When in Rome -- eat and walk! - Curt Yeomans

I lost 10 pounds during one week in Italy -- and yes, I did eat the food over there.

One of the great things about Rome is that it is a walking city. There is a subway system, but it does not go through the city center because of all of the ancient Roman sites in that part of town. You have a train that goes around the north side of the city center, and one that goes around the southern part of that area.

If you absolutely must have public transportation in the city center, your options are the bus, or a taxi. For most people, however, walking is the way to get around in the city.

And that may explain why I saw very few, if any, overweight locals in Rome.

In fact, walking is how I spent most of my time in Rome. That is why I lost weight, despite eating a lot of rather large meals. And, I ate all over town. My first night in Rome, I ate at a sidewalk ristorante in the Piazza Navona. Another night, I ate at a neat, little dinner-style ristorante a couple of blocks from the Spanish Steps. I ate dinner one time in the Piazza della Rotunda, across from the Pantheon.

I even ate a panini for lunch one afternoon in Saint Peter's Square.

I'd have four to eight glasses of wine with my dinner, which would consist of a pasta dish, a meat dish, an appetizer, and a bread dish.

Then, after I finished eating at the restaurant, I'd leave and head to one of the city's many gelaterias (they are almost on every street corner!), and get a large gelato cone, with a double scoop of gelato. My personal favorite was one scoop of tiramisu, and another of stracciatella chocolate chip. One time, I mixed it up, though, and had a scoop of stracciatella, and a scoop of cinnamon-flavored gelato.

And these were huge scoops of gelato. They may have had somewhat small-looking scooping spoons, but they knew how to dig deep into that gelato. And, yeah, I'd sometimes even have a mound of whipped cream swirled on top.

Gelato, in case you have not yet figured it out, is the Italian version of ice cream.

And, while I am thinking about the food, I just want to say (and I know this will sound stupid) no one does Italian food better than the people who actually live in Italy.

There was one night, when I ate at this pizzeria in a secluded little spot a couple of blocks off the Via Nazionale, and this joint had the best pizza I've ever had. Even the antipasti, which consisted of a ball of buffalo mozzarella cheese wrapped in thin slices of ham, was great. But, the pizza -- wow -- it put all the American pizza restaurant chains to shame.

This pizza, which was margherita with mushroom, had a thick layer of olive oil (which had not been absorbed by the crust) under a layer of tomato slices, sliced mozzarella, mushrooms and basil. It was so juicy that you had to fold the slices to keep the toppings from sliding off.

And, of course, I had a bottle of white wine, which provided eight glasses of the drink, to go with my dinner.

I know, it sounds like I pigged out at every meal, and it is true that I had a five-course meal one night, but all of the walking quickly burns off the calories. It's not hard to walk the meal off when the walk from the Piazza della Repubblica, to the Coliseum takes just under an hour to complete, and it's probably another half hour of walking to the Vatican. Then, you make the long walk back to the hotel.

Do that for a week, and yes, you will lose considerable weight, despite eating a lot.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.