metro trains. Every single one of them - even the overland ones - is covered in spray-painted multi-coloured swearwords. Criminal neglect takes many forms, and that's Italy's particular format for the disaffected's destruction. This does not affect the trains running from the city to the airport, which are immaculate.

** - In case you are wondering, I ate dark chocolate, milk chocolate with cream, and blackcurrant flavour ice cream. Wonderful.

^ - As you probably guessed, Josephine wasn't born in Italy. She grew up in Britain and then moved to Italy. She now lives in Vallelunga town, hence why she was on the same bus as me.

Percussus resurgio
@lacanta (Twitter) (Blog/Tumblr)

Offline Ian

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2012, 10:51:07 PM »
Great post Ali, a lot of it reminds me of my trip to Milan in 2010 for my Monza jaunt. I look forward to part two.  :good:
An aircraft landing is just a controlled crash.

Offline Alianora La Canta

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2012, 11:03:45 PM »
Thank you  :-[ Hopefully you didn't get your luggage stuck in the train on your trip ;)
Percussus resurgio
@lacanta (Twitter) (Blog/Tumblr)

Offline Ian

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2012, 11:09:27 PM »
No I never Ali, but the baggage handlers at London City or Milan airport managed to damage my suitcase badly.  >:(
An aircraft landing is just a controlled crash.

Offline Alianora La Canta

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2012, 12:11:12 AM »
That's horrible, Ian :( The airport people treated my bag - and me - with respect (I want to save the airport-related surprise for Part 4).
Percussus resurgio
@lacanta (Twitter) (Blog/Tumblr)

Offline lkjohnson1950

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2012, 02:45:41 AM »
Another great travelogue Alia. I really enjoy your writing. And what great luck to stumble on Fisico's garage!!    :yahoo:


  • Guest
Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2012, 09:36:33 AM »
Great start to the story, I can't wait to read the rest.  :good:

I was in Rome in February this year, and would you believe it snowed, yes snowed the whole time I was there. The first time Rome had snow in 26 years apparently. I seen the Colosseum covered in snow, quite a strange sight.

You also have the same philosophy as me about eat in the restaurants the locals eat in, I always like to taste the local food anywhere I go.

Offline F1fanaticBD

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2012, 11:10:31 AM »
Thank you Alia, it was worthy of the wait. We hope the part two does not keep us waiting..

Its great to hear that you went to Fisico's fathers garage, I am sure it felt really great to be there where Fisi was brought up...

Is it a coincident that Fisi was the driver in question in Advent Competition? I really wonder where is he from  ::)
Keep running the fast cars, you will be never out of girls

Offline Alianora La Canta

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2012, 01:51:27 PM »
Thank you, lkjohnson and David  :-[

Stumbing on Fisico's garage was very lucky for me, considering I'd thought before going that if I spent the entire weekend looking for it I wouldn't have found the place. I guess not looking for the garage helped me find it, if that makes any sense.

I remember seeing some stories of Roman snow. It looked beautiful. And David, you were lucky enough to be there when it happened? Wow! (Though of course, I would have been quite upset if it had snowed during most of my trip, since sportscar races tend to get cancelled when it's snowing...)

The travel guides I read before leaving for Italy were quite clear in saying that the best food is off the tourist trail. This makes sense: tourists are often less picky about their food*, have more money and place more emphasis on the ability to understand half-baked order requests than the ability to amaze the tastebuds. Helpfully, I've also read a travel guide to India, which went into considerable detail on how to tell if a restaurant off the tourist trail is likely to offer a good eating experience**.

I figured that since I'd be eating Italian food regardless of where I went (the McDonald's of this world are easily available at home) I might as well eat the best I could get on my budget. The restaurant in Pietralata was a perfect example because the massive plate of spaghetti carbonara I ate was 4.95 (that's 4.09 in British sterling). I would struggle to get a main meal of anything in Britain for that price, let alone something as great as what I ate in that restaurant.

For those wanting to follow up my recommendation, I ate at a place called the Snack Bar^. To get there, you turn right on exiting the Pietralata metro stop, turn right, follow the little road round the supermarket and it's about halfway down the row of shops.

Is it a coincident that Fisi was the driver in question in Advent Competition?

I'm finding it a funny coincidence that as I type this post, there's a photo of Fisico in the "Random Image" section. All we need now is for a pit babe to appear when I start typing about the start of the race...

* - Just eating foreign is exciting to many tourists, which explains why even a fair number of local people were seen in the McDonald's: when Italians don't want to eat Italian, it looks like they like to eat American, and McDonald's is quintessentially American without necessarily being the best-quality version of American food (to put it politely).

** - In Italy, picking the wrong local restaurant means getting a bland meal and poor customer service. In some parts of India, it means getting a nasty stomach bug potentially miles from a hospital or pharmacy...

^ - Don't ask me why the restaurant name is English when the staff speak little of it. Perhaps they want to sound exotic. It is, as restaurants go, pretty informal, but places functioning as snack bars don't generally serve huge plates of pasta ;)
Percussus resurgio
@lacanta (Twitter) (Blog/Tumblr)

Offline F1fanaticBD

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2012, 02:26:33 PM »
4.95 for a pasta? :o

With 4.95, you can have a 50+ item buffet in one of the posh restaurant in my city, and you wouldn't have to rush to a doctor if you have a stomach upset, I will be there  :D

Keep running the fast cars, you will be never out of girls

Offline Alianora La Canta

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2012, 04:44:34 PM »
The cheapest buffet where I live is 6.99, and that's only available before 4.29 pm. They're very strict with the timing; arrive one minute late, or stay more than the permitted 1 1/2 hours, and you're suddenty charged 9.99 instead. That includes water but no other beverages. Buffets with food that tastes good cost between 10-12 during the day and 12-13.50 in the evening and at weekeends. A plate of pasta at a restaurant near me is 6.99 at best, and the portions are smaller than at the place where I ate in Pietralata.

At the side of that, the equivalent of 4.09 for a big plate of pasta is a bargain.

Europe is expensive...
Percussus resurgio
@lacanta (Twitter) (Blog/Tumblr)

Offline F1fanaticBD

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2012, 06:03:22 PM »
Europe is like beautiful ladies who are stylish, dead drop gorgeous and immensely meticulous..Wooing them should not be cheap..
Keep running the fast cars, you will be never out of girls

Offline Ian

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2012, 06:34:22 PM »
Thank heavens I'm not European then.  8)
An aircraft landing is just a controlled crash.

Offline F1fanaticBD

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2012, 07:32:57 PM »
Thank heavens I'm not European then.  8)

Of course not, you are Pound Sterling  :DD :DD
Keep running the fast cars, you will be never out of girls

Offline Alianora La Canta

Re: 6 Ore di Roma 2012
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2012, 08:38:20 PM »
Thank heavens I'm not European then.  8)

You must be, otherwise most of my examples don't make sense... (I'm British, but quite aware that Britain is part of the continent of Europe. We haven't joined America yet!)
Percussus resurgio
@lacanta (Twitter) (Blog/Tumblr)


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