It’s so exciting to arrive in a city with a map, a sense of adventure, an appetite and a desire to learn as much as you can about this new place.
Visiting the sites that you have heard so much about and longed to visit, soaking up the atmosphere, a new language, hoping to find that special place where you feel part of the furniture for just a little while – these are some of the reasons that we all love to travel.
Returning to somewhere that made you feel all of those things is extra special, you have a sense of belonging however, still hope to find new, exciting experiences.
This is how I feel when returning to Rome, and in sharing some of my favourite places throughout the city, I hope you may feel a little of it too, whether on a two-day stopover or with the time to explore a little longer.
There are many tourist sites to visit throughout the city which are a must and here I am going to share with you some places to stay, eat and enjoy whilst walking the narrow, cobblestone streets. When I say walking, I mean walking – this is such a beautiful and easy city to walk around. Most attractions are within easy walking distance from each other, although we did catch the Metro to the Vatican City once and when we walked back, we realised it was just up the road.
Here are a couple of recommendations in different parts of the city. When looking for a good hotel, do a little research about where you want to be based, however anywhere from the Rail Terminal all the way through to the river should have you within walking distance of most things. Ideally somewhere near the Spanish Steps or Trevi Fountain will have you right in the thick of it.
Hotel La Griffe Roma Gallery M by Sofitel
Via Nazionale, 13
Best Roma Hotel
Via di Porta Maggiore, 51
Near the Colosseum
For a Peroni or Aperol Spritz and to take in the atmosphere, we found a great place to gaze at the Colosseum. This is usually the first place we come to when we arrive, tired after a long flight, this is the place where we get our bearings and change over to Rome time!
Via delle Termi do Tito, 72
Great place to sit, enjoy Italian beer and admire the view! Get an outside table to take in the atmosphere.
For night time dining near the Colosseum:
Royal Art Café
Piazza de Colosseo, 1
There is a rooftop dining area upstairs where you can wine and dine and take in a different view of the Colosseum, all lit up at night, it’s amazing!
Monti district – near the Colosseum and Roman Forum
This is a favourite area of ours and we always seem to end up here for breakfast. You can find coffee, bakeries, bars, restaurants and it’s not as touristy as areas closer to Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.
It's important to find a good, authentic coffee experience and we found one here.
Bar La Licata
Via del Serpenti, 165
A great way to experience the authentic Italian morning espresso, is at Bar La Licata. An espresso bar by day and wine bar by night. Here you order your espresso/coffee and stand at the bar, have a small pastry and be on your way within a few minutes. Morning coffee is not to linger over – it’s in and out. We found that they are happy to cater to the tourists that come in, they will seat you at a table and wait on you. Remember though, you’re in Rome so, do as the Romans do, stride up to the bar and have your espresso like the Romans do, it’s fun!
We found a couple of really good pizzas in this area too!
Via Urbana, 112
We found these small, round pizzas which are folded and wrapped in a napkin, very good!
Via dei Serpenti
They make the pizzas in a wood fired pizza oven, just inside the door. Go inside and have a look at the rest of the menu – the shop/restaurant is long and thin and you can see into the kitchen at the rear. This would be a great place for lunch or dinner as well.
Antico Forno Serpenti
Via del Serpenti
Possibly our favourite pizza and pastry shop in Rome. We go here for breakfast and have pizza – it’s so crunchy they cut it with scissors – and buy a range of pastries to take with us for the day, just in case we get hungry.
Grezzo Raw Chocolate
Via Urbana, 130
For healthy and delicious raw chocolate, you can also find gelato and gorgeous truffles.
Piazza della Madonna dei Monti – here, once the sun goes down the locals come out to play and sit by the fountain in the Piazza socialising and drinking. There are a couple of restaurants and a bar that are open out around the square which cater for the night time trade.
On Saturday and Sunday there is a local market selling clothes, jewellery and an array of homewares.
c/o Grand Hotel Palatino
Via Leonina, 46
A great little market, open on the weekend, underneath a hotel. I bought a pair of very comfortable slip on shoes and hubby found the softest belt.
Cotto Ristorante Pizzeria
Via Torino, 124
We loved to stop here and have a Peroni and an Aperol Spritz, to rest our feet and chat about everywhere we had been that day. A bowl of olives always encouraged us to have a second round of drinks.
On our very first night in Rome, we asked the doorman at our hotel if there were any local, Italian restaurants nearby, and he recommended:
Via Palma, 11a
We enjoyed an amazing meal, choosing fresh seafood from the display to be cooked for us. The wine cellar was amazing and we had a chance to look inside when the manager offered some stories about the wines inside. A fantastic night with real Italian hospitality making you feel like one of the family.
Near the Pantheon
The Pantheon is a former Roman Temple which is now a church. It’s beautiful domed roof with its hole in the top is spectacular, and yes, the rain does come in!!
In the Piazza where the Pantheon stands are a few restaurants, umbrellas up and checked tables clothes in place, catering to the tourists. We bypassed them all and went into the Antico Salumeria, where an unassuming entrance takes you into a world of deliciousness!
Piazza della Rotonda, 4
The front of the shop is full of cheese, meats, and accompaniments for customers to buy. Make your way through to the rear of the shop where you will find just a few small chairs and tables where you can sit, relax and eat your way through bread, cheese and an array of meats that defies imagination. There is one thing on the menu – a platter of meats and cheeses with bread, if you have something you particularly want to try, tell them, otherwise, trust them to deliver. To drink choose from beer, wine or soft drinks – we have a litre of red wine, which comes in a carafe from the tap in the wall! This is one of our favourite places in Rome and a must for us each visit.
Nearby is a great place for coffee.
La Casa del Caffe Tazza d’Oro
Via degli Olmetti, 5b
This place was large and pumping, line up to pay for your espresso then move around to the bar where you hand over your docket and one of the baristas will make your coffee. Again, you stand at the bar, no tables and chairs here!
Of course, no visit to Rome is complete without gelato/ice cream! This is one of the best I’ve had.
Via del Corso, 335
This is a large store selling…you guessed it, chocolate. The thing that takes your eye immediately is a huge wall, behind the counter that is running with chocolate! They sell chocolates in boxes, chocolate straight out of the machine in jars and gelato of all flavours. The 70% chocolate is…. Mmmmmmm!
There is a couple of smaller store – minus the chocolate wall, in Rome if you miss this big one. There is one opposite the Caffe Tazza.
Near Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain
There are a lot of restaurants and bars around the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain that cater to the tourists. If you would like something a little more authentic wander a few streets away you will find some great places to enjoy.
Via della Panetteria, 34a
This is a lovely spot for a snack or lunch with platters of cheese and meats the highlight. A small interior with holders on the wall for your glass of red wine, to leave room on the table for food!
Ginger Sapori e Salute
Via Borgognona, 43 – 46
Ginger is a large and spacious restaurant with loads of clean, white finishes and great spaces for different food preparation. There are tables and chairs or room to sit at the bar, with an area for just making sandwiches and rolls and a wall filled with fresh fruit and vegetables making salads and juices.
These are just a small sample of the amazing places to visit in Rome. Base yourself around the major attractions and wander the streets to find your own secret destinations.