Disappearing Roman Restaurant

High Weirdness, Thin Places


JULY 1999

I had just finished working on an archaeological excavation in Sicily and, this being a once in a lifetime opportunity, my best friend came over and we met up in Rome. One afternoon we were in the fashion district around the Via dei Condotti (near the Piazza di Spagna) and we realized we were super hungry. Not just hungry, but HANGRY. I have complex PTSD and getting super hungry is one of my triggers for dysregulation (for those who aren’t familar, this is a neurological event that can cause panic, hysteria, brain fog, and physical clumsiness), plus it was really hot, and I was thiiiiiiiiiiis close to having a full-on meltdown. All of a sudden we turned a corner into a small blind alley with a restaurant. There was nothing in the alley except the restaurant, but the place was not visible from the main street. It was like the answer to our prayers–it was quiet and secluded, with a little courtyard shaded by a grapevine trellis, inexpensive, and the only person there was a single waiter. I remember there was a fountain in the front with fresh fruit arranged around it. The food and service were wonderful, the peace was restorative, and we left feeling refreshed. In fact we liked it so much that we wanted to eat there again the next day. But we couldn’t find the restaurant or the alley anywhere. Now obviously we weren’t that familiar with any part of Rome, but by this point we had visited the neighborhood around the Piazza di Spagna on multiple days and were starting to get a feel for the area. More importantly, we remembered some of the nearby shops and landmarks we had seen just before finding the restaurant. We found those landmarks easily enough, but never did find the little alley. We started to joke about the “magical restaurant” that appears to desperate travelers in need and then disappears forever. I can never be sure that we didn’t just get confused, but I could swear that whole alley just…wasn’t there anymore.

Submitted by Alex