Rome

Rome's Rose Garden: The perfect day activity in Rome

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Rome's rose garden is absolutely beautiful and even more special because it's only opened for a limited time in the spring. I've been trying to get to the gardens for years, but always missed the month or so that they're open for. No more! I went with my visiting friend and had a lovely time wandering through the rows of rose bushes and checking out the pathways that surround the garden, enclosed by rose arbors. If you're a fan of gardening, beautiful flowers, or parks, this stop is a must-see in Rome. Rome's Rose Garden

Overall Experience

Walking into the garden is a beautiful experience. Everything smells lovely, you're surrounded by greenery and beautiful flowers, intertwined with the winding garden pathways. The garden boasts over 1,000 different species of roses so there's plenty to see if you're at all interested in flowers. Over the Italian Stone Pines, you can make out glimpses of Circus Maximus and Rome's skyline. In one garden, there's a pergola and low hanging tree that invites you to climb it. On the other side of the road, you can walk the perimeter of a second garden under an arbor of roses and take a long break on one of its many benches.

Rome's Rose Garden

Just like the orange gardens, Rome's rose garden is perfect for a quick snack and glass of wine (maybe a nice rosè ;) ). You can bring your own food in, find a seat and spend hours talking with friends or just enjoying the scenery. It's right in the center of Rome and yet you feel a million miles away. I highly recommend, 10/10.

Rome's Rose Garden

Special Occasions

While we wandered the gardens, we saw a couple of parties going on. While I couldn't find any official information online about hosting events in the gardens, I think informal gatherings like the ones I saw would be perfectly fine. Go with your group, dress up and take pictures among all the different rose bushes. Finish up with wine and snacks and you have the recipe for a perfect aperitivo.

Rome's Rose Garden

Information on Rome's Rose Garden

I just missed posting this in time—unfortunately the rose garden is closed for 2017 but for future plans, I would definitely recommend checking it out if you have a free afternoon. While these dates may change depending on the year, it's typically open from April 21 to June 19, everyday from 8:30-7:30. The garden is very close to the Circo Massimo metro stop and an easy way to spend an afternoon in Rome (especially because it's FREE to enter). You can continue your way up and check out the Orange Gardens along with the secret keyhole that looks through a garden to St. Peter's dome. For more information, check out Rome's official tourism site here.

Rome's Rose Garden

 

 

What to See in Rome: Castel Sant’ Angelo

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Walking down the bridge towards Castel Sant’ Angelo, you're greeted by 10 angels holding instruments from the Passion, designed by Bernini. The castle overlooks the Tiber River and Vatican City, with amazing views from the top of the fortress. Along with its beautiful views of the city, it’s located conveniently close to St. Peter's (a nice two for one deal, if you will) and is full of its own history as well. For a fun and easy sight to see in Rome, with some amazing pictures at the top, check out Castel Sant’ Angelo on the other side of the river. Castel Sant' Angelo

History

Originally commissioned by Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for his family, Hadrian’s Tomb was one of the many monuments he erected in Rome and outside the city (one being Villa d’Este). It was later converted by the popes into a castle and military fortress. During this time, the church also used it as a prison and it held many famous Roman prisoners and dissenters of the the Catholic Church. To this day, there’s a passageway from the Vatican to Castel Sant’ Angelo for the pope to escape by.

Castel Sant' Angelo

Now, the castle is open to the public as a museum and can be explored from within. The outside grounds, ramparts, libraries and art displays are all available for visitors.

Views

Castel Sant’ Angelo was once the tallest building In Rome and the views from the top of the tower are still amazing today. You can get a great look at St. Peter’s dome and the Vatican, as well as the Tiber river and across, into the center. It has a 360 degree view and walking around the circular structure gives you plenty of opportunity for photos.

Castel Sant' Angelo

There’s also a nice cafe at the top of the castle where you can grab a coffee with a view. The window tables go quickly though, so get there early to snag the best spot.

Castel Sant' Angelo

Itinerary

In my 72-hours in Rome Guide, I recommend fitting Castel Sant’ Angelo in with the Vatican for an afternoon in the neighborhood of Prati. It’s a lot to fit in, doing St. Peter’s and the castle in one afternoon, but some shopping on Via Cola di Rienzo and snacking in the area at Mondo Arancina, Gelateria La Romana, or a full lunch at Arc Angelo make it more manageable.

Castel Sant' Angelo

However you want to fit it in, Castel Sant’ Angelo is located close enough to the center to combine it with a wide variety of activities.

While it’s not the most beautiful monument in Rome, this castle has collected loads of history and stories over the centuries, making it an intriguing place to visit. The photos at the top are also worth the price of admission.

Is Castel Sant’ Angelo a must-see for you? Or are other monuments taking precedence over this one?


Castel Sant’ Angelo

Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma

Ticket office: +39 06 6896003

Ticket price: €10, €5 for reduced

Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:00-7:30

Hidden Gems of Rome: The Non-Catholic Cemetery in Testaccio

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Other than the famous monuments in Rome, this city has so many peculiar and special hidden spots. From hole-in-the wall restaurants and speak-easies, to hidden keyholes and historical hidey-holes, the Eternal City is full of secrets. In the trendy neighborhood of Testaccio, you can find plenty of these. The Non-Catholic Cemetery, also known as the Protestant Cemetery, is a great example of how past greviences and segregation have led to a beautiful refuge for current citizens. Its impeccably-landscaped grounds are the final resting place of many non-Catholic foreigners who spent their last days in Rome and were forced out of mainstream cemeteries for this one. Non-Catholic Cemetery

Nowadays, this area in Testaccio is a beautiful example of Renaissance sculptures, has hundreds of flower and plant species, and is a great option for a peaceful walk or relaxing in the adjacent park. The history and setup of the Non-Catholic Cemetery both contribute to its status as a hidden gem of Rome.

History

For years the Roman Catholic church discriminated against people of different religions. Being anything besides Catholic was a sure way to ostracize yourself from the community and draw a lot of attention. In fact, Protestants in Rome *audible gasp* were not allowed to be buried in the same cemeteries as Catholics. This became a problem for foreigners living in the country and when they died, they were put together with others from different denominations in the “Non-Catholic Cemetery” on the outskirts of Rome. Over time, the city has expanded and this resting place of shame has become a beautiful refuge from the city-center in the quieter neighborhood of Testaccio.

Non-Catholic Cemetery

Layout

The cemetery is a 5-minute walk away from the Piramide metro stop and is very easy to find. After walking past the enormous Egyptian pyramid outside the metro (and wondering what city you’re actually in), you follow the wall until you reach the entrance.

Non-Catholic Cemetery

Once inside, the cemetery sprawls out ahead of you, with tiny paths between the gravestones that wind throughout the space. You can spend your time here, reading very old English names on the stones and admiring the perfectly-maintained gardens, or check out the enclosed church that’s on the far right of the cemetery. Either way, the path eventually leads you to the opposite side, where you can duck out of the cemetery and into the small park they have surrounding the great pyramid.

The park gives you a nice view of the monument and as a bonus, you can entertain yourself by looking at the many stray cats from the cat shelter beneath the pyramid. For limited hours, the cat sanctuary is open to the public and you can spend time petting  some of Rome’s famous stray cats. You can also choose to donate in the “for the cats” box that hangs outside of the shelter door.

Non-Catholic Cemetery

Inside the smaller park, you’ll find The Non-Catholic cemetery’s most famous grave, John Keats. Keats, his companion and infant son, and well as Percy Shelley, are all buried in the cemetery. The beautiful gravestones also have bits of poetry inscribed on them in English, which definitely differentiates this cemetery from the many others in Rome.

Non-Catholic Cemetery

After you’ve seen the park and garden areas, there are public restrooms available and a donation box on the way out. The cemetery foundation asks for small, voluntary donations from everyone who enters for upkeep of the beautiful cemetery. It wasn’t always in such great shape and only in the past couple decades have the gardens and park been looked after so well.

Non-Catholic Cemetery

From the cemetery, you can continue on towards the heart of Testaccio, with its many food options (restaurant, market) or head back to the metro and the neighborhood of Ostiense.

Information

More information can be found at the cemetery website here. Its hours are Monday-Saturday, 9-5 and on Sunday they close early at 1 pm. 

Non-Catholic Cemetery

Via Caio Cestio, 6, 00153

 

Places to see in Rome: Campo de’ Fiori

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Campo de' Fiori is one of Rome's most ambiguous spaces. This piazza in the center of Rome, close enough to both Piazza Venezia and Trastevere over the river, fulfills a variety of purposes for people in the city. Its history dates back to ancient times and its most prominent figure, a statue of the man killed for disagreeing with church canon, dominates the center of the square. During the day, Campo de' Fiori hosts a large food market with Italian products, fresh produce and flowers. At night, the many restaurants and bars surrounding the piazza fill up with tourists and locals. If you're visiting Rome, it's definitely a fun area to check out between trips to various monuments and long walks in the center. unknown.gif History

Campo de' Fiori translates literally into "field of flowers". In the middle ages, this square was actually a meadow, but later was transformed into a main commercial center of Rome. Shops were set up all around the area and the connecting streets all are named after various professions (hat-makers, vinegar producers, tailors, etc.)

Campo de' Fiori was also Rome's execution grounds where criminals and church dissenters were hanged or burned to death. In fact, there's a statue in the center that honors the famous figure of Giordano Bruno, a Dominican Friar and philosopher/scientist. Because he disagreed with Church teachings on geocentricity (all planets and the sun revolve around the Earth) and other major Christian concerns, he was tortured and burned at the stake in the middle of this square. The statue was later erected by the freemasons as a form of apology and remembrance of where the Church's past wrongdoings.

To this day, Campo continues to be a center where people gather together, albeit with a less grim atmosphere.

campo de' fiori

The Market

During the day (Monday-Saturday mornings), Campo de' Fiori acts as one of the few vegetable markets in the city center. While prices are higher than you might find at other markets further outside the city, it's a fun experience to walk through the stalls overflowing with beautiful, fresh produce and interesting Italian products.

campo de' fiori

You can find everything from oil, wine and spices to artichokes being shucked by hand and locals haggling with shopkeepers.

campo de' fiori

I've picked up small bits here for dinner later and a bouquet of flowers from one of the many flower stands near the fountain.

campo de' fiori

If you're looking for a quick snack, there are options for fresh squeezed orange juice and fruit cups, while at many of the bars surrounding the market you can sit down and have a coffee and snack.

campo de' fiori

Nightlife 

If you're looking for an authentic Roman nightlife experience, Campo is not your place. This square is full of tourists (notoriously American) and study abroad students who drink to excess on overpriced, poor quality drinks. You might have luck grabbing a quick glass of wine or beer from one of the lower-key spots, but if you're interested in a nice night out with a less insane atmosphere, try out the neighborhoods of Monti, San Lorenzo and even parts of Trastevere.

campo de' fiori

On the other hand, if you're homesick and want to find other travelers, this square is a great place to meet people who speak English. Just make sure not to come here every night of your stay!


For more information on Rome's other markets, check out this list of great vintage markets in Rome here. For other shopping recommendations, I have a roundup of where to shop in Rome here.

Testaccio Market in Rome: Where to eat at Mercato Testaccio

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Testaccio Market Testaccio Market is one of the best-known food markets in town. It's large, easily accessible by metro and bus, and has a wide variety of stalls. There are plenty of produce stands but what makes Mercato Testaccio really special is its food stalls. From vegan and health food, to pasta on the fly, meat and cheese boards with €2.50 glasses of wine, to its amazing sandwich options. All of these are perfect for a quick lunch, whether you're working in Rome or if you're visiting the city and want to try out some really great food. One food stall that I just tried is the famous Mordi e Vai, or Bite and Go. 

Testaccio Market

These guys are famous in Rome for their fast, take-away sandwiches that are based off of typical Roman dishes. Their panini con allesso (stewed beef), lingua (tongue), trippa (tripe), or polpette (meatballs) are fun takes on the classics and for a quick sandwich shop, the food is great.

Testaccio Market

Testaccio Market

I found this one using one of my favorite ways to find a great spot when you have many options: by seeing where the local crowd is. When I saw the line around Mordi e Via, I knew I needed one of their sandwiches for lunch.

Testaccio Market

Testaccio Market

Sandwiches are prepared on the spot with the fillings pre-made off the premises. They range from €4 to €6 and work well as a filling lunch. The only catch is you have to take your sandwiches to go and fight for a spot in the open communal courtyard. Another option is to take yours for a walk around Testaccio or into the Non-Catholic Cemetery park for a picnic lunch.

Testaccio Market

If you're not interested in mouthwateringly tender meat piled on a crispy bun, Testaccio Market has many other food stands or you could just pick up some food for home. We did both.

Testaccio Market

More Info

Mercato Testaccio

Monday-Saturday 7:00 am-3:30 pm

Via Beniamino Franklin, 00118 Roma (near metro stop Piramide)

 

Day Activities in Rome: Villa Torlonia Park

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Villa Torlonia Going to the park is a Roman tradition. Because getting to the beach from the city isn't the easiest, even in the summer people tend to head to one of the many parks for the afternoon. With the warm weather we've been having this February in Rome, we've been checking out different parks each Sunday and it's become a really nice weekend tradition. Villa Torlonia is a beautiful park in Rome, with multiple museums, a restaurants, fountains and areas to sit in the beautifully landscaped park. 

Villa Torlonia

An easy trip from the center of the city, Villa Torlonia is located off of Via Nomentana and is accessible by bus from Termini Station (bus #90). The entrance to the park has marble walls and many palm trees, differentiating it from the city directly outside those walls. As you walk along its paths, you come across the villa's many museums and cultural centers. On nice days, we give those a pass and continue on, past the fountains, ponds, and green areas that make up the rest of the park.

Villa Torlonia

Villa Torlonia would be a great place for a large group, family outings or even a solo trip where you bring a book and lay in the sun. We've been bringing lunch inside, usually some kind of pre-made sandwiches or salad (but pizza to go would work just as well) and small bottles of wine/beer to enjoy a few hours outside the craziness of Rome. With a blanket, drinks, food and friends, it's the perfect weekend activity.

Villa Torlonia

If you want to visit Villa Torlonia, it's open to the public all throughout the week, while there are also museums and a restaurant/bar inside the park.

For a special treat, I can highly recommend Guttilla, a gelato store across from the park on Via Nomentana for its amazing gelato and large cone size. There's nothing better than taking a gelato into the park for a walk on a nice day.

Villa Torlonia

Libraries in Rome: Biblioteca Angelica

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library rome I have a thing for libraries. Ever since I was little, spending an afternoon reading in a library has been my idea of a good time. I didn’t know how much I missed the smell of old books and the hushed silence until I made my way to my first library in Rome, Biblioteca Angelica. Located in the heart of Rome next door to Piazza Navona, this magical library gives you all the Harry Potter feels, with rows of study desks, walls lined with old tomes and wooden ladders that the libraries scuttle up and down grabbing books. As it’s reminiscent of both Disney (Beauty and the Beast) and Harry Potter films, I would highly suggest you check it out if you’re in the market for library in Rome with some history, a great study atmosphere and a place where you can get your reading on.

library rome

We saw multiple tours going in and out of the library. If you just want to take a peek (or a picture) inside, you can also ask to enter as a tourist. The best way to experience the library, however, is to fill out a library card, lock your bag up in the cubby outside and head in to choose a work space for yourself. Bring a laptop or books to make yourself look like a serious student and get to it. I sneakily just read a fiction book on my kindle while all the people around me were furiously highlighting hundred-page documents or typing obscure notes into Excel files.

library rome

On your frequent “study” breaks, you can people watch, stare at the intricate wood molding/gorgeous carpets or head outside to grab a coffee. My favorite thing in the hour or so that I was there was to stalk watch the librarians grab books from the highest levels of the library. They climbed up ladders and literally walked along the shelves to get hundred-year-old books, using an analog system to mark that it was in use. All of the higher levels have secret doors painted with bookshelves to allow for people coming and going. Basically it’s my dream job and I WILL find a way to make it happen.

library rome

library rome

I hope this rather basic information on how to visit a library is helpful, though much of it is turning out to be common sense. This library and many others in Rome, I’m sure, are worth a visit if you’re a book lover or just really really like old stuff.

More information about the library can be found here. During busy study hours, you may need to reserve a desk by calling +39 06 6840801

Biblioteca Angelica

M, F, S 8:30-1:45 ; T, W, Th 8:30-6:50

Piazza di Sant'Agostino, 8, Roma

What to Pack for Winter in Rome

winter in rome
winter in rome

When I first travelled to Italy, I wore what many tourists (especially Americans) do: athletic shoes, shorts, puff jackets, and bright colors. While I've adapted somewhat, I still tend to wear non-Italian looking clothing, or carry my backpack around and get mistaken as a tourist regularly. Over the time that I've lived here, I've started to see just how easily tourists stand out in Rome. When you wear brighter colors, synthetic fabrics, brand logos or sports clothing, you'll be recognized immediately as a foreigner and often targeted because of that. To avoid sticking out and blend in while traveling, here's a list of what to pack for winter in Rome.

To ensure that you're comfortable and fit into the Italian culture, it's important to pre-plan what you'll bring on your trip. Check the weather conditions, consider what activities you'll be doing more of (eating out, exploring/walking, outdoors vs. indoors) and try to pack a cohesive bag that covers all your needs. Especially in the winter, you'll want to bring layers. Depending on the month, Rome can be rainy and 40 F/5 C or sunny and get up to 60 F/15 C. I have more in depth recommendations for specific categories and items that work well in the city.

Outerwear

The coat: One of the most important things you'll pack (second only to walking shoes), choosing the right coat is essential to keeping you warm, comfortable and cute for pictures when you're traveling. A lot of Italians love a good puff coat and usually women wear theirs with a cinched waist. Both men and women will wear wool peacoats or overcoats in dark colors like black, blue, or a rich jewel tone. If you're staying for more than a few days, consider packing a down-filled coat that can be squeezed into a packing cube for travel and wearing your heavier coat on the plane.  One of the two should also be resistant to rain or waterproof.

winter in rome
winter in rome

The scarf: Scarves get their own category because there's nothing that Italians like better than a nice scarf in ANY season. According to any Italian mamma who's ever lived, if you go outside without covering your neck, one good gust of wind and you'll be immediately hit with a flu of epic proportions. Aside from obvious warming purposes, scarves help you seem more European and also give you the chance to add some color or interest when you wear the same coat for days on end. I like an oversized scarf wrapped over your closed jacket, but layering scarves is also acceptable. All of the above applies to both men and women; it's rare to find an Italian guy without a scarf or knit hat in the winter.

winter in rome
winter in rome

Shoes

The boots: I think ankle boots are the best footwear for winter in Rome and are something you probably already have. You avoid the issue of wearing ugly "comfort shoes" while being able to walk all over the city in them if  needed. If they're worn in, have protected leather and even better, a rubber sole, they'll be your best friends while traveling.

winter in rome
winter in rome

The sneakers: For the days when your feet are killing you, sneakers are unavoidable. They're the most comfortable shoe and if you have the right pair they can also go with non-athletic wear. If you want to fit in with the Italians, Nikes and Adidas are the most prominent brands here. The Adidas Superstars were all over the city for years but now seem to be dying down a bit.

Clothing

I won't give an entire packing list for your clothes but rather a general idea of how to dress for the city during the colder months. One of the biggest giveaways for gli Americani is the color of our clothing. Most Italians wear only dark clothes, especially in the winter. If you have a bright coat and mix many colors together, you'll stick out as a tourist. I recommend sticking to neutrals and darks, with smaller pops of color in your accessories.

winter in rome
winter in rome

For the changing temperatures (February in Rome feels like a New England fall day, with cold mornings/evening and warmer afternoons) I wear layers. A base layer, light sweater, jacket and scarf will keep you warm and you can remove as you go.

winter in rome
winter in rome

Accessories

The bag: For Rome it's better to have a smaller bag that you can see at all times. There are less pickpockets around the city in the winter, but it's important to keep an eye on your things. A satchel or crossbody fits a good amount of stuff and lets you be handsfree, while a backpack is good for bulkier items.

The umbrella: Unless you want to buy a cheap umbrella off of the street, bringing a sturdy travel umbrella is great for rainy days here. If you have a small one, it can fit in your crossbody or backpack and you can take it with you during the day.

Other Resources:

Before I pack, I google around and check Pinterest for outfit and packing list ideas. Maybe it's the stationary nerd in me but writing packing lists is one of my most satisfying hobbies. I liked this article for inspiration and have a lot of winter Rome-ready outfits on my Fall Pinterest board.

What are your thoughts? When traveling do you wear what you know, or try to adopt the country's cultural style?

Free Museum Entrance (Sunday at the Museum) & Palazzo Barberini

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Free Museum Entrance I mentioned in my weekly favorites that last weekend I finally took advantage of the free museum entrance that the city of Rome puts on every first Sunday of the month. I think it's an amazing way to encourage people to visit more of Italy's amazing museums and cultural sites, while also making it more affordable for young people or anyone who wants to save a few euros while traveling.

To explain this offer in more detail, here's the list of museums currently doing this event every month and a good explanation of the system. I really recommend checking the museum list, selecting your chosen museum and then checking if you need to make any reservations or bring anything specifically. Some of the museums are only free for city residents and many private collections aren't included so look out for that.

Free Museum Entrance

The list is quite extensive though and includes favorites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Galleria Borghese and the National Art Gallery (GNAM). If you are a resident of Rome (living or studying here) and have more time, I suggest picking some smaller collections at random after you've gotten to the big names on the list.

On Sunday we went to Galleria Borghese and tried to enter, only to find out that you have to book your tickets online ahead of time, paying €2/ticket to reserve them. Luckily Piazza Barberini is right down the street from Villa Borghese and we were able to see Palazzo Barberini for free.

Free Museum Entrance

Palazzo Barberini's been on my list for a while and it was such a nice way to spend a couple hours on a rainy Sunday. The palace itself is not overwhelming in size so you can make your way slowly through the various rooms and still see everything. The architecture of the building is beautiful, with white marble columns everywhere, while inside there are a bunch of frescoes on the ceiling and gorgeous medieval and renaissance paintings on the walls. I managed to do it without a guide or audioguide (using my art-savvy friend to fill in the blanks), but I bet it would be even more entertaining to have some type of guide.

Free Museum Entrance

Free Museum Entrance

Palazzo Barberini is most known for it's Raphael and Caravaggio works. The rooms that really gave me pause were on the second floor of the building and included an amazing ceiling fresco that is both reminiscent of and less-crowded than the Sistine Chapel and the Caravaggio room. The artist and his followers all have a very identifiable style and his work Judith Beheading Holofernes is truly breathtaking.

Free Museum Entrance

So moral of the story: do your research ahead of time and start enjoying the many, many museums that Rome has to offer. If you're a tourist, make sure that after you get to the big ones, you make time for smaller museums that may be even more interesting.

Free Museum Entrance

Free Museum Entrance

Free Museum Entrance

Where to Find Christmas Markets in Rome

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where to find christmas markets in rome One of the best parts of coming to Europe during Christmastime is visiting each country's festive markets, trying the holiday food and buying presents. While Germany's markets are well-known, Italy's mercatini are just as fun to visit as a local or tourist. Where to find Christmas Markets in Rome depends on your location in the city, but I've found several in the historic center as well as in farther neighborhoods.

Piazza Navona: The Piazza Navona Christmas market is one of the oldest in Rome and maybe the most famous. This year the vendor and artisan stalls were shut down, but the piazza is still very beautiful, with a carousel and game stalls on one half. While it's not my favorite market in Rome, it's definitely worth a stop at least to see the famous piazza during the Christmas season.

where to find christmas markets in rome

where to find christmas markets in rome

EUR: EUR's market is one of the larger in the city and is very popular, especially among Italians. Many tourists never make it out to this neighborhood, but it's very interesting in comparison to the rest of the city. I've never made it to the larger of the EUR markets, but have been to a smaller one in the area which had plenty of hot food, children's activities, and Italian products.

where to find christmas markets in rome

where to find christmas markets in rome

Montesacro: In the northern neighborhood of Montesacro, there's a weekend Christmas market that covers an entire main road and shuts down all traffic for the day. It's one of the better that I've seen in the city and if you can catch the timing right you could finish all your Christmas shopping in one stop.

where to find christmas markets in rome

Piazza Mazzini: Of the markets listed, the one in Piazza Mazzini is my favorite. I could spend hours walking around the fountain because they fit so many stalls with different sellers at each one. There are imported items and products handmade in Italy. While it doesn't have as many food stalls with warm drinks or activities, there's fantastic shopping and a beautiful atmosphere.

where to find christmas markets in rome

I tried to get in all of my market visits before I left Rome for the holidays, but for anyone still in the city, many of the markets will be open up until Christmas day, with extended hours and more open stalls. If you're in Rome during the holiday season, a Christmas market is a great free activity to give you a break from museums and 4 hour long lunches and see a different side of the Italian culture.

Vintage Shopping in Rome: Monti

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vintage shopping in rome Shopping for vintage clothing is an activity I try to do in any new city that I visit. Different countries and cities around the world have different clothing styles and brands, which are best reflected in a city's vintage clothing stores.

In Rome, the American vintage style is very popular. Clothing from the 80s and 90s from brands like Nike, Adidas and Levi's is highly sought after by Italians. For visitors, stores that cater to Italian vintage are also popular. Finding vintage Missoni, Versace, and Pucci pieces that are one-of-a-kind is why so many fashion lovers flock to Italy and its fashion industry.

Shopping vintage and second-hand is a passion of mine. Finding a beautiful jacket, carefully embellished shirts, sequined dresses and classic bags gives me so much more satisfaction than shopping for clothes at ASOS or Zara (not to say that I don't shop there because, let's be real, it happens way too often). I've found a favorite area of Rome where the shopping, both boutique and vintage, is fantastic. In the neighborhood of Monti, you can find almost anything that you're looking for and some things you never knew you needed. I've listed some of my favorites below.

  • Humana Vintage  Humana is one of my favorite vintage stores that I’ve found in Rome, because of their collection and the idea behind the brand. It’s based in Europe and is dedicated to reducing clothing waste by selling used and vintage items. We have such an issue these days with fast fashion, with the popularity of Zara and H&M in Italy taking over smaller shops. Vintage shopping is a way to support sustainable fashion, while finding interesting pieces that aren’t being sold all over the world. Humana also has frequent 50% off sales that make their affordable prices too good to resist.

vintage shopping in rome

  • Pefibo Vintage Clothing: the quintessential Roman vintage shop, Pefibo is known all over the city for its products and brand. It embodies the American vintage vibe that's so popular here and has larger collection of popular items like leather and jean jackets, leather skirts, Levi's jeans and branded tees. It's location is Monti is smaller than the other in San Giovanni but both are worth checking out.

vintage shopping in rome

  • King Size Vintage: King Size has a very similar vibe to Pifebo with classic items and a huge variety. I really love their smaller backroom full of leather, shearling, and suede jackets, as well as their large wall of high waisted Levi's.
  • Le Vesti di Messalina: Compared to the previous two places, Le Vesti is much smaller and geared more towards men's vintage. That said, if you're looking for any type of jacket/coat/wool wear, it's a great option.

vintage shopping in rome

  • Mercato Monti: One of the markets that I mentioned in this post (link), Mercato Monti is held every weekend and has products from Italian artisans on sale. Many booths have handmade clothing, vintage reclaimed items, or specially chosen imports from other countries. For this week right before Christmas, the market is open every day until the 25th.

vintage shopping in rome

vintage shopping in rome

The thrill of searching for a great piece is one of the best parts of shopping vintage. And when you go back home, you can bring with you something special that reminds you of your trip. I'd love to know what your favorite vintage buy (so far) is, in the comments.

Best wifi cafes in Rome: The best places to do work in Rome

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best wifi cafes rome Rome is many things, but technologically advanced it is not. Some cities like Lisbon, London, Edinburgh and Copenhagen are known for their tech-cafes and co-working areas. Unfortunately these don’t seem to exist in Rome and you’ll be lucky enough to find free wifi at a cafe in the center. Sometimes finding a place to get work done is necessary however, even in the beautiful city of Rome. The places below are cafes and study areas where you can easily access the wifi on your phone and laptop, while also having food, drinks, or coffee. For recommendations on the best wifi cafes in Rome, keep reading.

Barnum

Located in the dead center of Rome, Circus is a Roman bar turned healthy with fresh pressed juices, smoothies, classic coffee drinks, and a daily menu of healthy Italian specialities. The people watching is great, the decor on point, and the wifi connection strong. I recommend one of their homemade cakes, a vegetarian lasagna, and house-made ice tea lemonade with fresh mint.

Barnum (Historic Center)

Via del Pellegrino, 87

Monday-Sunday 9 am-2 am

best wifi cafes rome

 

Circus

Circus (they love a good theme in Rome) is a sort of a hippie-lounge area with small tables, booths, and couches were customers are welcome to relax or get some work done. There are outlets for easy charging and a full menu of both breakfast and lunch options. Their green juices and smoothies are fantastic and come with many healthy options (i.e. goji beads and chia seeds) that you can’t always find in Rome. If you’re going on the weekend, head there early because the best tables fill up quickly.

Circus (Historic Center)

Via della Vetrina, 15

Monday-Sunday 10 am-10 pm

best wifi cafes rome

La Zanzara

Best known as a cocktail bar and restaurant, La Zanzara (the mosquito) also has a coffee area and a strong wifi connection. You might feel a bit out of place typing away while other people are eating pasta and drinking wine, but this place is close to the Vatican, Via Cola di Rienzo, and Piazza Cavour. A great option for when you’re tired of working around too many hipsters. Try the soy cappuccino or if it’s after 4 pm, an elderberry spritz.

La Zanzara (Prati)

Via Crescenzio, 84

Monday-Friday 7:30 am-2 am; Saturday-Sunday 8:00 am-2 am

best wifi cafes rome

Caffè Lettarario

Caffè Lettarario is more of a classic library work setting, but it transforms at night to serve aperitivo with live music. You can check out books and use the wifi if you sign up for free card. If youre the type of person who needs to be a quiet place to get something done, come here during the morning or early afternoon and work away.

Caffè Letterario (Ostiense)

Via Ostiense, 95

Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-2 am; Saturday 4 pm-2 am

Homebaked

For anyone who is homesick or in desperate need of pancakes and other American breakfast dishes, Homebaked is the home away from home that you never knew you needed. It has all the (filtered) coffee, hot chocolate w/ marshmallows, cakes and muffins you could want and a friendly vibe with people who speak English. The only downside is the lack of seating, but if you get there early enough on the weekend or during the week, you can find a bar seat to sit at.

Homebaked (Gianicolo)

Via Fratelli Bonnet, 21,

Monday-Saturday 7:30 am-7:30 pm; Sunday 10 am-3 am

 

best wifi cafes rome

When I was living in London, I loved heading to work-cafes in my free time and found so many good options. If anyone has recommendations for other cities where these tech zones are more popular, let me know!

Where to shop in Rome: Finding the best shopping in the Eternal City

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best shopping rome In all the excitement of Black Friday and sales in the US this weekend, I thought a post about where to find the best shopping in Rome would be timely. Coming to Italy involves many things, but shopping for quality leather, shoes, bags, and suits is very high on the list. It’s very easy to be taken in by tourist traps in the center, selling you over-priced and poorly-made products. But knowing where to find the best deals, high quality goods, and how to support local shops/artisans takes insider knowledge.

The Shoes

Finding shoes in Rome couldn’t be easier. On every major shopping street, you can find a plethora of shoe shops. Finding a shop that reflects your personal taste is a bit different. I’ve always enjoyed shopping for and buying shoes at Danielle. They have a great selection of boots in particular, but also sandals and heels as well.

best shopping rome

The Leather

Finding leather products (bags, jackets, etc.) is a bit more challenging. The most important rule is to steer clear of any stores with huge signs claiming, “Made in Italy!!!” and “Genuine leather!!”. If the products were actually made in Italy and of quality leather, they don’t need to rely on these signs to sell . Look in boutiques and smaller stores off the main streets and check the tags inside for product information such as where it was made, or what it’s made of. I still haven't found THE ONE yet, but this post about a hidden leather shop near the Spanish Steps seems promising.

best shopping rome

The Clothes

Rome’s artisan boutiques and markets are the perfect places to find one of a kind pieces that are really special and will remind you of your trip. I recommend walking around smaller side streets in the center and going to the neighborhood of Monti to find unique places to shop. In Monti, the Mercato Monti, Pefibo Vintage Clothing and Humana Vintage all have special and affordable items.

best shopping rome

The Makeup

Finding great makeup in Rome deserves its own post but a stop in Kiko is a definite must. this is the most famous brand in Italy for a reason; their products are great and not too expensive.  To find other authentic Italian makeup brands, you have to look in a farmacia, which sells skin and body care, medicine, personal care products, and makeup all together.

best shopping rome

The Splurge

For some serious window shopping, Via Condotti (near Piazza di Spagna) is where you’ll find the designer stores and all of the fabulous things that you can (almost) justify buying because of the return you get from the VAT tax at the airport on your way back. Via del Corso and Via Cola di Rienzo are good options for walking and shopping, with more reasonably priced products. If you’re really feeling like trying something different, Rome has many malls that are accessible by bus where you can find actual Italians shopping and a huge variety of stores (EUR Roma 2, Porta di Roma, etc.).

These suggestions only touch briefly on a subject that would take much more time to share all the relevant information. I recommend reading up online and then getting out there and finding that perfect souvenir from your trip to Rome. After all, stumbling upon treasures is the best part of shopping.