As part of an astronomically generous birthday surprise I was recently whisked away to the land of carbs.. or as it’s more commonly known, Rome. I don’t know how I had made it to 25 (where do I apply for my bus pass) years of age having never visited the historical capital of Europe but it was 100% worth the wait.
The ruins of the old Roman civilisation are so well preserved they have to be seen to be believed (Mary-Kate & Ashley’s ‘When In Rome’ did not surprisingly do the city it’s full justice). The best way to see everything in my opinion is by walking, you discover hidden gems around every corner and get a real feel for the culture – get lost, wander down side streets and unleash your inner Roman (however do pack comfy shoes as the cobblestones nearly had my life on numerous occasions).
Apart from the obvious (Colosseum, Roman Forum etc) my favourite ‘touristy’ thing to do in Rome was to wander into the vast array of churches scattered around the city. Having gone into one not expecting much and being blown into the middle of next week by the sheer level of beauty and extravagance (one particular church had an arch made entirely of chandeliers) I made it my mission to to visit as many as possible.
Another Wow! moment for me was when entering the Pantheon. I actually came over a bit emosh – due in large to the man performing Robbie Williams – Angels outside but it is honestly breathtaking how one room can be filled with such an intense beam of light (I actually couldn’t see for a few seconds it was so bright) that completely illuminates this otherwise area of darkness – a definite must if you’re ever in Rome.
Now on to my other favourite thing to do in Rome – EAT! (Yay). So, I may run the risk of being lynched in the streets by an angry mob but I actually found it very difficult to find good food in Rome and would strongly recommend doing some research before visiting to avoid disappointment. After a few horror stories (brick-like bruschetta, stodgy pasta, cold pizza) we hunted down some top notch eateries and watering holes.
1. Hosteria dei Numeri Primi
This was by far the best restaurant we ate at whilst in Rome. The service was outstanding and the location couldn’t have been better in the buzzy Trastevere area on the west bank of the river Tiber (think Greenwich village but Roman style). Every single dish that came out of the kitchen looked and smelled absolutely incredible (some major food envy was afoot) and the wine was very reasonably priced with a bottle of house for just over €12. Gold star. P.S the Tiramisu could possibly be the most delicious thing on the planet.
2. Cul de Sac
We had to wait in queue for this spot (ask for a ticket number sort of vibe) but the food here was absolutely worth the wait. My main of pistachio ravioli was to die for and paired with the extensive wine list (the menu was thicker than a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) I was in heaven. HOWEVER, the service here is very laid back. You almost have to shout to get someone’s attention but that’s part of the fun. It is a very honest, family run restaurant and once your not expecting the Ritz you’ll be all set for a great night.
3. Scuié Sciué
We came here for lunch one of the days not really expecting much but the food was beyond divine. Located in the Monti area of Rome this is the perfect place if your in or around the Colosseum. Most of the clientèle were locals (I generally take this as a good sign) and the food was some of the freshest we tried on our trip. We actually attempted to go back but it was closed *wipes tear* (a lot of the good restaurants close between 3 – 7PM so again do some research beforehand).
4. Don Nino
There are more gelato shops in Rome than sets of traffic lights (don’t quote me on that) so it can get quite overwhelming when trying to settle on a place. Honestly, none of the gelato shops I tried disappointed so I wouldn’t be fussy when trying to pick one, but Don Nino was just a little extra special – located right beside The Pantheon it hails itself as home to the best gelato in Rome. It is a little more expensive but totally worth the price. The servers scoop the ice-cream like it’s a piece of art and there are loads of pastries too if gelato isn’t your jam – queue the sugar coma.
5. The Black Market
If cocktails in a quirky hipster setting are your vibe look no further than The Black Market. Unlike a lot of other cocktail bars the juices on offer here are actually really tasty (try the espresso martini *drools*). Each table comes with a readable (Il Capitale by Karl Marx as you do) and there’s also an attic area you can sit and hide away from the rest of the world – just make sure you don’t have too many cocktails before attempting to master the ladder (hic).
6. Draft Book
The clue is in the name with this one, grab a book grab a beer and watch the world go by from the large windowless windows. The staff here looked like they were having a great time and it’s definitely a place you could find yourself after hours having a jive. Full of fun!
7. Amor Di Vino
If you find yourself around the area of The Vatican definitely stop by here for a wine and cheese plate. With it’s quirky interior and old 50’s style music it’s the perfect place to chill out and put your feet up (seek refuge from the cobblestones) with a €4 glass of vino. They even have a selection of games to play if you’re feeling that way inclined. There’s an excellent people watching area towards the front of the wine bar too – bellissimo.
An honorable mention for the Public House is necessary here who’s free Wi-Fi, Pinot Grigio and olive offerings saved me on more than one occasion.
All in all Rome was a roaring success. Each day was jam packed full of sights and we still didn’t even tip the iceberg in terms of what the city has to offer.
Until next time,