I've spent ten years on and off living in the Eternal City.
In the interests of sharing a bit of what I know (and what I like), this is the second in a series of posts about my recommendations for you in Rome.
It's true that you can spend a lifetime visiting Rome, but you'll only want to if you have a good time each time you pass through.
So, for this post, I'm assuming you've made your way to the Spanish Steps and that you're ready to venture further into Centro Storico.
NB; the recommendations in this post are just that. I don't receive any commissions or payments for them.
SPANISH STEPS AREA
If you've braved the heat and the annoying street vendors trying to sell you stuff that buzzes when you throw it up into the air, to make it up the Spanish Steps, then hopefully you've taken a left after doing so. That instinctual move would have led you to Villa Medici.
Villa Medici is just one of the many French cultural outposts in the city, but it’s the best because not only do they often host artists in residence, but the exhibitions are often also outdoors in the gardens beyond the spectacular buildings.
Those gardens, along with the presence of peacocks and some much needed shade, also offer some of the best views of the city.
There’s a contemporary exhibition on at the moment and I would say it's worth the risk.
Many of Rome’s signature streets are also nearby.
Via Condotti is for shopping and coffee, Via Giulia is gorgeous and worth heading to if only to pop into the Wunderkammern artspace and if you make your way to Villa delle Croce, you can try a tiramisu from one of the Pompi stores.
PANTHEON &PIAZZA DEL POPOLO
PIAZZA NOVONA & CAMPO DI FIORI (and Trastevere)
Your guidebooks or the internet will point you to the fact that you’re surrounded by Caravaggios, twin churches and some of Rome’s greatest, greatest hits in this area.
You’re also in an area that is hard to match for good food and drinks at this point.
Close to the Pantheon, you’ll find S. Eustachio whose coffee beans are without peer (and you can also have a coffee there), and Rome’s oldest, old school gelato at Giolitti, which is worth waiting in line for.
You’re better off leaving via del Corso to the tourists unless you want to venture up to Piazza Del Popolo.
In the event that you do, take Via della Ripetta instead, it’s gorgeous, full of cute little shops and will let you take in Ara Pacis along the way. You could freshen up with a drink or a meal at Hotel Locarno (nearby) or pop in instead to the enoteca Buccone for a glass (or a bottle) and some major vintage décor.
If you’ve headed instead towards Campo di Fiori and Piazza Novona, make tracks to the SALUMERIA ROSCIOLI (Ristorante).
Call, camp out all night, sneak in, do whatever you need to do to get yourself one of the tables here, especially if you want to try the city’s best carbonara.
If your booking karma isn’t that good, you could always settle for their pizza by the slice place which is also called… Roscioli. It too has some of the best pizza in town. Another worthwhile option in this area is Il Goccetto. It’s more an entrée+wines place but it’s pretty spectacular.
If your other dinner choices let you down consider popping into Renato e Luisa. It’s a simple trattoria, but it’s cute, the food is good and it’s a hop, skip and a jump from the Ghetto.
If Roman fare doesn’t inspire, you could enter the Ghetto to try Roman Jewish cuisine (i.e. artichokes alla Judea). If you’re going to do that then you need to do that at Nonna Betta’s.
It won’t seem like it, but if you’re near the Pantheon, Piazza Novona or Campo Di Fiori, you’re also just around the corner from Trastevere at that point.
If you’re there during the day, pop into the church to take in the mosaics. If you’re there at lunch time or in the evening, consider having a simple meal at Da Enzo’s, and, if you need a bit more fun, youth and alcohol in your life, head towards Freni e Frizione for a drink in the evening just over from the Tiber.
Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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