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*Post updated May 20, 2017
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:
Eat Local in Rome – You are Here!
Top 5 Unique Sights in Rome – Coming Soon
Rome’s Transportation System – Coming Soon
Day Trip to Ostia Antica – Coming Soon
Quintessential Rome – What You Can’t Miss in the Eternal City! – Coming Soon
Eat Local in Rome
The Eternal City, Rome, has transcended into a living and breathing entity. An entity that over 2700 years has carefully crafted the most beautiful culture the world has seen. A sense of calm is felt in the Eternal City, even with the chaotic traffic and the argumentative streets. It is a kind of calm that only can be achieved through time and age. The local populace moves through this perpetual chaos with a graceful laissez-faire arrogance. An attitude that you can’t learn an attitude that you are born with, an attitude that only comes from being a Roman, a title that is held dearly amongst the locals. It is an arrogance that is beautiful, an arrogance that is addicting, an arrogance that keeps us coming back to this ancient city for more.
Ash and I called Rome home for many years. It is a city that we love, it is the first city that we explored through its kitchen. We hold the Roman kitchen close to our hearts. It is simplistic, it is beautiful, and it is pure. The complete understanding of how ingredients work together and how flavors complement one another defines the Roman Kitchen.
We consider Rome so precious that we want to help you our readers enjoy Rome as well. A lot of Travelers have a hard time wrapping their head around the city of Rome. It truly is an overwhelming city. It truly is a city that you won’t be able to appreciate in just three days.
We fully understand though that sometimes three days is all you have and that is why we wrote this guide. It is to help you enjoy Rome, to help you plan your trip, and help get the most this beautiful and enchanting city.
We Hope you enjoy Eat Local in Rome, our complete guide to the Eternal City.
Eat Local in Rome
It is safe to say that Italian cuisine is one of if not the most beloved cuisine in the western world. It is a cuisine that builds off quality local ingredients. Each region of Italy has completely separate cuisines using the resources that were available to them. A lot of the Roman kitchen came from poverty and out of that poverty came some of the most iconic Italian dishes we all know and love.
While Rome has many amazing restaurants they are also plagued with a lot of tourist traps. Being your friendly neighborhood food writer we have given you a head start on places to enjoy a snack, a coffee, and some amazing traditional restaurants for your trip.
Osteria del Pegno
8 Vicolo di Montevecchio, Centro Storico
Osteria Del Pegno is one of our favorites and we would have recommended it to everyone when we were in Rome but we only shared our secret with a few special people so count yourself lucky. It is a tiny little Osteria located just steps from Piazza Navona. Osteria del Pegno specializes in new Italian Cooking. You can find traditional Roman dishes here like Bucatini Amatriciana and Carbonara but you will also find Sea Bass Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Ravioli in a Zucchini Flower, Saffron, and Orange Cream Sauce. It is definitely worth checking out if you are looking for a bit of a nicer restaurant to eat at without a huge price tag.
Cul de Sac
73 Piazza di Pasquino, Centro Storico
Cul De Sac is also a favorite restaurant of ours. It is located in Piazza Pasquino and is an enoteca or a wine bar. It has a fabulous selection of wines, they give you a giant book to make your selection from and the food is some of the best we have had in Italy, especially the Capri Ravioli with lemon and lime zest, ricotta ravioli in a sage and butter sauce – so delectable. They are also a perfect place to try out trippa alla Romana, or Roman tripe. This dish is certainly for the adventurous eater! Cul de Sac is always busy and the tiny restaurant is always filled to the brim with locals. This is a place to wait for though, we promise it will be worth it!
Hosteria del Moro da Tony a Enzo e Mario
37 Viccolo del Cinque, Trastevere
Hosteria del Moro or just Tony’s is one of those restaurants that looks like a typical cliche Italian restaurant. It is a sprawling restaurant with tables crammed next to one another, spilling out onto the pavement, and filled with the cacophony of dinners chatting, waiters shouting orders and filled with laughter from the locals.
Are there a lot of tourists here? Yes, of course. Tony’s is located on one of the main roads through Trastevere that connects Piazza Trilussa to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere and it does get a lot of foot traffic from tourists navigating and photographing the medieval streets of Trastevere. But just because tourists have found this restaurant doesn’t mean it should automatically be avoided. In fact, in this case, Tony’s is a shining example of a classic restaurant left unchanged after all these years even as its popularity grows with locals and tourists alike.
It is popular and for good reason. The cuisine covers a range of Italian specialties including the mammoth Florentine steaks and Alex’s favorite, the calamari. The steaks are about Flintstone sized and the calamari is the best we have had in Rome. It is always fresh and they are perfectly fried to crispy perfection. Their other famous dishes include a homemade lasagna that could feed a small army and a meal here should always be finished off with tiramisu and limoncello. A meal at Tony’s won’t set you back much either which is refreshing to find as their prices have not risen in conjunction with their popularity.
72 Piazza di Pasquino, Centro Storico
If you are needing a break from pizza and pasta and need a little veggie break we would suggest Insalata Ricca. It is a chain, in so far as Italy does chains, which means there are eleven locations all around the city of Rome but that’s it. You won’t find L’Insalata Ricca in Milan or Naples so get your salad fix now. They have a huge menu of over 2 pages of salads which range from the “Why do they feel the need to put corn on every salad” salads to the “ah yes a simple Greek salad, this is just what I was looking for” salads. To be fair they have some strange combinations but they are delicious so take a chance and a break at L’Insalata Ricca.
Their house wine is also ridiculously cheap and they also have great pasta and pizzas as well for those who cannot fathom having a salad. I am particularly fond of the Greek Salad and Pesto Pizza combination. They have a location right next to Cul de Sac which is awesome on Via Governo Vecchio just off Piazza Navona. We have been known to go to L’Insalata Ricca for lunch and then Cul de Sac for dinner and they also have a location right by the Vatican and one in Trastevere.
Hostaria dei Bastioni
29 Via Leone IV, Prati
While the Vatican is utterly fascinating, it is surrounded by subpar restaurants except for this gem. Located just outside the Vatican walls, Hostaria dei Bastioni is a small simple restaurant serving up unbelievable pasta that is relatively inexpensive to boot! Our personal favorite pasta is the fettuccine al bastioni, fettuccine pasta in an orange cream sauce. It may sound weird but the orange cream sauce is delectable! Do yourself a favor and eat here!
If you are busy with sightseeing you may not have time for a meal but don’t worry there are plenty of delicious panini places in Rome. Panini (panino in the singular) are Italian sandwiches with about two to three toppings and then grilled to delicious perfection. One of the most popular ones is the Caprese panino or the tomato, mozzarella, and basil. So simple but perfect for a meal on the go!
43 Via dei Germanica, Prati
Fa’Bio is an organic sandwich shop doing things a little different such as quinoa salads, healthy wraps and a salmon, wasabi paste and avocado sandwich on freshly made focaccia. They also make amazing smoothies if you are needing an infusion of Vitamin C. This is the place to head to if you are looking to break up your typical pizza, pasta routine!
Alimentari Filli Santi
29 Via Giacinto Carini, Monteverde
If you aren’t feeling pizza and you find yourself in Monteverde, why not pop into Alimentari Filli Santi for some panini? Here you can customize your panini or just grab some amazing fresh sliced prosciutto or salami and fresh cheese. If you decide to create your own panino you can choose your bread, meat and cheese. Then your sandwich will be made to order with homemade pesto and tomato added. You can walk out of the shop knowing you just scored the best panino in the city.
88 Via Giovanni Branca, Testaccio
Trappezino is a fantastic little local lunch spot. This is a quick lunch made up of little cones of piazza bianca which are hollowed out and then stuffed with your choice of fillings like chicken cacciatore, eggplant parmesan, Roman tripe or chicken with peppers. Trapizzino is part of what Italians call “lo street food.” It is basically a casual take on Italian cuisine since food trucks don’t really work in streets with space for only the tiniest car!
Mordi e Vai
Nuovo Mercato Comunale di Testaccio, Via Beniamino Franklin, Testaccio
Located in the Testaccio Market Mordi e Vai is one of the most popular places to grab a panini in Rome. They specialize in specific Roman cuisine and are most well known for taking Roman main dishes and serving them up between two slices of bread. Make sure to grab a panino and then spend time wandering this amazing local market!
Forno de Campo de’ Fiori
14 Vicolo del Gallo, Campo de’ Fiori
Forno Campo de’ Fiori is the perfect place to stop and grab some panini on pizza bianca or some pizza rosso. Their panini are made from pizza bianca, plain pizza dough, cut in half and then stuffed with a variety of ingredients not limited to Nutella or mortadella. They also have a series of pizza rosso which are pizzas with tomato sauce. Oh, and did we mention all the cakes and pastries they have?? This bakery has been here for 30 years and has been serving up quality from the beginning.
You are in Italy so you are going to want pizza. That is a given. But did you know that there are different styles of pizza all throughout Italy? In Rome they love pizza that is very thin, has little to no crust and that crust is usually a bit scorched. The scorch is a good thing and imparts a ton of flavor from the wood-burning oven. Also in Rome, you can get two types of pizzas. The first is the one you order at a restaurant. Expect it to be larger than a dinner plate and that everyone will order their own. Also, the pizza will not be cut into slices; this is one pie you eat with a knife and fork!
The other type of pizza is Rome’s to go pizza called pizza ai taglio. You will find shops all over Rome offering pizza ai taglio and here they offer pizza by weight. You let them know what kind and how much pizza you want and then they weigh it, heat it up, and then send you on your way with the pizza folded in half.
Pizzeria ai Marmi
53 Viale di Trastevere, Trastevere
Pizzeria ai Marmi, located on Viale di Trastevere, is a great spot to mingle with the locals over some pizza. It is always crowded with locals and tourists alike with communal tables filling up both the inside restaurant and the sidewalk outside. Come for the atmosphere but stay for the pizza! This is definitely an authentic Roman pizzeria!
Pizzeria da Baffetto
114 Via del Governo Vecchio, Centro Storico
One of my all time favorite pizza places is Pizzeria da Baffetto which is conveniently located just across the street from our favorite expat bar, Abbey Theater. They have a wide range of pizzas and it is always crowded. It is the only place I have seen people line up for before it is open. It is all about the communal, tightly packed tables and the jugs of wine and the pizza of course. They do pizza and that is it. My favorite (Ashley) is the Pizza con fagioli or Pizza with Cannellini Beans. Sounds weird but it is awesome, I promise. They also recently opened up a second one right out Campo de’ Fiori called Baffetto 2.
101 Via della Lungaretta, Trastevere
If you are looking for pizza and you are on a budget you cannot go wrong with locals’ favorite Carlo Menta. Carlo Menta is also always packed and located on a typical cobblestone lined street in Trastevere. The tables are close together, there are two levels inside and an outdoor patio and it is always crowded. Perhaps it is because their pizzas start at 3euros and we are talking about getting the best whole Margherita pizza you have ever had in your life for 3euros. That is all. (and they also have a full menu of pasta and appetizers that are equally delicious)
Pizza ai Taglio
Pizzeria da Simone
50 Via Giacinto Carini, Monteverde
If you find yourself in Monteverde and are craving pizza, there is really only one place to go, Simone’s. In our humble opinion, Simone’s has the best pizza in the city, and whenever we get back to Rome we always make the trek up to Pizzeria da Simone. Their margherita is classic and super cheesy, the spicy Italian sausage pizza is perfectly oily and delicious, and the thinly sliced potato with broccolini is to die for. Simone’s best pizza, however, is the pizza Bianca: no sauce, no nothing, just plain pizza dough with some salt and olive oil, and it is heavenly. So grab one of these babies and a plate of the veal meatballs and you are set for lunch.
Or pop by on a Thursday and grab some gnocchi (Romans have a thing about serving gnocchi only on Thursdays), and if you get hungry while waiting (and you will wait, as this place is always crowded with locals and international students studying in Rome), be sure to grab some of Simone’s amazing suppli. Either way, you will be satiated and happy as a clam when you leave, and you will be back.
5 Via delle Grazie, Prati
If you are looking for a quick snack near the Vatican, you can’t go wrong with Alice Pizza. This little hole in the wall offers an insane variety of pizzas to go, from the classic margherita or zucchini and buffalo mozzarella to thinly sliced potatoes with rosemary. There is something for everyone, as long as you get there in the early afternoon, as it is so popular that it eventually runs out of certain toppings every evening. The pizza here is fantastic, but it’s worth grabbing a seat on a curb to eat yours rather than shelling out more money to eat at a sit-down restaurant. If you miss the one by the Vatican, don’t worry, as there are about 40 sprinkled throughout the city and they all serve quality pizza.
Another great staple of Italian cuisine is the Aperitivo hour, where you purchase a drink and then have access to a free buffet. You can find bars all over Rome where you can have aperitivo and they range from just small snacks to a full on buffet with pasta dishes and dessert.
46 Via del Governo Vecchio, Centro Storico
Fluid is your best option if you are looking for a cool, hip, sleek Euro-lounge feel, with mellow electronic music and a floor that changes colors to set the chill mood. We came here for two reasons: first for the martinis and second for their amazing aperitivo. This very popular pastime in Rome is simple: You go to a bar, buy a drink and get access to all the small bites that it sets out. We found that Fluid has the best aperitivo in the city, offering a gigantic martini and lots of wonderful food, from pasta salads to suppli to grilled pineapple drizzled in Nutella, all for about 15 euros.
32 Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, Campo de’ Fiori
Baccanale, in the heart of Campo de’ Fiori, is the perfect place to take part in an Italian tradition, aperitivo. They have a huge spread here, from arancini to suppli to mini panini to meats and cheeses. All you have to do is order a drink and you get access to this amazing selection of small bites Aperitivo usually runs from around 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is the perfect time to just sit back and relax with a glass of wine and some tasty little bites.
Freni e Frizioni
4/6 Via del Politeama, Trastevere
Freni e Frizioni was the epitome of Roman cool when we were living in Rome. This converted mechanics garage is still just as cool as it used to be and it has truly stepped up its cocktail game. Their aperitivo runs from 7 pm to 10 pm so it’s a bit later than the others but well worth waiting for. You won’t be able to miss this spot in Trastevere as the crowd spills out onto the neighboring piazza and you will find people squeezing in wherever they can just to be a part of this intoxicatingly cool environment!
Gelato is a staple in Rome, feel free to eat it for breakfast (We have no shame when it comes to Gelato). There are so many good gelato places in Rome! However, just keep in mind that there are bad ones out there (especially by Termini) and so one way to check if it is good is to look at the banana or pistachio gelato. If either are colors not found in nature the gelateria most likely is not using fresh ingredients!
3 Piazza della Maddalena, Centro Storico
If you are looking for unique gelato that reflects the seasonal produce of Italy then there is no better spot than San Crispino. Located in front of the Pantheon in a quaint little piazza, this gelateria is serving up some decadent flavors. Our personal favorites are the Sicilian honey and white peach when they are in season, but it is worth a visit here just to see what they are cooking up. Seriously, the flavors here are unique and worth searching out. Plus, these gelati are so creamy and delicious that we guarantee you won’t be able to come here only once.
Gelateria del Teatro
66 Via dei Coranari, Centro Storico
Gelateria del Teatro is another delightful gelato shop on the picturesque Via dei Coranari, our favorite place to shop local in Rome. This shop is postcard pretty and will compel you to order your gelato and then sit on the ivy-covered stairs with the locals. Grab a cone filled with Sicilian citrus, or maybe a more savory and sweet combination is your style. Try their refreshing lemon, rosemary, and honey gelato or sage and raspberry. If you want to try a truly Roman flavor be sure to order up the Vecchia Roma, which evokes the traditional pastries made in the Jewish Ghetto with ricotta cheese, sour cherries, and a butter crumble.
Drink Local in Rome
Even though Rome is known for their food they are also known for what they accompany their food with. From energy packed coffee to cocktails, digestives, wine and beer that will keep any boozy happy. The Italians take what they drink as seriously as their food, so stay thirsty my friends.
If you are a coffee connoisseur then Italy is for you. In our opinion, there is no other country who prepares coffee better than the Italians. From the simple café (espresso) to the deliciously creamy cappuccino. Rome is littered with amazing coffee bars and if you are like us you will be running caffeine your whole trip.
Bar San Callisto
3 Piazza di San Callisto, Trastevere
Bar San Callisto is reputedly the oldest cafe in Rome still in operations and is located just off the main square in Trastevere in Piazza San Callisto. Whether this is true or not, you never know in Rome, this is our favorite place to get a cappuccino. If you are looking for a classic, no frills, Italian cappuccino then you need to pop into San Callisto for one. There are tables outside to enjoy the sunny summer days in Rome and on the chillier days when the people watching is not as enticing there is interior seating as well. Come in the earlier morning, sip your cappuccino (or espresso), and enjoy watching the old men play scopa, a traditional Italian card game.
If you are not a coffee fan you can always indulge in their hot chocolate. This is not your typical hot chocolate but more along the lines of the drinking chocolate you will find in Spain. In Rome at San Callisto, their hot chocolate is topped with a very lightly sweetened whipped cream which perfectly breaks up the denser chocolate for hot chocolate perfection.
If you happen upon Bar San Callisto later in the evening, the old men playing scopa are replaced by young and ever so fashionable Italians drinking prosecco on the outdoor patio and even more lingering around Piazza San Callisto lounging on their motorinos chatting and smoking like they are out of a Fellini film. Grab a glass of prosecco and join in the fun!
Tazzo de Oro
84 Via degli Orfani, Centro Storico
Tazza d’Oro is a famous coffee shop in the city. Located just around the corner from the Pantheon, Tazza d’Oro, “the golden cup,” is serving up cups of coffee by the hundreds each day. This place is always slammed with locals and tourists alike who want to experience that golden cup. Founded in 1946, this coffee shop also roasts and brews its own coffee. If you visit Rome on a hot day, though, you have to order Tazza d’Oro’s granita. This delectable beverage consists of coffee that has been frozen and then periodically raked with a fork until it is light and fluffy. This fluffy espresso is then topped with whipped cream to create a decadent summer treat.
Bar Caffe’ Carioti Vincenzo
23 Via dei Funari, Jewish Ghetto
Fondly known as Enzo’s Bar, this old-school establishment in the heart of the Ghetto has worn the test of time well. The deep wood and mirrors reflect the alcohol bottles lining the wall, and the room is dominated by the long bar that runs down the room. Order yourself a cafe correcto (espresso with a shot of alcohol, usually sambuca or grappa) and chat with the locals for a bit. If you are staying nearby, consider making this your neighborhood go-to coffee shop and become a local even for just a few days.
We are living in an enlightened time of the cocktail and any boozie like us are thoroughly enjoying this cocktail renaissance. Rome, like many other cities, has jumped on the train with this new golden age of the cocktail!
The Jerry Thomas Project
30 Vicolo Cellini, Centro Storico
If there is a phenomenal speakeasy in Rome then you know we are going to recommend it and the Jerry Thomas Project fits that bill. This is a true speakeasy where you have to discover their password on their website (and we aren’t telling) and make a reservation. But it is well worth it. This 1920s themed bar is hidden by a door down an alleyway in Central Rome and once you are inside you are transported back in time. Their cocktails are sublime by the way and so don’t come here just for the atmosphere!
87 Via del Pellegrino, Centro Storico
Barnum is a modern, hipster cocktail bar serving its craft cocktails to locals in the Eternal City. It has the feel of a casual, New York neighborhood coffee shop. The owners describe Barnum as a “multifaceted space and quick change, an evolving project where something always happens.” In fact, this is the perfect stop to continue your exploration of the cocktail revolution while in this ancient city.
Bum Bum di Mel
17 Via del Moro, Trastevere
Bum Bum di Mel is one of the liveliest bars in Trastevere with their Brazilian music blazing throughout the small bar but if you want a drink you have to get in line, literally. On busy nights here it is not uncommon to see a number machine come out. Grab a number, wait for it to be called and then order yourself one of the best fresh fruit cocktails available in Rome. No matter what you order it is going to be filled with fresh fruit from the strawberry capricoska to the many different mojitos they offer. On a sultry summer night in Rome, there is no better way to cool off than indulging in a fresh fruit cocktail from Bum Bum di Mel.
11A Vicolo del Cinque, Trastevere
Rivendita Libri is not so much a bar but more of a pop in, grab a drink and pop back out. That may seem odd until you realized that the only drinks they serve here are alcoholic shots served in chocolate cups. Every evening the little shop, filled to the brim with mismatched books, is inundated with people as they head to the back bar with just one goal in mind, chocolate shots.
These shots are creative combinations of alcohol, chocolate cups, and sprinkles which one just plops into your mouth, smile through the whipped cream and then head out the door. It is a simple but delicious moment. If you are looking for a perfect way to end your evening in Trastevere, you can never go wrong with a chocolate shot at Rivendita Libri!
Big Mama – Live Music and Bar
18 Vicolo di S. Francesco a Ripa, Trastevere
Good old American blues has even found its way into Rome, and the Romans love it. Big Mama is tucked away in a small alley in Trastevere, and it has everything you would want to see in a classic jazz and blues bar. The local crowd is vibrant, the atmosphere is small and intimate, the bands keep your feet tapping and, oh yeah, the bar is great. It opened in 1984 as a pure blues bar, but over the years, it has also welcomed jazz and a little rock and roll. Technically, Big Mama is a private members bar, but a one-time payment of 10 euros will give you a lifetime membership and allow you to enjoy all the wonderful music your heart desires.
We really should not have to say much about how important wine is to the Italian and Roman Culture. If you are supposed to drink anything here it is wine and lots of it. Whether you drinking beautiful robust Brunellos to refreshing white table wine from Frascati, the important thing is that you are drinking wine. Personally, for cost sake we stick to liters of table wine like most of the locals when at dinner but every now and then you need to splurge and enjoy some finer wine.
38 Via del Monte della Farina, Centro Storico
This is a classic Roman wine bar and should not be missed if you are a wine lover. Choose from a myriad of bottles that line their shelves or pick one of the many wines they offer by the glass. You can try to grab a table inside or be like the Romans and take your wine outside (even if you don’t have a motorino to rest your glass on!)
Just as the cocktail is going through another golden age, beer is going through their own Renaissance and Rome has been on the forefront of the craft brew scene.
Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa
25 Via Benedetta, Trastevere
Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa was opened in Trastevere as an oasis for beer connoisseurs by Manuele Colonna and Fabio Zaniol in 2000. This tiny gem focuses on small craft creations and was one of the first places to move away from mass-produced beers and start to promote the craft-brew industry in Rome. This super-small bar is dark and filled with beer enthusiasts, so if you want to commune with other Italian beer aficionados you have to stop here.
Live Local in Rome
Sights in Rome
Rome was once known as Caput Mundi or the center of the world and it certainly has an overwhelming amount of historical sights that can attest to that. There is so much to see in Rome that it can seem impossible to see it all. And that is true. But we wanted to shed light on some sights outside the big ones of the Coliseum and the Vatican. So here are some of our favorite sights in Rome!
Althought if you want to visit the Coliseum we would HIGHLY suggest booking a tour or tickets beforehand. Check out this AWESOME deal Viator has right now for a Coliseum tour!
5 Piazzale Scipione Borghese
The Galleria Borghese is our favorite museum in Rome. It is filled with five Bernini statues that Bernini created especially for his patron, Cardinal Scipione Borghese who started the collection, including the Rape of Persephone, Apollo and Daphne, and David. It also has works by Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titan. It is a fantastic museum and the Villa was built specifically to hold the ancient and modern art that Cardinal Scipione Borghese collected, sometimes not always legally (Scipione Borghese could pretty much do what he wanted since his uncle was Pope Paul V Borghese).
The great thing about the museum too is that they only let a certain number of people into the museum in two-hour increments so you never have to worry about it being overcrowded. The downside is you have to book your tickets in advance in order to get in. It is not that difficult though since they have online booking.
Also, remember there is no photography allowed in the Borghese Gallery although the gardens are lovely to photograph. They also do not allow you to bring in any bags either but there is a coat check where they keep everything. I would suggest getting to the museum half an hour before your entrance to check your bags and pick up your tickets.
6 Via Caio Cestio
This cemetery, more properly known as the Non-Catholic Cemetery, is most famous for the people it houses and its intricate headstones. Take a stroll through the leafy, peaceful grounds and try to find its most famous inhabitant, the man with the unnamed grave, English poet John Keats. One clue: Look for the “one whose name was writ in water.” In addition to Keats, you will also find the graves of fellow English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Apparently, this cemetery was made for literary souls.
106 Via Ostiense
Centrale Montemartini is another unique museum in Testaccio/Ostiense, although its focus is Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. This phenomenal collection is housed in a converted power plant, and though an industrialized building might seem at odds with the elegant sculptures inside, it only underscores their beauty more dramatically. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Monday.
27 Via Vittorio Veneto
The Capuchin Crypt is the perfect place to visit for those of you who want to embrace the spookier side of Rome. After visiting the museum and learning about the capuchin order you will find yourself in the crypt. This isn’t any old crypt though. In fact, the walls are decorated with the bones of over 3,700 people! And it is not just bones lying around but instead, they are used to make chandeliers or altars and many many more decorative pieces in the crypt. It is amazing to see what these monks made out of human bones!
Basilica di San Clemente
95 Via Labicana
The Basilica di San Clemente is perhaps the one sight in Rome that can truly demonstrate how the city is literally built on top of its own history. This is no ordinary basilica, and while many churches in Rome claim to be built on top of other Roman ruins (which they probably are, this is Rome after all), the Basilica di San Clemente is the one place where you can go down and see the layers of history for yourself.
3 Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta
The Keyhole is a hidden little spot on the top of Aventine Hill between the Circo Massimo and Testaccio. At the summit, there is literally a keyhole where you can place your eye and have a perfectly framed view of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. This secret spot is actually the keyhole to the Knights of Malta’s priory gardens, and while you can’t enter the property you can enjoy the view.
Rome has fantastic neighborhoods and we loved exploring them. They all have unique charm, great sites, and fantastic restaurants. Where you are based in Rome can really change how you see the city. This are our favorite neighborhoods to live like a local!
Trastevere is located across the Tiber River (and that is exactly what the name means) and just south of the Vatican. It has become very popular in the past ten years with Italians, international students and tourists alike as it has some of the best food in Rome plus it is incredibly lively at night, especially in the summer. If you happen to visit in the summer make sure you grab some beers or a bottle of wine and head to Piazza Trilussa for an evening of people watching!
This is a great neighborhood to experience the medieval heart of Rome but not be directly in the center of the city. It is very accessible to all the sights of Rome through the Tram #8 and also many sights are walking distance. While the cuisine here alone might convince you to stay here, you also can’t beat the picturesque winding medieval alleyways, the quaint piazzas and the intersections of history and local life!
Campo de’ Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori is a great jumping off point for exploring Rome as it is located in the southern half of the Centro Storico or the Historical Center. During the day the square is filled with a market frequented by locals and at night it comes alive with bars and restaurants, their seating spilling out into the square. There is also a lot to see and do around Campo de’ Fiori including shopping and strolling the picturesque Via Giulia.
Campo de’ Fiori is the place to be if you want to be in the middle of it all. You will be walking distance to a number of famous sights in Rome and be able to explore the city at your leisure. Plus you will be in or near one of Rome’s most famous and popular piazzas, Campo de’ Fiori, where a daily market is held watched over by the statue of Giordano Bruno.
Piazza Navona and The Pantheon
Piazza Navona and the Pantheon is the northern neighborhood of the Centro Storico and is dominated by Piazza Navona and the Pantheon but there is much more to this neighborhood than just these two sites to check off the list. There is artisanal shopping on Via dei Coronari and some of the best restaurants in the city if you know where to look!
Piazza Navona and the Pantheon neighborhood is one of the most photo worthy of the whole city. You will be surrounded by beauty your whole trip plus the neighborhood is filled with artisanal shops, amazing restaurants and of course, some pretty amazing historical sights. This neighborhood is also the heart of Rome along with Campo dei Fiori and the two neighborhoods make up the Centro Storico or the historical center. You won’t be far from anything in Rome here!
Prati is most well known for being home to the Vatican and most people who visit Rome only see this side of the neighborhood. Prati, however, has a lot to offer including some high end shopping on Via Cola di Rienzo. This is the street to visit if you want to dress like a local too! Prati is also a very residential neighborhood once you leave behind the touristy chaos of the Vatican.
Prati is a perfect neighborhood to base yourself if you want to be slightly away from the chaos of the historical center and base yourself where Romans actually live. This neighborhood has a lot to offer to those that want to get slightly off the beaten path and explore a classy upscale Roman neighborhood. In addition, Prati is very well connected with the rest of the city through the Metro and the city’s trains!
Monti is located in the heart of it all but it still a relatively quiet neighborhood. This neighborhood is tucked between the congested Via Nazionale and Via Cavour and runs from Termini Train Station and the Coliseum. It is amazing how well connected this neighborhood is but still feels removed from the chaos.
This neighborhood is perfect for strolling the small winding streets and happening upon local aperitivo places. Many locals congregate around the Piazza della Madonna Monti nightly to drink and chat around the fountain or grab a table for aperitivo in all seasons. This is a neighborhood for people who want to be close to the action but still feel removed from the chaos!
Tours of the City
Rome is such a huge city and it is easy to get lost or miss something you want to see. If you are worried about missing a site or want to make sure you learn all the interesting facts, like the fact that Hadrian had a lover (a boy by the name of Antinuous), we would suggest taking a tour. Now tours are not for everyone but as Ashley used to be a tour guide we are a little partial to the tours in Rome and all of our fellow tour guide friends.
Ashley used to work for Dark Rome, now called City Wonder Tours, which gives a wide range of tours, from the Coliseum and the Vatican to the Crypts and Catacombs of Rome and Day Trips to Pompeii and Tuscany. A lot of our friends work for the company and the are absolutely fantastic. They are knowledge and most importantly entertaining. We would never give a boring tour.
Storytelling Rome Tours
Our good friend Massimo just started a new tour company as well and he offers tours on a topic you may not find anywhere else. Massimo’s main tour is all about the historic prostitutes and muses of artists who shaped Renaissance Rome. Now that is definitely a history lesson I think everyone will enjoy. Massimo also offer tours on the Emperors of Rome as well and his tours offer a different perspective on the sites of Rome that are so famous today and cover the scandals of Ancient and Medieval Rome. If you are going to Rome I would not miss out on these tours!
Secrets of a City
Secrets of a City is another tour company started by an old tour guide colleague. Georgia is one of the smartest guides I know and she is also incredibly funny and entertaining. She leads some of the most informative tours but they are never boring. If you truly want to dive deep into the historical heart of Rome you have to join a tour with Georgia. In addition, Georgia also includes food and history into her tours like her “Caravaggio and Vino Tour.” Sip some vino, try some Roman street food, and learn all about this master painter who was the bad boy of baroque Rome.
If you still aren’t convinced maybe this picture of Georgia giving a private tour to Prince Harry will convince you….
Rome is a great city to use as a jumping off point, if you are spending a fair amount of time in Rome and need a break or have just visited the city several times day trips are always a nice option to see some more of Italy. Some of our favorite day trips are to head out to the great beaches nearby or to swing down to Naples and see Pompeii.
We would also highly recommend taking the train a half hour outside of Rome to visit the town of Frascati. Frascati is known for the white wine it produces and is a gorgeous little hillside town with a great market and wine bars. It is easily accessible from Rome and its a great little place to escape for a half day or even a stay overnight.
Tivoli is another great option for a day trip out of Rome. The charming town is easily reached from Rome’s Tiburtina train station and the journey is only half an hour away. The charming town is famous for two things, Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este. Hadrian’s Villa was built by Emperor Hadrian in the 2ndcCE and the term villa should be used loosely to describe this sprawling complex where Hadrian spent most of his time.
He actually hated living in Rome so he constructed his villa in Tivoli and coincidentally most of the politics of Rome moved with him making the villa less a home and more a thriving center of government. The Villa d’Este is a traditional Renaissance villa which was actually inspired by Hadrian’s Villa. The Villa d’Este however, is famous for its gardens and fountains. The town of Tivoli is also a gorgeous medieval city and worth checking out.
717 Vai dei Romagnoli
Looking to visit an Ancient Roman city but don’t have time to visit Pompeii or prefer somewhere less crowded? Then Ostia Antica is calling your name. Located about half an hour outside of Rome on the metro, it was the ancient port city of Rome. Today, though, it is inland, thanks to silting of the Tiber River. Nonetheless, you can stroll along the ancient streets and truly feel transported back in time to the gritty port city that it once was. Ostia was a truly cosmopolitan city full of markets, amphitheaters, a forum, temples, brothels and apartment complexes. If you visit, go before 10 a.m. and you will almost have the ruins to yourself.
Also remember if you find yourself in Rome on April 21st do not forget to wish the city Happy Birthday! It is traditionally held that this is the day in 753BC that Romulus drew his famous line in the sand marking out the boundaries of his new city. No one was allowed to cross these sacred lines but unfortunately his brother did not agree with the founding of the city. He walked over the sacred lines and Romulus was “forced” to kill him, thus the city of Rome was born!
Rome is truly an amazing city that has so much to offer any traveler. The city is big, it is chaotic, it can at times be a bit grungy but just remember how long it has been around. Our guide is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this city but it is a great start for any first timers or Rome veterans. Our biggest advice is don’t try and see it all in three days. It won’t happen and you will spend your vacation stressed out. Instead enjoy long leisurely walks, lazy lunches with as much food and wine you can consume and enjoy the beauty that only an ancient city like Rome can offer.
Read On to Read the Rest of the Series!
Eat Local in Rome – You’re Here!
Top 5 Unique Sights in Rome
Rome’s Transportation System
Day Trip to Ostia Antica
Quintessential Rome – What You Can’t Miss in the Eternal City!
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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