08 Sep To Rome With Love
This past July I decided to surprise my girlfriend with a trip to Rome for her birthday. Some of you are already rolling your ‘judgy eyes’ saying “well who can afford that?”, which I get, but being based in Europe this trip was quite affordable, from the bed and breakfast lodging to transportation and attractions.
My love affair with Italy revolves around its sights, people and food… but really let’s be honest, it’s food. Every time I go back thinking it can’t get any better, and yet it gets so much better. I really wanted to try to Rome’s specialities, and their gotos are a pasta dish called ‘cacio e pepe’, a delicious, more gourmet version of what we brutes consider mac ‘n cheese; and the ‘suppli’, a cheesier version of an arancini.
We landed in Ciampino Airport, their smaller airport that handles all the Ryanair flights. From there was a quick bus ride to the main train station. To our benefit and surprise, it was recently retrofitted with an ‘Il Mercato’ (which we also visited in Florence and stuffed our silly, fat faces with pizza 3 days in a row — it was that good!). It’s an amazing fresh market with some fantastic vendors that also cross supply to the restaurants in the market. Needless to say, one Pizza Margherita and a bunch of suppli were ordered immediately. While the pizza wasn’t on the god-level as the one offered in Florence, it was still amazing; and the suppli… oh the crispy, flavour packed suppli… I could have downed at least 10 of those delicious, golden nuggets; pass me one of these any day over an arancini. Sorry, Sicily.
Okay, a quick list of sights we saw before I talk about food again. Vatican, Colosseum, Forum, Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo, Piazza Venezia, Keats Museum, and a bunch of neighbourhoods only my sore feet could remember. While they’re all must-sees if you haven’t been to Rome before, what stood out most to me were the Colosseum, Forum/Palatine Hill, Spanish Steps and Piazza Venezia.
I was so amazed at the depth of the Colosseum’s exhibition leading to the entrance of the battle grounds. Usually, museums and historical sites do a poor job of this, but here, you learn quite a bit which helps you appreciate the history — good bang for your buck. While the Forum and Palatine Hill require more imagination amongst the ruins, it’s not hard to appreciate the vastness. I have a soft-spot for the Spanish Steps and Piazza Venezia, purely because my sister wore out the ‘Roman Holiday’ VHS tape when we were kids.
Now that’s out of the way back to the food! We lucked out nearly every day in terms of getting some fantastic Roman food. While we didn’t try nearly enough restaurants here’s a list of where to get some of that good grub:
Cacio e pepe: Nana Vini e Cucina (And not Il Duca, although it’s ambience was nice). A stone’s throw away from the Trevi Fountain, make sure to plant yourself on the patio and enjoy the calm pace of the Romans.
Pizza: Bar del Fico, tucked away neatly on a smaller street, I feel like we got away from the tourists and found this modern and beautifully decorated restaurant. While the pasta was good, the pizza was incredible.
Suppli: Il Mercato is a market I wish I could find in my neighbourhood. It really puts all the other markets to shame. While I enjoyed the food and ambience of the location in Florence more, the location in Rome did not let us down. I’m almost positive anything you order here is delicious, but definitely grab yourself a pizza, and a ton of suppli. If you have room, wash it down with an espresso and cannoli.
Sandwich: A tie between Alimentari Pannella Carmela & Birra e Sale. It’s not always easy to find a decent sandwich shop when you’re trekking about being a tourist. These two places not only hit the spot, but my lord, are out of this world. Both places have your choices of cured meats, cheeses, antipasti and all sandwich combinations your heart desires.
Drink/Snack: Lungo Il Tevere di Roma, in the summer, all along the Tiber river you’ll find different food and drink stalls with great live music. It’s a great walk to people watch, grab a snack and drink before dinner, or even after.
It definitely was an action packed 4 days, but most definitely worth the trip out. If you haven’t been, highly recommend it, just make sure to pack a good hat, lots of sunscreen, hydrate and be ready for an insane amount of crowds. If you want to see more of our trip, check out this music video I chopped together
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Also published on Medium.