No, I don't like it in sauce; no, I don't like it on pizza; no, I don't like it in cakes. Yes, I'm aware there are different types of cheese; yes, I have tried some recently. We good?
People seem unable to believe that I detest the taste of cheese. They proceed to reel off a list of every. single. possible. way. to cook cheese, just to triple check.
What I do love, however, is the city of Rome, which just so happens to be situated in a country famous for majorly cheesing up their dishes.
Here is a little guide to eating cheese-free in this incredible city if you, like me, are a cheese-o-phobe, or if you're just cutting down on the smelly blocks from hell.
I'm not sure I can trust people who don't know how to season food properly. A dash of salt and pepper will never cut it; if I wanted bland, I'd grab a jar of baby food. But boyyyy, do the Italian's know how to season their food. The Marinara, a simple tomato and garlic pizza, engulfs the taste buds in just one bite. The herbs are mouthwateringly delicious. Watch out for the places that pop anchovies on top though, it's super weird.
We frequented a small pizzeria near where we stayed, close to the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore. Santa Maria Maggiore has a sightseeing bus stop outside and we used it to get around the city. GENIUS, I TELL YOU. After buying a 48-hour pass, we could get to all the sights and back to our hotel, too. We didn't once step foot on public transport until our last day, in order to get to the airport.
Mussels (and other seafood)
Italy may be famous for its pizza and pasta, but their seafood tastes pretty damn good too. I'd recommend fresh mussels, but I know that's not everyone's bag.
After we filled our gills (lol), we soldiered through our marathon sightseeing day with high energy. We started at the Colosseum (more below), and then jumped back on the sightseeing bus, headed for the Trevi Fountain. I'd wanted to see the fountain for absolute ages and, thankfully, I got to see it and make my wish before the restoration started.
From the Trevi Fountain, you can walk to the Spanish Steps, via the Pantheon. All breathtaking architecture that you MUST see when you visit Rome. I still had pizza left over so snacked, post-dinner, while sat on the Spanish Steps.
Get your caffeine hit
Okay, so the weirdest thing about Rome is how casual they are about their amazing history. I mean, the Colosseum is literally in the middle of a roundabout. People casually just on their way to work, driving (and crashing - they be cray, these Roman drivers) around the world-famous Colosseum. Probably cursing about how hard it is to pull off, back onto the main road, like us normal folk.
After you've headed in, looked around and been transported back to the battle times past, grab a coffee at a nearby cafe. Choose one a few hundred meters away from the Colosseum itself, so you can look out onto the bit of history you've just got to touch. The coffee will slide down your throat and hit you like no other cuppa before. Your history class never made you feel so alive!
The gelato in Rome is to die for. I'm talking MELT IN YOUR MOUTH, like butter in a hot pan. Like Michael Buble's voice. Like warm pee in the snow. Like your landlord trying to get out of fixing your boiler. Like... basically, smooth AF.
Grab a cone in the famous square, Piazza Navona, and lap up your surroundings. Selfie in front of the fountain and try not to think about that scene in Angels and Demons where the priest is nearly drowned in said fountain. There's no Tom Hanks here and the gelato isn't literally to die for - I just mean it's frigging fantastic.
Last, but not least, pasta!
Head down to Vatican City early on a Sunday, or Wednesday, to watch the Pope's address. Even for those less religious, there's something tranquil about hearing the Pope speak in the holy city. In addition, it's free and it's outdoors, so you can top up your tan while getting blessed.
After the crowds disband, head on into the museums. I promise you, you will never see such incredible art elsewhere. The views ain't that bad, either... My mum says she gets super tired at the end of a day like this, because her brain can't comprehend the beauty she's seen. This is 100% one of those kinds of places. The museums are set upon beautiful grounds and the art throughout the 2 hour walk are beyond belief. Even the ceilings are intricately designed with gold and paint! I will say though, the famous painting in the Sistine Chapel is a little smaller than anticipated (a feeling I'm sure a few of you can relate to...lolololol); the rest of the museum has pieces just as great, if not better. This didn't stop us kneeling down, ever so slyly, and taking a photo though - whoops!
We ate pasta in the Vatican Museum's canteen. Yes, even without the waiter-grated cheese on top, it tasted bloody marvelous. Rich and filling, you know that spag bol sauce definitely did not come out of a jar, so say yes to the bread bowl and mop up the last of that tasty sauce.
Rome is the first Italian city I visited and will always hold a special place in my heart. The vias are charming and it is a city full of culture. You'll fall in love, faster than the speeding cars on their streets.