Tag Archives: Colosseum

Top Five Things To Do In Rome

24 Apr

Visitors to Rome often ask me what my top five things to do in the Eternal City are. Honestly, there are so many things to do and see that I can never choose. However, what I can certainly give them are things they definitely, absolutely must NOT do.

1. Don’t Stand In The Way

gelato rome italy issues what not to do

Great place to have a gelato

Rome may no longer be the capital of the world (to quote the Lonely Planet), but it is still one of the most historically packed cities….so get out-of-the-way, as some of us are not here to lick gelato’s in the middle of the pavement or stare gormlessly at city maps in the middle of busy piazzas with-mouths-agape. Seriously, move it Gianni. We know, because you’re on holiday you think the whole city cares about you and you are the only tourist that exists in Rome – well, you aren’t and no one does (sorry to kill your Disney tale with a little dose of reality). So move it e sbrigati! Via! *italian arm gesture*

PS. And don’t ask for directions. After helping 20 morons (they must be, because the maps are like children’s books) it becomes a game and I know a few people who purposely send tourists in the wrong direction. Or in a nice roman loop. Or pretend not to speak English and use dramatic arm gestures and a dodgy italian accent.

2. Don’t Be That Sore Thumb (With A ‘Fanny Pack’)

Tourists rome map Santa Maria Maggiore

Oh no…here they come!

Firstly, don’t take those terrible hop-on/hop-off buses. Rome’s ancient buildings are crumbling before our very eyes- especially in such a laid back country that thinks the word PRESERVE is either something sexual or something you do to salami (maybe both in some cases!). Plus, you add to the already congested roads. Rome is the best city in the world for walking; there’s always something to see within a small proximity. Take advantage. 

Secondly, we have an issue with pick pockets. So don’t wear your little tour shirts or caps or ‘knapsacks’ with pride (and say words like ‘awesome’ and ‘oh my god’ loudly if you’re american), because that sh*t is a beacon of hope for these people. Honestly.

Thirdly, the public transport is a mess in this city. It’s not an amusement toy for you to play on and try out for a laugh. Some of us have places to go and people to see…and you’re not funny #justsayin’ PS. If we have our headphones in (like most of the drivers do) *whispers* that’s a sign for you not to disturb us. 

3.Don’t Buy Roses/Umbrellas/Sh*t From The Annoying Street Sellers

harrassment rome italy vendors indian man

You know why?? Because they become more annoying. And suddenly, it’s not just roses anymore. Oh no! It’s cuddly, mechanical toys and squishy pigs and those helicopter, flyy things with bright, flashy lights that hit you on the head randomly in Piazza Navona.

I won’t even mention the fact that most of them are illegal immigrants, oh, and the ‘possible’ ties to the Mafia. Oh, did you think the Mafia only dealt in hard cash, drugs and prostitution… oh no my dear reader, they do squishy pigs too!

4. Avoid Restaurants With Food Signs 

Indian Italian restaurant Rome

Italian? No…Indian? No…Pizzeria? 

I say it all the time…and I’ll say it again. If the restaurant has to show you what it’s going to serve you, it’s best to walk away while you still can (before the owner’s got you by the arm and orders that bottle of ‘house wine’). The stuff they serve you won’t classify as food, but the house wine will classify as nuclear weapon fuel (if you need that). 

But….don’t ask me where you should go. I’m not going to tell you about my local trattoria because you’ll tell someone else and, before I know it, it’ll be on tripadvisor and then they’ll put the prices up due to the influx of American fatcats….and then I’ll have to sit next to them and they’ll want to tell me all about their ‘eye-talian experience, man, cos I love this city’… why do Americans always do that? Every meal is like a meet-and-greet!

Honestly, I had to sit next to this awful tourist trash couple the other night (yes, I’ve coined a name for them. Don’t get me wrong, I have wonderful American friends here but they tend to be from cool places like New York or L.A and don’t talk about their ‘firearms’). Now I didn’t know this man from Adam. He sputtered at me (from across the restaurant), ‘Haw old r yeew?’…’eeeerrmm, over the age of 25′ was my response (cheeky f***er) …’ Well, then you’re too old for Berlusconi, bwahahahahaha!’….*blank stare* ‘Alllllll-righty then’. 

Pizzeria Rome Italy authentic

5. Keep Your Absurdities To Yourself (You Are Not A Tour Guide)

Honestly, the amount of nonsensical historical ‘facts’ I have heard  coming out tourists’ mouths, and this is only from the English speakers, would be enough to power Berlusconi’s (lower) wig dryer. 

An (expat?) american to a tour group: ‘The Piazza di Spagna is called the Piazza di Spagna because so many Spanish people live near the Spanish steps’ #saywhat?

Overheard in a bar: ‘Oh, are you going to the Lazio football game tomorrow? Yes, which stadium are they playing in?..At the Colosseum.’ *double take* #whatthecazzo

A ‘genius’ (or fantasist): ‘Piazza Venezia was built by Berlusconi’ #duringthebungabungaera

Shocked tourist on bus: ‘I spoke English to him and he didn’t understand a word!!’ #cantbeattheoldcolonialists

I could go on…. but I wouldn’t want to annoy you, now would I?

Thank you for visiting Rome…please come back soon *through gritted teeth*

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Monti’s Golden Lunch Gem

3 Oct

Where to eat in Rome

While Italy is famous for its food, finding somewhere good to eat in the country’s capital is quite a feat.

In fact, eating badly in Rome is very easy to do. 

Many restaurants feed on the tourist trail and are more concerned with getting your money, serving you an excuse of a plate of pasta and hoping to never see you again. 

A friend’s boyfriend, who works in a restaurant in central Rome, tells some ghastly tales of mouldy, week-old ragu being used for fresh pastas, house wine being sold as expensive stuff and pests in the kitchen (and I’m not talking about the chefs). Every diner’s nightmare!

 As for finding authentic italian chefs/cooks (think fat, old italian mamma in the kitchen using her old mamma’s cookbooks) is a fantasy that has long been extinct. Most of the kitchens in Rome tend to use Sri-Lankans, Bangladeshis or other immigrants that will work for peanuts (and usually don’t hold a certificate in ‘elf & safety). 

There are the hidden rules taught to me by R- avoid anywhere with pictures or photos of food displayed outside, don’t EVER go anywhere with a ‘Menu Turistico’ (no matter how good the deal sounds), always have gnocchi on a Thursday, and never order fish on a Monday (fishermen never go fishing on a Sunday, so it will be old).

With all of this in mind, there is immense pressure to find ‘a keeper’ and become ‘a regular’. And, lo and behold, I’ve managed to do that-I’ve (literally) found my golden donkey! 

eating well in italy

L’Asino D’Oro is ideally located on Via Del Boschetto in the Monti area (minutes from the Colosseum), and is run by Lucio Sforza- as intriguing and distinctive in character as he is in the kitchen. And here, you are guaranteed to taste italian food at its best.

There is no old mamma in the kitchen, but if you’re looking for her, she’ll probably be at the table next to yours

italian chef rome restaurants where to eat 

Since leaving London, I have struggled to find the deals I once thrived on from TopTable, but in this little Roman gem, lunch is a mere  12 euros for 3 courses with bread, a bottle of water and a lovely glass of vino. For the quality of the food, the lunch deal is a steal.

The menu changes daily and the food is always fresh, inventive and surprising. Surprising, in a sense that often things I don’t usually like are served in a way that I find delicious.

Apart from the heart warming dishes (think piping hot, spiced pumpkin soup; rich, chunky meat balls served in a bitter chocolate sauce, souffle-like tortino packed with fresh chicory and riccotta, and rustic, hearty lasagna with a fresh fish sauce),the other highlight of the place is the waiting staff. 

Stefano, with his handle bar moustache, heads the front of house and, though stern and no-nonsense in attitude, will have you feeling like an old friend in no time.

With a golden opportunity to taste italian fare at its best, if you don’t take this one, the only donkey is you! 

where to eat in rome italian food Lucio Sforza

L’Asino D’Oro is also open for dinner (only a la carte), featuring more gamey meats and twists on the traditional italian style. 

Booking is essential (06 489 138 32) and they only accept cash at lunchtime. 

Rome With A View

14 May

Piazza Venezia

The first time I visited Rome was on a high school trip when I was 16- years-old.

We were dragged around all the usual sites, though I didn’t really bother to remember the names, as my friends and I were more interested in meeting the real life italian specimen than any made of marble!

Fast forward 10 years and that coin I threw into the Fontana di Trevi must have worked because I now find myself a resident of the Eternal City.

Now, since my return, I have not had the time to take in all the sites I glossed over in my first visit, but I thought I’d use the opportunity, when friends and family visit me, to see everything bit by bit.

But one of the things I tell everybody to do when they first come over is to take the elevator to the top of Piazza Venezia.

It costs €7 and is never really too crowded (well, the two times I went there) and you are guaranteed the best views of Rome.

Rome summer holiday

Many of the Romans I have spoken to don’t really like Piazza Venezia- they feel it is too modern and covered what used to be a beautiful view of the Colosseum from Via del Corso.

But I think that the top of the monument gives a wonderful 360° panoramic view of the city and makes up for the over-the-top exterior (courtesy of Mussolini). 

Italy hills of Rome

Everything looks much nicer when you are looking down on it.

But a word of warning, be careful of the italian seagulls, not just on top of Piazza Venezia but all over Rome.

But they skulk around the statues and swoop if you have any food on show. And they seem to like gelato too!

Piazza Venezia

So make it the first thing you do, before you end up queuing for hours outside the Vatican or Colosseum, and you’ll feel like you can tick off most of your to do list.

Piazza Venezia