Roman tea in English style

Who would have thought there would be a small piece of England in the middle of Rome?

To the side of the Spanish Steps on the Piazza di Spagna, I discovered Babington’s Tea Room, where fine tea and eatables are to be had in refined surroundings.

The English connection goes back to 1893 when the area around the Spanish Steps was a haven for English tourists and ex-patriots. To cater to this clientele, Anna Maria Babington and her friend Isabel Cargill started up a tea room, which has stayed open for over a 100 years, even despite hard times during two world wars.

Today, the business is run by Isabel’s great-grandchildren, who continue the tradition of providing delicious food and specialty teas in an elegant environment, which includes a fireplace, leaded glass windows and lots of dark oiled wood.

Since my husband and I were there before noon, I had the Continental Breakfast menu with orange juice, a toasted brioche bun, tasty jam and whipped cream, and a pot of Babington’s Special Blend Tea. Gregory decided to go for the afternoon tea menu with freshly baked cakes and tarts and a pot of Earl Grey.

While we were sipping and munching, we noticed a cat motif on everything from napkins and tea canisters to cutlery and tea pot lids. Our server told us that long ago, before health and safety regulations, there used to be a resident black cat called Mascherino. It was so well loved, that after it died, Babington’s decided to honour it by making it its official logo.

As we left the tea shop, well-fortified to face the crowded streets once more, we bought a canister of Babington’s tea to remember our experience and to carry home a little bit of Rome.