I never longed to visit Rome quite like other favorites like Barcelona or Amsterdam, but I knew that I’d regret not going. I think my lack of excitement stemmed from the amount of tourists that frequent Rome each year. I pictured lines upon lines at each historic site and unending photo ops ruined by people constantly in my shot. But, since Ryan had shown some interest and we really wanted to see Florence, we decided to make an Italian road trip out of it. To my surprise…it was my favorite from the entire trip. Rome stole my heart and I intend on returning.
Rome’s greatest charm lies in its ability to offer each visitor an authentic, local Italian experience despite being one of the most visited cities in the entire world. Yes, there were certain times during our stay where the crowds would borderline overwhelm me, but there were so many more good parts that out-weighed the bad. Discovering small squares and hidden local shops/restaurants became a fun challenge.
After much deliberation, we chose to stay at The D.O.M. Hotel on the city’s famed Via Giulia. To this day, it’s on the top of our list for best hotels ever. The room was gorgeous and the hotel felt intimate and special. The D.O.M. Hotel Rome is located inside a 17th-century palace — taking its name from “Deo Optimo Maximo,” a Latin inscription uncovered at the church next door. The location was perfect – walking distance to almost everything.
Upon our late-night arrival, Linda (the best concierge) made us dinner reservations at Emma – just a short walk from the hotel. Our first taste of Italy was burrata, wine, and pizza. We loved the small outdoor seating and friendly staff.
The next morning, we woke up early and headed straight for The Colosseum. Luckily, we made the right call getting up so early and were able to get inside without much of a wait. We opted to rent the audio tour and were able to walk freely throughout without fighting the crowds. If you’re traveling in the summer, the early morning time worked great in regards to less heat.
After the Colosseum, we literally stumbled upon the Trevi Fountain while aimlessly wandering around. I was surprised that such a large, monster fountain was situated in such a small square. There almost wasn’t enough room for everyone to stand and enjoy it.
A spot that really captured our hearts on this trip was Bar Caffè Perù – a historic neighborhood bar from the 1930s that was charmingly retro and inexpensive. Catering to the locals, rather than the tourists, we found ourselves immersed in the everyday Italian life. Although exceptionally close to the lively Campo dè Fiori, the clientele and facade was unpretentious and not touristy in the slightest. That’s probably why we ended up there several times each day…
The concept was unique and unlike anything we have in the states – and we loved the endless revolving door of people simply grabbing a pack of cigarettes or ordering food to go. The wacky, mis-matched decor and variety of service kept things interesting. We spent most of our time perched on metal barstools, sipping prosecco, and listening to locals catch up on their days. I highly, highly recommend it.
After some people-watching, we headed to Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini to specifically visit the Crypt made entirely of human bones. I tend to love creepy things and I was excited to snap some photos. Unfortunately, after paying 18 euro/each, we discovered there was no photography allowed :( Although I was able to see the creepy skulls piled from floor to ceiling and arranged in intricate patterns, I was bummed that we couldn’t document our visit.
That afternoon, per Herb Lester’s request, we dined on more burrata and cacio e pepe at Ristorante ar Galleto. It was located on a much smaller, quieter square and I loved that their menu didn’t have photos nor were we lured by an agressive host. You can’t really go wrong in the food department in Rome…but it’s nice to find spots that aren’t filled with selfie-sticks and fanny-packs.
After a late lunch, we may or may not have had another glass of prosecco at Caffè Perù followed by shopping at Chez Dede. Follow them on instagram to get a better sense of their Roman/French/travel-inspired concept. I still think about their hand-painted canvas and leather bags. One of the best well-curated shops I’ve had the pleasure of patronizing.
That night, we headed across the Tiber River into the hip and charming area of Trastevere. Winding through its narrow, cobbled streets, we finally found Ombre Rosse (also a Herb Lester rec) and sat outside. They had the tables facing the street so you could load up on carbonara and wine whilst people watching. I love multi-tasking.