Our latest long-weekend adventure was to the glorious city of Rome! I’m not really sure what we were expecting, but whatever it was, Rome far exceeded it.
Month: Late Sept./Early Oct.
Favorite Things: Pizza, Pasta, Gelato, Ancient History, and beautiful sites around every turn.
Things to Know: Unlike most other European cities, Ubers aren’t cheap here.
If you fly into Fiumicino (Rome has several airports), you can take the Leonardo Express. The airport is not close, so a cab is pricey, but the express will get you in in 30 minutes. It does stop running (I think around 11:00pm), so watch your arrival time. It might be worth paying more for an earlier flight to avoid paying for a cab.
Accommodations: Rome is expensive, so Airbnb is the way to go, and book early. You’ll find lots of cool old buildings, ours was a rustic 15th century situation. Many people charge a late check in fee, so be careful of your arrival time. Rome is also strict about its recycling policy so make sure you check your house rules or you may be charged a fee. We stayed in Regola, which gave us easy access to Trastevere as well as the more well known touristy areas of Rome. We liked the neighborhood itself as well.
Da Enzo – Super authentic, tiny spot, known for it’s Cacio e Pepe. They only take reservations for 7:30, and they can book up a week in advance. The rest of the night is first come first serve, but expect to wait. In other words, MAKE A RESERVATION, or get there super early and be willing to sit with other parties. It’s worth it.
La Prosciutteria – Two locations, we ate at the one in Trastevere. Fabulous cured meat and cheese selection, as well as pasta and sandwiches, which I’m sure were equally scrumptious. Reasonably priced as well.
Alice’s Pizza and Pastasciutta – It can be hard to find good food around the big tourist sites, but these two are about a five minute walk from the Vatican, right next to each other (so you can have pizza and your friend/spouse/travel buddy can have pasta). They both have a few small spaces to sit, but it’s rather more charming to take your food out onto the steps or a nearby railing and enjoy Rome’s beautiful weather.
Pianostrada – A modern take on Italian charm and yummy food. Beautiful courtyard and a cute bull dog to boot. The ricotta crostini was great, but really so was everything. Make sure you get the chocolate dessert (not the brownie, the other one). Credit to our friend Rachel for the last photo. She’s also the really tall person you see standing in many of my photos, and she deserves full credit for showing us around Rome!
Beppe e i Soui Formaggi – A mouth watering cheese shop and wine bar in the Jewish Quarter. We only took some cheese to go, but based on that I wager the cured meat and wine selection is pretty stellar.
Frigidarium – Let’s be honest, have you ever had bad gelato (in Italy)? While we did try to avoid super cheesy touristy looking spots, we had gelato at several places, none of which were disappointing. This spot was particularly good, and our friend sought out to Il Gelatone on a recommendation and loved it.
Panetteria Romana e Spaccio di Pasta – Our friend also ate here and said the pizza the perfect thin pizza she had been looking for. They made her a pizza even though their pizza section was closed since she had gone to the effort of seeking them out. In general when looking for pizza in Rome, if they cut it with a scissors, that’s what you want.
Vino Olio – So we didn’t actually make it to this wine bar, but it was across the street from our Airbnb and was literally PACKED with locals spilling out into the streets every night. A bit intimidating as my Italian is basically bad Spanish, but I’m determined to go next time ‘cuz it looked awesome.
See/Do: Rome is packed with cultural adventures and journeys through history…or famous (and not so famous) movie sites if that’s more your speed.
The Colosseum – You know, the big round thing (largest amphitheater ever) where gladiators used to fight wild animals.
Vatican City and St. Peters Basilica – Something about where The Pope lives… (except in summer when he’s at his summer home). You can go up to the top of the dome and see the view (on our list for next time), and obviously don’t miss the Sistine Chapel. Expect lines, you may want to pay to skip them. Oh and you can rub the foot of a statue of St. Peter for good luck. The Da Vinci Code is one of the only movies I’ve ever slept through, but I’m guessing they filmed somewhere around here.
Trevi Fountain – Ever seen the Lizzy Maguire movie? Yeah, no, me neither… but I’m told she goes here. It’s packed with tourists, but still totally beautiful. Don’t touch the water, you’ll get a fine. Do throw a coin over your left (could be right, no one really knows, so do both) shoulder into the fountain and make wish.
The Spanish Steps – Not in my favorite area of town (bougie shopping and lots of crowds), but pretty none the less. I think despite the crowds it could be nice to sit for a bit and imagine you’re Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, but we were on a food mission so we didn’t stop.
Pantheon – A temple turned church, this is an impressive 2000 year old building, and the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built. Plus it has a hole in the ceiling (on purpose) so sometimes there are birds flying around inside.
The Jewish Quarter – Not to be missed, this is an architecturally and culturally rich area of the city (as if the rest isn’t). There’s a calmness here that the rest of the city lacks, perhaps due to the fact that the city has had a relatively small population of Jews since WWII. Take a moment to look up and find the plaques commemorating the Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust.
Palatino and Roman Forum – Ruins of the 7th Century BC cultural and political center of Rome. Julius Ceasar was definitely up in this bitch. Palatino is specifically the hill overlooking the forum, the original hill of the 7 hills Rome was built on.
Piazza Navona – Rome is full of beautiful squares, but this seems to be the elegant favorite. There’s a fountain in the middle featuring an Egyptian obelisk, and the square is surrounded by baroque mansions.
Trastevere – This is the beautiful, restaurant rich, slightly less touristy (and by that I mean that most of the tourists will be Italian rather than foreign), area just over the Tiber River. If you can go before 11am, or in the evening (and not on weekends) you can avoid even more of the crowds, and it’s just sublime. Hanging vines and olive trees, old rose red brick buildings and town squares where you’ll want to sip campari and orange juice all day.
Terraza del Giancicolo – There’s famous statue of Garibaldi up here (did you know he was actually French?), but the real treasure is the beautiful trees and the view of Rome…of which we failed to take decent pictures.
Thrift – Rome surprised us with several solid vintage shops, particularly in the Parione. No surprise, there’s lots of good used leather.
Walk Everywhere – Rome is highly walkable and there’s almost nothing not worth seeing, so Rome away! At night too, and look up! (Last photo by our friend Rachel!)
Just remember, you can never have too much pasta. The gym will be there when you get home. Pasta la vista baby.