After nearly 10 years of living in Rome, I’ve definitely earned my badge and feel confident in calling myself a local. As a local, I’ve pretty much seen and done everything that a tourist would do in the Eternal City. While that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy doing some of the things that tourists do; I do prefer doing things a bit off the beaten track . Here is my ideal day in Rome.
Exercising in Rome
As I enjoy a great run in the morning to give me that boost of energy needed in order to face the day, I typically for a run in the park. My favourite park is Villa Ada (Via Salaria, 265). Though it’s not as central as Villa Borghese, this park is much larger than Villa Borghese and also not as touristy. The scenery is great: full of lovely trees and flowers and a cute little artificial lake. On sunny spring and summer days, this is the perfect place to come for a picnic, do a little sunbathing and checking out evening concerts like the ‘Roma Incontro il Mondo’ concert series (www.villaada.org) that starts in June.
Breakfast in Rome
After I’ve gotten my exercise fix in, it’s time to have some breakfast. After a good run, boy, am I ready to eat. Unlike many of my friends, I hate eating breakfast at home. I especially hate making my own coffee. Don’t take this the wrong way. This has nothing to do with laziness. Rather, it’s a matter of taste. There is nothing like starting your day off right with a delicious frothy cappuccino. There’s also something about having breakfast at the bar that’s always been a part of one of my truly favourite Roman experiences. The bar banter, the clinking of the coffee cups and the smell of fresh hot cornetti out of the oven and espresso brewing in the machine. Buoooono. One of my favorite spots to have my morning cup of Joe is Bar Amore (Via Banchi Nuovi, 41). This bar is a family affair and inside you’ll find mamma, papa, figlio e figlia all working side by side. That’s part of the reason why I love it so much. A cappuccino here will set you back about €1 and another 80c. for a cornetto (croissant). Though I’m even pickier when it comes to cornetti. I often pick mine up at the bar down the street first before heading to Bar Amore. As strange as that sounds, I love having my cornetto and cappuccino at two different spots. For cornetti, I enjoy the ones from the De Santis Bar near Piazza Navona (Via Governo Vecchio, 122). The bar isn’t real fancy nor is it really big. But it’s definitely frequented by the locals. Here I like to eat a fagottino di cioccolato or a cornetto integrale.
The Testaccio Market and the MACRO Museum
One of my favorite things to do in Rome is check out the local food markets. Recently I discovered the Testaccio food market on a food tour with tastings that a friend of mine leads in Testaccio and I absolutely fell in love. While I was quite familiar with the area ‘by night’ for its amazing night life, I wasn’t familiar with what this working class neighborhood looks like by day. Part of what I love about the markets, other than the freshness of the food, is that there’s a story and rich history behind the people who work there. Testaccio during the day is often a neighborhood that gets overlooked and if you haven’t been there yet and consider yourself a foodie, do make a stop at this food market! My friend, Kenny Dunn, a big foodie, gives a really great behind the scenes food tour (www.eatingitalyfoodtours.com ) of the Testaccio market, specialty food shops in the area and includes lots of yummy food tastings. I highly recommend it!
After browsing the Testaccio market, I love going to check out some contemporary art. One of the best places to do this is at the MACRO Testaccio (Piazza Orazio Giustiniani, 4). I love coming here and to the MACRO near Piazza Fiume because I adore modern and contemporary art.
For a quick bite to eat for lunch, I grab a slice of pizza (pizza al taglio) from the pizza butcher (or at least that’s what I like to call him) Remo near the Pantheon (Via Piè di Marmo, 32). Remo has the best pizza. My favorites are: salame, margherita and pizza with zucca. His calzones are really yummy too. After he’s done heating up my pizza, he always asks me if I want a little ‘fantasia’ on top, which of course I do. This is what he calls hot chilli powder and oil made with chilli peppers and when sprinkled on top of your pizza, it makes everything taste better!
Getting Made Up at the Salon
Call me crazy, but for me the ultimate relaxation is having someone wash and blow-dry my hair. There’s no other person or place I’d trust my hair with than Marco Fava at Twenty One Hair & Make Up (Via Panico, 25). Marco has a long list of Italian starlets as his clients but works a lot with tourists too, thanks to his good English skills.
After a day of markets, museums and getting made up, it’s aperitivo time! Since I’m already in the centro and I plan on staying in the centre for dinner, I’ll choose Gusto (Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 9) as my place to meet up with some of my gal pals. While the price is slightly more expensive here than most aperitivo places, I quite prefer it because they have an extensive selection of white and red wines. I always have a glass of Gewürztraminer whenever I come here and munch on some of their lovely bruschette and other finger foods. The atmosphere is very local as not too many tourists come here. Yet another reason why I love this wine bar.
Dinner: The Best Amatriciana You’ll Ever Have
One of my favorite places to go for dinner especially when friends are in town is Trattoria Vecchia Roma near Piazza Vittorio (Via Ferrucio, 12). You absolutely must order the pasta amatriciana here. Ordering anything else would just be plain sinful. The amatriciana is especially good because of a special technique they use to give the flavour a little kick. Just before serving you your amatriciana, you will see the waiters light a gigantic block of pecorino cheese on fire and toss your pasta inside. They then stir the pasta and you’ll notice the pecorino melt inside your pasta before your very eyes! Not only does this give your amatriciana a pecorino cheesy taste to it, but it also comes out with a smoky flavor that’s unforgettable. After you’ve had the amatriciana here, you’ll never have it anywhere else!
Dancing in the Discoteche
Though, I don’t hit the clubs very often, when I do, I really like going to Shari Vari Playhouse (Via di Torre Argentina, 78) in the centro storico of Rome. Part of the reason I like it is the variety of music: they play everything from hip, dance to house music. I also like it because unlike other clubs around Rome, it’s not exactly a hole in the wall, which means you won’t have people dancing on top of each other. The music is great and it’s an international crowd. It’s the perfect place to come to when you want to dance your socks off!