You may recall I had to cancel a trip to Turkey a few years ago when Iceland’s Volcanic God’s decided to disrupt my flight, so Tatjana and I planned to travel to Istanbul at the end of the cruise. Hopefully my 3rd trip planned will indeed happen, but somehow protests and police using tear gas and water bombing people at the time was just not what I had in mind, so we decided to stay in Rome  for a few days instead.

Tatjana taking in Rome

Let’s see Rome instead…

I did the sights as a child, but the last time I was there was during the height of Duran mania, so all I saw were airports, and thousands of screaming fans outside our hotel as we were smuggled in and out through kitchens and service entrances in black Mariah’s under armed guard. Tatjana had been once with her father briefly, but they’d arrived too late to take a Vatican tour or see the Coliseum properly. So, we decided to do the tourist thing. Very hot tourists as the temperatures soared into the triple digits.

The Forum

The Forum

Still that did not deter us from wandering round the ruins of the Forum, pretending the roar of tourist voices around us were those of ancient days. It wasn’t hard to imagine people roaming round in togas and garlands going about their daily business, or gathering in the senate.

The Coliseum

The Coliseum

However, I do wish we’d climbed to the top of the Coliseum first, before the afternoon heat made it so arduous. The enormity of the Coliseum, built in 70AD, holding as many as 87,000 spectators is truly awesome. So too are the gruesome thoughts of what it must have been like to have been a gladiator, or worse still, a Christian fed to the lions for spectator sport.

Taking in the sights

Taking in the sights

I definitely wanted to come straight home and watch Roman Holiday again after visiting Spanish steps, throwing coins in the Trevi Fountain, and window shopping along Via dei Condotti. Tatjana even made friends with a couple parakeets before we were delightfully serenaded while sharing a pizza in the piazza.

Sightseeing in Rome

Sightseeing in Rome

Knowing the crowds would  be gathering in front of St. Peters to see the Pope at 10AM, we made a b-line for the Sistine chapel (BTW, do purchase tour tickets online so you can avoid 2 hour lines), but we were quite taken with the grandeur of the gallery of maps, Raphael’s room, the Borgia apartments along the way – not to mention how shocked I was to find such an amazing collection of modern art in addition to ancient statues and medieval tapestries.

The Vatican

The Vatican

When I’d visited the Vatican with my parents decades earlier, Michelangelo’s magnificent ceiling fresco was being restored, so the phenomenal masterpiece did momentarily take my breath away. I stood there unable to move, realizing I was observing sheer genius, the very definition of divine art. Had a power greater than ourselves guided Michelangelo’s brush strokes?

A lesson in eating spaghetti

A lesson in eating spaghetti

All that philosophical thinking and sightseeing made me really hungry, so we stopped for some spaghetti carbonara smothered in truffles on the way home. In true Jewels style, I dropped some sauce smack dab in the middle of my shirt. The waiter had me covered with a bottle of Shout (guess I’m not the first patron to be so sloppy) seemingly produced out of thing air. Obviously, it was time to slow down and do a little tutorial on the art of eating spaghetti. You know what they say – “when in Rome, do as the Romans” … but now I’m back in LA, so I’m sharing my healthier Black & White Bean Spaghetti recipe with you.

White & Black Bean Spaghetti

Black & White Bean Spaghetti

Black & White Bean Spaghetti

I first made this for a friend that Tatjana had visiting last summer, and they both gave it the thumbs up, so I started making it for my vegetarian clients too.  Packed full of fiber and protein, this is a very healthy yet hardy meal you can easily make on a tight budget. It’s a real hodgepodge of ingredients, so don’t worry if you are lacking a couple – it will still be bursting with flavor and nutrients guaranteed to fill you up. What’s your favorite pasta recipe?

This post was first published August 27, 2013

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