Getting lost in Rome is inevitable, and down every enchanting, narrow street, there is always a hidden treasure to discover… it is usually delicious and thirst quenching, or it is a hidden architectural gem.
Narrow streets and crossing bridges
Personally, one aspect of Rome that I love is the endless probability of taking a wrong turn down one of the many streets or crossing a stunningly romantic bridge, resulting in the discovery of an unknown part of the city. At first, you tend to stick to the Tiber, the river that carves its way through the centre of Rome, or follow the mass of tourists as they march along the wider main roads into the main piazzas. But, at some point, the rickety cobbled paths will lure you in.
Getting lost on a daily basis, allowed me to discover the best ‘gelateria’, ‘pizzeria’ and shops that most tourists will miss. A wrong turn usually leads to the discovery of a beautifully ornate church or an idyllic and picturesque piazza, where you can sit in a café and listen to the serenading language of Italian around you.
Many of the narrow streets lead to the larger, more famous piazzas. For example, the first time I (unsuccessfully) navigated my way to Piazza Navona, it was thanks to a wrong turn.
Food and Caffe’
In Rome, each morning, the day always begins with a caffe’ and cornetto (pastry) on the way to work. Italy takes pride in its coffee, resulting in a high quality and a world class taste. Just a short walk from Piazza Spagna, Rome is home to Antico Caffe Greco, an 18th century landmark café and art gallery where you can drink a 6 euro espresso from marble-topped tables in a luxurious environment, decorated in gold. If 6 euros for an espresso is too much, venture down any narrow street and there you will find a traditional café, offering the same for no more than 80 cents.
The spirit of Italian life can be symbolised in it’s cuisine. It is passionately produced, rich and unapologetically indulgent. Whether it’s pizza, pasta, meat or fish, the abundance of restaurants will satisfy every taste.
During the summer, the Tiber is lined with a huge variety of pop-up food venues – whether its pizza, pasta, fish or meat there is definitely somewhere along the Lungotevere (river bank) to please everyone.
Of course, pizza is amazing in Rome. Traditional pizzerias offer a mouth-watering array of pizza slabs that are generously sliced to the size of your choice. The best pizza that I tasted was along Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, at a place names ‘Alice’s’.
Of course, pasta is everywhere and you definitely cannot beat the homemade pasta that I ate almost every day whilst working with my Italian family.
Walking down one of the narrow streets I came across a Trattoria named Carlo Menta; which was by far the best restaurant I found. I ate there over 10 times and it was my go to place when meeting new people.
This restaurant served traditional Italian cuisine, cooked fresh and served attentively in a relaxed and authentic Italian environment. But mainly the price was unbelievable. 3 euros for a pizza, pasta dishes for under 10 euros and washed down with a litre of wine for 8 euros. You can’t say fairer than that!
I never went to Rome with the expectation of having much of a social life. After attending a language school, I was amazed by the amount of wonderful friends I made, who were from all over the world. Of course, being the young students we were, there was nothing better we liked to do than spend an evening exploring the many bars throughout the city. Usually we would eat at Carlo Menta, before having a drink or two on Lungotevere (along the river bank) and then end up at our favorite bar, ComingOut. It was situated adjacent to the Colosseo (or Colosseum), so offered a perfectly unique setting to enjoy a delicious cocktail and meet the many internationals.
Summer in Rome is home to GayVillageFarm. This is definitely the place to go on a night out. Attracting people from all backgrounds, it offers a non-discriminating, relaxed environment. A festival set up, there are three stages that offer a range of electronic and cheesy pop hits as well as many carnivalesque shows. It provides amazing atmosphere and an unbeatable party vibe.
Up next is my top 5 must see places to visit in Rome…