On the Autostrada to Ostia

16 Nov

Photo from Autogrill.com

Books on display at the Auto Grill. I like the way the image of Steve Jobs is echoed by that of the Italian author Bruno Vespa.

It was a long but rather easy drive from Puglia to Ostia, the final stop on our trip from the toe to the knee cap of Italy. We stopped off at the Auto Grill for lunch and had slices of pizza tastier than any you’d find in pizza joints in the U.S. The roads were in great condition and the traffic not too heavy until we hit the Grande Raccordo Anulare, the beltway that encircles Rome. Vince did a great job, as usual, managing the traffic-clogged highway at rush hour as our so far straight-forward route suddenly became circuitous. Shortly before 5 p.m. we arrived at B&B Artist located in a residential area near Ostia Antica, the excavations of the ancient port of Rome.

The landlady of B&B Artist is a transplanted New Yorker and therefore spoke perfect English with a hint of her New York accent although she’s been living in Italy for the past 30 years. The decor of this B&B was a bit over the top with faux columns in corners, plaster decorations adorning the walls, paintings with ornate frames filling nearly every square inch of wall space, and knick knacks and gee gaws everywhere one looked. The exhaustion we felt from the long journey was intensified by the profusion of kitschy decor of our rooms. But, at least at this B&B we could crank up the heat!

Our landlady directed us to Al Cinghiale, a local restaurant we could walk to from the B&B. I was turned off immediately by the display case at the entrance full of raw meat and the table laden with already-prepared antipasti; apparently grilled meats and the wide assortment of antipasti were the big draws of this restaurant. But we all opted for primi piatti of pasta and were satisfied. The waiter, sporting a stereotypical waxed handlebar mustache, was congenial and brought us complimentary Vin Santo and cantuccini at the end of our meal.


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