With its world-famous attractions, plethora of museums and galleries, renowned architectural antiquities and over 900 churches, you could spend all of your time in Rome running around from one breathtaking sight to another. Although you’d take in a lot of culture, you’d miss out on what makes the Eternal City so charming: its tiny cobbled streets, its leisurely pace of life and its many hidden gems enjoyed by locals and unbeknownst to tourists. Veer off the beaten path and follow our itinerary to experience Rome from a local perspective. You won’t regret it!
Rome may be one of the most visited city in the world but it has many hidden treasures in the midst of all the action. Our favorite way to start the day is with a cappuccino and cornetto at Caffè Perù, an old-school café just steps away from Campo de’ Fiori but where the locals drop by for a drink and bite to eat at all hours of the day (the stools outside are a great place to perch while watching vespas zip by).
For one of Rome’s best shopping streets, skip touristy Via del Corso and take a stroll down nearby Via del Pellegrino instead. From contemporary handbags to stylish Italian eyewear, this street has great artisanal boutiques. Check out Roberto Lepri which excels at leather and fuses a Baroque aesthetic with military accents and animal print for supremely cool avant-garde wears. And be sure to pop into the evocative Arco degli Acetari, a medieval piazzetta and one of the city’s most picture-perfect corners after you’ve perused the shops.
To sample some of Rome’s classic dishes, head over to Enoteca Corsi near the Pantheon, a lunchtime-only eatery with rotating daily specials using seasonal ingredients and an extensive wine-list.
It’s a favorite with suited businessmen enjoying a leisurely meal and the atmosphere is casual and friendly. The artichoke lasagna is divine and they serve gnocchi on Thursdays as per Italian tradition. For a sweet treat, try Punto Gelato branch near the Ponte Sisto, a newcomer to the gelato scene that is quickly becoming everyone’s favorite spot for a sweet (or savory) cone. The flavors are extensive, ranging from classics such as cinnamon and pistachio to buffalo milk with red peppercorns, and the consistency is on point.
Making your way down to the well trodden but inescapably charming Trastevere neighborhood, pay a visit to Renaissance Villa Farnesina to admire Raphael’s breath-taking frescoes. For a city filled with art, this is one of Rome’s hidden gems and is overlooked by many people focusing on the Colosseum-Vatican-Trevi Fountain route. The whimsical store Polvere di Tempo has handmade antique time-keeping devices for the curious traveler and there are numerous shops in the area with goods that make great gifts and keepsakes. Be sure to mosey your way over to Santa Cecilia in Trastevere and experience the more laid-back atmosphere of this side of Trastevere.
Cross the Ponte Palatino and climb up Aventine Hill to soak in this idyllic and affluent residential neighborhood of the city. Peek through the Keyhole of the Knight’s of Malta for a great view of St. Peter’s Dome before meandering to the Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden), one of Rome’s most romantic and scenic gardens. Take a seat at the ledge, offering panoramic views of the Eternal City, and watch the domes in the distance slowly become illuminated as the sunset colors the sky with hues of red, orange and purples.
Head down to foodie neighborhood Testaccio for dinner where the locals eat. Pizzeria Da Remo is one of the most famous places in the city for good reason: its Roman-style pizza is crispy, flavorful and executed to perfection. The no-frills establishment is packed with boisterous Italians each evening and the service is brusk; the whole experience is part of its charm and you can’t beat the prices. Be sure to start with fritti, fried appetizers that are mouthwateringly crispy.
Depending on the season, you have a few different options for after-dinner drinks in Testaccio. In the summer, check out Tram Depot for tasty drinks in a converted tram ‘kiosk’ by the roadside. It’s a hip and relaxed hangout for craft cocktails and an indie vibe. In the winter, stop by L’Oasi della Birra for a large selection of European beers in a more traditional pub-style atmosphere.