Rome is a hard place to truly grasp. The real Rome that is. Rome is the Eternal City, a place that can be visited through her ancient sites and never really understood. A place that can be lived in by foreigners (and Italians from other regions) who only just skim the surface of the Romans and their city.

I don’t not want to put emphasis on the “big” sites, but I hope that visitors look beyond them, put down their camera, and  truly try to get to know the real Rome.

Now, I’m going to get it out of the way – there’s nothing particular special about the actual (breakfast) food at Di Rienzo (in fact it’s essentially an expensive Italian Breakfast). Good? Yes. Special? No.  But you’re looking at the experience of dining at an elegant breakfast spot that just happens to have one of the best views – the looming Pantheon. Add to that the bustling locals (if you’re early enough) and it makes for the perfect people watching experience. Breakfasting at the Pantheon won’t come cheap, however the service is friendly and welcoming (and totally unpretentious) and the caffè itself is absolutely charming.

While breakfast might set you back almost 20euros for two near the Pantheon, a traditional Italian breakfast at a boring old caffe will come in just around 3euros for two cornetti and two cappuccino (espresso is cheaper). By the way, check the prices.* I don’t really think any Roman experience is complete without a trip to the local bar. Don’t worry if the bar you pick to enter isn’t super elegant – most aren’t. You’re looking for an authentic experience. This is where most Romans start their day and where a lot of them will finish it. It’s the hub of the neighborhood.

*Capuccino should be around 1.2euro or less and a cornetto less the 1 euro.

If you break away from the travel book for one minute let it be for this – Gianicolo. Not part of the seven hills of Rome, Gianicolo is a magical spot over which to see all of Rome. For me, this is one of my most favorite places in the world. Gianicolo can be reached by bus, taxi, or for the really adventurous hiked up from the historical center (I do not suggest this in the summer!) . When you reach the top there are gorgeous trees, breath-taking views, a place to pick up snacks, a traditional puppet show for the kids, and even a bar/pop-up club in the summer (evenings only).

Visitors like to run around in Rome – a lot. Slow down. It will all be there tomorrow. Instead, one early evening do Piazza Navona. I don’t mean walk into the Piazza, snap a picture and run to the Spanish Steps – I mean really do Piazza Navona. At the North end is a gelato shop called “GROM”. Only recently did I discover that they have the best coffee granita (3.50euro) ever. Ask for it with panna (whipped cream). Take your granita treat (which I promise in the 90*+ will hit the spot) and stroll (slowly) past the artists and musicians. This is a moment. Enjoy it. (Conversely if you have kids, buy them a ball and let them play while you sit and enjoy your moment)

Pizza! What trip to Rome is complete without pizza? There is literally a pizza shop every block, and unfortunately, some of them are terrible! Now for those us living in the center there is a bit of a debate about which is the best pizza: La Montecarlo or Baffetto (both are near Piazza Navona). In my opinion, La Montecarlo has the best pizza, the best service and they are fast. Baffetto has better press and much longer lines (if you are walking on Governo Vecchio in the evenings and see a crowd, they are probably waiting for Baffetto). At both spots you’ll find the traditional huge personal pizza with edges burnt in just the right way. La Montecarlo is open for both lunch and dinner, while Baffetto is only open for dinner during strict hours – neither takes reservations. Why am I not a huge Baffetto fan? Because they can be a bit… abrupt with tourists. They have a true Roman persona and you need to take it for what it is….

Linking To:
The Grits Blog
That’s Fresh Friday


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It