When you ask people who have visited Italy what their favorite city is, the answer I most often hear is Florence. While I do love Florence, there is something about Rome that steals my heart. And I say that not because people there repeatedly thought I was Italian. NBD.
I think the best way to explain it is this : Florence is your rich, sophisticated cousin who you see every few years, while Rome is your annoying uncle who attends every single family gathering. Florence is exciting for its elusiveness / exclusivenss, so much so that you’ve come to forget to appreciate Rome’s constant presence and companionship.
Am I making any sense? …
Yes, Rome is a big, bustling European city—like many others—but there is something grimy yet charming about it. I could get happily lost in the colorful buildings, endless pizza joints, people-watching ( Euro trash fashion is UH-mazing ) and history that is seeped in every cracked sidewalk, open window + gregarious conversation on the street. If you’ve never been, GO. The city will make you feel small + inconsequential in the most humbling of ways.
You’ll notice I didn’t list any museums below, but that’s because there are SO many wonderful places to see beautiful art + sculpture. If you are looking to narrow it down, I recommend the Capitoline Museum + Borghese Gallery. They were our two faves on the trip.
Also, if you haven’t joined the Rick Steves‘ fan club yet, do it. His books offer city walks, guided tours, excellent recommendations and anything you would ever want for traveling in Europe.
We heart you Rick.
PIZZERIA FLORIDA : Happily situated right outside our door, Pizzeria Florida was excellent for cheap + tasty pizza. Every one we tried was excellent ( especially washed down with a Peroni beer ), but my favorite had to have been the traditional margherita.
GELATERIA VICE : Hands down, the best gelato we had in Rome. I got strawberry + pistachio, because—duh, it’s the best—while the manfriend got his chocolate + coffee combo. This place was around the corner from our apartment, which means if I haven’t convinced you yet, you should stay in Largo Argentina ( see details below ).
FORNO : Tucked away in the back corner of the popular Campo de Fiori, Forno is a delicious bakery with even more delicious pizza. Their rosemary potato breakfast pizza is my life, and I never want to eat anything else for breakfast ever again.
FRENI E FRIZIONI : Italians know what’s up. All around the city, bars host happy hours where all you need to do is purchase one drink ( normally €6 to €10 ) for an all-access pass to a buffet of fresh, delicious food. Freni’s was the cheapest, all-vegetarian + located in a cool piazza in the Trastevere neighborhood.
TAVERNA TRILUSSA : Our farewell to Rome meal at Trilussa was nothing short of delicious. We started with mozzarella en carroza ( essentially, a big fried cheese curd ), moved on to bombolotti alla carbonara, ravioli mimosa, tiramisu and limoncello. Oh yah, and lots of house wine.
CROSS POLLINATE : I cannot say enough lovely things about the Largo Argentina Terrace studio apartment we scored in Rome. While the space was small, the multiple private rooftop terraces + cheap price ( €90 ) made it well worth the stay.
VATICAN CITY : No trip to Rome is complete without a day trip to Vatican City. It’s worth a full day to visit the Vatican Museum, gawk in wonder at the Sistine Chapel + St. Peter’s Basilica and wander around the city streets. Skip the expensive tour, buy Rick Steves’ book + he’ll ensure you see everything you need to.
COLOSSEUM / ROMAN FORUM : Another full day of your trip should be devoted to the Colosseum + Roman Forum. While both places are super touristy ( people EVERYWHERE ), they’re the heart of ancient Rome and absolutely mind-blowing in so many ways.
APPIAN WAY BIKE TOUR : The manfriend and I splurged on a day-long bike trip on the ancient Appian Way. We booked through this company + we’re happily greeted by our new friend—chain-smoking + romantic bike enthusiast Manuel. We biked six hours, stopping at the ancient city walls, Catacombs, aqueducts + the cutest pecorino romano cheesemaking farm. One of my favorite days from the trip.
TRASTEVERE / JEWISH GHETTO : Two neighborhoods full of history + worth spending an afternoon in, Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto are located right along the Tiber River. Tasty eats here include La Taverna del Ghetto ( best falafel ).
CAMPO DE FIORI : A daily market, tasty restaurants + cute, colorful buildings are my three favorite reasons to visit Campo de Fiori. It’s a great morning stop for breakfast pizza at Forno, an espresso + fresh flowers before moving on with the rest of your day.