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Ventana - An Enchanting Resort in BIg Sur

Summary: I love Ventana. I highly recommend visiting  and exploring the landscape at Lime Kiln and Andrew Molera State Park which I've blogged about here. Please note this is #notsponsored . Yes, that means we paid our own bill! Lots of details in the following review. including a Post Ranch vs Ventana comparison.  Can you tell there's something exciting beyond this beautiful gate? There's something special about Big Sur, a magic in the light, the presence of the Pacific, the cliffs, beaches, redwood forests and the murmur of the surf. It's one of my favorite places in California. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be to celebrate turning fifty, because it's a place where there's a sense of nature, space and light and a wide horizon. We've been to Big Sur many times and for a celebration there are two fantastic hotels vying for your attention. The exclusive, modern and very private, cliff top Post Ranch Inn and on the other side of the road the …

Lunch and a Walk Around Monti

Another sunny day and another walk, this time to Monti on the other side of the Colosseum. Above is the Parco Dei Collio Oppio which houses Nero's house the Domus Area one of the most spectacular sites in Rome though it's unfortunately closed once again for ongoing restoration work. As usual our walk was upstaged by food. We stopped at Santa Maria Maggiore and by the time we left we were feeling hungry. It happened we were passing the much reviewed Trattoria Monti, on Via de San Vito. This is a restaurant with regional cooking for Les Marche.


 It has been on various recommended lists and blogs for years and a see it was in the New York Times once again in October. Reservations are recommended and reviews often mention other being turned away. But it's the off season, a Wednesday lunchtime in December and we were trying our luck. We were seated immediately. This is the charm of traveling at this time of year. When you don't have a reservation or any expectations and your alternative would have been a panini it's easy to be charmed, and we were.

The service was good and we enjoyed the food. I started with a zucchini sformatino with a carrot sauce which was light and delicious. D. had a small plate of mixed fritti which was less appealing to me, apart from  the fried meat stuffed olives which were excellent.  I moved on to stuffed rabbit with potatoes which had an aroma of truffle and D. enjoyed the rigatoni with sausage. 

When we were in the Testaccio market we saw puntarelle (which is a type of chicory) being carefully cleaned and were very curious to try it. After it is trimmed, cleaned and cut, it's placed in water which makes it curl - as you can see below. It wasn't on the menu at Trattoria Monti but they had roasted radicchio, which is also in season. When we asked about Puntarelle they said they did have it and we could order it instead. We had no idea how it would be served and it come to the table cold and lightly dressed. It was very interesting to try, crisp, slightly bitter and quite refeshing. According to some comments on Elizabeth Minchelli's blog it's sold at the Berkeley Farmer's market.
Like much of the food we ate on a previous trip to Le Marche the food was simple, precise and enjoyable. The wine was a fragrant red from Les Marche, dry and interesting. I would certainly return but I'm a little baffled by some of the hype in the blog-a-sphere.  I'm beginning to think we're spoiled by the food we've eaten in rural Italy and particularly Puglia.

Not only was our walk upstaged by food but now my blog post is going the same way! Suffice it to say Monti is a lovely district on the far side of the Colosseum, trendy, diverse and attractive. As part of our stroll we stopped into San Pietro in Vincoli the church named after St. Peter in chains because the chains themselves are stored in a reliquary under the main altar. They can be seen in the picture below. I do love a good relic and it's hard to top this one.
Nearby is the Leonardo sculpture of Moses completed for the tomb of Pope Julius II. 
 
Here are some additional images from the quarter showing a variety of architectural styles. I would certainly consider staying in Monti on a future trip.

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