I had lunch today with an old friend and colleague, between exam shifts in the engineering faculty, processing students for language credits. We were actually in a hurry, so what we were looking for was slow food served fast, rather than fast food served slow, which is often the case in Rome, where even a MacDonald's queue can seem to take for ever.
We found a trattoria on Viale Marconi that I must have walked past a hundred times in the past, when I lived in the area, but never entered. Maybe because the window is full of forbidding notices saying NO CARTA DI CREDITO NO BANCOMAT NO TICKET, which means that all they accept is money in the traditional sense, something I was short of at the time. Today, though, it was raining, Lynne felt flu-ey, the bar next door was full. We went in.
Red and white checked tablecloths, walls half-panelled with wood (travertine would have been better, but hey! as Charlie might say), the tables large enough for everything that had to be put on them. No music, no fuss, the smell of well-cooked food. Nothing costing more than €7/8 on the menu. I'm off carbs so I ordered scamorza with prosciutto and some green stuff (cicoria) tossed with chili pepper and garlic. Lynne went for bucatini alla matriciana and an artichoke. Water (we were doing exams) and a basket of delicious bread (said Lynne, I couldn't touch it). Her plate of pasta would have served two. €25 (including my coffee). In just over half an hour.
Who else was there? University people, even a barone or two with their relative lackeys, a couple of pensioners eating tripe and sipping dark red wine, a trio of girls at the top of the stairs that leads down to the lavatory. There's a big hand-written sign by their table saying LUCE SCALA and an arrow pointing to a light switch. You turn it on going down and off coming up, or else. It's thanks to this kind of little saving, I suppose, that the place still exists.
Because one of the saddest things that's happened to Rome in the 25 years I've known it is the disappearance of places like this. They were two a penny. Now they're almost as rare as eel and pie shops.