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Travel Guide // When in rome

august 10, 2017

If all roads lead to Rome, then I’ve taken the scenic route. I’ve been itching to visit this renowned city for as long as I can remember, but especially since 2003, the year  The Lizzie McGuire Movie was first released. And Hilary Duff does not disappoint - visiting Rome truly felt like what dreams are made of.  Seeing all the spectacular historical sights in person, which I’ve seen in history books, movies, magazines, and more, was stunning and magical. It was the opposite of those travel brochures, where you arrive and you’re like, “Wait… that’s not what it looked like in the picture?” And the food - bellissimo. The air is different in Rome, and the sights are grander than you can imagine.

eat // drink

When I say I really appreciate Italian culture, what I’m trying to say is that I really appreciate how they do food and drinks. And as if decadent pasta and sophisticated wine isn’t enough to put me into an eternal food coma, the Italians have upped the ante with aperitif hour (AKA: My favorite time of the day.) The Italians understand human nature - or maybe just my nature - better than anyone in the world and have developed this sort of happy hour, usually from 7-9pm, where snacks (or likely a whole meal) is included in the price of your glass of wine or cocktail. Here are some of my favorite spots to indulge in this sacred and yummy tradition:

  • Salotto 42 is a stylish little cocktail bar with an artsy crowd. They served focaccia breads, sushi, potato chips, and other finger foods for their aperitif hour.

  • Locarno Bar is an upscale  hotel bar set in a beautiful courtyard garden. They serve nuts, potato chips, and olives with their cocktails.


  • Bar de Fica  sits on one of those cute, curvy, Roman streets and has plenty of outdoor seating - perfect for people watching. They serve pizza, pasta, and small bites with the purchase of a cocktail in this circus-themed restaurant and bar.

Other restaurants, cafes, and bars:


  • Ristorante Aroma might be the coolest restaurant I’ve ever been to. With a Michelin star and a view overlooking the Colosseum, this is a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience. Unfortunately, they were fully booked for dinner during my stay, so I “settled” for brunch. It was fantastic.


  • Casa Restaurant is one of those charming places with a small, simple menu. And because of this, all the dishes are perfection. The menu is traditionally Roman and they use fresh, local ingredients.


  • Colbert Restaurant Cafeteria is set in in the Medici gardens and has a lovely view of Roman rooftops as far as the eye can see. The interior is very timeless and the menu is refined.


  • Gatsby Cafe has a cute, vintage-vibe. They have all the coffee shop staples (espresso, tea, pastries, wifi, etc.). I went during the day, but they serve aperitifs and cocktails throughout the afternoon and evening.


  • Coromandel is the place to be for brunch, located on a quiet street near Piazza Navona.


  • Pianostrada in Trastevere has a cozy backyard patio and locals vibe - lovely place for a bite to eat before getting lost in this happening corner of Rome.

A note on gelato…


Gelato shops are a dime-a-dozen in Rome - but if you want the quality stuff you should stick to three general rules:

  1. Look for gelato artigianale (artisinal) in the name of the shop.

  2. Note whether the establishment appears to be making the gelato in-house (you might see some noteworthy machinery or a kitchen).

  3. Go a few blocks away from the biggest tourist outposts.


Here are two shops I was particularly satisfied with:


  • Gelateria del Teatro  uses real, wholesome ingredients - like mint leaves instead of mint flavoring in their mint-chocolate chip ice-cream. They have all the traditional flavors and some more unique ones, too! You can even watch the gelato as it’s made from the street window.


  • Old Bridge Gelateria is traditional and delicious. Their gelato is super creamy - multiple locations makes it easy to pop in multiple times during your trip.



  • VintaChic has the prettiest things in perfect condition. They specialize in vintage wedding gowns, but they have a little bit of everything. I was torn between purchasing a floral playsuit from the 1960s and a long, silk night gown from the 1930s. I ended taking home the nightgown after the shop owner told me it came from an Italian woman who had it in her wedding dowry.


  • Kilo Shop has great prices for all your retro, vintage needs.

  • For unbeatable window shopping, head to the base of the Spanish Steps. The visual merchandising for Gucci, Ferragamo, Armani, and all the other great Italian (and international) designers is a cultural trip in of itself.


  • On the banks of the Tiber River, on the border of Trastevere lies a slew of little stalls selling jewelry, books, souvenirs, and other trinkets. There are also lots of great bars and restaurants to relax riverside.  (note: this may only be available during warm months)


I like to think that most humans know the main attractions  in Rome, but here’s a friendly reminder, along with some other, lesser-known sights. Overall, I’d recommend arriving early to all the attractions. Rome is swarming with tourists, so it’s very hard to avoid waiting, get a personal look at things, or keep humans out of your instagram shot.


  • The Trevi Fountain was one of my favorite sights in Rome. All the media I’ve seen of this famous watering hole does not do it justice. The crisp, white marble and turquoise water are appreciated most in person.


  • Pantheon - You can just walk right in and it’s in the center of the city. Easy peasy, limoncello, squeezy. (see what I did there?)

  • Piazza Navona - A lovely little square set on an ancient racetrack, with a few fountains and an interesting history.

  • Villa dei Medici Gardens is an estate in the center of Rome. You can tour the home or just hang out in the surrounding Villa Borghese gardens. It has several amazing lookout points, making it the perfect place to bring a picnic for sunset.

  • Trastevere is a famous neighborhood just beyond the river, known for it’s restaurant and charming winding streets. You can get the best view of Rome from the Janiculum hilltop.

bella vita                          XOXO            L

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