Being English, it was always a question of politeness. We’d already tested the phrase on Mauro, the Sardinian owner. He’d reacted with nods of approval so we knew it would work even if the accent still needed a bit more espresso.
Even some supermarkets were clearly open to the obvious charms of our miniature Golden Doodle dog Riley who seemed to smile at every opportunity.
We’d arrived in Rome in late February, after a two-day drive through France, Switzerland and then Italy. Riley had taken the long journey in her stride, curling up in the back or occasionally propping herself up, to look out of the window. She did this for most of Switzerland, clearly enjoying the snow-topped mountain views.
Nature and culture
One of our favourite in Rome is Il Margutta, an arty vegetarian and vegan on the beautiful via Margutta, between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. We’d almost assumed Riley would not be allowed and prepared ourselves to eat alone but the reality was very different.
Riley was very welcome. From Origano on Largo dei Chiavari to the Buddy Italian on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, from Solo Crudo on Via Federico Cesi to Etabli on Vicolo delle Vacche, Riley was always allowed in and often provided with water and a lot of local love.
One exception was the and touristy Greco on Via dei Condotti but that didn’t matter because Rome is not short on great. We spent most mornings drinking a cappuccino in the tranquil caffe at the Chiostro del Brumante, either sitting on the old seats looking over the cloisters or in the adjoining room with sofas and a small window that looks onto the neighbouring church and a Raphael mural.
For a rooftop view of the city we took Riley to the veggie/vegan Mater. The staff here were exceptionally friendly and loved Riley. We Vecchia Romagna Italian brandies overlooking Rome’s terracotta rooftops with views of St Peter’s Basilica and the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument.
One place where Riley was allowed to explore with us was San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini, a church by Piazza dell’Oro, where you can see a religious relic, a shrine supposedly containing the foot bones of Mary Magdalene. It’s also home to a couple of Bernini statues. We also took Riley into two other churches without any trouble, the Oratorio dei Fillipini, and the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pace.
We managed to take Riley into all non-food shops with the majority of owners or shop assistants keen to say hello. The exceptions were supermarkets, such as Coop and Carrefour Express, although we did take Riley into a Pam Local on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. The staff here seemed to enjoy the novelty of Riley and were warm and friendly.
After a few days in the city we started to make assumptions. We no longer asked if we could take Riley into a place the only exception being food shops. We did meet one local young man who was walking a Romagnolo near Piazza Cavour who said that this was the best approach to take in Rome. Assume you can enter until told otherwise.
Chocolate orange cake
Ingredients75g/2¾oz cocoa powder6 tbsp just-boiled water2 medium oranges, well-scrubbed, finely grated zest and 2 tbsp juice only225g/8oz unsalted butter, cubed and softened, plus extra for greasing225g/8oz caster sugar4 large free-range eggs225g/8oz self-raising flour1 tsp baking powderFor the candied orange zest½ orange, well-scrubbed25g/1oz caster sugarFor the…
Hairy Bikers’ Black Forest gateau
Rich with fruit, chocolate, and cream, this 70s classic still has a place on our tables. This recipe uses dried sour cherries, but you can substitute good-quality bottled ones. Ingredients225g/8oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing225g/8oz caster sugar160g/5½oz self-raising flour65g/2¼oz cocoa powder½ tsp baking powder4…