In the land of pasta, wine, and cappuccinos, every meal is a gastronomic adventure. Even a simple two euro panini is a joy for the taste buds. I could write for days about my favorite meals: fried artichokes in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto, spicy tomato-garlic pici in a mom-and-pop restaurant in Sienna, and of course, margherita pizza in Naples.
During my first week in Rome, my best friend from home was in town. On her last night, we decided to have a hearty dinner near Piazza Navonna, at a recommended restaurant called “Cul de sac.” When we sat down, the waiter asked if we would mind sitting with another party since the only available tables were for four people. We nodded yes. Five minutes later, an older man was seated at our table.
At first, he was quiet, only translating certain parts of the menu for us. But before we knew it, we were conversing in a strange English-Italian-Spanish pseudo-lingo with a movie producer from Barcelona. He had last been in Rome as a euro-tripping 20 year old. He advised us that travel was good for the soul – that we would learn and be challenged in incredible ways by being uncomfortable. Here we were – two college juniors and a sixty-something year old – sharing a meal and random anecdotes. After dinner, he recommended a certain bar that was around the corner. I was a bit skeptical, but took the card he offered us.
After walking around a bit, we heard live music playing nearby. I soon realized that this was the bar we were at two nights prior, and the bar our Spanish friend recommended. We walked into “Les Affiches” only to find festivities abound. It was an Italian birthday party, packed with friends and gifts. A man with a lovely curled mustache on the keyboard was belting traditional Italian songs and the entire restaurant was dancing cheerfully. With an accordion playing in the backdrop, it was picturesque: a group of locals celebrating, singing traditional songs. We grabbed glasses of wine for about four euros each and enjoyed an evening of live entertainment. Soon enough, we were conversing with Romans and learning the lyrics to “Volare.”
Though far from home, it’s amazing that most places will still play Top 40 hits. While the familiar tunes were comforting, this spot made me feel like I was actually in Italy. With a funky vibe, vibrant crowd and serendipitous back story, “Les Affiches” is among my favorite places in Rome.
Katerina Athanasiou is a junior in the college of Art, Architecture and Planning. She may be reached at email@example.com. Notes from Abroad: Reviews appears on Mondays.