Rome. Caput Mundi or ‘Capitol of the World.’ Located in the Lazio region of Central Italy on the Tiber. The history of this city spans more than 2,500 years.
Now as a born and raised New Yorker I am always comparing the other main cities of the world to my city. Making checklists of where they seem to fall short. If you talk to any other New Yorker, you will notice that we are quick to let you know that New York, for us, is the greatest city in the world. Admittedly I fell into that category; until I met Rome.
On our cab ride from the Rome Termini Railway Station, I found myself unable to contain my excitement. Instead of attempting to catch every moment on camera I opted to be the epitome of a tourist sticking my head out of the window of the cab trying to see and breathe in every aspect of it.
While planning a trip to Rome, most people are keenly aware of what some of the “hot spots” are within the city and its limits. What most people do not know are the experiences you can have while you’re in this marvelous city which ultimately leads to you falling head over heels in love with Rome.
1. Walk. Everywhere.
I know it can be tempting to hail a cab or hop on the bus, but when you are on foot, you can stop and truly appreciate all that this city has to offer. This is where choosing the right location to stay is key. Trastevere is an area of Rome that sits on the West bank of the Tiber and just south of Vatican City. The area is infamous for its many piazzas’s and narrow cobblestone streets. At night it becomes a beacon for good food, wine, and entertainment. When considering where to stay, Airbnb has many great options that put you in the heart of this iconic area. More of a traditional hotel person? Great! Stay at the Hotel Santa Maria Rome. This hotel is situated in a renovated 16th Century cloister offering 19 guest rooms.
2. Sip Champagne near the Pantheon.
Piazza della Rotonda is an area filled with palpable electricity. With The Pantheon sitting on its south end, the views will not disappoint you. Gruppo di Rienzo has been offering people a genuinely enjoyable dining and lounging experience in this area for over 50 years. Be sure to sit in their outdoor seating area so that you can appreciate all that is around you. A perfect set-up for two, order the small bottle of champagne that comes with fresh berries and pastries. Then sit back, relax and think about all the area you are sitting in has seen.
3. Venture to the Vatican on Wednesdays.
When we arrived in Rome one of the first things, I asked myself was “I wonder if I’ll get to see the Pope?!” Half joking, half serious it was something that I had wondered. Low and behold we just happened to venture to Vatican City on a Wednesday morning and struck gold. Be sure to get there early as the crowds line up in St. Peter’s Basilica long before you’ve likely woken up. If you can’t get as close as you would like, there are jumbo screens throughout the area showing you exactly where he is as he makes his way through the crowds by way of the Pope mobile.
4. Start your day with an espresso.
The one thing I picked up on fairly early into our journey in Italy is that Italians love espresso. In fact, this is often what they indulge on before they have breakfast. While there are no shortages of cafes in Rome, Sant’Eustachio IL Caffe is hands down the best. They have the uncanny ability to make their espresso incredibly creamy despite there being no cream in it. Aside from having a heavenly espresso experience, their cafe is a site to be seen. In business since 1938, the mosaic pavings and the furnishings are all originals. Talk about a bonus.
5. Don’t be afraid to indulge.
Italy or as I like to call her, EATaly is as much of an experience in food as it is history. Unlike what we have become accustomed to in The States, meals are a time of relaxation and enjoyment. You will not feel rushed to hurry through any of your courses or to leave once you have finished your meal. Don’t shy away from enjoying what the specials are for the evening where you choose to dine, including the house wines. If you find yourself seeking out a dining experience that is different than one you have had before, stop by La Prosciutteria Trastevere. This wine bar meets prosciutto meets cheese to put you on a sensory overload. Be sure to get here early in the evening if you plan on having dinner here. This place is tiny and quaint often with a line well out the door. Not sure what to order? Go with the sample platter that will give you an excellent pairing of meat, cheese, and chutney. Don’t forget to leave a note under the table before you leave!