Juxtaposing the old with the new, the Eternal City is one that never ceases to excite. Whether you are inside a café invigorating your senses with the stimulating rush of espresso or at a local outdoor market flocked by natives whose workers fold ribbons of pink prosciutto into a succulent sandwich, each day in Rome provides a unique experience that will consume and enchant you. Characterized by two millennia of vibrant culture and passion for la bella vita, Rome is abuzz from the moment the sun peeks through the trees shading the Tiber River. From the mesmerizing fresco walls and elaborate domes of a cathedral tucked in a piazza to zipping mopeds you dodge as you weave your way around the cobblestone streets that lead to ancient ruins, Rome is a heart pulsating with spectacular endeavors that invites you to explore its chambers.
When the sun hovers over Rome in the late afternoon, Piazza Navona and its treasures of Sant’Agnese church and Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers become radiant. The pale sunflower Sant’Agnese is almost transparent in the cerulean sky, and there is a golden glow about the cupola. The Egyptian obelisk atop Bernini’s masterpiece has hieroglyphic carvings along its sides that are visible without squinting in the sun. The square has a diminished crowd, making it a perfect opportunity to see Piazza Navona during a less congested time.
Piazza Navona 56-84 | Open Daily, 24/7
Rome is renowned for its beautiful sunsets, and it is best viewed from the Ponte Garibaldi. This presents the Eternal City in a calmer state and is a wonderful time to reflect on all of the hustle and bustle. The salmon pink sky and the shadows of the surrounding city reflect on the surface of the water. The dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica is illuminated with its night-lights that project over the immensity of Rome. It is a stunning transition into the nighttime when its vibrant culture is alive in full force.
Ponte Garibaldi | Lungotevere degli Anguillara
Tantalize your tastebuds with cucina Romana at Testaccio’s trattoria Flavio al Velavevodetto. Tucked behind greenery on Via di Monte, chef Flavio de Maio’s tavern is a favorite of food-savvy locals. The lively staff zips in and out of the low-set vaulted ceilings and mazelike cocci walls as they endow guests with hearty portions of traditional Roman delicacies. Not to be missed are the trippa alla romana—simmered animal stomach in a rich tomato sauce—or their cacio e pepe—pasta in a pepper and cheese sauce. Also not to be missed is their highly acclaimed tiramisu, which is a creamy coffee wonderland encased in a martini glass.
Flavio al Velavevodetto | Via di Monte Testaccio 97 | http://www.flavioalvelavevodetto.it | +39 06 5744194 | Casual; Reservations Recommended | Open Daily, 12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Jumpstart the day with an early morning run along the Tiber River, when the city is just waking up and the air is cool and light. Start with Ponte Palatino on your right, on the Trastevere side. As you run along Lungotevere towards the Vatican, take a right to cross Ponte Sant’Angelo and let Bernini’s angelic statues cheer you on. Another right and down Lungotevere, head back to the opposite side of Ponte Palatino and stop to behold the oldest Roman stone bridge, Ponte Rotto. The broken, ivy-covered bridge is like a lost city in the shadow of the Tiber Island. Kudos to you, as you’ve also tucked five miles under your belt.
Ponte Palatino | Lungotevere delgi Alberteschi | Open Daily, 24/7
Il Nuovo Mercato is a gastronome’s paradise. It’s not a tourist market, but rather an honest, working-class market with a selection that will amaze you if you’re used to more limited assortment of products found in American markets. In addition to the fresh, colorful meat and produce packed into many of its 103 stalls, there are critically acclaimed street food stalls such as Mordi e Vai, which is famous for its sandwiches filled with cucina Romana. Il Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio is a place where culture fuses with the lives of the locals.
Il Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio | Via Beniamino Franklin 12 | Open Monday-Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Afternoon siestas aren’t just reserved for Spaniards. Head to the Borghese gardens for a little rest and relaxation beneath a canopy of greenery and ancient Roman ruins. It is an ambience perfect for escaping the business of the city as well as the hoards of tourists. Spread a blanket on one of the grassy knolls and share panini and a bottle of Chianti. Walk along the pebbly pathways and discover the charming secret gardens dotted throughout, or delight your inner art junkie in the “villa of delights” as you behold the various pieces of artwork. Villa Borghese is an invigorating breath of fresh air and a free pass to beat the heat and unwind.
Villa Borghese Gardens | Viale dell’Aranciera 11
Among the kebab stands and ancient obelisks dispersed throughout the piazzas, Middle-Eastern influence further extends to Sciam. Ranked one of the best hookah bars in Europe, it’s an eclectic hookah lounge that transports its clientele into an Arabian utopia. Rustic jeweled Turkish lamps hang from the ceiling, and seductive sounds from Syria are the backdrop for conversation over a glass of chilled lemon and mint tea. The sweet aroma of Jordanian hookah tobacco lingers in the air through the various nooks lined by woven pillows and intricate Persian tapestries, further immersing its hip clientele in a souk of secrets and shisha.
Sciam | Via del Pellegrino 56 | Dietro Campo de’Fiori | +39 06 68308957 | Open Daily 3:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
If you’re thirsty for a unique aperitivo, head to Trastevere’s 8millimetri bar. As colorful as the neighborhood in which it resides, the walls of 8millimetri are covered in artsy doodles and bottles of syrup and liquor. Its Super8 menu poses eight special drinks that are as flavorful as the bartenders who mix them. Tequila poured over Tabasco and sugar in a glass lined with absinthe is garnished with a sundried chili pepper, and is sure to spice up the evening. Also not to be missed is the Rum Rhapsody, which is garnished with a grapefruit wedge that is set on fire before served.
8millimetri | Via del Moro 8 | +39 06 64562508 | Open Daily, 6:30 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
One of the most characteristic aspects of Roman culture is the heart and soul artisans pour into their craft. At Oriani on Via Torre Argentina, Rosario De Simone puts his into making a custom-fitted sandal. De Simone embraces his customers into his cozy 20-foot-long by 3-foot-wide shop and within fifteen minutes, patiently whittles colorful bands of leather into a sole that can bear the strain of the cobblestone streets. At just around 70 euros a pair and a plethora of styles and colors to choose from, women can take home a keepsake made classic by the legendary style icon Jackie Onassis Kennedy.
Oriani Gioielli | Via Torre Argentina 43A | http://www.orianigioielli.it | Info: email email@example.com | Open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., tentatively | Sunday, dependent on weather
Gelato is a renowned favorite for its smooth, creamy texture and decadent flavor. There is a gelateria in each piazza, but the challenge is to separate the fake from the real deal. At Gelateria del Teatro, there are neither gimmicks nor puffy foot-tall mounds of artificial neon imposters. Visitors can watch as artisanal flavors like lavender and white peach or ricotta, almond, and fig are crafted by hand with local, fresh ingredients. The coronary artery is vital to the heart’s function, and on Via dei Coronari, gelato at Gelateria del Teatro is the heart of authenticity.
Gelateria del Teatro | Via dei Coronari 65 | +39 06 45474880 |Open Daily 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.