WHEN IN ROME: Where to eat, Where to stay & more..
Rome, the city of love – a deserved title.
This beautiful city undeniably stole a piece of my heart with its’ architecture, food and charm being just a few of the attractions that it is so obviously famous for. Since returning home, my urge to leave everything and pursue an ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ life has heightened immensely. So, whether it is to pursue La Dolce Vita or for simply another short yet sweet stay.. Roma, I already know I’ll be back.
I had the pleasure of spending 4 nights and 4 days in Rome last week. I flew out with my friend Ciara, to our mutual friend Clóda who has been spending her Erasmus there. Clóda and Ciara also happen to be bloggers, hence, how we became friends. Ciara has been to Rome countless times, and also lived in other areas of Italy so having her knowledge and fluent speaking of Italian, certainly played in my favour. You can check out lots of Italian travel and living abroad related content over on Ciara’s blog HERE. Clóda also speaks Italian and has obviously gained a lot of knowledge about the city while living like a local the past 9 months. So again, having Clóda’s knowledge of the city, be it the best way to get from A to B or the best places to grab a bite etc. made this trip unique in the way I was with people who already knew so much about the city I was in. Both the girls provided me with little random and helpful facts that I probably would have never picked up on without them. I will be sharing some of these with you throughout this post. For any of you thinking about spending your Erasmus year in Rome, Clóda has spoken about her Erasmus experiences on her Instagram and I’m sure she’ll be sharing an overall experience once she is home so do keep an eye on my gals blog HERE.
So here’s a little about the trip with what I hope might be some helpful information for any of you planning a getaway to beautiful Roma..
Where we flew to: We flew from Dublin to Rome Ciampino. I would describe Ciampino airport as Rome’s equivalent of Knock Airport here in Ireland, just as it is quite small but that has the benefit of being quick and stress free to get through. Several shuttle buses connect Ciampino airport and Termini (the main metro and bus station). You can find them outside the airport with ease and they range from €4-€6 for the 30 minute trip.
Where we stayed: We were very lucky to get to spend 3 out of our 4 nights with Clóda in her apartment but we did need to book accommodation for our last night. We found somewhere to stay via Booking.com and got such a good deal. You can find where we stayed HERE. It did have a shared bathroom which isn’t the most desirable thing but we ended up just having to share with the lady who seemed to be the owner. The room, building and bathroom were so clean, I couldn’t fault anything.
While the room itself was pretty basic the bed was very comfortable, leaving us saddened that we only got to spend just one night in it. The B&B is located just about an 8 minute walk from the Colosseum in what seemed to be a lovely area from what we saw and is very close to Metro Line A, therefore I have to absolutely give it a 10/10 for location. Breakfast was included in the price which made us even more puzzled as to how we got it for such a good price. You are given a slip of paper to give to a cafe just around the corner which allows you to a pastry and a coffee/juice each which is a typical Italian breakfast. If you do end up booking here, do note that upon arriving at the building, you will need to press a buzzer and explain that you’re checking in to gain entry to the building which seems to be an apartment complex with lots of B&B also within in it.
Food & Drink
It’s no secret that Italian food is one of the most highly regarded cuisines in the world so the thoughts of being surrounded by authentic Italian eateries had me oh so excited.
Breakfast: A typical Roman breakfast is a pastry accompanied with an Espresso so When in Rome.. we headed to a cafe/bar which you can find dotted around the city every morning for a pastry and a coffee. They sure know how to make delicious croissants which they call ‘cornettos’ with all types of fillings.. I found the prices were so inexpensive as we did stick to having breakfast away from the city centre while paying prices less than €3 for an Americano and a ‘Cornetto’.
Breakfast: Cornetto e Americano
Piccadilly: While in the San Giovanni area for a concert to celebrate May 1st, we ate in Piccadilly. It’s a restaurant and cocktail bar and would be best described as having a hip, modern vibe. I wouldn’t describe it as being authentically Italian but I really enjoyed it all the same. It’s the perfect place for dinner and drinks with the girls and is where I first fell in love with ‘Cacio e Pepe’. Cacio e Pepe is a Roman pasta dish and literally means ‘Cheese and Pepper’. While the ingredients are simple, the taste is stunning. If your’e a fan of cheese and pepper you will love this, I’m honestly a little obsessed since..
Piccadilly: Cacio e Pepe
Nannarella: Nannarella is situated in the oh so charming area of Trastevere and is a traditional Italian restaurant. The setting, food and staff couldn’t be faulted and I reluctantly ordered something other than ‘Cacio e Pepe’ to attempt to try as much variety as I could while in Roma. I ordered a pasta dish called ‘Nannarella’ coincidentally, and of course, this is a vegetarian dish. Prices were so reasonable, and a little top tip we picked up on is there was no que here at Nannarella but while walking past its’ sister restaurant, Tonnarello, we noticed quite the que. So, if you find yourself in the Tonnarello que due to it being highly rated, check out this spot as they have the exact same menu and are very close to each other.
Da Francesco: While looking for a lunch spot, we very luckily stumbled across Da Francesco located not too far from Vatican city. We searched the streets a little on the hunt for an authentic Italian Restaurant and something Ciara let me know on how to tell a typically touristy restaurant apart from an authentic Italian restaurant is that the more ‘touristy’ places will have people outside trying to get you in to the restaurant or they will have that big sign with pictures of the food outside which we see so often on restaurants abroad. Luck brought us to Da Francesco and I couldn’t resist ordering my beloved Cacio e Pepe with absolutely no regrets because it was flawless, cooked to perfection. I topped of my meal by ending it with an equally delicious pistachio tiramisu. A pasta dish here will set you back about €10, while the wine menu was the most expensive I had looked at while in Rome, allowing you to spend up to €790 on a bottle if you were looking to. We got in just in time to this restaurant as when we were leaving, we noticed quite the que had formed which is usually a great sign and with the meal we just had, I can vouch highly for this place.
Another helpful thing to note, is that in Rome, lunch time is around 12:00 to 15:00 with some restaurants then closing until dinner time at 20:00, just a little something to bear in mind.
Da Francesco: Cacio e Pepe
Gioletti: Gioletti is one of the best known and famous places to grab some gelato in Rome due to its ENORMOUS range of flavors available. I opted for a scoop of lemon and a scoop of pistachio, both incredible.
100 Montaditos: This is a Spanish chain restaurant which one situated very closely to the Colosseum. It is a great place to grab an inexpensive Aeporal Spritz or Sangria with lots of nibbles also available at great prices, we actually came here twice to rest our feet while enjoying a drink. If you don’t want to pay the €4 service charge to sit outside at the front, they also have seating out the back with no service charge.
What we saw
Rome is obviously known for its’ incredible history with the monuments and architecture left behind to tell its story. So many universally known historic buildings reside in Rome with something incredible to see at each turn of a corner. It was a surreal experience to finally see these incredible structures up close and personal.
The Colosseum/Il Colosseo
Trevi Fountain/Fontana di Trevi
The Vittorio Emanuele Monument
Piazza di Spagna/Spanish Steps
Piazza di Spagna/Spanish Steps
Piazza Navona – Church of Sant’Agnese
Villa Borghese Gardens
Villa Borghese is a park including a number of buildings, museums and attractions and is the third largest park in Rome. We went on the row boats which is one of its most well know attractions. This was definitely a highlight of the trip for me as on a sunny it couldn’t have been more ideal. The lake which you row on also features what seems to be a small turtle sanctuary off to the side of it so you’RE sure to spot some little friends. It cost just €3 each for 20 minutes, however, I’m sure we spent a lot longer than 20 minutes on the water, so if you want to spend longer, just do until they call the number of your boat in.
Trastevere is known for its traditional and oldtown vibes. It has streets and streets full of charm. Among the stunning buildings, you can find lots of beautiful vintage cars, trucks, vespas and more. To wander old towns is one of my favourite things to do, so as you can imagine, I felt all of the awe while making my way around Trastevere.
I still have so much I want to see and do in Rome and that’s the thing about this city, there’s always going to be something else you want to see here. I won’t complain though, as that only gives me more than enough of a reason to return to this most lovely city.
Dear Roma, I’ll be back..
Love Shóna xo
Some ‘Good to Knows’
– The metro and bus service in Rome is excellent from what I experienced. You can buy tickets in the Metro Station or from Tobacco shops throughout the city, the metro ticket is the same as the bus and you can get a single ticket which will you bring you as far as you need to go for €1.50. You can also get a 48 hour ticket for €12.50 and use it on every city bus and metro as many times as you like for 48 hours.
– If you wear your legs out before the hottest days in Rome, do expect to get some judgmental stares, especially from older generations. They won’t say anything, well usually, but it’s just something they do as they’re so used to the heat and can’t understand how one could have their legs out if it’s not what they would consider hot enough.
– If you’re going into any of the churches, or religious attractions, make sure to cover your shoulders and have your legs covered to below your knees or you won’t be allowed entry. Men can wear shorts to above the knee from what I saw but I’d recommend trying to be covered to below the knee as a woman to guarantee entry.
– Learn the basics in Italian, just as simple as hello, bye, thank you. The Italians really appreciate an effort to be made and obviously the tourist areas do have English speaking staff but to make a little is nice and appreciated.
– When ordering coffee, they usually give you a glass of water as it is a common guideline in cafes to give out a complimentary water alongside your coffee, due to caffeine being a dehydrator. So, do accept it and don’t look at them like they have ten heads because you didn’t order a glass of water.
– When greeting an Italian, they will usually go in for the double cheek kiss. You don’t actually cheek kiss, just make a kiss noise beside their face but do remember that this kiss starts on the right side of the face of the person you’re greeting. Don’t do a Shóna on it and nearly snog a complete stranger by going for the left side first.