Recently, The New York Times published an article and a video about “what to do in Rome”, but I think the Eternal City is worth more than 36 hours of wandering, so I wrote my personal guide to Rome including some tips to live it like a local.
If you’re planning a holiday at the Eternal City, this itinerary could be useful to discover the authentic side of this popular tourist destination.
It’s a district that every “fuorisede” (a youngster came to the city to study at university) visits when arrives in Rome for the first time. It’s an old district, but now the inhabitants are often wealthy foreigners.
Nevertheless here you can still listen the true “roman heart” beating. It’s nice to walk around these small alleys without an exact direction!
My personal advice is to book your table at restaurant always in advance. The restaurants are full on weekends, and foodies don’t wants to miss the chance to eat a pizza at Dar Poeta or taste a “Giudia artichoke” cooked by Remo at its Trattoria Da Carlone.
If you don’t mind a queue, go to Pizzeria Ai Marmi (the locals nicknamed it “the morgue” because of the marble tables); here you can taste the real thin crust pizza and if you are still hungry, I suggest you a supplì, one of the top food delicacies in Rome!
In Rome there aren’t only trattorias and pizzerias. Thanks to a thriving community of foreigners, it’s easy to find all kinds of cuisine.
If you love Japanese cuisine, Hamasei is the right place, just a few steps from Via del Corso. I suggest this Japanese restaurant at lunch, when you are visiting the historical center. The usual customers here are groups of Japanese tourists and young employees of the national government.
Ask a bento box to taste the most common Japanese food.
Hanami at the EUR lake
Hanami is an event which takes places yearly in Rome but often isn’t mentioned by travel guides. At the lake of EUR (one of the most modern neighborhoods of the city), from March to May you can enjoy the cherry blossoming, due to the 2500 Sakura donated by Tokyo.
Every year hundreds of people come here to have a picnic in Japanese style or book a boat trip at EUR lake. The lake is easily reachable by bus or metro, getting off at Eur Fermi or EUR Palasport railway station.
Piazza Bologna, close to the Tiburtina station, is the realm of the penniless students. Mizzica, Sicilian patisserie and fry shop, is their saving grace.
At Mizzica you’ll find all the Sicilian specialties, from arancini to cannoli, the ideal venue for a tasty break.
In summer I recommend the jasmine granita (slush) and a walk in one of the open villas in the surroundings.
Testaccio, near Piramide station on metro line B, is a neighborhood not so popular among foreign tourists but became one of the trendiest districts of the Capital.
In the heart of Testaccio lies the Pelanda, former municipal slaughterhouse, now a giant space refurbished to host really cool venues such as the Museum of Modern Art (MACRO), where take place all kind of events from art exhibitions to dj sets and University’s Orientation programs.
However, the biggest part hosts the “Città dell’Altra Economia”, a non-profit organization that deals with organic food. In summer the CAE also hosts gigs, the street food truck festival and other initiatives. The heart of contemporary Rome beats here.
If are in Rome on Sunday, you cannot miss the folklore Porta Portese market, the oldest open-air market in town. Every Sunday morning, at the end of Viale Trastevere, you can find stalls selling old vinyl records, vintage furniture and unique items at reasonable prices (always try to bargain a lower price! It will work!).
Even if you have spent all your money in classy shopping, it’s worth a trip just for the cheerful crazy atmosphere.