Rome: cradle of civilization.  It’s also the home of delicious Italian food and excellent shopping. Admittedly, Rome is not my favorite Italian city, but it’s usually a necessary stop when coming or going anywhere in central or southern Italy. On my fourth visit (due to another trek to Sorrento), the city began to work some of its magic on me and I decided to share some enjoyable experiences. There’s not much intentional sight-seeing listed here, but there are historic sites nearby all of the places mentioned.

Hotels

Mascagni Luxury Dependance, Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, 83, 00185 Roma RM, Italy – across the street from the St. Regis hotel and about a 6 minute walk from Roma Termini (main train station). So far, Mascagni is the best and most comfortable of all the places I’ve stayed in Rome. The “dependance” is in a separate building from the main hotel, which is located two doors up the street. The “dependance” building is actually an older office building, but the fourth floor has been renovated into a hotel. The surprise is there’s a sleek hotel hiding inside and everything seemed secure with card access and security cameras.

Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, and the Pantheon are all about a 20 minute walk away in separate directions.

For breakfast, guests have to go to the second floor in the main building. The included breakfast was rather basic – nothing to write home about, but they did make a real cappuccino.

Hotel Duca D’Alba, Via Leonina, 14, 00121 Roma RM, Italy – in the Monti neighborhood. Easy walking distance to the Colosseum, but a bit of a hike from the train station when dealing with luggage — maybe a 20 minute walk. The Duca D’Alba has small rooms but they are nice and clean. Receptions requires the room key to be left at the front desk when going out — this is a thing in Italy. Duca D’Alba does this weird thing of a discount for “cash” — and they mean “cash” if you book it that way. So I had to pull euros out of ATM machines and put them in my shoe. They didn’t give me a receipt upon check in and payment and I asked about it — the woman just stamped some sort of piece of paper and said, “There, that’s a receipt!” It wasn’t a proper receipt at all. Can you say, “Italian tax evasion?” Considering the tax rate is nearly 50%, merchants tend to love and prefer cash.

Breakfast is included — rather basic and nothing to get excited about. They have a Nescafe coffee machine — not real cappuccinos.

Good restaurants can be found nearby and Monti is a quaint neighborhood with narrow, old cobblestone streets and ivy covered walls.

The “receipt” from Hotel Duca D’Alba, Rome, Italy

Hotel Smooth Roma Termini, Via Palestro, 13, 00185 Roma RM, Italy – about a 15 minute walk from the train station. Very clean, modern, smallish rooms. The least expensive option of the four hotels listed here. The halls can get quite noisy when housekeeping begins cleaning in the mornings, so don’t count on sleeping in late.

Breakfast was basic; another Nespresso machine — not real cappuccino. 

This location requires a longer walk to tourist sites.

The Brittania Hotel, Via Napoli, 64, 00184 Roma RM, Italy – about a 10 minute walk from Roma Termini, 20 minute walk to Spanish Steps, 20 minute walk to colosseum – tiny rooms; the tiniest elevator EVER; luxurious rooms and bath, but TINY.

We were put here by Hotel Smooth Roma Termini because they had a full house and a sick guest who wouldn’t leave, so they didn’t have a room for us.

I didn’t get to try breakfast as we arrived very late and left very early the next morning to catch a train.

A tiny, yet luxurious room at The Britannia Hotel, Rome, Italy

Restaurants

Basket of sausage at Gli Angeletti, Rome, ItalyGli Angeletti – Via dell’Angeletto, 3, 00184 Roma RM, Italy – Monti neighborhood – my go-to restaurant on every trip. Italian staples on the menu, good food, good service, reasonably priced. LOVE the lasagne with zucchini and basil, but everything I’ve had here is good. Occasionally, they will run out of the lasagne, so beware. A dish of pasta and glass of wine costs around 18 euros. If you like cured, dried Italian sausages, there is a “bucket of sausage” they can bring out and you just cut off what you want.

If sitting outside, beggars can be a problem.

Zucchini & Basil Lasagne at Gli Angeletti, Rome, Italy

Sciuè, Sciuè, Via Urbana, 56-57, 00184 Roma RM, Italy – Monti neighborhood – very good. Seems to me that each item on the menu is less than 20 euros. Bottles of wine are not expensive (I seem to remember they were also 20 euros or less). They serve the very best fish I’ve ever eaten. Among other things, there are two fish dishes on the menu – one is served on a hot stone and the other is served in a bag. Both are delicious and were around 18 euros each, plus cost of wine. A reservation is usually needed here, unless you go early (they open at 7pm) – probably best to ask your hotel to call ahead.

Sciuè, Sciuè Interior

Sciuè, Sciuè Menu

Bread In A Bag At Sciuè, Sciuè

Baked Sea Bass In A Bag At Sciuè, Sciuè

Baked Sea Bass At Sciuè, Sciuè

Pasta Amatriciana at Oratorio Bistrot, Rome, ItalyOratorio Bistrot, Piazza di S. Bernardo, 105, 00187 Roma RM, Italy – on the street behind Mascagni Luxury Dependance hotel. Delicious house made pasta – so good I went there for lunch two days in a row. Loved the Amatriciana pasta dish. A dish of pasta and a glass of wine is around 18 euros. Very quaint. Lunch is served upstairs (tiny stairs), which is open-air on the roof, but covered. Very good service. Busy with local business people at lunch.

Mercato Centrale – at Roma Termini there is a wonderful food hall. When coming out of the train area and facing the front of the building, exit on the left side, turn left and walk back on the sidewalk past the car pickup area … waaayyy back like to where the trains would be if they were in the street. It’s a bit overwhelming and confusing at first but lots of good food and wine to be had. Just get what you want and take it to a table — there is table service, too. Cramped tables. It’s Italy.

Chicken dish for lunch at Taverna del Seminario, Rome, ItalyTaverna del Seminario, Via del Seminario, 105, 00186 Roma RM, Italy – near the Pantheon – great place for lunch. There’s a pre-fix, three course lunch that’s very good for around 15 – 18 euros, not including wine. I order vino de la casa here (½ liter) and it is cheap and good. Lots of American tourists in here at lunch (probably all the time).

The Pantheon, Rome, Italy

Della Palma, Via della Maddalena, 19-23, 00186 Roma RM, Italy – near the Pantheon – gelato heaven! Just go and be amazed! 150 flavors!

Bar Monti, Rome, ItalyBar Monti, Via Urbana, 93, 00184 Roma RM, Italy – Monti neighborhood – good place for a pre-dinner cocktail or wine. Sit outside and watch people stroll by on the street or sit inside where it’s cozy and charming. They sometimes have live jazz music. They’ll bring you a bowl of potato chips with your drink or you can order an “aperitivo” for 3 euros, which is just some little snacks of the day. I usually go here every evening when
in Rome.

Negroni cocktail outside at Bar Monti, Rome, Italy

Shopping

I tend to focus on small items such as fragrance, shower gel and scarves to bring back home. None of the brands listed below are widely available in the United States.

Acqua di Parma, Piazza di Spagna, 27, 00187 Rome, Italy — Italian luxury fragrances. My personal favorites are from the Blu Mediterraneo line: Arancia di Capri (Orange of Capri) and Cipresso di Toscana (Cypress of Tuscany).

Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Corso del Rinascimento, 47, 00186 Rome, Italy — the flagship is in Florence, but this branch in Rome carries the fragrances. My favorite fragrance is Acqua di S.M.Novella, which is the original and oldest scent. It was commissioned by Caterina de’ Medici in 1533.  When desperate for their products in the U. S., there is a store in New York at 285 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012.

Carthusia, Via della Croce, 7, 00187 Roma RM, Italy — another Italian luxury perfumer which originated on the island of Capri. My favorite fragrances from Carthusia: Via Camerelle, Essence of the Park, and Corallium.

Cartoleria Pantheon, Via della Maddalena, 41, 00186 Roma RM, Italy — beautiful paper products such as writing journals and stationery.  Reasonable prices.

Red Writing Journal From
Cartoleria Pantheon

Tourist Info

  1. Pickpockets

are everywhere. You will be targeted — especially if you have a purse or loose front pockets. I keep my money, wallet and passport in my socks and wear long pants. They are quite skilled and buses and subways are prime pickpocket hangouts. You’ve been warned.

  1. The train station

is rife with people trying to separate you from your money. If anyone approaches you, just say no (or say nothing) and keep walking. If you even pause for a moment to get your bearings, someone will approach you and beg or say something to engage you. Don’t be fooled as they are trying to distract you while someone else steals from you. Some will say, “I’m a professional and can help you” but they all aim to help themselves to your money.

A very early morning departure from Roma Termini

  1. Most restaurants

don’t open for dinner until 7pm and the crowd doesn’t show up until after 8pm (usually 9pm). Lunch is also late (around 1pm). Gelato time is 5pm.

  1. Google maps

on your phone is your best friend.

  1. You will walk

more than you’ve ever walked before.

  1. Pulling luggage

across cobblestone sidewalks is a PITA, so have bags that roll well and can take the beating.

All that said, Rome is not scary. The pickpockets are just an annoyance that can make things very difficult if you’re a victim. Be careful and all will be fine. The shopping is amazing — even the window shopping is wonderful – especially in the area around Spanish Steps. Borghese Gardens park is worth a stroll through, too.

Roman police in dress uniform near The Pantheon.

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