Rome by a Roman

<<when in Rome, do as romans do>>

Please note:

This does not want to be a guide informing you on historical and cultural places that you

can find on a normal touristic guide, it will make no sense if I just copy and paste a

knowledge I don’t have. So, you are asked to accompany this small guide with a good

Lonely Planet .

how to live it: what is true for everyplace in the world, it is even more true for Rome:

loose yourself. If you dare to drive in crazy Roman traffic, rent a scooter, not bikes (at

least not, if you wanna go further than the center, it is way too hilly for bikes), and do not

count too much on public transportations. If you have a starting point, that is enough,

start walking, take the smallest roads, loose yourself. If you see something that looks

interesting, a church, a private house, or something that you don’t even know what could

be, always get in. Those are the best places. If there is someone who you can ask to,

then say:

“Posso entrare a dare un’occhiata per favore?”

Then just smile and wait for their yes. If lucky, you will see the Italian flexibility in mind.

THINGS I LOVE PER AREA:

Borgo Pio:

It is the area right next to the Vatican, it counts no more then five roads crossing five

more. The principal road has exact the name of Borgo Pio. That is the only thing you had

to see. This area used to be way bigger before Mussolini dismantle the buildings and

basically everything all around Saint Peter Square. He built a huge, and yet I believe one

of the most inspiring place in whole Rome, this is Via della Conciliazione, the road

connecting Saint Peter, to Lungotevere (literally: along the Tevere, the Roman river).

where to eat:

Barattolo, small restaurant that cooks everything in a jar (barattolo, in Italian). I suggest

the Parmigiana and the Pistachio Tiramisù. And get drinks, they do great ones for sure. It

is in Borgo Pio, the road.

where to drink:

Bukowski’s Bar, a chill bar, library and gallery all together. Somedays it is super full (there

is apparently no rule for that, romans are random in their behavior), somedays there is you

and the guys working there, they are great: have the time to drink a glass of wine and

smoke a cigarette with them. I suggest you to go there around 7, so you can eat some

Bruschettas (simple bread with tomato) and drink some wine. Then, sit on the comfy

couch and read a book (normally they have stuff in english and for sure in french).

It is in Via degli Ombrellari 25.

where to walk:

When you are sure that you walked all around Borgo Pio (you will take no more than

15 minutes) direct yourself to the Vatican. Before going, go to a Bangla* and get yourself a

beer, a Peroni will suit the cause. To do so, look for giant walls on a side of Borgo Pio,

cross one of the arches, and go right. You will start seeing soon columns and here you

are. When there, sit somewhere. I suggest on those stairs under a small arch that will be –

having Saint Peter in front of you – on your left. I like sitting there. There is the entrance

of the homeless people’s Mensa, so do not worry if you feel surrounded by them. When

you got enough energy from that mesmerizing architecture, turn your shoulders to the

Vatican

and start walking all Via della Conciliazione, till you reach the river. When you are there,

and JUST when you are there, turn your gaze and enjoy the view.

where to look:

Something interesting and yet sad. If you had the chance of being around Saint Peter and

Via della Conciliazione in the time I suggested you (after sunset), you will see that all the

places that could work as shelters are occupied by homeless people. I always found this

detail so deeply touching. I am not a catholic but neither an anti-clerical. I am not here to

make political considerations. Still, I dare to highlight for a moment the human tragedy

right in front of the symbol of divine forgiveness and charity. It makes us think about our

actions.

*it is what we call a Späti, referring, with a bit of racism, to the fact that all of them are

run by Bangladesh people. But, Romans literally love them. They are always open and

guys working there are super nice, if they know you they don’t matter about doing credit

to you or a small discount. Believe that or not, we also have an app that shows all the

Banglas around the city. The name is ‘Bangla di Roma’.

Castel Sant’Angelo:

at the end of Via della Conciliazione, you will find yourself in front of Tevere and on your

left you will find a castle, i.e. Castel Sant’Angelo. Walk there. This place used to be the

place where the Pope could hide in emergency cases. In fact, there is an underground

path from Saint Peter to there. Right in front of it, there will be a beautiful bridge to be

crossed, with marvelous statues. If you are not afraid of the heights, you can find next to

them a small spot for sitting, reading a book or just enjoy the view. When you crossed

that bridge, keep going straight ahead.

the Center:

That is the center, take all the time you need, walk all around, there are not big pieces of

advice for this part of Rome that whatever good guide can give you. Places here are quite

all of them touristic, expensive and not good at all (in eating), it is more important than

ever to follow my suggestions on eating.

around Piazza Navona

where to eat and drink:

I have one place for both, which is another institution for us, Il Bar del Fico, try to be there

at lunch and not in the weekends, you will see old men playing chess on the shadow of

the Ficus. Eat what is on the Menù. It’s gonna be good.

where to shop:

Toko, shoulders to Fico, on the left corner, maybe my fav shop in Rome, especially for

rings.

where to have a coffee:

Chiostro del Bramante, they also do great exhibitions there, but if you do not have the

time for it, just get in from the other entrance (go on the left, following the walls of the

Chiostro, you will find another entrance, go on the upper floor, there is a Café)

where to have an ice-cream:

Get out on this same entrance of the Chiostro you came from, go right. You will encounter

a road, one of (if not the) best ones in Rome, Via dei Coronari. Go left. When you will meet

a big square with a big church, you should have on the left a Gelataio, called Gelateria del

Teatro (ice-cream place). Be sure that is the one I mean. It has on the right side of its

entrance, an abandoned theatre up to some stairs.

around Campo de’ Fiori

Campo de’ Fiori is a place we hang out when, as kids, we start to hang out, from fourteen

years old to eighteen, then we move to Trastevere, then when we start University we

move to San Lorenzo. Those are really really general lines, but still makes sense. I will give

some hints of these other places later.

Then, you do not want to hang out there at night and discuss which homework the

teacher gave or who lost the virginity with whom. Be there at daytime.

what to do:

Even if it became touristic, I still think that the Campo de’ Fiori’s market is extremely

beautiful.

where to look:

Here is better to say, where not look. In the center of the square there is a statue of

Giordano Bruno, churchman that was persecuted and burnt alive for think accordingly to

Copernican theory. Apart of this detail, we say that if you look him in the eyes you will fail

exams. Don’t. If you are hungry for a slice of pizza, turn your shoulders to his face and in

front of you on the left, at the corner you will see a “Pizzeria al taglio” (selling slices of

Pizza, get one).

where to eat:

in Piazza della Quercia, restaurant “La Quercia”. I am a vegetarian and I should not say

that, but get a Gricia pasta. Go there for lunch, if you manage. Get starters, whatever they

suggest you.

where to drink:

Café Perù, it is an institution for us. The food is also good. Get a beer or a juice and start

walking.

how to get from Campo to Perù: you get out of the slice pizza place, you have a small

road on your right, walk there, you meet a big square with two fountains, in front of you

you have the French embassy, check the ceilings from the outside: they are great. Then

go right, you will see a beautiful lamp shop on your right, next to it, the Cafe Perù.

where to walk:

Shoulders to Perù, go straight ahead (slightly on the left), and before crashing your face

on the wall, you necessarily have to turn. I suggest you to go left*, you will find yourself on

Via Giulia, one of the most beautiful streets in Rome. At the end of this road you will find,

on your right, a bridge, the so-called “Ponte Sisto”. Cross it, and you will encounter

Piazza Trilussa, named after the roman poet (you will find on the left side of the square,

carved on the stone, one of his poems).

*It all depends on the time you have. I tell you to go left if you wanna reach immediately

Trastevere. But if you wanna experience more the area, loose yourself around, then go

right, when you feel satisfied, ask for indications for Trastevere.

Trastevere:

a small introduction:

Trastevere needs an introduction. I told you that we hang out here, in the last years before

University. This is not necessarily true. While the shift Campo de’ Fiori-Trastevere is a

must, Trast-San Lollo (slang names) is not. San Lorenzo, as I will tell you, is

more peripheral and underground (easy one). Romans will love Trastevere till the very end.

There is no doubt this is the most beautiful and inspiring area of Rome. You can go there

at daytime or later to experience the nightlife. For sure you have to experience it both on

weekends both during week days. At firstly I said: <<when in Rome, do as romans do>> .

It is time I tell you what we do. Having experienced other European metropolises I can tell

you that we experience fun in a different way. And this can be also the reason why Rome

is so difficult to be understood in its “underground and young life” by visitors. Basically,

we chill. When in Trastevere there is nothing you really do, you just meet people that you

already know, or some cool Erasmus students that you don’t. You sit everywhere holding

your Peroni and -why not- your joint, and you talk to people. Then you walk a bit, sit

somewhere else, talk a bit more. Try to sit everywhere, just be there, observe, enjoy. I still

do not understand why, but this is the best for us. Maybe just go to 8 Millimetri bar and

play a Biliardino match. As a Berliner, I would not suggest you to go clubbing. I mean, you

would not receive clubbing suggestions from me, after Berghain, is too painful!

where to walk:

literally everywhere

where to drink:

San Callisto, you will reach this place and think I have mental issues. From the outside

there is nothing special of this place. So normal, a bit decadent. Decadence is the word in

Rome. This is an institution of Trastevere. There, there is literally everyone: old

‘trasteverini’ (people from Trastevere), drinking an espresso in a second and talking for

hours. Young people in after, drinking their beers, radical chics and lot of random people.

Observe.

where to look:

Shoulders to San Callisto, go on the right and you will be in Piazza Santa Maria in

Trastevere, mesmerizing place. Visit the church of course. Sit on the fountains’ stairs, feel

like those hippies sitting there in the Fellini’s movie: Roma.

where to eat:

Just go in small streets, and find your place. Get a pasta. Better if you go to that side of

Trastevere on the left (shoulders to Callisto).

Ghetto:

As the name says, this is the Jewish Ghetto, architectonically speaking, maybe the

most beautiful part of Rome. How to find it: From Trilussa (shoulders to the stairs) you go

right, along Tevere, (or you can do it from the inside of Trastevere)*. Then you will see, on

the river, an island, this is the Isola Tiberina. There is basically nothing there, except for a

hospital, a church and the institutional restaurant of Sora Lella. Cross the bridge (it means

go back to the center, on the opposite side of Trastevere), and you will find yourself in the

Ghetto.

where to eat:

Have ‘carciofi alla giudia’, in one of the restaurants in front of you (for instance. “da

Ottavio”), they are gonna be expensive if you have a whole meal. Just get the Carciofi,

maybe take away (“da portar via, per favore”)**

where to walk:

As always, loose yourself. You should eat your carciofi, at the feet of Teatro Marcello

(looks like Colosseum, but more beautiful). You will find it: shoulders to Isola Tiberina, you

have in front of you, some roman ruins (fun, yes) like arches and columns, there is a small

path, at the end of it, you find Teatro Marcello. Now, you have two options: shoulders to

Teatro Marcello, you can go left or right. Walking around 15-20 minutes you will have: if

you go left, the Colosseum, if you go right, La Bocca della Verità and Circo Massimo. Do

as you prefer. But I suggest you to go left.

*if it’s summer, Lungotevere, will be full of bars and shops basically on the river level, so

you have to follow the stairs next to every bridge.

**I am not sure they will do it, but try to ask, and remember to smile.

Monti:

If you took the left side, you are on a very big road which you have to walk all till you get

to Piazza Venezia, you will see the Altare della Patria, the Fori and check all this stuff on a

decent guide. Then, shoulders to Altare della Patria (this giant white thing) go right, cross

the road, there are lot, lot, lot of stairs on your right. At the end of those, you will find

yourself in a rounded square, do not cross it, but keep going straight, and a downward

sloping road will start. Here you are in Monti.

what to see:

The first road you will meet on your left, has two beautiful things, so take it, then you will

go back to the main sloping road.

First, on your right you will meet a church, the entrance may not look like a church, but if

you look for it, you will find it, first there is an inner yard, with an old wheel covered by

plants, get inside, then there is the church.

When out of there go right (it means keep going on the same road), then on the other side

of the road, on your left, almost at the end of this road, you will find some stairs, go there.

The park you will find up the stairs, used to be a private garden of a roman noble family,

now is open, it hosts a public Kindergarten and the whole place is not well-known. You

can see all Rome from there.

NB both these places can be closed when you visit them, still randomly I guess, fingers

crossed.

where to have a snack:

Take your time, go back to the downward sloping road. Then you will meet a crossing

road with a building covered by plants, there on the right corner, there is a “Forno”, it

means a bakery. Try everything your stomach can fit.

where to shop:

Then, out of the bakery, go left, you will find on the same side of the road, Pifebo, one of

my fav vintage shops, there are a lot more, on the parallel way: Via del Boschetto.

where to walk:

Keep going down this road you will meet a square, get your beer at Bangla and chill there.

Loose yourself. (If you go straight ahead in the same direction for ten minutes walking you

will start seeing the Colosseum)

From there, on the exact opposite side of the Colosseum, it starts a way that will bring

you to Circo Massimo and Bocca della Verità. Here you will need a map, because you

need to walk a bit and it is a hard to explain and be sure that you would not insult me to

make you loose yourself not in a nice way. But basically, is simple terms, walk all your

energies, right in front of you, you will cross Circo Massimo (is a park nowadays, do not

expect a Circus), then there will be some roads upward sloping, take them, maybe ask.

You find yourself in Aventino. One of the hills on which Rome was built. There walk

around, ask where is the Giardino degli Aranci. I am becoming touristic now. Let’s go

back to some underground.

San Lorenzo: 

You will find no tourists, yet is probable that people working there do not speak english,

but young people will -to a certain degree. Watch your belongings. You can go there at

sunset so you enjoy both moments: day and night. There you can eat where you want, it

is going to be good. Walk around there are a lot of cool places and bars.

how to get there with public transportations: i have no idea, check on google maps.

what to see:

White Noise Gallery, at Via dei Volsci.

more underground:

walk around these areas: Testaccio (is the area next to Trastevere, relatively underground) Garbatella, Pigneto, Tor Marancia for some street art.

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