Due Spaghetti’s aStore

At Due Spaghetti, we believe in shopping local.  However, we know that not all ingredients and kitchen tools are locally available to our readers.

Because we believe that certain items are simply essential to preparing authentic Italian dishes, and we know that other items are simply to wonderful for anyone to not know about, we’ve created the Due Spaghetti aStore through Amazon.  We’ve stocked our aStore with those key ingredients, our favorite kitchen tools, and the Italian cookbooks everyone should own.

We will update the offerings in our aStore from time to time, and we encourage you to let us know of any products that you would like to see there.

Visit the Due Spaghetti aStore

2 Responses to Due Spaghetti’s aStore

  1. Jene says:

    Hi Cara,
    My son and his wife are going to Rome for 4-5 days over Valentine’s Day. They are on a shoestring budget. Any hints/tips on places to stay (probably aournd Tervii Fountain), places to eat and places to shop? They won’t be buying a lot, but bringing home a few momentos is always fun. Btw, they will be traveling with only a carryon.

    Thanks!

  2. duespaghetti says:

    How exciting for them, Jene! This is a great time to visit, as it won’t be as touristy as summer months or over Christmas or Easter. It snowed yesterday, which is very unusual for Rome and has created quite a stir there! It will undoubtedly melt away, though. Hopefully the weather will be mild and sunny for them.

    Here are a few ideas:

    Lodging – when we return to Rome we are fortunate to be able to stay with family, so we aren’t as versed in hotel options. Generally speaking, hotels will be more expensive than Bed and Breakfasts, Inns or what the Italian call “Pensioni.” Lodging is fairly expensive throughout the historical center, and the Trevi Fountain area will be costly. We recommend looking at the category of B&B and Inns on Trip Advisor, here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g187791-c2-Rome_Lazio-Hotels.html. They have several options that look pretty good. Keep in mind that the historical center is actually relatively small, and one can walk nearly everywhere. It is also very well connected by bus and metro (the underground subway). As long as they are near a metro station or a bus stop, getting around won’t be difficult at all. We recommend getting the daily passes for the bus and metro so that they can hop on and hop off as they need to. The bus and metro operate under the company name ATAC, so these may be referred to as ATAC tickets. These can be purchased in any metro station from automated machines, or from little shops called Tabacchi (plural) or Tabacchiaio (singular). As per their name, these shops sell cigarettes, but also miscellaneous things like chewing gum, stamps, postcards and bus/metro tickets. Look for the sign out front with a big letter T. Here are some photos: https://www.google.com/search?q=tabacchi&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&hs=MlQ&pwst=1&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=kXgtT4eUBIa80QHVrpj4Cg&ved=0CFcQsAQ&biw=1415&bih=719. The only area we would recommend avoiding is the area immediately surrounding the train station, called Stazione Termini. It does tend to have a higher concentration of low-cost hotels and pensioni, but while some are perfectly fine, the area overall is just a little on the “seedy” side. Rome is a very safe city. That neighborhood, while not dangerous, is just not as appealing as the rest of the historical center. If they find a place that looks good but you are unsure of location, feel free to reply and we can help you sort out where it is located in relation to some of the attractions that they want to see.

    Meals – There is a great app for iphones, itouch and ipad called Eat Rome, if they use any of those gadgets. The app was created by an American journalist/food writer who lives in Rome, and it is full of very good and well-reviewed restaurant, pizzeria and food store options, organized by neighborhood. For dinner, there are different classes of restaurants in Rome – a ristorante is a true restaurant, a trattoria or osteria is still a restaurant but slightly less formal, a pizzeria obviously specializes in pizza. The neighborhood of Trastevere, the oldest part of Rome, is a fun area to visit for dinner and is full of pizzerie. It is just a bus ride or a walk across the Tiber river. There is a trattoria called Angelini Luigi on Via Belsiana, 94A not too far from the Spanish Steps that we like a lot. We stumbled upon it on a recent trip – it’s authentic, low-key, very tasty and frequented by and large by Romans more than tourists, which is a good sign Menus with prices are typically posted outside so that you can view them first. You can also go into a food store, called an “alimentari” and have a sandwich made deli-style during the lunch hour, or grab a slice of pizza bianca or pizza rossa from a bakery called a “forno.” We wrote about one of our favorites here: http://wp.me/p1z3bv-4p. Another good lunch option is pizza by the slice, or “pizza al taglio” in Italian. They are all over the place, and you really can’t go wrong. There are tons of fun types to try- any you can just point to them through the glass without having to worry about pronouncing their names! They’ll ask you if you want your pizza warmed up, “scaldato,” or not, and often if you want it folded, “piegato,” or not before they wrap it in special paper and hand it to you. You can also grab a light lunch at a coffee bar, which is just called a “bar” in Italian. There are usually a variety of sandwiches available, and some in the center offer hot plates of pasta and vegetables, too. We don’t recommend getting your pasta there, but grabbing a sandwich is fine. One of our favorites is a spinach and mozzarella sandwich on soft white bread, called a “tramezzino.” Note that in a bar, there is typically a different price structure for eating on your feet at the bar, and sitting at a table – the latter obviously costing more. Typically, you would indicate to the barman or to the person at the register that you would like to sit. They should definitely take advantage of the delicious ice cream called “gelato” while they are there. We wrote about one of our favorite spots on this post: http://wp.me/p1z3bv-2o. Another amazing gelateria is Gelateria al Teatro, on Via Santo Simone, 70 near Piazza Navona. If they are coffee drinkers, they should take advantage of the wonderful coffee at any coffee bar. If they want to adhere to the “When in Rome…” rule of thumb, remember that a cappuccino or a caffelatte is consumed in the morning for breakfast, up until 11:00 a.m. or so. It is unusual for an Italian to drink a milk-based drink such as a cappuccino or caffelatte any later than that, though. Opt instead for a regular caffè (espresso) or, to take the bitter edge off a bit, a caffè macchiato (espresso with a touch of steamed milk). The coffee is strong, and most people add a teaspoon or two (or three) of sugar.

    Souvenirs – wow, there are a ton of different options for this. If they are traveling with a carry-on only, they will have to be mindful of the no liquids rule on all flights. This limits food options such as olive oil, wine or balsamic vinegar. However, one way around this is to pick something up at the duty-free. If they are not flying direct back to their destination and have a connecting flight, they will want to make sure that any duty free purchases can still be taken on board, but we are pretty sure that they can be. Because most products can be found here, too, we are pretty selective about what wine we might bring home. However, on the high end, it is definitely possible to find bottles much less expensive there than they can be bought here. If wine is of interest, let us know, and Stefano can give some more specific suggestions. Otherwise, one of our favorite things to bring back is true balsamic vinegar from Modena aged 25 years. It is harder to find and more expensive here, and there truly is nothing like it. If food options in general are appealing as gifts or remembrances, they should seek out a little supermarket. Asking at their hotel might be the best way to find one. This is the best and most economical way to find chocolates, spreads, unusual pastas, sauces, coffee, etc. to bring home. Cheese can be brought back into the U.S. if they are sealed (sealed, not just wrapped) in plastic. Salamis and cured meats cannot be brought in. We learned this the hard way a few years back!

    There are tons of souvenir stands all over the center for little statues, keychains, magnets, etc. for more typical souvenirs. The Colosseum, Vatican museums and most other major monuments have pretty good gift shops with nice books, prints, calendars, etc. We once bought a really neat calendar featuring Italian prints from the 1950s at the gift store of the Colosseum, and then cut the prints out and had them framed back home. They now decorate our lower level family room! There are lots of little stands selling larger antique prints of Rome. These are quite economical, albeit a little difficult to transport.

    Another option is to buy just one or two items from an Italian designer. The little streets around between Via del Corso and the Spanish Steps are where they will find stores of Armani, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Valentino, etc. They’ll be pretty expensive, but some people like to just buy a scarf, or a belt, etc. Leather goods are another choice. Small stores where clerks approach you right away to help you are the norm. However, there are a few options for more of a department store experience – COIN is a great department store located right at the Metro Stop San Giovanni, not too far from the center. It has a great collection of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, with Italian and European brands. We always shop there when we are back in Rome. Silly as it sounds, I stock up on women’s trouser socks and hosiery there! The design and quality are unmatched here. Another department store is Rinascimento, is a little higher-end, but it is a fun place to browse, as well. It’s located on Via del Governo Vecchio, just off of Via del Corso.

    Another gift/souvenir idea is books. There are a few English language bookstores, our favorite of which is Feltrinelli International, right next door to the Italian bookstore Feltrinelli, located just off of Piazza della Repubblica. They will have great picture books, cookbooks and more.

    Other fun ideas for kids or adults include Ferrari apparel/gifts (Ferrari store on Via Tomacelli, 147) or clothing from Rome’s soccer team, referred to just as “la Roma” or “A.S. Roma” There are several stores, one at Piazza Colonna, 360. Watch out for imitations, though!

    How fun! We are excited for them. Let us know if we can be of any other help as they fine-tune their plans.

    Cara

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