the beehive

local information on Rome

Baking bread at The Beehive’s cafe

Guest post by Beehivereceptionist & cafe chef -  Francesca Ruffo

photos by Beehive receptionist – Alina Goroaia

Bread is one of those things which for some of us is essential – a source of nourishment and even a comfort food.  In The Beehive’s cafe we like to make our bread from scratch, by hand, using a variety of organically grown flours and seeds.

We have a wonderful book of bread recipes which Linda and Steve bought to inspire and motivate us when we first made the switch, several years ago, from buying bread at a local bakery to baking it ourselves in the cafe. These days, my colleague Gianluca and I have got it pretty much down pat, but it is still nice to take the recipe book off the shelf and consider a fresh ingredient or different method for our daily breakfast loaves.

The beautiful thing about home baked bread is that it never tastes the same way twice as it’s not possible to replicate all conditions precisely. Gianluca and I, over the years, have developed our own styles of baking our Beehive loaves. Gianluca, for instance, likes to use olive oil in his dough and loves to add seeds. He is also a big fan of no knead bread. I, on the other hand, like to knead and feel the quantity of liquid, helping to form the elasticity and precious bubbles. I prefer to mix our manitoba flour base with different flours, my favourite being spelt which gives the crust and toast a great flavour. Our bread is always vegan and we also bake gluten free bread and try to have it available when we know that there may be gluten intolerant guests staying with us.

When we first made the shift to baking our bread for the cafe we used a bread machine. Being a purist I was secretly glad when the machine died as it could not keep up with the demand we had for fresh bread.  Rather than buy another machine, we decided to start making it by hand. In general, we bake a pair of loaves at the end of each cafe shift for the next day’s breakfast, or if I am working at reception in the evening I will bake in the evening for the next morning – letting the perfume of baking bread drift through the whole Beehive!

The oven we use is a small domestic oven, about half the size of what many people have in their own homes. It is super simple and just does the job we need it to do, baking our bread and cakes without any fancy gimmicks.

We love to have the smell of freshly baking bread, chocolate cake or other goodies drifting through The Beehive. It makes our place feel homey and it gives us a chance to connect with guests and have them feel as at home, as we feel working here.

27 January 2012 Uncategorized

Jenifer Vinson – The Beehive’s massage therapist

I strongly believe in the mind body connection and taking care of yourself physically while you are traveling is just as important as making sure you get to see all the sites and galleries in Rome that you’ve been dreaming about.  Many travelers suffer a lot physically – not only from a change in diet and the stress of air travel, but also from the practicalities of essentially carrying your temporary home with you – either literally on your back or struggling with a suitcase.  In Rome physical discomfort can be exacerbated by lugging your bags on and off trains, down cobblestone streets and in the summer – doing all this in the heat of the city.

Not many of our guests realize massage therapist and personal trainer, Jenifer Vinson, has her own little cozy space downstairs at The Beehive near our lounge.  For the past several years, Jenifer’s home for her private practice has been at The Beehive where she gives massage to our guests as well as her own permanent resident clientele.

Jenifer is an American who grew up studying ballet in her hometown of Tallahassee, Florida.  She later earned an MFA in Dance from Florida State University.  She then studied dance in New York City and received a BA in Humanites at FSU.  Jenifer is a graduate of New York’s Swedish Institute, College of Health Sciences and is a New York state-licensed Massage Therapist.

Recently, I asked Jenifer a few questions about her personal history with massage as well as her life in Rome.

How did you become interested in doing massage?    Being the one dancer in a family of three talented (but less flexibile) tennis players must have pricked my interest in loosening up others.  My teenage brother would ask for help executing a rather jarring abdominal exercise where I’d hurl his legs towards the floor (forcing him to catch his heavy legs with his ab strength).  I was always trying to get him to slow down and stretch his super tights legs.  Around fellow dancers in college  — folks who already stretched — I’d massage their shoulders and feet while we chatted after classes and rehearsals.    A fantastic massage therapist in Tallahassee was helping me with the excess tension in my back at that time,  and it felt natural to do the same for others.  I guess you could say I slid effortlessly into the role of caretaker and teacher.  By the time I started the Swedish Institute’s massage program I was quite used to massaging friends, and I’d been teaching dance and exercise for many years.

Any suggestions for how travelers can avoid back or neck trouble?     Yes!  Only pick up children or bags with a straight back and bent legs.  Brace your suitcase against your legs when going up stairs.  Stay balanced – frequently switching your rolling suitcase from left to right so you’re not holding the same twist for too long.  If carrying bags on your shoulders, try to balance your load.  On the airplane, get up frequently during your flight and make gentle circular movements with your ankles, shoulders and neck, both for your comfort during the flight and so you don’t hurt yourself taking your suitcase from the overhead compartment.

What would you say to someone who thinks it’s too indulgent to get a massage while they’re traveling on a budget?   Oh it’s maintenance, not indulgence:)  Your legs have never before stood on so many marble surfaces!  Pinch pennies instead by refilling your water bottle for free from Rome’s excellent fountains (the “nasone“) and by eating sandwiches or pizza picnic style or at the local tavola calda rather than having every meal at a sit-down restaurant.

 

How long have you lived here and what brought you to Rome?   I first came here in 1999 to live with my boyfriend (who’s now my friend, ex-husband and occasional client).

 

What are some of your favorites in Rome – places to go, things to do, restaurants?  I love the walk up Salita di Grillo in a part of the Monti neighborhood that’s uphill from Trajan’s Forum, and the walking up the Campidoglio stairs at night (then taking the less conspicuous stairs to the left down to Via Fori Imperiali.)  When I meet friends out we enjoy the older wine bars in the Monti neighborhood or other parts of the historic center.

Plans for the future?   I still need to see Sicily and Sardegna, and then a year or at least a summer working  in Berlin interests me.  I want to see Holland and Ireland as well…….and the parts of France I haven’t seen, but I’ll never move there as I can’t approximate those tricky vowel sounds.

 

Jenifer can be found at The Beehive, via Marghera, 8, by appointment, just ask at our reception or call 0644704553.

Her rate for an hour massage is €45 and Beehive guests receive a special rate of €35. 

She can also be reached directly at 3395399550 or jenifer_vinson@hotmail.com

11 January 2012 Uncategorized

Getting to The Beehive from Fiumicino Airport by train – step by step

The Beehive is conveniently located to Termini train station, but we often forget that many of our guests don’t have any idea just how close.  In addition, visitors unfamiliar with the area or train travel in general may find using the train and the arrival a bit intimidating – Termini is a large, loud and chaotic mess even for those of us who are used to it.

A couple of summer ago, my then 11 year old daughter, Giulia, showed how painless it can be to take the train in the opposite direction – from Termini to the airport, and essentially, you just need to do it in reverse to get to The Beehive.  In this post, I hope to show you how fairly straightforward it is to get from Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) airport to Rome’s Termini train station on the Leonardo Express airport train to a friendly face at The Beehive.  (Arrivals from Ciampino airport will be another post)

From the baggage claim at Fiumicino you want to follow the signs to the trains. To trains sign at FCO

It does take about a 10-15 minute walk (depending on your baggage situation), and several escalator rides to get you to the train departure point.  When you arrive, you’ll have several options to purchasing a ticket – ticket offices, tobacco shop or self-service machines.  My suggestion would be to use the self-service machines.

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The machines are multi-lingual, quick and easy to use, you don’t pay an additional service charge like you do at the ticket offices and you usually don’t have to wait or wait very long to use one.  It accepts credit cards (with chip and with PIN) as well as cash in euro.  The price is €14 each for a one way ticket.  Please remember to stamp your ticket at these green and white ticket validation machines before boarding the train.  They do control tickets on the train and you will be fined €50 if it’s not stamped.

The journey from Fiumicino to Rome’s central train station Termini takes 30 minutes.  The train USUALLY arrives at Platform 24 if you are lucky which is close to the main gallery, but sometimes it does disembark at Platform VERY FAR AWAY so note that this can change at the whims of Trenitalia.  If you are at the far away platforms, please note you’ll need to walk for about 10 minutes or so to the main gallery.  Do not take stairs or escalators leading down to the basement.

If you are lucky and get off at Platform 24, you’ll see this sign for the binario (track) number 24 and a slight ramp which leads you into the arrival/departure hall.

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You want to continue going straight – passing the hall and into the main gallery which is full of advertising and many shops.

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The station has 3 main entrances/exits, and with the train tracks behind you, take the exit to your right which is the furthest exit from Platform 24.  So walk confidently towards that exit – you’ll pass many tempting little shops which continuously change, but in either case you might be inclined to have a little break on your way to The Beehive.

***Unfortunately, thieves heavily target Termini train station.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that you keep an eye on your belongings and do not allow anyone to help you with your luggage or if you are alone – to try to distract you from your belongings by offering to help you while another team member opens up your purse or backpack.  Ladies, please do not have totes (unless they are zippered) or other open bags with you in Rome.***

When you arrive at the large open exit – across the street you’ll see on the left corner a book shop called Don Bosco and on the right corner Bar Trombetta.  IMG_7436

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With the station exit behind you, continue walking straight ahead on the Don Bosco side of the street.  This is our street – via Marghera.  You can see the street name on the Don Bosco building.

The walk is only 2 blocks, about 5 minutes from this exit.

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It’s a non-eventful walk and soon you will arrive to this corner where there is large yellow building with a yellow wall.  Behind that yellow wall with the trees and vines is The Beehive – you are almost there!

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Cross the street and soon afterward, you’ll notice on your left a silver door, our sign and the #8.

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Press the buzzer on the wall to your right, soon you’ll hear a click – push open the door and there in front of you are our colorful wooden fish and our Welcome sign.

Up a couple of steps and through the door and you’ll be cheerfully greeted by our manager Yuli (pictured here) or one of our other friendly faces – Francesca or Steve.

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After you’ve done it one time, you’ll see how easy it is to get from the station to The Beehive, your home away from home in Rome.

6 January 2012 Uncategorized