Chump-less Checklist to Doing Rome: The Nitty Gritty
And now the Nitty Gritty, continuing from the Generalities:
One of my favorite places in the city is the Jewish Ghetto, which I already wrote a bit about in my post about the synagogue. But this little four block quadrant has a lot of genuine charm. For one, it has restaurants that serve the excellent “carciofi alla guidea” or Jewish style artichokes. There are also small delis to bop into for lunch, and because pork is not so kosher, they have cured beef similar to prosciutto that is amazing. Also, it has a lot of really awesome stenciled street art by c215 (above).
By all means, go see the Trevi Fountain; it’s beautiful. But listen, even in the non-tourist season, seeing it can be uncomfortable because of the mobs that gather around it. If you follow one piece of my advice about seeing Rome, take this one to heart: Go to it late at night. After midnight, there are only a few people around and it is beautifully lit. Throw in your coin over your shoulder and guarantee your eventual return to Rome. More golden nuggets of advice after the jump.
On the back of Piazza Venezia is Capitoline Hill. Michelangelo designed this piazza and it’s called the Campidolgio (pictured below). Spend some time up at the top. Check out the views of the forums, look down Via Del Corso from the terrace of the Victor Emmanuel monument, and if you can, go into the main Capitoline Museum. Get into it free by saying you are an art student (“sono un studente di arte” in Italian) and showing any ID card, preferably with some european city/non english language on it if you are studying abroad.
Campo di Fiori has an international reputation as a fantastic market in the morning. The vendors fill the piazza and present the full splendor of the produce available on the peninsula. There are amazing baked goods and more kinds of dried fruit than I have ever seen. However, at night Camp-o becomes the kind of despicable hang-out where Americans buy overpriced drinks at “Sloppy Sam’s” and “The Drunken Ship.” Beware!
Rome has some really beautiful parks. Villa Borghese is famous for the art museum, which is amazing and a relaxing break, but the park itself is magnificent, complete with swan-occupied lake. Other parks are equally full of hidden beauty in the form of sculpture and peacefulness. My favorite is at the top of villa pamphili above trastevere.
One of the best ways to see Rome is to church hop. It’s always cool to go inside, and always free. Rome has 900 churchs, and many are mind-blowingly grand and beautiful. Here are some you might want to check out. At the top of Capitoline Hill, next to the Campidoglio, is Santa Maria in Aracoeli, which is exceptional for it’s beautiful chandeliers and amazingly smooth floor. On the way to the Pantheon, Santa Maria sopra Minerva has a Bernini sculpture of an elephant with an obelisk on its back in front of it (above) and a Michelangelo sculpture of Jesus inside. Near the spanish steps is Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, with two fantastic Bernini angels intended for a bridge but housed here instead. There are so many others I could recommend, but it might be worth it to just look at Wikipedia’s list of Roman churches
Also, I love Roman food, and anyone who cannot get real, good Italian food is sadly misinformed. There are so many great places to eat. In general: avoid tourist menus, go to unpretentious places with fewer decorations and small menus. Foods you must have: Roman pasta, gelato, jewish artichokes, and Roman street food, including the pizza and fried treats like a suppli (fried ball of rice, tomato sauce, and mozzarella). For more information on local pasta traditions, read Mark Bitten’s article on the subject.
Well, that’s not nearly complete, but those are some of my favorite things about Rome. I’m in Madrid now, and I will be for a while. More about that soon.
Entry filed under: architecture, art, bliss, europe, history, italian food, Italy, Roma, Uncategorized. Tags: Bernini, Campo di Fiori, capitoline hill, jewish gheto, michelangelo, trevi fountain, Villa Borghese.