An unexpected four-hour flight delay that turned into a bonus side trip of old world scenery and flavors was just what I needed before I left the Eternal City. The Roman sun was shining brightly, people were hurrying to the beach... why, oh why, did I have to leave?
My boyfriend is an Italian architect who is always up to finding the old world charm and beauty that still exists amid the modern shopping centers and malls. And find we did, not far from the airport of Fiumicino is the little old town of Fiumicino. After locating a parking space in front of the fishermen fixing their nets in preparation for the day's catch, we quickly searched for a coffee bar for the perfect cappuccino.
Not all cappuccinos are equal, and to really savor the best wake-up experience you must know which coffee is the perfect one. The brand is usually advertised on the door of the coffee bar. Walking up and down the little town, sun shining, boats of the fishermen in view, I finally found it on Via della Spiaggia at Ristorante Portus: a coffee bar that is also a tiny restaurant.
Once awake we rushed to two of the most famous restaurants in town, known, of course, for their fresh fish dishes delivered daily by the local fishermen, in hopes that we could grab a quick lunch before the flight.
Ristorante Bastianelli and Zi'Pina have been around since the 1920s and have become historic landmarks here. Unfortunately both would not be open till 1 PM, so we would have to wait till next time.
Fiumicino's old original town is quaint and close to the beach and port. Once stalls of fresh fish lined the streets. A large fresh produce and fish market still remains, as well as many "take away" places where you can buy fresh seafood dishes like fritto misto — mixed seafood, breaded lightly, fried and served in a brown paper cone. We were able to get a cone of fritto misto to fortify us for the journey.
Regarding architecture, the town hall of Fiumicino is an incredible mix of old world and modern. The building includes a piazza, but in the form of a modern trapezoid with variable elevations that offer an unusual changing view of the surrounding river and sea. Since piazzas are typically places where people can meet, a cafe or coffee bar is at mid-level of the trapezoid. But it also includes places where people can sit down and relax and take in a bit of la dolce vita by the sea!
Here's an easy recipe to create your own fritto misto.
1 lb fresh calamari, cleaned
1 lb of firm-fleshed fresh fish, cut into uniform pieces
3/4 lb shrimp, shelled
3/4 cup peanut or sunflower oil for frying
2 ½ cups flour
Pinch of salt
Clean fish. Place flour in a large plastic bag. Put fish and seafood in bag, seal, and toss until seafood is coated. Remove from bag and shake off excess flour.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan for approximately 3-4 minutes. Fry seafood till golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon, and let drain on brown paper to absorb excess oil. Serve with a garnish of fresh parsley and lemon slices.