One of our writers Chris recently went on a trip to Rome. If travelling is one of your passions then you're going to want to read this. There's seeing Rome the tourist way, then there's seeing it this way. Get ready to have the travel itch enflamed again!
When in Rome….
There is a little saying that goes something like this “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” To my understanding this means to eat and drink, and why wouldn’t you? Pizza, pasta, cheese, meats, wine and of course the aperol spritz!
I decided to head over to Rome for a week and thought i'd let you in on some hidden treasures - the places I saw, the things I ate and the beverages I drank… oh and also the sites, of course.
There were two awesome pizza restaurants that I went to, focusing on Napoli styled pizza. Both restaurants are a little hidden and were filled with locals. My favourite was Meid in Nepols which was highly accessible and close to the central station, Termini. This pizza joint boasted possibly one of the best pizza’s I have ever eaten. What’s even better is that it comes at some incredible prices. From memory a pizza sets you back around 7.50 euro, pair that with a wine or beer you’re in for a treat!
Apart from the usual pizza and pasta, my most enjoyable meal was this little thing the Italians like to call aperitif. Essentially, aperitif is a refreshing cocktail, but of course in true Italian hospitality, you cannot go hungry. On another recommendation, we went to Momart – a little out of central Rome – which was very popular with the Roman locals. I suggest you go earlier rather than later. I went around 7pm and by the time I left at 9pm there would’ve been a solid 50 people outside waiting for a table.
You must be wondering what you’re in for at Momart, or any aperitif, in this instance. Well you pay roughly 11 euro, which includes a cocktail of your choice (Aperol Spritz… cough cough) and an all you can eat buffet. If you are keen for another drink, it is roughly an additional 6 or 7 euro.
After all the eating that just happens uncontrollably, there is a need to get out and explore the ancient city. I spent one and a half days in the centre, but I didn’t exactly do the ‘touristy’ sites that everyone wants to see. On the first day I caught a bus into the centre to check out the Pantheon and then walked to Trastevere, a little hipster area on the other side of the river Tiber.
The Pantheon was incredible, packed full of tourists I must add, but the beauty of it and the architecture masks the heavy influx of bum-bag cladded, selfie-pole enthusiasts. The ornate detail of the alter and surrounding art works, paired with the architectural and engineering brilliance of the dome roof is something indescribable.
After about a 20-minute walk from the Pantheon, I made it to Trastevere. Here the type of tourist shifted from the typical Griswold’s style to that of the young professional or backpacking kind with DSLR camera in hand.
After a little wander through the cobble stoned streets, i came across a relaxed bar with street side alfresco, by the name of Ombre Rosse. I would recommend anyone passing through the area to stop off here. I sat down and ordered a few drinks as per usual, from a decent list and were also delivered a plate of olives, bruschetta and corn chips – once again, true Italian hospitality spirit.
The other central area really close to the Colosseum I explored was Monti. After looking up a few other blogs to get an idea of where to go and what to see, all pointed to Monti, one of the cheaper regions of Rome. However like all historically poor areas as prices go up the younger creative community move in, bringing with them their personalities, ideas and vibes.
Filled with vintage clothing shops, hipster sneaker stores and some pretty grungy bars, this place attracted the right people except for lunchtime where the tourists from the likes of the Pantheon ventured into this area for a bite to eat. Not having a go, but for us I prefer to get away from the hordes and mix with the locals.
Talking about mixing with the locals, the last thing I want to discuss and recommend is if you have the time to get on a train and head to Ariccia. This miniscule town about an hour south of Rome is fantastic to get a slice of little Italy. Known for its traditional Roman food, Ariccia is a destination for people in Rome to go to, getting out of the city and enjoying some very enjoyable tasty food. Must I mention the typical Roman cuisine involves bacon…
Apart from the food – the little Sunday market, the community vibe and the locals engraved a soft spot in my mind. Walking down the skinny slightly sloping main street, you pass the local barber and café where locals are sipping on their espresso, avidly watching the Sunday afternoon football match. After a little stroll about town and looking at a few of the antiques for sale we stopped to grab a quick coffee and slowly walked back to the train to head back into the big smoke of Rome.
After returning from my trip it was evident that Rome had surpassed my expectations with much more to offer than the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and the Vatican.
So, after reading this, hopefully it has inspired you to get out and enjoy a city, be it Rome or Rio… maybe you’ll find your passion abroad!