Who doesn’t love a good palindrome? And one so appropriate for the city of Rome (or Roma) and my feelings for it each time I’m there.

“ROMA AMOR” – That is the inscription in the Temple of Venus and Roma in the Roman Forum (ruins pictured in the center of the photo below). It was a room dedicated to both the goddesses Venus (Amor) and Roma. Clever Romans.

When I walk Rome and see the heights that civilization reached, it is amazing to know that it fell. Lessons to learn from.

Btw, excuse this post’s weird formatting. I can’t seem to fix it without screwing up the whole post.<

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Last you heard, Anah and I were in Rome for just 36 hours two years ago and didn’t get to try much food because all the local places were closed for the August holidays. This time we made up for it … and then some.

Here is a list of top places. We’ll do more detailed posts on them – and others – later.

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS

Dittirambo (Piazza della Cancelleria, 74): This is just off of Campo di’ Fiori and across the street from its sister restaurant Grappolo D’Oro Zampano (we went to both and much preferred this one). The homemade pastas were awesome, particularly the cacio e pepe and gnoochi of the day (I dream about that pillow-y goodness!). Don’t get the vegetable lasagna – too cheesy. Closed Monday for lunch.

Dar Poeta (Vicolo del Bologna, 45): Pizza place in Trastevere, just across the river from central Rome. We did the free walking tour of Trastevere via Rick Steves phone app, then headed straight for this place. No reservations accepted, be prepared to wait (and be surrounded by tons of locals). Each pizza we ordered was great, though most surprising was the Dar Poeta which was spicy and had zucchini and sausage. I suggest starting with bruschetta – particularly the gorgonzola and honey, and pesto and fresh ricotta. Not as impressed with the stracchino and prosciutto (everyone was ordering it, and I thought it would remind me of Bianca’s gnocco fritto).

TIMG_4898averna dei Fori Imperiali (Via Madonna dei Monti, 9): Very close to Colosseum. The fresh pastas were awesome, especially the gnocchi with veal ragout and truffles (more unbelievably pillow-y gnocchi). The ravioli stuffed with burrata in a hazelnut, pistachio and pine nut pesto sauce were a close second. Focus on the daily specials menu rather than the large book menu. Recommend making a reservation or go right when it opens for lunch (12:30). Closed Tuesdays. By the way, check out the nearby ruins of the Forum of Augustus at the end of the street, which are an active archeological site.

Forno Campo de Fiori (Campo de Fiori, 22):  Went here twice for quick snacks/lunch. Just go to the counter and point to whichever flatbread pizzas look great and are fresh. It seems like fresh ones come out of the oven every 10 minutes. We loved the zucchini blossom+anchovies, but even the plain cheese or one with fresh tomatoes on it are great. Be sure to peek into next door where you can see the bakers making the pizzas. Also famous is Roscioli (Via dei Chiavari, 34), which I mentioned previously, and only a 5 minute walk from Forno. People get into fights on who they think makes the better flatbread pizza. My sisters and I thought Forno hands down. But you should do your own pizza off!

Renato e Luisa (Via dei Barbieri, 25): Also near Campo d’ Fiori. Focus on the daily specials menu. Great pastas. For dessert, the orange creme brulee encased in a “sugar cage” was out of this world. Make reservation, even if just day-of.

A note about reservations in general … best to make them, but we didn’t for most. Just go on the early side (~6:30) to beat the crowd. Restaurants have no qualms turning people away.

If looking for a place near the Vatican, we really liked Ristochicco (Via Borgo Pio, 186). Initially skeptical because of how touristy it looks, we were very pleasantly surprised.

FAVORITE TREATS
Granita di cafe
Granita di cafe

Gelateria del Teatro (Via di San Simone, 70): Best gelato in Rome. Period. Favorite flavors included pure chocolate, Sicilian almond and zabaione allo zibibbo (Sicilian wine cream). They take great care in sourcing the best ingredients. Open until 11pm.

Fatamorgana (two locations – Via Giovanni Bettolo, 7 near the Vatican; Piazza degli Zingari, 5 near the Colosseum) – This was a close 2nd to Teatro. We went 3x during our trip because we had to try both locations! More about our favorite flavor – Kentucky – here. But this time we branched out and were not disappointed. Closed Mondays.

Tazza D’oro (Via degli Orfani, 84): Just off the Pantheon square. Superb granita di cafe. Pay the cashier in the back first (and tell him if you want just whipped cream on the top – otherwise I think you get top and bottom). Then go to the bar and pick up your delicious treat.

FAVORITE SIGHTS

  • Colosseum
  • Vatican Museum – book a tour online EARLY they sell out quick
  • St Peters – visit during the day, but be sure to go at night too
  • San Clemente Church – close to Colosseum
  • Pantheon
  • Castel Sant Angelo – views from it were awesome, and cool to see papal fortress and tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian. When at the papal apartment windows, don’t miss the St Peters optical illusion.
Back away from the window and watch the dome grow/come closer...
Back away from the window and watch the dome grow/come closer…
We got the Roma Pass, which was a good deal for the amount of public transportation we used and sites visited.

Until next time we roam Rome – Roma amor,
Emmelle

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