Tour of Italy Part I: Rome
Today I begin a new mini-series, sharing with you some photos and favorite things from my recent trip to Italy. It will be a multi-part series (interspersed with other posts) and today we'll start in Rome.
There is so much to say about Rome, that it's hard to know where to begin. The Eternal City has been around for hundreds (thousands) of years and there is much to see and do in Rome. Other sites and sources have plenty of information on the normal sightseeing opportunities, so here I'll zoom in on my own favorite discoveries from my last few visits to Rome.
What To See & Do in Rome
When I'm in Rome, I find myself magnetically drawn to the area around the Spanish Steps. It's beautiful during both the day and the nighttime and you should experience it during both. There is plenty of high-end shopping in this area, and wonderful cafes and restaurants as well.
Just up the road, I also love Piazza del Popolo for it's grandness and elegance. Linger around the Piazza or grab a seat at a neighboring cafe and take in the view. And speaking of the view, there's a staircase from the Piazza up to Terazza del Pincio, an overlook spot with a marvelous view over Rome. If you're looking for some time out in nature, the Villa Borghese Gardens makes for a welcome diversion from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Some other musts during your trip are a visit to Trevi Fountain, and a pop-in to the Pantheon (it's free and the line moves very quickly). I also enjoy the three fountains in Piazza Navona.
A little off the beaten path, though much more discovered at this point, Trastevere is a beautiful area to spend an afternoon or an evening. A former working class neighborhood, this area has the feeling of a little village with brightly colored buildings and cobbled streets. It's a postcard view around every corner. And there are hundreds of great cafes, bars and restaurants here for you to eat and drink your way through the neighborhood.
Finally, set aside some time to explore St. Peters and the areas surrounding the Vatican. I find this area to be much for chill and local. It gives me a better taste of how locals in Rome live.
When in Rome (or anywhere in Italy) you must have the gelato, and in my opinion, the very best gelato in all of Italy is at a shop called Giolitti. First get in line and pay for your gelato at the cashier, then take your ticket and swim through the crowd to choose your flavors. Trust me, the gelato will be worth the extra effort!
If you're near Trevi Fountain and looking for a great lunch, Pane e Salame is your place. You can take a sandwich to go, but I recommend waiting in the line and grabbing a table to enjoy one of the meat and cheese platters.
Head over to Trastevere if you're looking for a great dinner at a more reasonable price. We had a great dinner at L’Antico Moro though there was a very noisy party seated next to us. Nonetheless, I'd go back again and hope for quieter dining company because the food was delicious.
Finally, the very best meal I’ve had in Rome was at a restaurant called Tacito near St. Peter’s. If you go here, you must try the Carbonara. It’s the best Carbonara I’ve tasted (anywhere) and Rome is known for it’s Carbonara.
Let's talk about coffee! Rome has a myriad of great cafes to choose from. Two of the most famous are Sant Eustachio and Tazza d'Oro both located near the Pantheon. And love coming here an standing at the bar and ordering a macchiato (Not like a Starbucks macchiato, by the way! A macchiato in Italy is a shot of espresso with a small bit of milk foam).
I also love the old world opulence of Caffe Grecco near the Spanish Steps. This café has been around since 1760. If these walls could talk!
Finally, if you're looking for third wave coffee in Rome, there are two great spots to check out. The very best cappuccino I had in Rome was at Pergamino Caffe near St. Peters. Either stand at the bar like the locals do, or grab a table outside. A little outside of the historic center and close to the central train station, Faro - Luminaries of Coffee also does a great espresso or cappuccino.
I hope that these suggestions get you started on your trip to Rome (or get you dreaming about your next vacation). If you have any favorites to add to the list, leave them in the comments below.