If you’re anything like me, traveling isn’t just about seeing the sights; it’s about immersing yourself in the heart and soul of a place. Truly getting to know the essence of a city through its people, traditions, and of course, food. Rome, the “Eternal City,” is a canvas painted with history, art, and a touch of magic. In this blog post, we’ll embark on a journey through Rome that’s less about checking off a to-do list and more about allowing the city to weave its spell on you.
Rome, known as the “Eternal City,” is steeped in history and myth that spans millennia. This evocative nickname truly encapsulates the city’s enduring and timeless significance. From its mythical beginnings to its transformation into the capital of a vast empire, Rome has always held a pivotal role in shaping the course of history. Its remarkable resilience and ability to evolve while preserving its ancient essence are what earned it the title of the “Eternal City.”
As you wander through Rome’s cobblestone streets and marvel at its ancient monuments, you’ll begin to grasp the profound meaning behind this nickname. It’s not just about the city’s age, but rather its timeless importance. During your trip, you’ll find yourself surrounded by layers of history that seamlessly coexist with the modern world.
You’ll stand in awe before the iconic Colosseum, an ancient amphitheater where gladiators once battled, and realize that it’s not only an artifact but a symbol of human achievement and innovation. Perhaps you’ll feel cute tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, merging with etheric intention of millions of dreamers. You’ll witness a violinist in the middle of the street playing melodies saturated in emotion in the midst of hundreds of people with impenetrable energy.
As you stand in front of Bar San Calisto in the square of Trastevere having a spritz, you may observe the table of elders playing cards and yelling at one another as the tourists move through with curiosity. This is what brings me the most joy, simple observation. Simply capturing the purity and oftentimes simplicity of a culture through it’s traditions.
It’s in these moments that you’ll sense Rome’s timelessness, a place where past and present harmoniously converge. You’ll come to appreciate how the Eternal City isn’t frozen in the past but continues to inspire, captivate, and evolve, leaving a lasting impression on all who visit.
Where to Stay & Roam in Rome
Mindful Monti: Where the Past Meets the Present
Imagine strolling through winding alleys where time seems to stand still. That’s Monti, a neighborhood where history whispers from every cobblestone. During my stay in Rome, I found solace in an enchanting Airbnb hosted by the delightful Maria. The neighborhood is artistic, hip, romantic, and seemingly more youthful then other neighborhoods in Rome.
I recommend checking out Airbnb, or one of the following boutique hotels:
Good Morning Monti
As the sun gently kisses the ancient streets of Monti, the neighborhood awakens with an enchanting allure that’s uniquely Roman. Start your morning with a leisurely stroll through the alleys with an espresso, where history whispers from every corner. This is a neighborhood where time seems to stand still, and each corner holds a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
Café Culture: Begin your day at one of Monti’s charming cafes. Regoli Pasticceria is a local favorite (meaning, also my favorite), where you can savor a cappuccino alongside a maritozzo, a delightful cream-filled pastry. For a traditional Italian morning with the locals, have a cafe and cornetto (italian croissant) at the standing bar at Er Caffettiere.
Explore the Mercato: If you’re in Monti on a weekend, don’t miss the Monti Market (Mercato Rionale Monti) on Via Baccina. It’s a treasure trove of vintage finds, artisanal crafts, and unique souvenirs. At the Monti Rionale Market you will find the scents and colors of the markets of the past. There is a wide choice of vegetables, fruit, gastronomy, fresh fish, cheese, fresh pasta. In addition to fresh foods, the market offers you advice, tells you stories of the past, which only small communities can give you.
Monti’s Marvels: As you wander, be sure to admire the neighborhood’s architectural gems. Keep an eye out for the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, one of Rome’s most important basilicas, and the elegant Piazza della Madonna dei Monti for optimal people watching.
Local Encounters: Monti is also known for its friendly atmosphere. Strike up a conversation with a local or two; they often have the best tips on hidden gems and lesser-known spots.
Monti’s morning ambiance is nothing short of magical, and it’s the perfect time to immerse yourself in the neighborhood’s timeless charm while the city awakens to another day of history and beauty.
Trastevere: A Bohemian Oasis
Trastevere, the enchanting neighborhood on the western bank of the Tiber River, is Rome’s hidden gem where history and bohemia intertwine in a dance that’s as old as time itself. If Monti is Rome’s artistic heart, Trastevere is its creative soul. The moment you step into its winding streets, you’re greeted by an infectious energy that pulses through the neighborhood.
A Canvas of Color: As you explore Trastevere, you’ll quickly notice that every corner serves as a canvas for street artists. Vibrant murals, whimsical graffiti, and thought-provoking street art decorate the walls, creating an ever-evolving outdoor art gallery. It’s as if the neighborhood itself is an ongoing masterpiece.
A Gastronomic Journey: Trastevere is a haven for food enthusiasts and lovers of authentic local cuisine. The neighborhood’s restaurants and trattorias are renowned for their delectable dishes. From traditional Roman pasta like cacio e pepe and carbonara to wood-fired pizzas and the freshest seafood, your taste buds are in for a treat. Here are a few must-visit spots:
- Dar Poeta: A cozy pizzeria famous for its thin-crust pizzas.
- Da Enzo al 29: Known for its exceptional carbonara and cacio e pepe.
- La Prosciutteria: A charming spot for wine, cheese, and charcuterie for a picnic.
- Latteria Trastevere: A sidewalk natural wine bar for local vino (try orange wine!) and cheese boards, or lasagna if you’re feeling the call to indulge.
Town Square Charm: Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, the neighborhood’s picturesque town square, is a delightful place to start your exploration. The centerpiece of the square is the stunning Basilica di Santa Maria, which dates back to the 12th century. Its golden facade and intricate mosaics are a sight to behold. The square comes alive in the evenings, with locals and tourists alike gathering to enjoy street performances, savor gelato, and soak in the magical atmosphere.
Evenings in Trastevere: Evenings in Trastevere are a symphony of laughter, music, and lively conversations. The neighborhood’s spirit truly comes alive after the sun sets. You’ll find cozy wine bars, lively pubs, and live music venues tucked away in unexpected corners. It’s the perfect place to unwind, sip on local wine, and soak in the lively atmosphere.
Bar San Calisto for happy hour
Trastevere isn’t just a neighborhood; it’s an experience that invites you to embrace the artistic and more traditional essence of Rome. It’s a place where each alleyway tells a story, and where the bohemian soul of the Eternal City finds its voice. Bring your camera and simply get lost roaming around.
Café and Coffee Shop Wanderings
As the sun rises over Rome, it’s time to awaken your senses with the city’s best brews. Rome’s café culture is an art form, and these spots are more than places to sip coffee; they’re portals to the heart of the city.
- Regoli Pasticceria: Sip and Savor in Monti
Regoli Pasticceria, nestled in Monti, is a cafe where I found myself indulging in cappuccinos and maritozzos, delightful cream pastries that are like a sweet symphony for your taste buds.
- Caffe Letterario: Where Coffee and Culture Collide
Caffe Letterario isn’t just a café; it’s a love letter to literature. With coffee in hand, I dove into books, with live jazz music in the background.
- Er Caffettiere: Classic and Cozy
For a classic Roman café experience, Er Caffettiere in Monti is the place to be. It’s a bustling hub where locals gather for their morning fix, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee welcomes you like an old friend. Go to the standing bar, have a cappuccino and say hello to the locals.
- Er Baretto: Patio Pleasures
Er Baretto, also in Monti, boasts a lovely patio where you can enjoy your morning cappuccino al fresco. It’s the perfect spot to soak in the neighborhood’s ambiance as you plan your day.
- La Casa del Caffè Tazza d’Oro: Pantheon Perfection
A visit to Rome is incomplete without marveling at the Pantheon, and afterward, you simply must head to La Casa del Caffè Tazza d’Oro. Here, you’ll be tempted by a Granita—a frozen coffee treat crowned with whipped cream. It’s a heavenly indulgence.
- Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria: Morning Magic
Start your day at Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria, where the lively atmosphere sets the scene for a leisurely morning coffee. Huge selection of handmade pastry, come early to get it fresh!
Savoring Roman Cuisine
When in Rome, eat as the Romans do. And that means indulging in a culinary journey that’s nothing short of divine. Here are some of my favorite spots to savor the flavors of Rome:
- Masa Rome: A Hidden Rooftop Gem
Masa Rome is a well-kept secret, perched on a hidden rooftop that offers a breathtaking view of the city. Go during happy hour, and don’t miss the chance to savor their carbonara; it’s a taste of pure bliss. I may have shed a small tear while eating it.
- Ristorante Dilla: Chic & Reimagined Roman Delights
Nestled amidst the enchanting streets of Rome, Ristorante Dillà is a culinary oasis that beckons to those seeking an extraordinary dining experience. With a commitment to showcasing the very best of Italian cuisine, this hidden gem combines tradition and innovation to craft unforgettable dishes. Settle into the warm and inviting ambiance as you explore a menu that celebrates the richness of locally sourced ingredients.
- Pizzeria Al Marmi: Time-Tested Tradition
For a taste of classic Roman pizza, head to Pizzeria Al Marmi. The décor hasn’t changed in decades, and that’s precisely the charm. Start with supplì, fried rice balls, and delve into a thin, wood-fired pizza that’s a slice of heaven.
- Fatamorgana: Gelato Perfection
When it’s time for dessert, don’t miss Fatamorgana. This all-natural gelato spot is where you’ll find some of the most creative and delectable flavors. I went at least 3 times throughout the trip, as they have locations around the city. The pistachio is to die for, amongst many other unique and all natural flavors.
- Da Enzo Al 29: The Carbonara Oasis
Da Enzo Al 29 is renowned for having the best carbonara and cacio e Pepe in town. Remember, it’s a local favorite, so come early for the 7:30 seating. Every bite is a testament to Roman culinary artistry.
- Urbana 47: Rustic Charm and Fine Dining
Urbana 47 is a delightful mix of rustic charm and fine dining. The charming terrace sets the stage for a memorable meal, and the culinary experience is nothing short of exceptional.
- La Punta Expendio de Agave: A Taste of Mexico in Rome
If you’re in the mood for something other than Italian cuisine, La Punta Expendio de Agave offers a delightful Mexican twist. It’s a refreshing change of pace for a little taco action in Italy.
- Trattoria Monti: Michelin Star Dining in Monti
For a truly special dining experience, Trattoria Monti in Monti is a Michelin-starred gem. It’s a testament to the culinary excellence that Rome is known for, so dress up and reserve ahead of time.
Sipping the Roman Spirit
The day isn’t complete without raising a glass to Rome’s vibrant spirit with an apertivo! An “aperitivo” is a traditional Italian pre-dinner ritual that involves enjoying a drink and small snacks before the main evening meal. It serves as a social gathering and a way to whet the appetite. Typically, aperitivo drinks include cocktails like Aperol Spritz, Negroni, or a glass of wine, and these are often accompanied by light snacks such as olives, cheese, cured meats, or chips.
The concept is similar to “happy hour” in some other countries but with a more cultural and culinary twist. Aperitivo time in Italy is a moment to relax, socialize, and savor some appetizers before dinner. Here are some spots I especially enjoyed and can recommend:
- Bar San Calisto: Happy Hour Roman-Style
Bar San Calisto is an unmissable spot for experiencing Roman life. Head over around 5 PM for happy hour, where you can savor a 3-euro spritz, mingle with others and appreciate Trastevere while old-timers play cards in the background.
- Drink Kong: Crafted Cocktails
Drink Kong is where you’ll find some of the most inventive cocktails in Rome. If you appreciate mixology as an art form, this is a must-visit. Perfect place for a date as the lighting is dark and the design is just right.
- The Race Club: A Hidden Late Night Gem
The Race Club, a hidden gem in Rome’s nightlife scene, is a place to enjoy good music and great company. It’s a spot where you can dance the night away.
- Il Goccetto: A Wine Lover’s Haven
Il Goccetto is a wine lover’s haven. With an extensive selection of wines, it’s the ideal place to savor Italy’s finest vintages.
- Wisdomless Club: Late-Night Vibes
If you’re in the mood for a late-night adventure, the Wisdomless Club offers an unforgettable experience. Dance, music, and a lively crowd make it a night to remember.
Exploring Beyond the Icons
While Rome undoubtedly boasts world-famous landmarks like the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, and The Vatican, the true essence of this ancient city transcends its renowned tourist attractions. Beyond the confines of the well-trodden path lies an enchanting tapestry of neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and story to tell.
As you traverse the streets of Rome, it’s essential to embrace the art of wandering. Allow yourself the space and time to get lost in the city’s labyrinthine alleys. It’s in these unscripted moments that Rome’s unparalleled magic reveals itself. Behind unassuming doorways lie hidden gems, from centuries-old artisan workshops to quaint family-owned trattorias serving generations-old recipes.
By venturing off the beaten path, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter the heart and soul of Rome—the everyday life, the locals’ rituals, and the authentic charm that often eludes hurried tourists bouncing from monument to monument.
So, while the iconic landmarks deserve their due admiration, remember that Rome’s most profound revelations are often found where you least expect them. Open yourself up to the city’s surprises, and you’ll uncover the timeless allure of the Eternal City in every corner.
Rome is a city that invites you to slow down, savor each moment, and explore with an open heart. As you follow this journey through the Eternal City, remember that Rome isn’t just a destination; it’s an enchantment waiting to be discovered.
Let your senses guide you as you roam Rome’s timeless streets, and may every corner you turn reveal a new layer of this captivating city. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it with your friends to support free content. Tag me on Instagram during your trip to Rome so I can repost and share with others!