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Welcome to our Rome Series! Rome was our home for a collective six years so we wanted to share everything you need to have a perfect time in the Eternal City. Visit Rome and learn how to love la dolce vita!
Here is what you can expect from this series:
Quintessential Rome – What You Can’t Miss in the Eternal City! – You’re Here!
Welcome to the last installment of our wonderful Rome series all about quintessential Rome! We hope that this series exploring the Eternal City has inspired you to go off and get lost down the ancient cobbled streets of Rome.
Ash and I though, don’t want you to just take our word on how amazing this beautiful city is. So, we decided to ask locals Romans, tour guides, expats, and experts on what they think is the one quintessential thing you have to do in the Eternal City. We received an amazing response back from all the wonderful lovers of Rome and now you know what you can’t miss in the Eternal City from sights to visit, food to eat, hidden local secrets and more!
Quintessential Rome – What You Can’t Miss in the Eternal City
Kelly Medford from KellyMedford.com
Answering the question is tough, just 1 place in Rome, well, there are so many! I do have a hands down favorite place though, and that is Parco degli Acquedotti or the Aqueduct Park. It is part of the larger Appia Antica park (there are 3 in 1) and is easy to get to via Metro A.
This place is truly magical and is like stepping back in time with the aqueducts running through open fields and there are still sheep and goat herders in this park. Every time I visit the light is different, the landscape has something new to offer. This is a great spot for a bike ride, long walk, and a picnic.
I have painted here hundreds of times and literally, it is never the same twice.
All About Kelly
Kelly is an American Plein air painter who moved to Italy in 2005 without speaking a word of Italian. She studied art in Florence where she lived until moving to Rome in 2010. Kelly takes her easel and paints out on the streets, parks, and piazzas of Rome and throughout Italy daily to documents scenes of daily Italian life and the ever changing Roman landscape. She started Sketching Rome Tours as a way for tourists and locals alike to learn to slow down and appreciate their city through sketchbook journaling. An active member of the Urban Sketchers, Kelly spends her life capturing the light and life of Italy.
Massimo from Storytelling Rome
Everyone who’s coming to Rome wants to see the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon… And you actually should! Rome is not called “The Eternal City” just because and I’d say that in 3 days you can barely see some of its highlights: Colosseum, City Centre, Vatican Museum. These big sites are a must-see, but on the other hand, they are among the most visited sites in the world, and so you need to deal with many other thousands of people who, guess what had your same idea. The city of Rome offers many other as good (if not even better) attractions!
Want a Hint maybe?
Oh well… If for example, you are into ancient Rome, there is no better museum than the “National Museum Palazzo Massimo!” Besides, being a tour guide myself, one of my favorite places in all of Rome is the Protestant Cemetery, nearby Piramide metro station. That is where the English poet John Keats is buried, and the cemetery itself looks wonderful. Right there you also get to find the “Museo di Porta San Paolo” which is open every morning and is free of charge. This place lets you climb the original 3rd century AD Roman wall.
Afterward, you may want to walk along Via Ostiense, to have a great gelato on the way and then to enter “Centrale Montemartini Museum“! This is an old 1920’s factory turned into a great statuary collection from ancient Rome. It houses great pieces, including the Fierce Agrippina, mother of Emperor Nero. See, I’ve just designed a great itinerary just for you, which will help you be in contact with Rome for real, it’ll let you skip HOARDS of visitors and will increase your knowledge of the Classical World.
Well, you can now say it out loud: #thankyouMassimo
All About Massimo
I’m Massimo and I am a licensed tour guide, working in Rome since 2009. I am a historian, but I also have a background as an actor. My theatrical side comes through on my tours because when I tell stories of people from the past I become very animated, I almost embody these characters. For this reason, even though I have an official license and I cover ancient sites of Rome like the Colosseum & Roman Forum as well as museums, like the Vatican Museums and the Borghese Gallery, I like to label myself as a storyteller instead of tour guide.
I want to debunk the popular myth that guided tours, and history in general, are boring. History is made up of men and women, people who loved and struggled in their lives. This is the engine that pushed me in researching for great stories from the past, to shine a light on remarkable people whose memories were forgotten in time and that I try to bring back to light. Their stories need to be known.
To all those people who say that history is boring, please accept my challenge: I dare you to come and take one of my storytelling tours!!!
Stephanie Vermillion from The Wanderlost Way
Visit Castel Sant’Angelo at Night
During the day, Rome is a captivating city with rich history and endless sights. By night? The city transforms into a dazzling display of lights that few take the time to see. While you could go on a boat tour or walk along the Tiber, perhaps the best way to see Rome’s nighttime glow is from inside the Castel Sant’Angelo, a popular second-century castle and museum (AKA, the castle featured in Angels and Demons.)
The castle only stays open until 7:30 p.m., but if you hang around until the very last minute, you’ll get impeccable shots of the shimmering St. Peter’s Basilica, along with sweeping views up and down the Tiber. As you’re ushered out at a prompt 7:30, don’t forget to look back, because the Castel Sant’Angelo has its own impressive evening glow.
All About Stephanie
Stephanie Vermillion is a travel writer and blogger based in New York City. Her writing has been published in outlets like Mental Floss, MSN, Matador Network and Travelettes, and she is a contributing author to Thought Catalog’s travel book, “Let’s Get Lost.” Stephanie is also a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, and runs a road trip travel blog, The Wanderlost Way.
Ania from Ania Travels
Go to Tazza D’oro located near the Pantheon and get a Granita, you won’t be disappointed. Not only does this classic coffee shop serve some of the tastiest and most robust coffee in all of Europe; they serve delicious frozen drinks called Granitas made with perfectly fresh made whipped cream. Perfect for a hot summer day or a sweet pick me up when paired with one of their many macaroons.
All About Ania
Czesc! I’m Ania (An-ya) a 26-year-old Polish-American travel junkie. I’m a sushi eating, wine drinking, beauty loving, adventure freak! I’ve quit my 9-5 corporate life and salary for a budget and carry-on. I am a traveler with a purpose to inspire.
Georgia from Secrets of a City
The unmissable Museum of Rome…
The Galleria Borghese is a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of treasures, collected by the unscrupulous and vastly wealthy Borghese family. It is truly the last word in opulence with floor to ceiling frescoes, ceiling frescoes in mesmerizing trompe l’oeil. A large collection of Caravaggios…. the bad boy of baroque Rome: mad bad and dangerous to know well before Lord Byron! The early statues by Bernini that launched him into Baroque-Rockstardom. They are truly something to behold… and I have converted many people into art lovers and culture vultures in this place. It’s a fabulous place set in stunning parkland and a really pleasant visit as the Museums limits the number of visitors to 300 people per 2-hour time slot.
All About Georgia
Hello! I’m Georgia and I’m a 5 Star tour guide in Rome, the Eternal City. And occasionally London too.
A little about me: I’m what is commonly called a “third culture kid” – I am British and went to boarding schools (sadly not Hogwarts) in southern England whilst my family trotted around the globe. This globetrotting impulse has led me on my own adventures between London, Rome and my annual “big adventure” to far flung lands in the winter months. My family is spread around Europe, Africa, and the Far East. Christmas is a little tricky.
I love to “lift the bonnet” of a city; to look beneath the façade of a place and discover its secrets… As you can imagine, Rome captured my heart and my imagination immediately and I have had a love affair with the place since I moved there in 2009. A highlight of my tour-guiding career was when the British Embassy asked me to take none other than HRH Prince Harry around the Eternal City. (It was definitely the most romantic afternoon of his life).
In nearly eight years, I have collected many stories and little-known secrets about Rome and in 2015 I put them together in a free podcast called Secret Cities which is all about Rome, have a listen on itunes, soundcloud or stitcher.
Laura from The Culinary Travel Guide
The one thing you have to do in Rome is cook like a local – because the quickest (and most pleasurable) way to get to the heart of a place is through its food. Especially when you make it yourself. If you’re staying in an Airbnb, put that borrowed kitchen to good use. Shop for the freshest regional ingredients at the local markets and gourmet shops, pick up a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino, head back to your home away from home, and cook one of Rome’s iconic traditional pasta – like cacio e pepe, carbonara, pasta alla gricia, or all’amatriciana. By immersing yourself fully in the cuisine and culture, you’ll be able to unlock the true essence of the city!
All about Laura
A culinary travel expert, Laura Goyer is the founder and editor of The Culinary Travel Guide, a Certified Culinary Travel Professional (CCTP), and a proud member of the World Gourmet Society. When she’s not working, she’s creating new taste memories, searching for unforgettable land and seascapes, and brushing up on her Spanish.
Mimi from The Atlas Heart
One of my top quintessential things to do in Rome is to have a picnic at Piazza Navona. Grab a baguette, some fresh prosciutto, and mozzarella di bufala and enjoy people watching in a historic place. This is one of my favorite things to do in Italy, take in the culture and history through the senses with a simple meal and good company. And as a bonus, there is a great little gelato shop right down the street, called Grom for dessert.
All About Mimi
Mimi McFadden is a travel blogger and freelance writer. Originally from California, she has been slow traveling the world since 2013. When she’s not writing, she’s probably sipping on a pint of craft beer, practicing yoga, chasing waterfalls, or losing track of time with a good book. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog, The Atlas Heart.
Alessandra Potenza from The Verge
Shopping at the Via Sannio flea market
(Appio Latino neighborhood)
Just around the corner from the Saint John’s Basilica, in a street along the ancient Roman walls, there is a flea market filled with stands selling inexpensive clothes and contraband music. I grew up in the neighborhood and remember the thrill of visiting the market as a teenager. The sellers shout at you from every corner, the air is damp, and you’re bombarded by catcalls. I remember buying a contraband Eminem CD there, as well as a pair of Carhartt jeans that the seller swore to me, were stolen from the back of a truck.
That meant they were the real deal, and I got them for just a few euros. I won’t lie, this is not for the faint of heart. The experience is similar to a suk, when people pull you to the side and try to sell you all kinds of things. You have to be able to say “no” loud and clear, and once you decide what to buy, you have to be a master at the bargaining game. But if you make it through, you’ll have experienced one of the most authentic Roman outings. You’ll also have a cool story to tell—and maybe a pair of stolen Carhartt jeans.
All about Alessandra
Alessandra Potenza reports and edits for the science section of The Verge, a news website about technology, science, and culture based in New York City. She’s originally from Rome, Italy. She moved to New York in 2011 to attend Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Alessandra loves reading books, making pizza, and spending time in nature, camping and stargazing.
As for Us, We Suggest…
*Hint – It has to do with food!
What is the one quintessential thing you can not miss when traveling to Rome? That is an extremely difficult question, especially after living there for so long! Rome is a beautiful city with an amazing culture and expansive history it is hard to choose just one quintessential Rome “thing”.
If we had to choose we would have to say the Roman kitchen or the cuisine of Rome. While the ancient sites, the beautiful markets, the cobbled streets might have brought you to Rome, what makes you stay is the rich cuisine itself.
When you head to Rome take your time and find the restaurants that are still serving truly Roman food. Stay away from the sites when you eat. Instead, head down the small alleyways and look for that perfect bowl of cacio e pepe or carbonara. Order yourself the most perfect thin crust pizza of your life. Head over to the Jewish ghetto and dive into deliciously fried artichokes. Or go deeper down the rabbit hole and try your hand at trippa alla Romana.
There is so much to the cuisine of Rome that with a little research you should never have a bad meal in the Eternal City. The Romans love to eat and they love to spend time eating. So take a 3 to 4-hour lunch and eat until your stuff along with washing it all down with a couple of liters of wine!
Don’t miss out on the rich Roman Kitchen visiting Rome.
There you have it, straight from the locals and experts’ mouths, quintessential Rome, all the things you can not miss when you are traveling to Rome! The Eternal City really is an unbelievable place that has so much to offer! It should be on everybody’s list to visit. This ancient city has a charm to it that draws you in and before you know it you are living “la dolce vita” and you will never want to leave.
That is what Rome has done to us, it has stolen a piece of our hearts and no matter how far we travel the city keeps trying to draw us back in. So get out there and go explore and eat, drink, and live like a local and experience quintessential Rome!
Read On to Read the Rest of the Series!
Quintessential Rome – What You Can’t Miss in the Eternal City! – You’re Here!
Want to really delve into Rome? Be sure to pick up our brand new ebook “Eat Local in Rome.” This guide has everything you need to learn about the Roman kitchen, pick a local restaurant, plus we have included over 100 restaurants, cafes, bars, and unique sights divided up by neighborhood so that no matter where you are in Rome you will be able to eat like a local! Buy your copy today!
Heading to Rome soon? Don’t forget to buy travel insurance! Sure you may not use it but its always good to have. We recommend World Nomads which we have been using for years and have always made us feel secure as we travel around the world!
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