I know Paris is the city for lovers and I agree. But Rome may have a dog in the fight with its good food, river views, and mysterious cobblestone streets. I’d been to Rome once before but it was a long time ago and an abbreviated stay. Nonetheless, I told everyone that it was aight and I probably wouldn’t go back. I really thought I knew everything at 20…ha. I get it – you have to come to Rome as a grown up to do grown up stuff. Like drink strong coffee and big glasses of full bodied red wine. Rome is a beautiful city with more history than there is time to see and all of the culinary delights your heart can stand.
You know that you will visit the Colosseum, Vatican, Pantheon, etc. So I won’t bore you with the laundry list of historical sites and ruins but here are a few tips:
- Go to Trevi fountain early. It gets extremely crowded and seeing it without all of the people stacked on it like bugs is great.
- Do a skip the line tour for the Vatican so you can skip the line. The line is behemoth (even at 7am). Once you get inside, it is hottttt (no AC) and crowded, so dress lightly but remember ladies you will need to cover your shoulders in the Sistine chapel.
- City Wonders is a great company to tour the Colosseum and Roman Forum. You get special access to the stage and everyone is like “how do we get in there??” YOU CAN’T. Haha, but really, they can’t. But remember, the Colosseum and Roman forum visit is like visiting a small town. It is several miles of walking so be prepared. We had a bunch of people drop out of our tour because they couldn’t do the stairs and were just tired. Our tour guide was hopped up on espresso and didn’t care. She said she had a master’s in history and clearly wanted us to have her whole dissertation. Nonetheless, she was good and I learned a lot.
FOOD and Jesus Juice
Lately, I am really into “experiences” when traveling because it’s a great way to meet people and do something different. Plus, you’re in Rome and need to learn to cook something.
The pizza school offers a class on airbnb’s experience section. The class is small – about 12 people – and lasts about five hours. Our experience decided to be on the day of a monsoon. It was flooding and little did we know that the class was in a tent (OUTSIDE). Didn’t matter – we were willing to risk our lives for pizza.
We learned to make pizza and pasta. The pizza was DELICIOUS. Our instructor, Giuseppe, will definitely remind you that you don’t know how to make pizza or pasta so don’t be that person asking too many questions. We had someone in our class asking whether they should buy a machine to roll out dough or do it by hand. Giuseppe said, “for you, it doesn’t matter.” Ha. In other words, you can’t cook so “Don’t even worry about it!” I like a realist so I was unbothered. Not to mention he was funny and gave us some good tips. One being that your pizza is terrible because you cook it over 3 minutes. 3 minutes?! Yeah, apparently you’re supposed to put your oven on 750. Good luck with that. By the middle of the day, the sun came out and the class got to enjoy wine and pasta on the farm.
Hype level: 3
Actual Score 5!
I cannot get over how good this was. I could live here. Just let me snuggle up in the corner and LIVE. By far my favorite meal in Rome. I mean, the service was warm and efficient and the food was outstanding. You know things are good when you order from every course and want more: spicy seafood soup, fish fritters, lentil soup, veal (with WHITE TRUFFLE!), and steak frites. This is my new address, no need to look for me.
Hype level: 4
Actual Score 5!
If I lived in Rome, I would come here every weekend. And if I found a life sponsor and didn’t have to work, I’d come here everyday. This place is so great and doesn’t try too hard to do anything. The bartenders make PERFECT cocktails, the lights are low, and they play Janet Jackson. This is a safe space.
One of the most picturesque and beautiful areas in Rome. Full of piazzas, narrow cobble stone streets, and baroque churches…it is a must see. Tons of restaurants to chose from but we enjoyed Di Qua and Toto. Just amazing.
Hype level: 5
Actual Score: 1
The worst. At some point, I will realize that unless properly vetted, Michelin stars mean nothing. I knew this was a mess when walking in the door. The staff legitimately looked afraid of us (because we look super intimidating). They brought in their army of waiters – all seemingly frightened. “Do you want water?” Nope, I just want to dehydrate myself at this Michelin star fiasco. “Do you want bread?” Well, you gave it willingly to John and Sally without them asking so not only yes but STAT. Did I mention there was an army of waiters? Three to be exact – CHILL, we’re not ordering that much food.
Finally, the food. A plate of six oysters was $50 (?!). OK. But the cardinal sin, they weren’t good. Maybe I’m provincial but take me to $1 oyster night at any bar in D.C. and I’m happier. The oysters were just flat and lacked flavor. Then came the bland seafood pasta and ravioli. Don’t get me wrong, everything LOOKED beautiful but tasted like notebook paper. How is your food under seasoned? You are literally in the land of SEA SALT. And, why is your service so overbearing yet sub par? Terrible. Well, at least we took some cute photos.
Hype level: 4/5
Actual Score: 1
One word: Drama. I wanted to write about this place for two reasons: One, it’s near the Colosseum so you’re likely to stumble on it and ask “maybe we should go here?” NO. Two, Yelp has inflated its value with 4.5 stars so you’ll think it’s good. NO. The owner is a hustler and if it’s one thing I hate with my food, it’s a side of unexpected theatre. He sashays up to the table and tells us we must have the burrata. We kindly informed him that we just wanted some bruschetta and wine. “I will pay for the burrata!” he yells. “It’s that good!” He comes back with bruschetta and burrata. Sigh. Both, for Rome, incredibly underwhelming and lacking in flavor. Despite being pretty ready to go, he insists they have the best fish in town. Why did I let him insist? I told you this was drama. He promises that if we don’t like it, he will pay for it. We get the fish and pasta – both look sensational. The fish is ENORMOUS and wrapped up MacGyver style with potatoes spiraling it in a flower shape. Little did we realize that this was the second act of this low budget theatre act. The food is woefully under seasoned. When we get our bill, guess what’s on it? EVERYTHING. Including that stupid burrata we said we didn’t want. I said, “I thought you said you would pay for the fish if we didn’t like it?” He responds, “but the fish was good.” OK. Sometimes, you just gotta take the L. Don’t eat here.