Following our time in Paris, we hopped on a plane to Rome. And by “hopped on” I mean hung out at the airport for 8 hours due to a delay that just barely got us into Rome in time for our 9:30 dinner reservation. Fortunately, we stayed at Hotel Genio which was in a great location and they were nice enough to arrange a car from the airport to get us to the restaurant on time.
Rome was the only stop on our three-week adventure that I had never visited before. I adored the abundance of cute alleyways and the amazing restaurants, despite being put-off by the hoards of tourists. Unfortunately, within 24 hours of arriving, Paul got food poisoning which somewhat plagued our time in Rome (and Florence) so we missed a lot of scheduled activities. Nonetheless, here’s my recap of the places we did make it to.
Aside from extensive research, we have Italian family members who gave restaurant recommendations, so Rome was a stellar dining experience.
BREAKFAST + COFFEE
Caffe Sant’Eustachio a famous, traditional Rome coffee shop, this is actually one of the few places we visited that they didn’t really speak English. You can opt to pay inside for the counter or table service outside. They offer typical coffees, plus a few more modern drinks (Paul tried the Il Frappe), and an array of cream filled pastries.
MEALS + LIBATIONS
Roscioli the only restaurant of the trip that I made reservations for weeks in advance. From start to finish an amazing experience. Our server/sommelier, Daniel, was helpful, funny and engaging with top-notch service. We went all out on our meal with cheese & charcuterie, cacio e pepe, tagliatelle all’amatriciana, and a huge bone-in steak for two. I sat in view of their massive cheese display and had some of the best cheeses (and I’m a cheese fan, to say the least). The bottle of wine we ordered (though not cheap) may have been the best of the trip. Finishing with a small complimentary dessert assortment, we found ourselves there until after 1:00 in the morning.
Maccheroni pasta, pasta, pasta! I’m sure all their dishes are phenomenal, but pasta seemed to be the thing to get here. I had the penne all’amatriciana (Paul, the bolognese) and it was incredible. I had this dish probably five times throughout Italy and this was by far the best version. The restaurant is simple and authentic, complete with charming Italian servers. Note: it was also jam-packed so you may want a reservation.
Forno Campo de’Fiori a recommendation for the best classic takeaway pizza brought us here, and it didn’t disappoint. They have a variety of types and will slice a piece as large as you wish, fold it in half and wrap in paper to go. Every flavor we had was great, with the perfect thin crust. Go right when they open to have the best chance of getting a pizza fresh from the oven.
Antico Forno Roscioli I was so in love with Roscioli that I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to visit their bakery & shop across the street. For lunch one day, I devoured one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I got a slice of their takeaway pizza (which was really thick and more like foccacia) with pesto and fresh mozzarella. So incredibly fresh and flavorful, and their pesto is definitely the best-o.
SWEETS + TREATS
Giolitti this is arguably the most well-known gelato place in Rome and boy was it busy – both times we went! Fortunately, the line moves quick and the gelato is worth the wait. They offer so many flavors and every single one we had was fantastic. In the end, this may have been our favorite gelato of the entire trip.
PLACES TO GO + THINGS TO DO
Piazza Navona this is the main square in Rome so you can always count on crowds. Regardless, there’s always space to settle in and eat your lunch, take in the views, or people watch. However, we much preferred the view we got wandering by at 1:30 in the morning when no one else was around.
Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palatine allow longer for this than you may think. I was assuming we’d only need a few hours, but we wound up spending the majority of the day exploring these three landmarks. You can buy combined tickets for all three and I highly recommend you purchase them in advance since you will already be forced to wait in a line for security. And who wants to wait in two lines? I actually found the Roman Forum the most interesting of all since there’s so much to see. Don’t think the Colosseum is all you need to see and skip out on the other two!
Spanish Steps holy smokes was this a crowd. We went in the late evening thinking the crowd would be better, but evidently it only improves in the dead of night. Although beautiful from afar, it’s worthwhile to seek out a tourist-free time so you can really experience it.
Trevi Fountain see above. A similar experience as before in that there were just too many people crowded around. I will say though, the Trevi Fountain is truly breathtaking. It’s massive, so very intricate, and has a bit of a magical feel to it.
Next stop, Florence!