One of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Rome is a huge city with endless choices of monuments, villas, restaurants and famous squares to explore. With less than 48 hours before heading off to Puglia, our group of four made the most of the Eternal City, revisiting old favorites and making some new discoveries in a city that epitomizes the ancient and modern more than maybe anywhere else in the world.
First time visitors must visit the Colosseum and the Forum, Trevi Fountain, Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica…and that’s just for starters. For a detailed itinerary of how to navigate Rome’s sights click here.
Even more restaurants…American friends who have lived in Rome for 20 years love Trattoria Arcangelo. in Prati for its elegant cuisine, they suggest the rice fritters and pasta carbonara. Other favorites include Settembrini. Da Felice and Sora Lella, an old fashioned trattoria on an island in the Tiber.
Stay: They had me at hello at the JK Place, where check in takes place over a welcome aperitif, while sitting in the cool, modern lobby that doubles as the hotel’s library and lounge. Everything is perfect at this boutique gem, which opened in 2013 with sister properties in Capri and Florence. Tucked away on a quiet side street, an understated hideaway in a prime location, just a few blocks from the Tiber in one direction and the Spanish Steps in the other. Tastefully decorated, everything is state of the art with personalized service and a lovely bar and restaurant that serves an excellent included breakfast. Rooms are small, but smartly designed and cozy with a large modern bathroom. We all loved our stay and highly recommend JK Place next time you’re in Rome.
Morning View: Though we had all been to Rome many times, none of us had ever been to the Castel Sant’ Angelo. Just a short stroll along the Tiber from the hotel, this is a great way to start a trip to Rome, offering a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the city from the top. Rome in all of its glory! The Castel itself is worth exploring, originally built as a Mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian and later used as a papal fortress.
Wander: We headed across the Tiber to brave the crowds for a peak inside the magnificent Pantheon, a circular temple built between 118 and 128 AD. Next, a mandatory stroll through the Piazza Navona; though it’s filled with tourists and street performers, it’s still worth a visit to see the famous fountain in the center designed by Bernini. After we headed to the street market at Campo de' Fiori: one of the few remaining outdoor markets. Sadly, it was a disappointment, with very little fresh produce and mostly foreign vendors selling packaged pastas, spices and bottles of Limoncello.
Lunch: Salumeria Roscoli triples as a restaurant, deli, and wine bar. Don’t let the casual atmosphere fool you; they take their food seriously. Go here for exceptional cheeses, charcuterie and excellent pastas, all washed down by a selection from their impressive wine list. Don’t miss the burrata with sun-dried tomatoes, jamon iberico, a salumi plate, and the spaghetti carbonara or cacio e pepe - some of the best we had in Rome, and we tried a few. Make a reservation from home; Roscoli is one of Rome’s most popular restaurants, and request a table in the back room. Across the street is Roscoli’s bakery, one of the oldest working bakery’s in Rome. It’s hard to choose which kind of pizza by the square to order, the most popular are the pizza rossa or blanca, all with the most superb crust!
The Carraci Galleries in the Palazzo Farnese are now open again for viewing after 18 months of restoration work, thanks to the Worlds Monuments Fund. Located in one of the most beautiful high Renaissance palaces built by - among others -Michelangelo, the building is now home to the French embassy. Some say the series of frecsos, painted by Bolognese painter Annibale Carracci, rival Michelangelo’s in the Sistine Chapel. High praise indeed! Tours must be booked at least one week in advance and your passport is needed for entry. On the tour you also see the atrium of Sangallo, the beautiful garden of the Palazzo, and the Hercules Salon. This is a must do when in Rome! Tours in English are only given on Wednesday evenings at 5; for a full schedule, click here. Not traveling to Rome anytime soon? Watch this video to see fascinating highlights of the restoration by the WMF. The New York based non –profit is the only organization “dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered ancient and historic sites around the world.” We all owe them a big thank you!
Refuel: Right on Campo Fiori, sit and enjoy an espresso at Caffe Farnese and watch the world go by.
Dinner: We had a great meal at Pierluigi, a lively, upscale restaurant specializing in fresh fish and seafood. The restaurant is on a quiet small piazza, and it’s lovely to eat on the terrace, weather permitting. Nino’s, a Roman trattoria close to the Spanish Steps has been keeping everyone happy since the 30’s. We weren’t able to get a reservation at Aroma, the fine dining restaurant at the Palazzo Manfredi Hotel, which has a small rooftop terrace with picture postcard views of it’s neighbor--the Colosseum. Next time we will book it well in advance.
Off the Beaten Track: Your friends may start to question where you are taking them during the 15 minute taxi ride to Trattoria Da Cesare in Casaletto, but they will be happy with the first bite of the delicious Roman food served in this casual, welcoming room filled with locals. (A better bet is to hop on the #8 tram to Casaletto and beat the traffic) Start with the deliciously light fritti misti, polpette di bollito, and the house specialty--eggplant croquettes. We all loved the pasta with oxtail ragu, white pizza, and the baccala alla romana. It’s no wonder this is on many writers and chefs best of Rome lists.