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Thread: OT: Any advice for someone going to Rome, Italy?

  1. #1
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    Question OT: Any advice for someone going to Rome, Italy?

    My husband and I are going to Rome, Italy, in Mid-November this year. In our excitement, we went on the Internet to look for info about ROME. The result: information overload. There's SOOOOO much information. Too much! It would be so great to have personal recommendations and endorsement from real people. So, just wondering if anybody has been there who would be willing to share their experiences and recommendations...

    1) Here are the best places to stay? Anybody been to any B&Bs?
    2) Best restaurants?
    3) Attractions that I shouldn't miss (I particularly love the opera and art museums. I'm sure there's a ton of them in Rome, but... any particular places I shouldn't miss?)
    4) UNIQUE EXPERIENCES: What was your own experience like? Did you do anything special that you'd like to share (ie... DH thought about renting a car and just drive up the coast, staying in whatever inn/hotel or restaurant in our path, for example. Could be nice and romantic, or a nightmare?)
    5) And (how could I not ask a CL group?) did you comb the street markets for spices and oils, and other Italian ingredients that might be difficult to find in the US?
    6) Any other miscellaneous advice?

    Thank you so much.
    Marjorie___
    Last edited by NgocBao; 08-27-2002 at 07:59 AM.

  2. #2
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    Hi, Marjorie. Here's a recent thread on Rome, though I'm not sure it will answer your specific questions: http://community.cookinglight.com/sh...highlight=Rome

    I don't think you're going to find much in the way of what we consider a B&B, per se; sounds like you'll want to look at an "albergo" or pensione maybe? When I went to school in Perugia and Siena I used to go to Rome periodically for my "city fix" and I always stayed at the Pace Elvezia in via IV Novembre. It was a nice spot and you couldn't ask for a more convenient location!
    I would definitely do some research before doing a road trip north....

  3. #3
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    Talking When in Rome...

    My boyfriend and I visited Rome for 3 days as part of a 3-week trip to France and Italy. I can tell you that food was at the top of my list of things to experience in Italy, and I wasn't disappointed! We had a Lonely Planet Rome book that clued us in on some great restaurants, including one called Cacio e Pepe, which has some of the best fresh pasta in town. I would say, if you want an authentic Italian meal to avoid tourist areas or anywhere near them.

    Probably the best meal on our whole trip was in Rome. After our first choice restaurant was discovered to be closed, we simply walked down the street to find another. We eventually found a place with all Italians (good to look for if you want really authentic) with no written menu and the wait staff did not speak a word of English! We had several courses, most of which was just brought out to us automatically. I'm sorry to say that I do not remember the name of the place, and even if I did, I could not give you directions! The street names in Rome change every 1-2 blocks. All I can say is, get off the tourist beaten path, find a place filled with locals, and bring your appetite! Italian restaurants serve a ridiculous amount of food, even to American standards. Trastevere is one part of town with great restaurants that are usually cheap, although the restaurant I wrote about is in the NW section of Rome, probably in the Triofale neighborhood.

    We bought our wine, olive oil, etc. also in places frequented by locals. It may be good to take a day trip to a small town and buy these things at a market. Otherwise, we stuck to regular grocery stores, which are of all sizes and are everywhere. There are an abundance of shoppes that sell typical Italian products packaged very cutely for tourists, but you will spend more and not know whether you are getting high quality.

  4. #4
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    Oops!

    When I said "Triofale", I meant "Trionfale". Sorry!

  5. #5
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    Thumbs up Rome

    You are in for a treat. It was probably 11 years ago when DH & I went to Rome. We went right after Christmas, for 10 days. We stayed in Rome the whole time, don't remember the hotel; it was adequate, nothing too special.

    DH is an architect, so we spent most of the time walking the city and enjoying all the numerous sculptures and beautiful architecture. There is so much art to see, I remember in the cab ride on our way back to the airport seeing some other sights out the window that we hadn't gotten to. Although things like St. Peters and the Vatican are impressive, there is just as much non-tourist type things to see. Just walk into a courtyard and you may find some small treasures.

    As far as restaurants go, we used a Fodor's guide or the like. We tried a few of the suggestions, but found that what we really liked were the local tratorias where the food just keeps coming and you don't necessarily know what you will be served! The wine comes in jugs; some of the best wine I've ever tasted and no headaches!

    One of our funniest memories is when we decided to go out to a fancier restaurant. Sorry I don't remember which section of town. We decided we wanted to have some fish, and just asked the waiter for his suggestion. When the entree course was served, out came this HUGE whole fish for just the 2 of us. (I was embarrassed at how large it was). When we got the bill and figured the exchanged, we realized we had just eaten a $70 fish! So much for ordering "Off the menu" at that place!

    It is a bit tourist-y, but if you are at all interested in archaeology and early history, Pompeii is an amazing experience. We took a day trip to Pompeii with a stop near the Isle of Capri along the way.

    Another interesting thing we did was to visit some of the catacombs. They are out of the city, but not hard to find.

    Although we didn't do this, your husbands' suggestion for driving up the coast is right up my husband's ally. It sounds like a great way to see the country. We have done that on other trips, but I think for the Rome trip he had a package deal where our hotel was included.

    I believe we attended some chamber music concerts, don't think we saw any operas. It is easy enough to check out what concerts are available when you get there.

    Oh, just thinking about it brings back so many memories. I hope you have a fatastic time!

  6. #6
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    We were just in Rome in June--amazing--and amazingly hot!! uNFORTUNATELY, our flight out of the US was cancelled, and we had to go standby (We love Swiss Air!), which cut our time in rome in half. that said, we still had a great time--our pensione was right next to the Campo D'Fiore, which is an excellent fruit-veggie-fish-whatever market each am. You can find spices, fruits-whatever's fresh--and there's a bakery at the back of the campo that makes pizza bianca every am--you gotta love a country that serves pizza for breakfast. We didn't consult any guide books (we had kids in tow, which rules out many of their recommendatins) but just wandered the streets, looking for a place that felt "right." One thing to consider, as you try to find the "real" places from the "touristy" ones--in restaurants catering to locals, they call meat sauce "ragu"--in touristy places, they call it Bolongese. So as a rule, if the menu lists pasta with ragu, you're in for a treat!

  7. #7

    Re: OT: Any advice for someone going to Rome, Italy?

    Originally posted by NgocBao
    My husband and I are going to Rome, Italy, in Mid-November this year.
    How long are you going for? Are you going just to Rome?

    1) Here are the best places to stay? Anybody been to any B&Bs?
    I'm not familiar with any B&Bs but I may be able to help you with some hotel suggestions - especially if you give a price range. Remember, most hotels in Rome include breakfast and the quality of that breakfast can vary greatly

    2) Best restaurants?
    We had our kids with us and in-laws on our last trip and tended to eat in small trattorie. I can't say they're "the best" but we enjoyed them. Here are a few I can recommend:

    Ristoranti Abruzzi 1 via del Vaccaro (near the end of Piazza Santi Aposoli Phone 39-066793897.
    Trattoria Il Pallaro - this place is difficult to find - it's in Largo del Palla, a tiny square, not far from Campo di Fiore - if you really want to go, I can give you exact directions. At this restaurant, there's no menu. You eat whatever mama's cooking that night. Usually, it's an assorted antipasti, pasta and either roast beef or roast pork with a side of potatoes and dessert (ours was a torte or fragolini - baby strawberries).
    L'orso ottanta via dell Orso 33 (06-686-4904) near Piazza Navona. This place was great fun in that we sat down and they brought us antipasto after antipasto w/o us even ordering (e.g., marinated eggplant, suppli, pasta, buffalo mozzarello, melone, proscuitto, fried zuchini, etc.)

    All of these ran around 120 - 140 Euro for 5 adults and 2 kids with dinner, wine and dessert.

    Now, if you're looking for a real spluge in a romantic setting - Il Convivio vicolo dei Soldati 39-066869432 - it's similar to Noveau cuisine done Italian - reservations a must.

    That reminds me, you probably should make reservations for Pallaro too if you decide to go there.

    For a great view and dining the restaurant atop the Hotel Eden, La Terrezza, is supposed to be nice but I don't have personal experience with it. Let me know if you'd like some other rec's - I have a bunch.

    3) Attractions that I shouldn't miss (I particularly love the opera and art museums. I'm sure there's a ton of them in Rome, but... any particular places I shouldn't miss?)
    Must sees.....

    Vatican Museum - home to the Sistene Chapel - you can't make reservations and the lines can be long...I'd allow almost a day for a visiting St. Peters and this museum.
    Forum
    Collosseum (sp)
    Pantheon
    Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
    around the corner from the Pantheon this church doesn't look like anything spectacular on the outside but has some amazing artwork on the inside (including Michaelangelo's risen Christ) - it's also where Gallileo faced the inquisition
    Piazza Navona
    Trevi Fountain- don't forget to toss your coin to ensure your return to Rome
    Borghese Gallery Incredible collection of Bernini sculptures and others, some paintings by Caravaggio, etc. They only allow you in the museum for 2 hours at a time, at specific times and reservations are a must. You can make your reservations here - Borghese Gallery

    I have a B-list too if you're interested.

    4) UNIQUE EXPERIENCES: What was your own experience like? Did you do anything special that you'd like to share (ie... DH thought about renting a car and just drive up the coast, staying in whatever inn/hotel or restaurant in our path, for example. Could be nice and romantic, or a nightmare?)
    I think the trick is making/discovering your own unique experiences. My girls and I spent an entire day bumming around the Campo de Fiore and the Piazza Navona playing, enjoying each others company, just hanging out. I'll never forget that. Now, as far as driving - I'm not sure I'd recommend driving out of Rome, unless you're totally comfortable behind the wheel of the car and driving unfamiliar territory doesn't bother you in the least.

    You can do some nice day trips out of Rome to Ostia Antica, Tivoli, even Orvietto in Umbria by mass transportation, if you like.

    5) And (how could I not ask a CL group?) did you comb the street markets for spices and oils, and other Italian ingredients that might be difficult to find in the US?
    Someone already mentioned the market at Campo de Fiore - if you're a foody it's a neat thing to see. Great Forno (bakery) in the campo that serves pizza (not like what you'd expect). Visit any stores that look interesting - salumeria for cheeses, salume, olive oils, wine etc., wine shops, heck, even grocery stores - you'll be amazed at what you'll find.

    Now I do remember someone mentioning to me an unusual "gourmet" deli in the Avantine section - if you like I can track down the recommendation.

    6) Any other miscellaneous advice?
    Eat gelato every day at least once a day

    Really though, Italy's become an obsession with me, so feel free to ask anything else if you think I might be able to help.

    You might also like to check out Slow Travelers. Although that website is geared to people who rent houses/villas in other countries it also provides a wealth of information on hotels, restaurants, how to order an espresso in a cafe - tons of stuff. There's also an extremely active bulletin board.

    Hope that helps.

  8. #8

    Re: OT: Any advice for someone going to Rome, Italy?

    Originally posted by NgocBao
    3) Attractions that I shouldn't miss (I particularly love the opera and art museums. I'm sure there's a ton of them in Rome, but... any particular places I shouldn't miss?)
    Thank you so much.
    Marjorie___
    I forgot - I tried to find some Opera info for Rome and it seems the season does not start until later in November/December but you might want to check out this website to see if you can find anything: Rome Opera

  9. #9
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    Smile Rome

    A trip to Rome -- how exciting! I went about 5 years ago with my Mom and loved it. A few recommendations:

    In terms of a good guidebook, I would definitely recommend Rick Steves' book on Italy (the guy who does the PBS travel hows). His book doesn't try to overwhelm you with every possible piece of information about Italy that ever existed. Rather, he condenses it down into a manageable book and makes recommendations for things not to miss. He recommends great local (read: non-touristy) restaurants, and his directions to different places are phenomenal.

    Watch your valuables in Rome, which is notorious for pickpockets, especially in places that attract more tourists, like the Vatican and the Spanish Steps. When we were there, there was an entire family of pickpockets who were arrested right off the bus that we rode from our hotel out to the Vatican!

    If you do get to travel to other places, don't miss Florence and Siena. Florence is just gorgeous, and we found it to be less crowded and busy than Rome. The hill towns in general are just beautiful.

    And echoing what Kimmer said, definitely eat gelato every day! That was one of our favorite treats when we went to Italy. Yum!

    Enjoy!

    Marisa

  10. #10
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    Almost forgot...

    In terms of food, if you get the chance, try a type of pasta called pici. It's this wonderful thick type of whole wheat spaghetti that is like nothing you've ever tasted before. We had some up in Siena while we were there, and at family gatherings we still reminisce about how amazingly good it was -- even 5 years later!

    Marisa

  11. #11
    I second "Rick Steves" guide books. I discovered Europe 8 years ago and have been back at least one per year...and always use his guide books. And if you plan on visiting museums, go to the library and check out another book by Rick called "Mona Winks". It is a musuem guide, and as with his country guides, it directs you to the most important paintings/sculptures and has some interesting insights on them. Travelling can be overwhelming, and his books make it manageable, fun, and enlightening!

    and EAT GELATO ONCE PER DAY!- or twice a day if you want, you're on vacation, and how else are you going to try all of the flavors! (Rick's books guide you to the best gelaterias in the city too!)
    Susan

  12. #12
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    Thanks everyone for your replies. I got myself very excited about it, to the point of accidently exciting my MOL into wanting to come with us.

    Yep, you can read about my rant in a separate thread at http://community.cookinglight.com/sh...threadid=29057

    Oye...

  13. #13
    Originally posted by NgocBao
    Thanks everyone for your replies. I got myself very excited about it, to the point of accidently exciting my MOL into wanting to come with us.
    Uh Oh, did I mention on our last trip we had my MOL, FOL and an Aunt in-law along with us and the kids? Not only that buy my parents met us in Florence for our last week - yikes...I'm on my way to check out your rant now.

  14. #14

    Re: Almost forgot...

    Originally posted by Marisa70
    In terms of food, if you get the chance, try a type of pasta called pici.
    Marisa
    Good suggestion - we tried this for the firs time on our last trip. A restaurant in Pienza, Latte de Luna makes it each morning - yum!

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