Tag Archives: Fiumicino

Do You Really Know FCO?

25 Jun

Looking back over the years, since my junior year of college in Rome, I’ve probably landed or taken off from FCO more than 40 times. The formal name of Rome’s largest airport is the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, but to many, the Rome Fiumicino Airport is simply known as FCO, short for Fiumicino.

Like most travelers, the less time spent at an airport the better, so at the end of each Cortona stay, we would leave in the wee hours of the morning to catch a late morning flight home. But last year, when the traffic stress got to be too much, we joined the ranks of those spending the night before departure near FCO.

Not wanting to stay at the airport, we did some research and much to our surprise, we discovered that Fiumicino is much more than an airport. Fiumicino is a town/comune in Metropolitan Rome, with a population over 77,000. And based on its location, the northern side of the mouth of the Tiber river, it’s also an important source of fresh fish for Rome.  Best of all for us, it offers travelers a place to walk, relax, and eat well prior to an international flight.

A stroll along the Tiber is filled with colorful fishing boats,

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

fishing nets,

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

fishermen,

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

fisher “birds”,

©Blogginginitaly.com

and fishing apparatus of every kind.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

The long walk, adjacent to the river, is also filled with a variety of shops, tabacchi, restaurants, bars, gelato shops, etc.

©Blogginginitaly.com

This June was our third stay in Fiumicino, and our custom is to take a long walk to the end of the pier and enjoy the incredible sunset before stopping for dinner.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Wanting to eat light, we discovered this gem last year – Uniti nel Gusto (United in Taste).

©Blogginginitaly.com

This year, upon returning, we got to know the owners who, by the way, are not nearly as stern as the photo suggests. Trust me, it’s an Italian thing.

©Blogginginitaly.com

We chose a wonderful array of appetizers to go with the best bread we have ever had in Italy –

©Blogginginitaly.com

really, the BEST!

©Blogginginitaly.com

On the way back to the hotel, I mentioned to Len that it would be interesting to spend a day here, seeing the fishing boats head out to sea and return with their hauls. Besides, we had so many questions about it all.

The next morning, we awoke to emails telling us our flight was delayed, then rebooked, then ultimately cancelled. Hmm. I guess we get that day in Fiumicino after all.

After a long walk including other parts of town, we put aside some slight concerns we had about eating fish before a flight and headed to the end of the “pier” to Al Molo Bastianelle for lunch. Our waiter assured us that the fish had just arrived, so why not try?

We began with insalata di mare, a freshly made seafood salad,

©Blogginginitaly.com

followed by sautéed sole and roasted potatoes.

Both the setting and the food turned out to be great choices!

©Blogginginitaly.com

After lunch, the boats began to return.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Fortunately, we stopped to talk to the one person who could easily answer our questions.

Massimo was born in Sicily, raised in Gloucester, MA, and now worked in Fiumicino on a large fishing boat. When I approached him with my best Italian, he turned and said with a Boston accent and his best smile, “Do you speak English?” …He had us at Hello.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Massimo explained that they prepare the boats each afternoon and head out to sea at 11:30 pm. They sweep, or drop the nets, usually three times, then return home the following day at 3:30 in the afternoon. When they return, they stop at the end of the pier to unload the day’s catch. The fish is weighed and immediately taken to auction. Len had some other fishing questions, including how often. “Five days a week.” Obviously, fishing is not a hobby here.

Before saying our goodbyes, Massimo said, “Follow the sign and you’ll find the auction.”

©Blogginginitaly.com

Follow we did and came across this serious and immaculate setting, which we were not allowed to enter. Seeing how clean it was made us feel even better about what we had just eaten.

©Blogginginitaly.com

On the right side behind the railing, the buyers are bidding as the auction takes place. If I understand correctly, there is even a doctor on site monitoring the quality. Fish auctioned here remains in Rome.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Massimo also explained that undersized fish cannot be sold at the auction, hence the vendors on the pier.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Satisfied that our questions were answered, we walked more, until the sun set once again.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Eventually, we ended the evening back with our new friends at Uniti Nel Gusto.

©Blogginginitaly.com

As it turned out, exploring Fiumicino was the perfect way to spend a flight delay. And now you know FCO – so very much more than an airport!

Ciao,
Judy

%d bloggers like this: