As you would have guessed by now, we love Rome. The reasons are numerous – the city is steeped in history (you will bump into ancient ruins everywhere), the food is amazing, the pace is calm, the city is big enough to accommodate the high season crowds and there is potable water to be found in cute water fountains everywhere!
Where to stay: The first time we visited Rome, we stayed right next to the Colosseum in a decent hotel. The neighborhood was good, with quite a few restaurants and pubs. It was stones throw away from Colosseum, Spanish Steps and Piazza Venezia. However, this time round, we researched and selected Trastevere neighborhood – and that was the best decision! Trastevere is divided into 2 sections by a main road – one side is relatively quieter (and hence a good place to retire for the night) and the other side has tons and tons of awesome restaurants, pubs and nightlife. It is right beside the Tiber river and within walking distance to most tourist attractions (if you don’t want to walk, there is a tram as well). From the airport, it is just a train and then a tram ride away.
Just walk/ cycle through the streets of Trastevere (most tours have this as an agenda item as well)
Look out for the Tiber River Festival that usually takes place throughout summer!
We were lucky to find Gianluca’s cute apartment, which was sufficient for the two of us (and being a long stay, he was kind enough to give us a discount!).
I can spend hours in supermarkets..and there was Conad within 5 minutes from the apartment
Our first stop in Trastevere was Carlo Menta. One of the cheaper options (a pizza and wine cost us 19 Euros) and hence super crowded with bitter staff. The pizza was average. There is outdoor seating for those sunny days.
Day 2 we were just wandering around in Trastevere and chanced upon this cocktail bar, Freni-e-Frizinoi at the right hour of the day – it was time for Aperitivo/ Apericena (translate: cocktail happy hours with unlimited buffet)! For just 6 Euros for classics, we got a fairly potent drink, some snacks for the empty stomach and a very relaxed atmosphere.
Next we tried some fresh pasta (yes, it was made right then and there!) at Pasta e Vino. This is an indoor, tiny place and can get a bit hot during the day. A plate of gnocchi with Amatriciana sauce cost us 6 Euros. The food is a bit greasy and heavy so order accordingly. But for the price, very good pasta. We personally liked Amatriciana for the slightly salty taste of course, bacon.
We ended the night at Chakra Cafe (its an Irish pub and was of course, showing the UEFA Euro Final). Do try Tiburzi beer (it comes in these stone mugs) and Bufachi (yummy parma ham and melted cheese on toast). We often came here during our time in Rome and infact bumped into familiar faces (that’s what staying in a place for 14 days does!).
Day 3, having had our fill of Trastevere at least temporarily, we head out towards Piazza Navona. Walking along the cobbled streets, A of course started feeling ‘thirsty’. Stop over at Solo Birre Artigianli for an IPA – Draco for 5 Euros.
Still on our quest for fresh pasta, we reached another tiny, cheap-eat called Pasta Imperiali. Opt to sit on any of the stairs with your piping hot pasta.
A meal is never complete without Gelato! And one of the best is right here – Gelataria Teatro. Its quite a popular joint and you can get a cone for the standard 2.5 Euros.
Must try the chocolate and mango (others are coffee and watermelon)
On our way back, we took a look at Castel Sant’Angelo.
To keep the budget in control, we often made use of our apartment’s kitchen and the nearby Conad supermarket to whip up some ravioli topped with parmesan (suggest you forget counting calories and just enjoy) or just eggs benedict with parma ham and rocket (A’s expertise).
Day 4 our energies were high and we started the walk with some caffeine. Watch out, Italian coffee is super strong and not for the faint-hearted!
Our first stop was Pantheon (the place where it all began!).
Our usual spot for people-watching and chilling.
For lunch we found Taverno del Seminario. Its an indoor only place (relief from the hot summer sun), abuzz with people and friendly staff. For the location and quality of food, this was quite a good deal (1 main dish, bottle of wine, Tiramisu cost us 36 Euros).
Spaghetti Bolognese and Tiramisu
Tummies full and satiated, we walked it off by heading to Colosseum. Since we had done the tour last time (recommended), we stuck to admiring it from outside.
Keep walking and you will find the entrance to a park. Its a quiet place to take a pit stop
Head towards Monti neighbourhood – the working class Rome that is a favorite hangout for locals and expats. You’ll see many ivy walls and ancient relics – definitely recommend strolling through this neighbourhood.
Treat yourself to a delicious, fresh off the oven pizza at Sapori e Delize for 9 Euros.
Day 5 started with a trip to the Campo de Fiori farmers market. Its a smallish affair with lots of fresh vegetable, fruits and cheese vendors with a few temporary shops selling leather bags, things made out of olive wood (bought a spaghetti measure) etc.
Fresh watermelon – the perfect hangover cure
In the evening, we head out to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere where there’s always activity in the evenings – street performers showing their skills, kids playing, couples lounging in the cool breeze.
For pre-dinner drinks, we found a spot in Ombre Rosse Cafe, which had live music playing. There’s enough seating inside and outside, so take your pick. A glass of house wine and margarita cost us 13 Euros.
Close-by was La Prosciutteria (we came across this several times in the different Italian cities). Its a small, cute and indoor only place that has a wide variety of antipasti. The staff was super friendly and very willing to suggest the perfect wine to pair with your antipasti platter. There are multiple size platters – we took the 10 Euros one for the 2 of us. It was delicious!
And we wrapped up Day 5 with couple of beers and wine (bought from one of the many stores nearby) at the Piazza Santa Maria!