Rome

Mexican food Guide: Where to Find the Best Mexican in Rome

Mexican food Guide: Where to Find the Best Mexican in Rome

Eating out in Italy involves a lot of pasta, pizza and predominantly Italian dishes. Besides supplementing their diet with the occasional burger or sushi, many Italians have no problem eating only Italian food day in and day out. So, while finding places that do decent Thai, Indian and Mexican food can be a real challenge, there are a few spots that I love. Keep reading for my Mexican budget picks, a Chipotle dupe and full-on restaurants with a mean margarita.

Spring Roundup: The Best Gardens in Rome

Spring Roundup: The Best Gardens in Rome

Spring in Rome is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. The whole city blossoms with the nice weather, but it’s not too hot to prevent you from enjoying the outdoors. There are so many gardens and parks around the city to visit and while I’ve previously written about some of them, here’s my consolidated list of garden favorites in Rome.

The Opera in Rome: What to expect from an Italian opera

The Opera in Rome: What to expect from an Italian opera

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first opera in Italy, La Traviata,in the center of Rome at Salone Margherita. I dressed up, grabbed my date, had dinner before and managed to stay up way past my bedtime to see this beautiful show on a warm spring night in the city. It was a magical experience and I think it’s a perfect activity to plan for any trip to Rome.

Places to Visit in Rome: Campo de' Fiori

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.

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
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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Trastevere Neighborhood Guide: What to eat, drink and do in Trastevere

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trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

One of Rome’s most famous neighborhoods, Trastevere is piece of ancient Roman life in the center of the city. It’s location (on the other side of the river) from the rest of Rome’s historic monuments creates an atmosphere of a town-within-a-city. And while it has more than its fair share of tourists and study abroad students, there are also hidden areas to this neighborhood where locals have lived for decades and small quirks that make it a spot in Rome not to be missed. To help you steer clear (for the most part) of the tourists traps, I've created a Trastevere neighborhood guide with a list of my recommendations for places to eat and drink and things to do.

To Eat

Trastevere is known as a foodie destination in Rome, hence why there are so many food tours dedicated to this neighborhood. It’s almost impossible to choose favorites among its many restaurants, aperitivo spots and bars, but you won’t go wrong by heading to one of these spots.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

The Roman Food: Da Enzo

It's a classic for a reason. I've talked about it a lot in the past but Da Enzo is one of my Roman classic faves at this point. It's a *bit* touristy but still serves amazing local food. Try the cacio e pepe, carbonara, coda all vaccinara and DEFINITELY get their tiramisu with a nutella surprise. Make sure to call at least a couple days ahead, otherwise go around 9:00 when the first wave of diners leave.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

The Pizza: Ai Marmi

There are a lot of pizza options for you but I really enjoy heading to Ai Marmi for a quick pizza and fritti when I'm hungry and just don't want to commit to a full dinner. You get to see the pizzas being made right in front of you and can get a generous meal for a deal.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

The (Gluten-Free) Pizza: Mama Eat

While I haven't been here, I'm dying to try their gluten-free or lactose-free pizza. Having food allergies or intolerances is very difficult in Rome, but at Mama Eat they have a separate kitchen for gluten-free food and the pizza is supposed to be quite good.

The Trattoria: Il Duca in Trastevere

A Trastevere standby, Il Duca gives you everything you need from a Roman trattoria. The carciofi (artichokes) are everything.

The Gelato: Old Bridge Gelato

Some decent gelato in the heart of Trastevere.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

The (Better) Gelato: Il Teatro del Gelato

Some great, organic and locally sourced gelato from across the bridge.

To Drink

Aside from its culinary specialities, Trastevere is one of the nightlight hubs in Rome. You’ll find a lot of Americans here (especially in the most popular piazzas and roads) and even some locals as well. It’s definitely more appealing to younger crowds and those looking to go OUT. Bar hopping is very common, and there aren’t many club options in this neighborhood.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

The Craft Beer: Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà

If you like beer and are in Rome, you go to Ma Che Siete. My boyfriend claims it is one of the best beer shops in Rome with about 15 rotating beers on tap with superior "delivery mechanisms". The other would be Open Baladin.

The Aperitivo Hotspot: Freni e Frizioni

Where the cool people go to drink and smoke outside. Inside you'll find a full (vegan-friendly) buffet for their aperitivo. Great cocktails and atmosphere.

The Wine and Meat Bar: La Prosciutteria

There are several of these located around the city and they are serve decent wine, alongside great meats and cheese boards or sandwiches. Go for a glass bottle and enjoy some great Italian products.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

The Cocktail Bar: Alembic # Ak bar

Edgy; trend; instagrammable drinks.

To Do

Talking a walk around the neighborhood is my first recommendation but after you’ve maxed out on your daily steps, here are some other options.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

The Nature Option: Botanical Gardens

A short walk from the hustle and bustle of popular Trastevere, the Orto Botanico of Sapienza University is a beautiful place to wander. The gardens are lush and a nice way to get away from everything in the center. 8€ entrance.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

The Religious Relic: Basilica di Santa Cecilia

This gorgeous basilica is dedicated to St. Cecilia, patron saint of music. It has a gorgeous fresco, a buried ancient Roman house and remarkable catacombs that you pay €4 to visit. Another perk of heading here is that you get to see the less touristy side of Trastevere, where things are slightly calmer.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

The Hangout: Piazza Trilussa/Piazza Santa Maria di Trastevere

Head to one of Trastevere's main piazzas (Piazza Trilussa or Piazza Santa Maria di Trastevere) to sit outside, drink a cheap bottle of wine and listen to street musicians. In the warmer months there's always a crowd of people mingling and you can really experience Roman nightlife the local way.

The View: Gianicolo

Gianicolo is Rome's second largest hill and offers a great view overlooking the Roman skyline, reachable by stairs from Trastevere. Head up here in between meals or drinks to watch the sunset because the view is worth it.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

The Activity: Outdoor movie

Head to an outdoor movie in the summer. Natalie has some great tips on outdoor summer events in Rome and this open air cinema seems like a lot of fun. Note that films are shown in Italian.

trastevere neighborhood guide
trastevere neighborhood guide

This definitely isn't an exhaustive list, but it's one that I'm constantly adding to and testing out ;) Keep an eye out here for future updates on Trastevere and new neighborhood guides for other parts of 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.