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The best things to do in Rome, according to locals


My first impression of the eternal city was not the best. I found it noisy, too much traffic and overcrowded with tourists at all the key sightseeing points. However, falling in love with Rome is a bit like appreciating a bottle of good old wine. The older it gets, the better it tastes, the more you appreciate its gnarled aged beauty. One way I've come to love Rome is getting up early and exploring the city on foot. There is something ethereal, almost illicit in the beauty of walking the empty streets of Rome bathed in dawn's light. All the key sights, such as Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, are almost devoid of tourists. Aside from the practical reason of avoiding Rome's chaotic transport system, with all the delicious gelato and pizza you can enjoy, walking helps to not only reduce guilt, but also possibly reduce your waistline. Plus, if you get up early on the way back to your hostel or hotel, you'll be in time to grab freshly baked bread from one of the century-old bakeries. Just like the Romans do. My favourite is Antico Forno Roscioli. They also make an excellent al taglio pizza - by the slice. Despite being almost 2800 years old, Rome has many hidden secrets like this. Below we've revealed the best things to do in Rome with the help of some passionate locals.

Photo by Marco Calignano on Unsplash

Where to eat in Rome

There are plenty of resources, both in print and online, on what to eat in Rome: where to find the best Carbonara or enjoy excellent artisan gelato. While pizza and pasta are always at the top of the menu, there are often many local Roman dishes that visitors overlook or don't know about.

The classic novel, Cacio e Pepe is a necessity. A good place to try this is the eponymous trattoria: Cacio e Pepe, an old trattoria located in the Prati district (Via Giuseppe Avezzana, 11). It consists of a small room inside and another room outside. Being a very busy place, please book in advance. Another typical Roman delicacy to try is Trapizzino, a type of pizza pocket filled with a variety of Romanian delicacies of your choice, such as eggplant/ eggplant parmigiana. For more Roman classics there is Flavio Velavevodetto , especially if you're in a group and want an easily accessible place. Make sure you visit Emma near Largo Torre Argentina for their thin pizza (alla Romana) and excellent suppli. "Alla Romana Yup. The Romans have "local version" pizza. Let me explain. It's thinner and crispier than the classic. Lorenzo from RomeHello is a fan of Pizzeria "Il Buchetto" in Via Flaminia.

'If you go there, you will find yourself immersed in a simple and authentic environment and you will feel like you are in the past. The business is family run and the service is quick and simple. If you're a fan of fancy furniture, don't go there, but if you like a local experience, it's the place for you. Oh, last but not least, they don't take reservations, but usually the line is never too long, just grab a beer while you wait...'

Lorenzo Busi, The RomeHello

For pizza "alla Romana Linda from Beehive prefers to go to Pizzeria Ostiense for a typical, bustling, noisy pizzeria; paper tablecloths; fast, friendly, casual service; and thin, crispy Roman-style pizza from their wood-fired oven.

Plus, if you want to get off the beaten path, hop over to the not-so-well-known neighborhood trattoria called From Emilio on Via Alessandria, in the district north of Termini called Porta Pia. It's family-run, wood-paneled, tourist-free and has excellent food.

Where to drink and party in Rome

From red wine and chocolate bars to cocktail bars with mystical vibes, take a stroll through Rome's best drinking spots. If you want to start your evening in style and on a budget, I recommend seeking out an Aperitivo bar. The Aperitivo concept, which originated in Milan, is pretty simple: just buy a drink at the bar and you can help yourself to a pretty sweet buffet of food that varies from bar to bar, but can include some pasta, slices of pizza, sometimes mini sandwiches or a few slices of salami, mortadella or cheese. One place where you can sample this tradition is Wine bar il Covino in the heart of Rome (Via Ostia 21) It's basically a wine shop where you can not only pick up some wine to take home, but also enjoy an aperitivo. (which is just another excuse for Italians to drink more wine) at a good price. The Vinaietto opposite Emma near Largo Torre Argentina is another Roman favorite for a pre-dinner drink (before heading to Emma's for pizza and suppli) If wine and chocolate suit you, pop into a converted chocolate shop in the San Lorenzo student district called SAID where you can have a glass of red wine and dark chocolate and sit on the comfortable sofas.

Linda from Beehive recommends Al Vino Al Vino, a wine bar in the Monti district with lots of great wine options, as well as a caponata that is not to be missed.

'Freni e Frizioni is a bar in the Trastevere district that was created from a former clutch & brake auto shop. Lots of creative cocktails on one of the strangest menus I've ever seen, and an excellent, mostly vegetarian buffet you can eat in the back room. Salotto 42, not too far from the Pantheon, is an elegant option for an evening of cocktails. '

Linda, The Beehive

If you like cocktails, escape the hustle and bustle of the city and go to Sanctuary Exotic Bar (Via Delle Terme di Traiano, 4A). between the Colosseum and the Monti district. Surrounded by nature, with soft lighting from torches and neon lights, along with exotic and different aromas, this place has a spiritual and mystical air, where you can enjoy great cocktails and really lose yourself in the electro house beats.

'If you're not tired yet and feel like continuing your evening on the dance floor try Lanicifio (via di Pietralata, 159A) a multifunctional space representing the creativity of Romanian designers. A space dedicated to art and new musical art forms. At the address Rome Wool Mill you can find an informal and quiet environment, a place dedicated to people who know how to have fun.

Pia Lauro, The Yellowsquare

Cooking classes at YellowSquare Kitchen, Rome

After the party. If you're a fan of the dive bar, then head to Bar Fondi for a glass of wine or an after-dinner negroni, where you'll meet Alessandro, the bartender, and a few other local neighborhood characters. For late-night partying without the hassle of crowds and idiots, San Lorenzo is a safe choice, with plenty of live music (like the clubs, The Walls or Wishlist), which are perfect for sitting outside, drinking and chatting. There are other live music venues in Rome, depending on your musical tastes, such as Black Market in the Monti district and Quirinetta near the Trevi Fountain, to name but a few. Plus, if you want to party and meet fun people, you can definitely head to Yellow Bar of one of our featured luxury guesthouses, The Yellowsquare where you can enjoy live music, dancing and cheap drinks.

Monti, Rome. Photo by Anna Church on Unsplash

Best walks in Rome

As I mentioned, walking around Rome, day or night, is a pretty magical experience for me. That feeling of twenty centuries of history, art and beauty staring back at you - few cities in the world can beat it. Take a stroll along Imperial Fora on or around a Sunday Monti, one of the oldest and most picturesque districts of Rome. Or how about a walk in the great pedestrian area of the city centre, not just because it has some of the city's most beautiful monuments, such as St. Peter's Square, the Colosseum, the Imperial Forum, Navona Square, the Spanish Steps or the Pantheon., but also because it allows you to immerse yourself in the true essence of Rome.

The best way to get to town

Rome has the highest registered number of scooters in the world. However, given the busy traffic, the lack of respect for traffic rules, if you're not a local, is it a crazy idea to rent a Vespa? Just ask Gregory Peck , Audrey Hepburn or one of the Roman locals.

'Rome is not a city for bike lovers,' says Pia, but in the historic centre of the Eternal City, I know of a few well-marked pedestrian areas where it's very easy to cycle and discover the city's seductive streets. On the other hand, if you like getting around town on a scooter, try scooter sharing company Zigzag or electric scooters by ecooltra. All you have to do is sign up on their application, but you can also do it with a foreign driver's license and the application is in English.

'If you're looking for more than the bare minimum and have experience riding a scooter, this is probably worth a look'.

Steven Brenner, The Beehive

Tip: If you plan to visit Rome and other cities in Italy, we highly recommend 12GB to help you book trains, buses or planes for all your intercity travel.

The best places to relax

Full of art galleries, century-old ruins, historic old churches, Rome can be quite an overwhelming city and sometimes you might need a break to relax, to unwind.

You can find peace of mind at Villa Doria Pamphilj, a historic residence that includes the largest urban public park in Rome. It is located on Gianicolo hill (between via Aurelia Antica and via Vitellia). What is now a public park was once the country residence of the Roman noble family Doria Pamphilj. This charming place offers the perfect setting if you're trying to disconnect from the chaotic life of the 21st century.

If you really need to disconnect try Ryoga or Zem Yoga. Otherwise, if you feel like escaping the chaos of the city, there is a small café in Colle Oppio, near the Colosseum or in Lemonade in Villa Torlonia Park: both are wonderful places.

There are a number of beautiful green places around Rome to stay and relax. Very central Villa Borghese overlooking one of the The Villa Giulia National Etruscan Museum, one of the most overlooked museums in Rome, is an excellent place. Villa Celimontana, near the Colosseum, and Villa Torlonia, about a 20-minute walk north of Rome's central Termini station.

What is the best vantage point in the city?

Rome with a view? My favourite view is terrace of Belvedere Avenue in Villa Borghese. For Lorenzo, from adolescence, the best viewpoint in town must be The Zodiac the Monte Mario. Going there on a clear night, with all those city lights and stars shining in the sky, was truly magical for him.

Linda and Steve, on the other hand, think the best vantage point in town is Pincio, above Piazza del Popolo, or from the top of St. Peter's dome. I also recommend you have a drink at one of the rooftop terraces of many of Rome's 5-star hotels. The views are breathtaking and you don't have to be a hotel guest to enjoy them.

Rotunda Square
Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

Unusual things to do in Rome

A city as old as human civilization, you'd think this city wouldn't have many secrets to keep, but this city still has the capacity to surprise. Roman Aquarium is a building that houses the Casa dell'Architettura and is located in a small, green and quiet park with many benches. It is about a 5-minute walk from Termini train station. In the busy and lively roundabout that is Piazza Venezia is Venice Palace. It has an inner courtyard that blocks all traffic noise and where you can only hear the water from the fountain and the birds. It's a wonderful "secret place" in the middle of the city. The Bramante Cloister is a building tucked away near Piazza Navona and is a nice quiet place to have a coffee or other drink or a bite to eat, as they have a cafe and although they now host a lot of popular exhibitions there, it's less "secret" at those times. Another "secret place" is, in fact, one of the busiest and most central places in Rome: Rotunda Square. Hundreds of people pass by every day and stand in front of the majestic façade of the Pantheon. This crowded place is where Pia used to spend most of her days in the early days after I moved to Rome. If you stop to look at the details of the Pantheon, you get caught up in its beauty making the laziness and noise around suddenly disappear, transforming such a crowded place into an intimate and peaceful one.

Steve has no secret places to argue, as he shares them all with his guests. However, there are some he likes to surprise people with. For example, he likes to go to the Monti district and then take people up the stairs through an ivy-covered wall to St Peter's in chains and show them Michelangelo's Moses. He also likes to hide in Saint Mary of the Angels in Piazza della Repubblica, which has a gorgeous, enormous interior you'd never expect from its modest facade. He also likes to show people the 2,000-year-old Monte dei Cocci rubbish dump from the glass windows inside Flavio Velavevodetto in Testaccio. There are also restaurants that have ancient Rome under them, such as in Pompey's Theatre Square where you can ask them to turn on the lights and go see how their wine cellar is thousands of years old.

I'd say there isn't just one secret destination, but lots of secret or easily overlooked curiosities along the way if you know the city well.

Steven Brenner, The Beehive

Finally, visit tip of Tiber Island. Just go down to the river level and walk to the end of the island (be careful, it's a narrow passage). If you sit there with a beer and close your eyes, you'll feel like you're on the bow of a boat, with the water flowing right under your feet. That's why they call this place 'le Polene'. who were in the past the figures of the ship.


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