Wednesday, August 24, 2011

{wanderlust} rome recommendations

For those who may be planning future travels to Rome, below is a listing of a few of my favorite places and experiences from our trip to the Eternal City. This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive guide--in fact, I've intentionally left out most of the popular attractions. Instead, my intent was to share some perhaps lesser known spots that I was happy to have found. If you want to know more, feel free to email me. Buon Viaggio!

Art, Architecture and Cultural Sites

San Luigi dei Francesci: This church near Piazza Navona is home to Carravaggio's masterpiece, The Calling of St. Matthew. The work is among Carravaggio's most famous, and it was incredible to see it in such an intimate setting. Definitely worth seeking out if you are an art lover, or if you are interested in seeing the work of one of Rome's most famous painters but don't want to devote a whole half-day to the Galleria Borghese. There are two other Carravaggios depicting the life of St. Matthew in this church, as well.

Santa Maria in Trastevere: This Basilica in the Trastevere was among the most beautiful churches we saw in Italy. The interior is covered in stunning mosaics depicting the life of The Virgin Mary. It's also located in a square in what I found to be the most charming neighborhood of Rome, the Trastevere.

Great Synagogue of Rome: I was enthralled by the entire Jewish Ghetto, but, most of all, this Synagogue, which is far and away the most beautiful and impressive synagogue I've ever seen in my life. It is only accessible via a guided tour, but the tours are short, informative, and leave from the museum in the Ghetto every hour.

Food and Drink:

Pasticceria Zi Boccione: A hidden bakery in the Jewish Ghetto churning out pastries that are snatched up by Rome's Jews and Gentiles alike. I went around 2pm on a Sunday afternoon and nearly everything was already sold out. However, I did manage to procure a cinnamon almond biscotti, some roasted pumpkin seeds, and "pizza ebraica," which was a slightly sweet dough studded with dried and candied fruits, almonds and pine nuts. Everything was delicious.

Camponeschi Wine Bar: We ended a very long day of walking with cocktails at this bar in Piazza Farnese. The wine bar is the casual companion to the more upscale restaurant next door, and we had a wonderful time here sipping our drinks, watching the sunset on the piazza, and enjoying some of the most spectacular people watching I've ever seen (and I live in Soho).

Tazza d'Oro: The coffee in the airports in Italy was better than most of what you can get in New York, so it's not hard to find a fantastic caffeine fix in Rome. However, the Granita di Caffe Con Panna at Tazza d'Oro is an amazing breakfast or snack that puts the frappuccino to shame. Layers of espresso granita are alternated with rich whipped cream, and the whole thing is served with a tiny spoon, like a sundae.

Camp di Fiori Market: This restaurant and bar filled square is home to one of Rome's largest outdoor markets Monday through Saturday from 7am-1pm. Fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, oil, vinegar, honey, and kitchen wares are for sale here. While I think my local market is more impressive (I'm totally biased), I always enjoy seeing how others shop and eat. The Campo di Fiori market was also home to the most beautiful artichokes I've ever seen.

Taverna dei Mercanti: We had a simple but great pizza at this picturesque if a bit touristy restaurant in the Trastevere.

Tours and Experiences:

Cooking Classes in Rome: You can read about my experience at this Cooking Class in the Trastevere here.
Rome Photo Tours: A walking tour slash roving photo lesson led by a professional photographer. Each tour is a little different, but on mine we covered the best angles from which to shoot Rome's most famous monuments as well as my guide's favorite side streets, window boxes, and corner cafes. I thought that the tour was wonderful. It was so helpful to have someone on hand to answer my photography questions in real time, and I learned some great tips from Gemma, my guide. It was also fun to get to walk around the city for a few hours with someone who actually lives there.


Ellen said...

Do you have any on Venice? We are going in 3 weeks...Rome another time....

Rachel said...

Sadly I do not...The Insight Guide's Rome Select book was my favorite guidebook though--perhaps there is one for Venice as well? Have fun on your trip!