Despite four visits, Rome continues to surprise and remains one of my favourite cities to return to. It is utterly charming, from the free running nasones (water fountains, they translate as noses!) to the many fountains. I always see new things, stay in new places, and discover great places to eat & drink. Well, that is why we go isn’t it? For carbonara, gelato, porchetta, Roman pizza, and that is just the start. I have my favourites, of course, that I return to all the time, but on this occasion, as I was there with O2 Travel to road test their internet and app, I used these to explore further.
I was staying in a completely new area at the Hotel San Anselmo in the Aventino in Rome, so the mapping feature was very useful – it always is, I would be (quite literally) lost without my maps when I travel – and without it, I may have completely missed the gorgeous orange garden overlooking the whole of Rome just nearby. At £1.99 for a whole days data on the O2 Travel Tariff, I wasn’t turning my data on and off and stressing about my bill, for once.
The O2 Travel app has geolocated travel content (fed in from TripAdvisor), and also downloadable free guides. Perfect for exploring a new part of town, which I was. If I didn’t know a restaurant, I checked the overall star rating before making a decision. I always do, it was just easier.
Rome is a brilliant walking city, we focussed our first night at Testaccio, at the base of the Aventino, a hip bubbling part of town. Our second day was focussed on Prati and Campo de Fiori, for a traditional Roman breakfast pastry, a market visit, the best gelato in Rome, a walk, explore, peek at the Pantheon and the best carbonara in Rome. We reserved Sunday for a terrific natural wine bar and a visit to one of Rome’s best trattorias and had a great Sunday lunch. Surrounded by Roman families, we were the only non locals there and the food was wonderful.
Where did we go? Read on, here is your guide.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK ON A WEEKEND IN ROME
We stayed at Hotel San Anselmo, a 4 star hotel on the Aventino. A 10 minute walk from the river and 15 minutes from downtown, it is very calm and gentle, a perfect place to explore Rome from. We also had an excellent guide, Hande Leimer from Vinoroma, who you must seek out if you would like one. Hande will show you authentic Rome in small groups or can tailor something for you personally. I also heartily recommend Katie Parla, both as a guide and for her excellent blog and Rome travel app.
Links and / or addresses included below.
Volpetti Tavola Calda, Via Marmorata, 47; 00153 Roma – I practically ran down the hill when I arrived, desperate for some Roman pasta. But as it was 3.01pm when I got there everywhere was closed (Romans are very serious about dining hours). So I headed to Volpetti for some of their highly regarded pizza by the slice. I had two: courgette flower and anchovy pizza, and potato pizza. I was ready to get started.
Trappizino, Via Giovanni Branca, 88; 00153 Roma – it would be easy to understate Trappizino. Serving stuffed spongy pizza bianca with traditional Roman fillings (Roman tripe) and not so traditional (African stew), they are traditional and excellently priced at €3.50 each. There are also cold options like Roman courgette with a milky knot of mozzarella, which was my favourite of the night. Decent wine is very reasonable too. A must visit.
Fabiolous Cooking Days – The Tiber river has a small quirky island connected to each bank by a bridge. On this island is a small cookery school housed in one of the only residential apartments there, hosted by Fabio. You can join an existing class or pay more to have one created for you. We covered lots in my session, and it was very enjoyable.
La Fiorentina & Mercato Trionfale, Via la Goletta, 1; 00192 Roma – you must head to Mercato Trionfale to see a real Roman food market in action. Before you do, pop across the road and join the Romans for maritozzo. Yes, all that cream, but so good. Just do it. When in Mercato Trionfale, head to the back for the farmer’s market. Strictly seasonal, and mostly excellent produce. I filled my suitcase with tomatoes, courgette flowers and fresh borlotti beans.
Gelateria Fatamorgana – many say the best gelato in Rome, we hit the Prati branch for sensational peach & white wine gelato, and the improbable but completely fabulous dark chocolate and tobacco gelato.
Panificio Bonci, Via della Meloria, 43; 00136 Roma – Bonci and sister pizzeria Pizzarium serve some of the best pizza in Rome – it is certainly my favourite. Also pizza bianca sandwiches, if the porchetta is on, detour by as many miles as you need to to have it. Try as much as you can with a glass of box wine. So good.
Campo de Fiori
Beppe e i suoi formaggi, Via di Santa Maria del Pianto, 9A/11, 00186 Roma – cheesemaker Beppe is very particular about his cheeses, and so he should be. In the end he opened his own cheese shop and restaurant. A plate of cheese with wine here is a must when in Rome. You might even see Beppe there sharing a tipple with a local priest, as he often does.
Roscioli, Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22; 00186 Roma – don’t go where the tourists go, right? Well, Roscioli is the exception. Lots of tourists, but many locals too who flock there for Rome’s best carbonara. Don’t neglect the burrata and plates of lardo too. I would fly to Rome just to eat here and for Cesare and Litro, which we went to on Sunday.
Litro, Via Fratelli Bonnet, 5; 00152 Roma – natural wine bar Litro is a perfect place for your Sunday appetiser, or for a few drinks after lunch. They also do great breakfasts I am told. We loved the Lambrusco and anchovy bruschettas.
Cesare al Casaletto, Via del Casaletto, 45; 00151 Roma – one of my best Sunday lunches this year, this Roman trattoria serves briliant grub. Settle in amid the bustling Roman families (we were the only tourists), and ask your waiter what you should have. We had courgette flowers fried in light batter lined on the inside with one perfect anchovy and mozzarella, aubergine croquettes, meatballs, gnocchi with cacio e pepe and one of Rome’s best pasta dishes, gricia. An excellent wine list accompanies. The staff are fantastic and very friendly.