TRAVEL GUIDE TO ROME by Jocelyn L. & friends
Jocelyn L. is a Global Explorer, Fellow Foodie, and Music Lover. She loves architecture, history, music, art, and food. If you are into these, her travel diary will help you decide where to stay, eat, hang out, and play.
Let's get lost in Rome! With its beautiful architecture, everlasting sunsets by the bridge, rich history, delicious Italian food, and romantic corners, it's easy to do. Rome is amazing for both solo travellers or couples. There is so much to experience — an Italian once told me that Rome is "chaos" but it's a beautiful chaos that I love to explore. Every corner has a story; after all, Rome used to be the most important city in the ancient world. Hopefully this guide will help you find the stories that speak most to you.
Big thanks to my local Italian friends who helped with recommendations for food and places to go!
A few facts about Rome
Ancient Rome inherited some Greek philosophy, language (Greek was one of the official languages until 5 A.D), way of life, art, medicine, and architecture style. People sometimes confuse the Roman Empire with Ancient Greece because of their similarities. The timing is very different, though: Ancient Greece long precedes the Roman Empire, from the 8th century BC onwards until it was conquered by Ancient Rome in 31 BC.
The true Romans are the Jews that live in the Jewish area. They never left.
Rome's population today is 4.3M.
The name Roma came from the city's founder and first king, Romulus.
If you're a cat person, you'll find cat heaven at Largo di Torre Argentina, the Roman Cat Sanctuary.
The best way to explore Rome is on foot. Bring comfortable shoes and prepare to be wowed.
Uber is cheaper than taxis. Pro tip: you get a black car when you order with Uber.
The best times to visit are May, June, September, and October. Avoid July and August — it's peak tourist season and most Italians take the whole month of August off so many places are closed.
Don't miss the Italian aperitivo! Aperitivo consists of sunset cocktails and snacks, and the best way to enjoy it is by the piazza (if you know me, you know that I love sunset cocktail hour)
You absolutely must try Jewish Roman food and Roman artichokes,
Where to stay
There are so many options but I suggest staying at boutique hotels for their exciting design. Some hotels have restored and kept the original Roman ceilings and staying in a room like that is such a nice Italian treat. Good areas to stay in are by Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Monti, and Trastevere.
Hotel dei Barbieri: My favorite hotel in Rome. I love its modern and clean design.
Hotel Scenario: Another hotel with a modern and clean design.
Nobildonne Relais: This is the one with really cool ceilings in the rooms.
J.K. Place Roma: Good for a splurge.
Palm Suite: True to its name, it has a cute palm tree decor.
Residenza Napoleone III: Has beautiful patio suites.
Hotel de Russie: Another splurge.
Singer Palace Hotel
Where to eat
Get ready for pasta, pizza, and true Roman food. I think Rome has the best Italian food — and my Italian friends agree.
Pierluigi: One of my favorite seafood restaurants. Can't miss.
Da Felice: True Roman cuisine and the best pasta, artichoke, and a very very special tiramisu.
La Gatta Mangiona: Pizza!!
Maccheroni: My favorite pasta place in the world. Another can't miss.
Osteria da Fortunata
Antica Hostaria Romanesca: More pasta.
Emma Pizzaria: True Roman, thin crust pizza.
La Pergola: A restaurant with a view worth a good splurge.
Gelateria La Romana: Probably the best gelato in Italy.
Roscioli: Staple deli in the heart of Rome.
J.K. Place Roma: Good for lunch — whether you're staying there or not.
Hotel de Russie: Same, good for lunch.
Extra recommendations from the locals:
Meccanismo: Aperitivo in the Trastevere neighborhood starting at 18:30.
Latteria Vineria: Rooftop aperitivo near Via del Corso.
Buccone: Wine shop with a few tables inside, authentic food, near Piazza del Popolo (at the end of Via del Corso, at the bottom of Villa Borghese)
Cantina e Cucina / Grazie e Graziella: The first is near Piazza Navona and the second is in Trastevere, but they are two related restaurants. They look toursity because the menus are in all languages and the staff speaks English, but the food is good. Go to’s are the Amatriciana Pasta, Pasta Alla Gricia, Roman artichokes, and Aperol Spritz.
Cul de Sac: Wine bar near Piazza Navona. There is always a wait. The food is good but it's not necessarily traditionally Italia.
Il Giardino Romano: Restaurant with outside seating in the Jewish Quarter right near Tiber Island. Must-haves are Carciofi Alla Giudica (a.k.a. Jewish artichokes) and Bacala (a.k.a. cod).
Renato e Luisa: Try the truffle and meat dishes (truffle carbonara) at this spot in Largo Argentina near the Cat Sanctuary.
Osteria da Fortunata: Homemade pasta in Campo dei Fiori. You can actually see the old ladies making it through the restaurant windows.
Roscioli: This one requires a reservation, in Campo dei Fiori. It's a bit more upscale and pricy but it's got good non-traditional and traditional dishes.
Trattoria del Pallaro: Not touristy at all, this restaurant has a fixed menu — you choose the size and whether you want red or white wine. Delicious.
Isole de Sicilia: In Trastevere, this one offers Sicilian dishes (mostly sea food). Arianciata, squid ink pasta and caponata are must-haves.
Fish Market: This restaurant in Trastevere always has a wait, but it's worth it. Their sea food is amazing.
Alle tre Scalini: Great wine bar in the Monti neighbourhood, usually needs a reservation.
Where to play
Rome is more of a bar scene, so that's what most of these recs are.
Bar del Fico: For aperitivo with the locals. Bonus points if you play chess.
Alexanderplatz Jazz Club
Voodoo Bar: Late night party with house music DJs. Part of The Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary: Like Tulum in Rome.
Gregory’s Jazz club
Music Inn: Fun place to go dancing in the center of the city.
There are SO many things to see and not enough time to explore them, so choose wisely! This section is curated by my Italian friend.
Vatican (Sistine Chapel) & Saint Peter’s Basilica: In order to go through the Vatican museums (ending with the Sistine Chapel), it’s much easier to buy tickets online ahead of time and skip the massive lines. Otherwise you can just walk through Saint Peter’s Square.
Coliseo & Foro Romano: "Coliseum and Roman Forum are the same ticket.
Capitoline Museums: Palazzo Senatorio, built in the 12th century and modified according to Michelangelo's designs;Palazzo dei Conservatori, built in the mid-16th century and redesigned by Michelangelo with the first use of the giant order column design." - wikipedia.org
Circus Maximus: Free.
Bocca della Verita: Rght near Circus Maximus (good photo op!).
Villa Borghese & Galleria Borghese: The Villa is in a massive park, worth a walk around (Segway and golf cart rentals are fun too). It's located at the end on Via del Corso, above Piazza del Popolo. Galleria Borghese is an amazing art collection, buy buy tickets online ahead of time, it is ALWAYS sold out.
Gianicolo Park: Follow Via Garibaldi in Trastevere all the way up a hill, there is an amazing lookout (great photo op) and a little further back, a massive park.
Piazza Navona: Centrally located must-see Piazza with fountains and statues (very iconic).
Campo dei Fiori: Right next to Piazza Navona, this is a nice Piazza with a farmers/flower market every morning. Nice place to go have a drink/coffee and people watch. Mostly outside seating.
Pantheon: Check hours online. Walk-in, free, easy, and centrally located.
Fontana di Trevi: Trevi fountain, located off of Via del Corso. (Shout out to the Lizzie McGuire movie!)
Spanish Steps: Once again, right off of Via del Corso.
Capitolina & Altare della Patria: Big monument in Piazza Venezia. You can buy tickets there; it has a really nice rooftop view and museum.
Piazza Santa Maria: Nice Piazza in Trastevere to go have a drink, etc.
Some extra sources: 26 of the Most Beautiful Places in Rome [CN Traveller]
Shopping: Where to go Shopping in Rome [CN Traveller]
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