Doge Palace
Grand Canal Looking Towards Maria della Salute

Introduction

Like Florence, Rome is filled with art (paintings, sculptures....) to admire and spectacular Roman ruins to explore. The city is fun to visit anytime of the year. Even during winter when there is a slight nip in the air walking around exploring all the nooks and crannies of Rome is quite pleasant. On one such evening late November, I discovered some of the most beautiful mosaics in Rome at the Basilica of Saint Praxedes (Prassede). It was magical seeing the church on a dark and rainy afternoon. The dark and gloomy weather only intensified the atmosphere. Of course a stroll through the Villa Borghese on a fine spring day cannot be sneezed at either. However, the point I am trying to make is no matter what time of the year or the weather conditions there is always something wonderful to see or experience in Rome. High season in Rome gets off to an early start usually around Easter and runs through early Fall September/October and holidays such as Christmas and New Years are also considered high season.

Arriving and Getting Around Rome

I find the most cost effective way to get from the Airport into central Rome is to use The Leonardo  Express (don’t you just love the name). The trip from the Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) to the main train station takes approximately 35 minutes. Trains run about every half hour. The two subway lines merge at the main train station, as do a number of bus lines. Unfortunately, the arrival track of the Leonardo Express stops quite a ways out from the terminal building, so the walk to the taxis stand and buses in the Piazza dei Cinquecento can be  a trek. As I am walking from the train, I always silently thank the clever person who invented luggage with wheels.

Taking a shuttle bus from the airport into central Rome is another option and for two people it’s economical and slightly cheaper than taking a taxi. Even for one person who doesn’t mind spending a little extra money to get to the airport. As I said it is somewhat cheaper than a taxi and definitely more convenient than the train. For example, my flight home was leaving at 1:50 pm, the shuttle bus picked me up right in front of where I was staying at 10:15 am. He made one more stop to pick up a couple more passengers and we arrived at the airport shortly after 11:00 am. One such company that offers a shuttle bus service to and from the airport is Rome Airport Shuttle. The company can arrange for a car or shuttle bus to pick you up at the airport and take you directly to your hotel. However, if you are traveling with at least one other person, I would inquire about the cost for a taxi. I have taken a taxi several times and I must say it's a great way to get to and from the airport.

Getting Around Rome

Many of the major attractions are located in the historic center, within walking distances of one another. A good pair of walking shoes is essential since the cobblestones are hard on your feet. For longer distances there is the subway (Metropolitana), which operates from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. There is an extensive system of buses that run pretty frequently in the daytime and a few buses run after midnight. For the schedule for late night buses look for “bus notturno”. There is also a network of trams. Tram line 8 leaves Largo Argentina and will take you into Trastevere and stops at Piazza Sonnino. Tickets are called BIT - Biglietto Integrato a Tempo (Integrated Time Ticket) and can be used on the subway, buses or trams. They are valid up to 75 minutes once the ticket has been validated. You can transfer using the same ticket between buses, but only during the 75 minutes after you validate your ticket. You must time stamp your ticket in the machine when entering the subway or boarding a bus or tram. On buses, you usually enter either using the front or rear door of the bus and exit via the center doors. The time stamp machine is easy to spot - it’s yellow. If the machine is broke or doesn't’t seem to be working write the time in ink on the ticket. If you don’t validate your ticket and you get caught you will pay a steep fine on the spot. Considering how inexpensive riding on the subway, buses or trams it’s not worth taking a chance. One other thing to keep in mind if you are traveling by bus, check to make sure the bus is not an express (unless you want to take an express bus) because these buses have limited stops. It might not stop where you want to go and might take you out of your way. For those who will be using public transportation frequently a seven day pass is available. You can purchase tickets at most newsstands and there are automated ticket machines in the entrance to subway stations and in the Piazza S. Silvestro (a major bus hub near the Trevi Fountain). I like to purchase a Bus and Tram Route Guide (it costs something like 6 Euros) available at newsstands. Since the subway was really doesn't’t service the historic center very well buses are the better option. I find having a guide for buses and trams and great help. The public transportation system is operated by ATAC (Azienda Tranvie e Autobusdel Commune di Roma). The web site has an English version. Under Getting Around Rome on The Official Tourist Website for Rome you will also find information on the different types of tickets available (single rides, daily/weekly/monthly passes and a 3 day tourist ticket - BTI) along with other useful information on hotels, restaurants, museums, current exhibitions and so forth. When I arrive in Rome I like to stop by a tabacchi or newsstand and purchase 5 - 10 of tickets (BIT) just to have on me.

ATAC Roma Bikesharing is city bicycles you can rent by the hour. There are a number of locations around the historic center including the Popolo, Spanish Steps, Venezia and the Campon dei Fiori. You can purchase the pre-paid card needed to unlock the bicycles at metro stations. For more information including cost click on the link. Unfortunately, due to a high level of theft and the popularity of the program bicycles can be scarce. I noticed this on my last visit.

Since the introduction of a tourist information phone line 060608 (operators speak English) getting help with questions about museums, archeological sites, restaurants, events (theater, concert and dance) has never been easier. You can also access this information on their website at www.060608.it (in English).

P.I.T. (Punti d’Informazione Turistica) are green kiosks operated by city of Rome. There are a number them dotted around the city and at Rome’s two international airports. Generally they are open daily from 9:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. except the ones at the airports, which close a little earlier. 

For a color map of Rome showing the locations click here.

The Thursday edition of La Re Repubblica has a supplement called Trova Roma that lists cultural events. Another publication and one specifically aimed at the English speaking community is Wanted in Rome (published every two weeks). Click on the link to view the online version. The  Roma c’e (published every Wednesday) has an English section on what’s happening. Another online source for what’s happening such as art exhibits, concerts and theater is www.romeguide.it.

Context Rome sells a transit packet (delivered to your hotel)  that includes 10 tickets along with a detailed booklet that tells you about Rome’s public transportation system (subway, buses and trams) and how to use the system. The company also offers guided walking tours and rents cell phones you can use while staying in Rome.

Good news many areas of Rome are now covered by a wireless network. You will need to register and have working cell phone number. Once you register the server will call your phone to confirm the registration. You will be given something like an hour a day at no cost. For more information including a map of the hotspots click here. You will also still find internet cafes scattered about.

If you are like me and like to read before going to bed, but do not like to pack a lot books (aside from guidebooks) when going on holiday. You might be in need of one of those wonderfully entertaining thrillers or a jolly good mystery in English. Two bookstores in Rome that stock a selection of books in English are the Anglo American Book Co. on the Via della Vite near the Spanish steps and the Almost Corner Bookstore, Via del Moro 45 (near the Ponte Sisto) in Trastevere.

Settimana della Culture (Culture Heritage Week) - Held in spring, many state owned museums and archeological sights open their doors for free. Concerts and other events are staged around the city. The event is sponsored by Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities.

Casa Dell’Architettura (an architectural cultural center), Piazza Manfredo Fanti, 47 (near the Stazione Termini)  – Conferences and exhibitions are held in what was once Rome's aquarium, built in the 1880’s. I find this an interesting building to begin with and I am impressed with the clever way it has been renovated for use as an exhibition space,

Shop Rome - your personal shopper in Rome - for more information click on the link.

ItalianWeddings.com - helps couples plan and get married in Rome and other destinations in Italy.

Avveniture Bellissime - offers  walking tours not only in Rome, but in Florence and Venice as well. One of the tours offered in Rome explores the many known and less known fountains around the city.

Farnese Fitness, Vicolo delle Grotte, 35 (near the Campo de'Fiori) Tele: 06 687 6932, convenient health facility in the historic center. They offer a pass good for 10 visits for 90 Euros.

I learned about an area in Rome called Quartiere Coppedé, from a taxi driver who was driving me to a concert at the Parca della Musica. A little bit on the talkative, still he was a pleasant enough chap. Anyway halfway through the conversation, I forget what we were talking about he mentions this part of Rome that has some really bizarre buildings (his words) near the Villa Torlonia. Well when I got back to the apartment that evening, I did a little research and found an NY Times article from 1987 that talked about this neighborhood. Lo and behold my eyes popped out when I saw the words Art Nouveau or Stile Liberty as it was known in Italy. As it happens this is one of my favorite periods both in terms of interior design and architecture, so I went to Google maps to find out the exact location. The next day I set out on my little adventure to find these strange and fanciful buildings and boy what a treat when I finally found them. The area is named after architect Gino Coppede whose vivid imagination came up with the designs for these buildings based on a number of architectural styles and influences. He started work in the around 1913 and only stopped in 1927 because he died. While walking around I was reminded of Portmeirion in Wales in so far as this being basically an architect’s wet dream. These buildings are such a hybrid mix of different styles including Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Classism that they really are unique and defy a specific stylistic term to describe them. All I could think of was what the taxi driver said – bizarre, but in a good way. And Coppede did create something special. Definitely worth a ride on a bus and an afternoon. Quartiere Coppede is in the Trieste district (not far from and east of the Borghese Gallery) between Piazza Buenos Aires via Tagliamento. From the termini catch bus #86, the trip takes about a 20 minutes.

Il Roseto comunale di Roma (Municipal Rose Garden), Via di Valle Murcia on the slope of Aventine hill just above the Circus Maximus. One of the loveliest flower gardens (over 1,000 varieties of Roses) in Rome. Sadly it’s only open a few weeks in May/June every year. I stumbled on this little oasis purely by accident one day walking up to see the church of Santa Sabina. I walked past the garden and noticed it was closed, but I was able to peak through the railings. Several days later I decided to visit Santa Cecilia in Trastevere to see the incredible 13th century frescoes by Pietro Cavallini’s of The Last Judgment. After a wonderful lunch at Le Mani in Pasta (reservations are essential) near the church, I decided to take a walk to work off some of lunch and ended up in front of the rose garden and to my utter surprise it was open and full of people. I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around looking, smelling and taking lots of photographs. It was another wonderful afternoon in Rome.

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Lodging

The Hotel Locarno is on the high end of in the moderately priced hotel category, but the location is perfect and and the rooms comfortable. The first time I stayed at the hotel is was quite reasonable. In the last few years it has gotten more expensive, but then Rome in general has gotten more expensive so there is very little you can do about it. I tend to pick my hotels based on location and a reasonable level of comfort. I don’t need luxury, but I still want a nice room with a decent bathroom.  The only complaint I have with the hotel is the single rooms tend to be on the small side; however, the double rooms are quite lovely. There is a cozy Art Deco bar on the ground floor where you can relax and have a few drinks after spending the day seeing the sites before heading out to dinner. A full breakfast buffet is included in the price of the room. Bicycles are available to guests. The hotel is it is on a quite side street off of the Piazza del Popolo. Above the Piazza del Popolo is the beautiful Pincio gardens and beyond them the grounds of the Villa Borghese. The Spanish Steps (especially beautiful when azaleas line the steps) is a short walk down the Via del Babuino. The Via Condotti and other streets around The Spanish Steps are lined with shops and boutiques. There are   two subway stations nearby, the Flaminio and the Spagna. The Piazza Navona and the Vatican are a 10 to 15 minute walk away as are most of the other major attractions.

Another 3 star hotel I like is the The Hotel Santa Maria in Trastevere. The hotel is one floor and a former 16th century convent. The rooms open onto a lovely courtyard filled with flowers, plants and orange trees. When the weather permits breakfast is served in the courtyard.

An alternative to staying in a hotel is to rent an apartment. I found I do save money and these days with Rome becoming more and more expensive, every little bit helps. The trade off is your don’t get the services a hotel offers, but I found having a kitchen makes up for the lack of services.  The first apartment I rented I went through a company called Rental in Rome. They even arranged a private car (for an extra fee - though quite  reasonable) to pick-me up at the airport when I arrived and also arranged a car to take me to airport when I was leaving. I found the apartment quite lovely and I had no problems with booking the apartment. The second time I rented an apartment I went through a company called Papavero Rentals. The apartment was on Via Frattina (near the Spanish Steps) and was fabulous. Once again I had no problems with booking and the confirmation packet included restaurant recommendations. Papavero Rental’s offices are located in Pennsylvania and Rental in Rome’s offices are located in Italy. Both web sites offer an excellent selection of apartments (studios, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms and so on) in different price ranges. If you are planning on traveling with other people renting an apartment makes perfect sense especially from an economical standpoint. With having a kitchen you will be able to eat in some of the time, which will save money. On my trip in 2010 I rented an apartment off the Piazza Farnese on the Vicolo del Giglio with a roof terrace and wonderful view of Rome including the dome of St. Peters. I found the area around the Campo dei Fiori perfect. There is the fresh marker in the campo, nearby there is fitness center, supermarket, butcher and a shop that sells more 400 cheeses. It really is a neighborhood with all the shops and services. I definitely would recommend this area for those who are planning on renting an apartment in Rome.

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Restaurants

Rome has great food. Even though in recent years prices have gone up considerably. Sadly, gone are good old days before the Euro. Still you can find great food at somewhat reasonable prices. Some trips are cheaper than other trips due to the fluctuation in the exchange rate. However, as they say you only live once. Plus you are on vacation and work a good part of your life so you might as well get some pleasure and eat well, which is something you can definitely do in Rome. If I don't mention opening and closing times contact the restaurant either via telephone or web site. One thing to keep in mind is a lot of restaurants are closed the entire month of August when those who can flee the debilitating heat of the city for cooler places. And it's always a good idea to book a table a few days in advance (even lunch) especially during high season. I have included links to restaurant's websites if I found one. More than likely the menu will posted online. This will give you an idea what type of food to expect along with individual dishes that are served. Below are some of my favorite restaurants. I hope you will enjoy eating there as much as I have and my “dining out” tips have been helpful. Bon Appetito!

Colline Emiliane, Via degli Avignonesi, 22 Tele: 06 4817538. Dishes are from Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Warm and cozy with friendly unpretentious service is how I would describe this truly wonderful restaurant. I stumbled across it one day after visiting the Barberini one day. I was famished after spending 2 ½ hours wondering around the Barberini, so I wanted something nearby. For an appetizer I had mortadella followed by a veal cutlet wrapped in ham topped with cheese that was utterly delicious. One of the best lunches I have had in Rome. Booking is a must. On my most recent trip I stop in for dinner, for a starter I had the pumpkin ravioli, followed by (yes, I am a creature of habit) veal cutlet wrapped in ham topped with cheese. I find some places do a particular dish so well I can’t resist. Besides if you enjoy something why not have it as often as possible.

Edy, Vicolo del Babuino, 4 Tele: 06 36001738 (Tridente) Roman cuisine. Moderately priced. Located on a quite side street between the Spanish steps and the Piazza del Popolo off of the Via del Babuino. The company I booked the apartment through on my last trip recommended this restaurant. On my first night I decided to give it a try, and I found the food quite good and the service wonderful.

GiNa, Via San Sebastianelio, 7/A Tele: 06 6780251. On top and to the right of The Spanish Steps in the Piazza Trinita d. Monti. They offer a wicker basket filled with all the necessary items you need to have a picnic in the nearby Villa Borghese.

Gusto, Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 9 Tele: 06 322 62 73. Pizzeria and Ristorante. I have only eaten in the pizzeria part of the restaurant for lunch. . I had a salad and pizza and was happy with the food and service. There is an outdoor sitting the faces the Mausoleo di Augusto

La Focaccia, Via della Pace, 11 Tele: 06 68803312 (Piazza Navona).One of my regulars you might say. I usually go at least once on every trip. I go to for the reasonably priced pizza, good pasta dishes and a fine house wine. It’s located on an atmospheric side street off of the Piazza Navona. If weather permits sit at one of the outside tables with a great view of the church of Santa Maria della Pace. If not, their dining room is downstairs is quite cozy.

La Locanda del Pellegrino, Via del Pellegrino, 107 Tele: 06 68 72 776,moderately priced specializing in meat (beef) and pasta dishes and predominately Roman cuisine. After the meal the chef served us a complimentary glass of his home made chocolate flavored grappa.

La Penna d’Orca, Via della Penna, 53 Tele: 39 063202898 (Tridente), seafood restaurant that won’t break your bank account and is located right across the street from the Hotel Locando with relaxed and friendly service.

La Buca di Ripetta Trattoria, Via di Ripetta, 36 Tele: 06 321 93 91. Moderate priced with an inviting friendly atmosphere with wine bottles on shelves above the tables and a classic Vespa motor scooter in the middle of the room. I started off with fried artichokes with taleggio cheese and for my main course and had the pappardelle with mussels and pecorino cheese for my main dish. I enjoyed the meal a lot and would definitely go back anytime I am in Rome. I like the décor and service very much. Good idea to book.

La Vecchia Roma, Via Leonina 10, Tele: 06 47 45 887. located off Via Cavour (close to S. Pietro in Vincoli) Closed on Sunday. I discovered the little gem after visiting the church of San Pietro in Vincoli (Michelangelo's masterpiece for the Tomb of Julius I is here). I began with prosciutto and melon followed by Pasta alla Carbonara. My companion had delicious veal chops. We had the inexpensive house wine that was great. And it seemed we were the only English speaking people in the place. Everyone else spoke Italian. I have always felt restaurants who cater mostly to locales need to keep up the standards because if they don’t people just won’t come and they would be out of business. With restaurants that cater to mostly tourist restaurants they might be able to get away sub par food and service since they will always have a study flow of new people i.e. tourists, although in these days of restaurant reviews accessible on Internet, I am not sure it’s worth taking a chance.

Osteria Le mani in Pasta, Via dei Genovesi, 37 (Trastevere) Tele: 06 5816017 (near the church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere). Cozy, friendly and extremely reasonable - everything an authentic osteria should be. I stop in for lunch and had one of the best Pasta Carbonara in my life. You can’t be the prices or the homemade pasta, grilled meats and seafood dishes. You have to book though, the place is always busy and getting a table with a reservation will be difficult.

Osteria St. Ana, Via della Penna, 68/69 (Tridente) Tele: 06.3610291. Classic Roman meat and seafood dishes, moderately priced and casual setting. I have eaten here several times over the years and I have been extremely happy with the food and service. It’s near the Hotel Locando which is how I originally found the it while walking the area looking for a place for dinner. Closed on Sunday.

Panella L'Arte del Pane, Via Merulana, 54 Tele: 06 487 24 35. During the week they are open till 8:00 p.m. (as with a lot of places in Rome closed in the afternoon for a few hours for lunch reopening around 4ish) and on Sunday they are open till 2:00 p.m. Great place to go for lunch. The pastries are scrumptious. When visiting Rome I usually stop in at least twice and always get some pastries to take to the airport when leaving to make the experience at the airport more bearable. A friend (he is Italian and lives in Rome) feels (and I totally agree) this is the place to go for pizza bianca (dough stuffed with mortadella and sprinkled with salt)

Papa Baccus, Via Toscana, 36 Tele: 06 42742808 (Veneto area).Dishes from Tuscany made with authentic fresh ingredients. What I would consider upscale and somewhat on the expensive side. Not far from the Galleria Borghese so a convenient place to go after visiting the Borghese. And if you are in the mood for a bit of Tuscan cuisine you have found the right place and makes a nice change from all the Roman dishes. I stop by for lunch after my visit to the Borghese Gallery. I had a pleasant time - the food and service were excellent. Closed on Sunday and reservations advisable.

Ristorante Asinocotto, Via del Vascellari 48, (Travestere) Tele: 06 5898985.  Refined Roman/Mediterranean cuisine. Chef Giuliano Brenna creates imaginative and delicious dishes. Moderate to expensive with a good wine list. Casual and cheerful ambiance. Reservations advisable. Closed Mondays.

Ristorante Kosher - La Taverna del Ghetto, Via Portico d’ Ottavia, 8 Tele: 06 68809771 (Jewish Ghetto). Moderately priced. Great place to go for lunch to partake of the famous Roman Jewish dish “Carciofi alla Giudea” (artichokes) and pasta. Since it’s kosher you will have to go somewhere else for a cappuccino.  

Ristorante 59, Via Angelo Brunetti, 59 Tele: 06 32 19 019 (a block south of the Piazza del Popolo between Via de Ripetta and the river).Elegant setting combined with friendly service makes this one of my favorite restaurants in Rome. They served us a complimentary plate of mortadella and cheese. When we expressed how much we liked the cheese they brought us more. Little touches like this always endear me to place. I especially like the salmon carpaccio with rocket followed, the homemade ravioli stuffed with pumpkin and the veal chops are out of this world. I finished an exceptional meal with homemade ice cream that was perfect for cleansing the palate.

Ristorante Spirito DiVino, Via dei Genovesi, 31 a/b Tele: 06 5896689 (Trastevere). Moderate - Expensive. Traditional Roman dishes. Oozes atmosphere - the building at one time was a synagogue. Open for dinner only. On my last trip to Rome, I had my last supper here - at least for that trip and thought the food and service were both excellent.

Ristorante Il Tempio di Iside, Via Pietro Verri, 11 (located on a quite street off of via Labicana) Tele: 06 7004741 (Monti and San Giovanni area). Fresh seafood at quite reasonable prices (this is my favorite seafood restaurants in Rome). You start off with a complimentary glass of Prosecco and something to nibble on while you look over the menu. I like to start off with their tasting dish, which consists of something like 4 or five different appetizers selected by the chef. Next I might share a pasta dish (depending how hungry I am) followed by a main dish. And of course desert (in Italy I can never go without desert). Not too mention to top off the meal a glass of limoncello (purely for medicinal purposes of course). There is outdoor dinning in front of the restaurant. Reservations a must. Closed Sundays. About a 10 or 15 minute walk from the Colosseo metro stop. Once you pass Piazza S. Clemente, the restaurant is a few more minutes away. I have to say I was disappointed with my last visit. It seemed to me they were under new management. Gone is the complimentary glass of Prosecco and I must say the food (still good) is no longer remarkable. This was the place I would go to in Rome for great seafood at reasonable price. I might go back, but at this point I would really consider it. Whereas, before I would have no hesitation.

Ristorante La Carbonara, Piazza Campo de 'Fiori, 23 Tele: 06 68 64 783, on the moderate - expensive side with traditional décor. I originally came here because a friend told me they make pasta alla carbonara with penne instead of the traditional spaghetti, which aroused my curiosity. It was a beautiful sunny day when I decided to have lunch so I opted for a table outside. I started with fried zucchini flowers filled with mozzarella. If you have visiting Rome in May this is definitely a dish that is a must. Of course, this wasn't the first time nor would it be the last time I would have fried zucchini flowers. If the weather is fine the outdoor terrace behind the flower stalls and fountain in the Campo de' Friori with the foreboding statue of the heretic monk Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake in 1600) makes for the perfect place to enjoy the square and Rome’s energy. The fresh market and lively atmosphere makes a great setting to have a leisurely lunch.

Ristorante La Taverna degli Amici, Piazza Margana Tele: 06 69 92 0637. Moderately priced homey little restaurant located on quite square not far from the Capitolini. One of those small friendly places you can’t help to love. As far as my favorite dishes – well – I am rather partial to Tagliolini cacio e peper.

Sensus Restaurant, Vicolo del Giglio, 22 (off the Piazza Farnese) Tele: 06 454 20 325. Seafood dominates the menu. I found this restaurant while I was staying in an apartment a few doors down the street. One day I walked passed and glanced at the menu and decided to give it try. I wanted to find a new seafood restaurant to try. I wasn't disappointed. I thought the food and service were exceptional. As far as prices, moderate to expensive, but not terribly expensive, I have found good and more importantly fresh seafood generally is not’t cheap. I found the setting quite convivial to the wonderful dishes that were served.

Sora Margherita, Piazza delle Cinque Scole, 30 Tele: 06 6874216 (Jewish Ghetto). Inexpensive. An inexpensive no frills osteria popular with Romans and tourists alike and known for their delicious pastas and carciofi alla Giudia. Closed on Monday.

Trattoria Da Lucia, 2b Vicolo del Mattonato, Trastevere Tele: 05 5803601. Classic Roman Cuisine. What a good trattoria should be - great food, reasonably priced and homey. Reservations advisable. Closed Monday. They don’t accept credit cards. A few minutes (southwest) walk from Piazza della Scala.

Trattoria e Pizzeria Dal Pollarolo 1936, Via di Ripetta, 4/5 (Tridente).located right off the Piazza del Popolo. Great place to go when you are in the area and are in the mood for good pizza or pasta at reasonable prices . Closed on Thursday.

Two of my favorites places to get get gelato are il Dolce Sorriso, Via Arenula, 25 Tele: 328 0309229 (right across the street from the the small park, Piazza B. Cairoli near the Largo Arenula) and I Dolci di Checco er Carettiere, Via Benedetta, 7 Tele: 06 581 1413 (in Trastevere near the Ponte Sisto and close to the Villa Farnesina. I have very particular when it comes to gelato. These days it is becoming more difficult to find homemade all natural gelato. I don't mind paying extra as long as it is the real deal. So you have to be very careful where you go for gelato.

Caffé Farnese (northeast corner of the Piazza Farnese. I would some here in the morning for my cappuccino and croissant when I was staying in an apartment nearby, but fFirst I would pop around the corner to pickup a newspaper at the newsstand. Unlike the Piazza Navona the Piazza Farnese is not as touristy so the coffee and pasty were pretty reasonably priced. I also stop by in the evening for a drink before heading off to dinner.

Bohemien Bar, Via degli Zingari, 36 (near the San Pietro in Vincoli). Nearest metro is Cavour. A cross between a bookstore and a used furniture shop, this charming bar/cafe/meeting place is a fun place to hang out. Of course it can feel slightly strange for those who don't speak Italian fluently because there are very few non-Italian speakers, still you can sit back and enjoy the bookish ambience. The drink are reasonable priced and there are free nibbles after 7:00 p.m. that are included with the drinks. I wish there a place like this in Manhattan. Unfortunately, I feel such a place couldn't survive given the how expensive commerical real estate is these. Rents have gone through the roof especially in Manhattan making places like these not economical feasible.

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Museums and Art Exhibitions

Many museums are closed on Mondays including: the Borghese Gallery, Palazzo Barberini, Spada Gallery, Corsini Gallery, Palazzo Altemps and Capitoline. Something to consider if you are planning on getting a Roma Pass, which is valid for 3 consecutive days once you begin to use it. If you arrive on Saturday or Sunday and you are staying a week, it might make sense to wait till Tuesday before using the pass. Some private galleries such as the Doria Pamphili Gallery and the Vatican Museums are open on Monday. The Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palatine Hill are also open Mondays.

A great value if you are planning on doing a lot is the Roma Pass. It's valid for for 3 days. With the pass you get free admission to the first two museums/monuments you visit, after that reduced admission to other participating sights. Included with the pass is unlimited use of public transport - subway, buses (including the COTRAL bus that goes to the Villa d’Este and Hadrians Villa) and trams - during those 3 days. There might be an additional minor surcharge of a Euro or two if the museum (such as the Borghese or the Capitoline) is having a special exhibition. However, even with the additional surcharge it still worth it if you are planning on seeing a fair number of museums/monuments. Be sure to check your list of places you plan on seeing that are included in the Roma Pass to see which ones cost the most to visit and go to those two places first. You can purchase the pass online at Roma Pass. You can select where to pickup the pass from any one of the numerous P.I.T. (Punti d’Informazione Turistica) dotted around the city. Or once you get to Rome, you can also purchase the pass from participating museums/monuments or from the the green information kiosks (P.I.T.). There is a list of participating museums/monuments on the website along with other information about the pass.

The Roma Archeologia Card allows access to the following museums and archeological sites for one price, valid for 7 days (one entry per museum during the 7 days). You also receive a discount on guided tours and audio tours. Another benefit of having either the Roma Archeologia Card is you get to use a special line reserved for those who have cards/passes at the Colosseum (a popular sight), so usually it cuts down on the wait time. Keep an eye out for the special line and do not get into the line with people who are waiting to purchase tickets. 

Unlike the Roma Pass unlimited travel on public transportation is not included. Participating sights include:

The card is available at the museums/sites or at the APT (Rome Tourist Board Visitors Center) in Via Pargi 5. For more information or to purchase tickets online click here. There is a booking fee of 1 Euro (quite reasonable). You will select a day when you would like to pick up it up at the Colosseum.  

Museo Nazionale Romano Card gives you access to the following museums for one price, valid for 7 days (one entry per museum during the 7 days).

Some sights do overlap in connection to the passes. For example both the Roma Pass and the Roma Archeologia Card include the Colosseum, the Forum and the Palatine Hill. Depending on what you are planning on seeing it might be best to buy either one or the other and just pay for the other sights individually. Or you might be spending two or three weeks in Rome and plan on seeing a lot. In which case, buying both might be the better option. You have to sit down and see what sights you are planning on visiting to see which option makes better sense from a savings standpoint.

The following are a few of my favorite museums in Rome:

Museo Dell'Ara Pacis is enclosed by a modern structure designed by Richard Meier, perhaps best known for his design of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The altar made out of exquisite marble is dedicated to Augustus and dates from 1st century B.C. I can understand and sympathize why the Italians were upset because the commission was awarded to Meier by the then major of Rome Francesco Rupelli without an open competition. However, the design works and fits in perfectly with the buildings that were built in the 1930's around the Piazza Augusto Imperatore. I wish people would move on and start working on the sadly neglected Mausoleo di Augusta across the street. And if Richard Meier can come up with a great design so be it.

The Burcardo Theater Museum has a fascinating collection of Italian theater memorabilia housed in an historic palazzo.

The Capitoline Museums (The Museo del Palazzo dei Conservatori and The Museo nuovo) are perched on a hill with a commanding view of the Foro Romano (the Roman Forum). Both museums have splendid collections and there is the added charm of the Piazza del Campidoglio. The piazza is based on a design by Michelangelo.  The web site has an English version.

The Casina delle Civette is what I would call a folly in the grounds of the Villa Torlina (entrance and ticket office located at Via Nomentana, 70). Work began in 1908 on the present building which looks like it came right out of a children’s fairy tale with turrets, porticos and a gabled roof line and appropriately enough the name translates into House of the Owls. Currently housed in 20 rooms is a collection of stained glass along with preparatory drawings and sketches of stained glass designs. I happen to be a big admirer stained glass and enjoyed my visit a lot. There are not many museums dedicated to this art form. Afterwards I took a stroll through the grounds of the Villa Torlonia. Also on the property is a much grander villa constructed in 1806 in the Neo-Classical style and once home to Mussolini is also open as a museum and hosts temporary exhibitions from time to time. For additional information click on the link and it will take you to the website for the park and museums

The Galleria Barberini has a fine collection of art spanning from the 13th - 16th Centuries. The palazzo also sports a spectacular oval spiral staircase designed by Borromini. For a spectacular view of the facade of the palazzo, walk along Via delle Quattro Fontain at night when the the palazzo is lit by floodlights. The museum has been under renovation for many years now. Slowly the building is being restored. Once complete this will be a magnificent setting for an incredible collection of paintings that range from the 14th - 18th centuries. Masterpieces include Caravaggio's sensual Narcissus and his dramatic Judith beheading Holofernes. Another highlight of the collection is the ceiling, The Triumph of Divine Providence by Pietro da Cortona. Don't be embarrased about lying back on the bench in the center of the room to get a better view of the ceiling painting. You are encouraged to do so by the museum staff.

The Galleria Borghese has exquisite sculptures by Bernini and beautiful paintings by Caravaggio and like the Vatican Museums is popular, which is why admittance is by reservation only. Your ticket will have a time when you may enter the museum. Only 360 people are admitted every 2 hours, so the time slots fill up quickly. I usually purchase my ticket ahead of time. The ticket office opens at 9:00 am. The museum is closed on Mondays. The web site has an English version. During the high season it is a good idea to book in advance. The reason I mention this is because a friend of mine just got back from a long weekend in Rome and was disappointed because he wanted to to visit the Borghese, but couldn't’t because the museum was booked up until May 20th.

Galleria Colonna like the Galleria Doria Pamphilj is a private art gallery, however, unlike the Doria Pamphilj this gallery is only open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 1:00pm (closed the entire month of August). What I like about this collection as well as the Doria Pamphilj collection is not only is it first-rate, you get to experience it in the setting that was created specifically to show off these paintings. You also get insight into one of Rome’s wealthiest and most powerful families. You will notice the clocks are still in working order and chime. The Great Hall is lit by huge chandeliers. There are velvet red benches for visitors to sit on to admire the well-kept period rooms and the painting that line the walls.

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is unique in that they it is still owned by the family and not the state. The collection includes Velezquez’s Portrait of Innocent X. The Gallery of Mirrors is quite spectacular. The frescoes are of the Labors of Hercules and are quite lovely. A free audio guide (in English) is included in the admission price. Jonathan Pamphilj the current Prince Doria Pamphilj does the commentary, so it really does feel like a family home (a very large family home, but a family home nonetheless).

Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Moderna encompasses works of the art from the 19th and 20th centuries.  The museum boasts a superb collection of paintings and sculptures along with a good  restaurant to have lunch.

The Museo Nazionale Romano (National Roman Museum) has one of the best collections of ancient Roman art and artifacts. The collection is housed in five locations: the Terme di Diocleziano (Baths of Diocletian), Aula Ottagona, Crypta Balbi, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme (houses the majority of the museums collection)and the Palazzo Altemps (houses a number of the collection’s Roman statues). The Palazzo Altemps dates from 1480 with subsequent  additions. The  palazzo was renovated in the 1990’s for use as a museum.

The Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums) has one of the largest and finest collections of Renaissance art (paintings, sculptor.....) in the world. As a consequence it’s one of the most popular museums in Rome. It’s a good idea to arrive early, a little before opening time. Check their web site for opening and closing times, which vary depending on the  season. To save time waiting in line you can purchase tickets in advance online. Before booking your ticket check the calendar to see if any rooms (such as the Sistine Chapel) will be closed the day you are planning on visiting. If a particular room you want to see is closed when you are planning on going, you might want to adjust your plans accordingly and go on a different day. One of only a handful of museums in Rome open on Mondays, so as you can imagine it does get crowded. Plus the museums are popular to begin with. I find Monday is a good day to do a walking tour or visit one of the parks. I prefer going to the Vatican Museums Wednesday morning because that is when the Pope does is weekly Audience and the crowds seem to be less, at least at the museums. The last Sunday of the month is free, however, it can be really crowded thus making it difficult to enjoy the museum, especially the Sistine Chapel. I would rather pay and go on a less crowded day. I don’t see the point of going somewhere (even if it’s free) if you are not going to have an enjoyable time. As the name implies there are actually a group of museums including The Chiaramonti Museum & New Wing, Egyptian Museum, The Pio-Clementino Museum (Greek and Roman sculptures), Etruscan Museum and the Pinacoteca Vaticana (Picture Gallery); in addition to, The Sistine Chapel, The Borgia Rooms and The Raphael Rooms. To get to the Sistine Chapel and other rooms you pass the through the Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of Tapestries and the Gallery Room. Now after reading the last few sentences you will see what I am getting at - there is a lot to see. Granted the admission ticket is not cheap and is only valid for one visit, but to get the most out of your visit you can't see everything in one day. Besides seeing so much great art in one dose really is mind numbing. For me at least, the most I can spend in a museum while enjoying myself is is 2 or 3 hours. After that I go into a comatose state from all the imagery. What I usually so is divide it up into three separate visits. One day I will visit the the Sistine Chapel, The Raphael Rooms etc. along with a leisurely walk through the Gallery of Maps (one of my favorite rooms) etc. Another day visit the Pio Clementino Museum, Egyptian Museum and so on. On the third day I will visit the Pinacoteca Vaticana. On my first visit I made the mistake of trying to see too much and to this day that visit is just a blur, although I do remember being jostled about in the Sistine Chapel. And this was doing the off season - late November and not on a religious holiday. I do the same thing when I visit the Louvre in Paris except there your ticket is good for an entire day. I visit early in the morning, leave and go for lunch and come back later in the afternoon. Anyway, getting back to the Vatican Museums, I find it's worth the added expense of taking my time and really seeing the collection without feeling the need to rush through to try to get my money's worth. For me, it's important to not only see all these great treasures, but to have the time to really appreciate their beauty. One last thing, be sure to get an audio guide.

The Palazzo Venezia (Museo di Palazzo) has a permanent collection of Byzantine and medieval art the museums also hosts temporary exhibitions from time to time.

The Villa Farnesina was built for Agostino Chigi, a wealthy banker, as a entertainment villa. The finest artists of the Renaissance were employed in decorating this captivating pleasure palace. Balassare Peruzzi was the architect and later went on to finish St. Peter’s Basilica. Some of the beautiful frescoes t are by Raphael.

The Scuderie del Quirinale are the old stables of the Quirinale Palace. The building has been renovated for  temporary art exhibitions. There is a cafe where you can enjoy a cup of coffee after seeing an exhibition. For more information including the current and future exhibitions click on the the link above. You can purchase tickets in advance online. Another venue for temporary exhibits is the The Palazzo Ruspoli on the Via del Corso. This magnificent palazzo was once the home of the Duchess of St. Leu who was Napoleon III’s mother. One other venue I would like to mention is the Cloisters of the church of Santa Maria della Pace, designed by Bramante. In 1997 the cloisters were renovated to house a culture center and to how host temporary exhibitions. For more information (in English) click on the link.

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Churches

The larger churches (basilicas) are generally open  from 7:00 in the morning until about  6:00pm. However, access may be limited during a religious service. In general the smaller churches close around noon and re-open later in the afternoon and stay open until early evening. Many of the  churches are equipped with coin operated lights to illuminate the paintings, which helps tremendously to see and appreciate some of these beautiful works of art.

You will find I tend to visit churches with mosaics, so I would like to mention what mosaics are. They are made up of small pieces stone, colored glass, or other materials. Normally cubic in dimension these small pieces of different colored stone or glass (known as tesserae) are carefully arranged to create a pattern or picture. Now what is so wonderful about this art form, especially with gold colored glass or stones and when positions at an angle, is they reflect the light. San Marco Basilica in Venice is the perfect example. The inside of the basilica literally glows in a golden radiance when light is reflected off the mosaics on the walls and ceiling.

Rome has many churches from the more modest ones like San Giorgio in Velabro to the outrageously baroque extravagance St. Peter’s Basilica. Below I have listed a few churches and basilicas along with why I like them. Of course, Rome has literally hundreds of churches. Every time you walk around a corner there is either another church or a gelato stand, which in either case is a wonderful thing. Rome’s churches hold a treasure trove of artwork including paintings, sculptures and in some cases the building itself like the Pantheon or Sant’Andrea Al Quirinale. I tend to like to spend either the morning or late afternoon just walking around exploring churches. And of course there are a few I go back to whenever I am in Rome.    

Basilica di San Clemente. Fascinating structure because it’s actually several buildings built on top of one another. Street level you have a 12th century church, below there is a 4th century church and further below is a Roman nobleman’s home that served as a church and contains a pagan temple dedicated to Mithras from the 2nd century. I found out about this church from reading a novel by Ngaio March called When in Rome back when I was a teenager. I didn't make the connection until my second trip to Rome. Earlier this year I decided to read the book again in preparation for my next trip to Rome. In the story the murder is committed near the altar of Mithras. I enjoy just wondering around the lower levels taking in the dark cool slightly spooky atmosphere, perfect place for a murder. I also like to spend time admiring the frescoes by Masolino da Panicale that line the walls of the Chapel of St. Catherine. The beautiful mosaics in the apse are from the 12th century.    

The Basilica of Saint Praxedes. In the Chapel of St. Zeno there are some amazing mosaics from the 9th century. I attended an organ concert here once and it was just wonderful.

Sant’Andrea al Quirinale is one of Bernini’s masterpieces. The façade is a tour de force. It is a large single aedicule with a convex, semi-circular portico. On the sides of the forecourt Bernini positioned walls in the form of quarter circles creating a forecourt setback from the street that is welcoming today due to the heavy traffic on the Via del Quirinale. Inside is definitely baroque, yet do to the size of the space you are not overwhelmed and can appreciate the beauty of the pink and gray marble and even gilded and stuccoed decorations don’t seem too much. Up the street on the Via del Quirinale is San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, an oval church designed by Bernini’s rival Borromini and farther along is Santa Maria della Vittoria where you will find Bernini’s masterpiece Ecstasy of St Teresa.

San Giovanni in Laterano. Quite large and ranks in my book as one of the top 5 over-the-top churches in Rome similar in decoration to St. Peters, Chiesa San Luigi dei Francesi and Basilica Saint Andrea delle Fratte. Of course, it doesn’t help to have oversized statues of the Apostles lining the central nave, however, there are certain aspects of the church I really admire including the Cosmatesque pavement and the ceiling dating from 1566. Besides, the ceiling and floor the other highpoint is the cloister. There you will find fragments from the other older churches that once stood on this site. Sadly San Giovanni in Laterano has experienced some bad luck including several fires, one in 1308 and another in 1360. The first time the church was rebuilt by Clement V and Urban V and Gregory XI had the church rebuilt the second time. In the 1600’s Innocent X asked Borromini to rebuild the church in the Baroque style. Needless to say all these rebuilding did leave a few leftovers from the earlier structures. Fortunately, these fragments have been saved and preserved in the cloister. Apart from the fragments (some of which are beautifully crafted stonework) there are some fine examples of Cosmatesque. Twisted columns covered in mosaics along with a mosaic frieze around the top of the courtyard. The well-head dates from the 9th century. There is a lovely small museum that displays among other religious artifacts, a set of Florentine tapestries dating from 1595-1608. Definitely worth the small price for admission to see one of the loveliest cloisters in Rome.

San Giorgio in Velabro. This is another medieval church near Saint Maria in Cosmedin. Founded around the 9th century and built over a Christian diacomia. The campanile (bell tower) dates from the 12th century. In my guidebook I found an interesting bit of information. When I walked in I found the irregular shape intriguing, so I took out my guidebook and read this is possibly due to the church being incorporated into an earlier structure and 16 columns made out of granite and pavonazzetto (a white marble from in Italy) were from that earlier structure. Talking about recycling. I always find it ironic that most the Christian buildings i.e. churches and so on were built using materials from Roman buildings. For example, the over the top baldacchino (figuratively and literally – 100 feet high) in St. Peters was made using melted down bronze from the Pantheon. I think it is wonderful they believed recycling material while at the same time you destroyed one work of art to create another work of art. 

San Luigi dei Francesi. French national church in Rome built between 1518 and 1589 near the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. What brings the crowds though is not so much the church - one of those over-the-top Barque affairs that makes your eyes water, but what lies inside the Contarelli Chapel. There you will find three masterpieces by Caravaggio based on the life of St. Matthew.

Santa Maria del Popolo. Located on the northeast side of the Piazza del Popolo is on the pilgrimage trail for devoted admirers of Caravaggio.  Inside you will find two of his masterpieces, Crucifixion of St. Peter and Conversion of St. Paul, each clearly demonstrates his skill and ability with a paintbrush. The realism and light within the painting is mind boggling. Every time I see these paintings I wonder how he was able to do it. There are a few other features of the church that shouldn’t be missed including the Chigi Chapel (on your left as you first enter the church).

Santa Sabina. Unique in that it is one of the few basilicas in Rome that survives from the early Christian period. It was built by Peter of Illyria 422-32, a priest from Dalmatia, on the site of the house of Sabina, a Roman matron who was martyred in 126 A.D. In 1587 Domenico Fontana altered the church considerably, however, between 1919 and 1937 the church was restored by Antonio Munoz. With a simple, yet elegant interior modeled on the basilicas of Ravenna, this is one of the prettiest churches in a city dominated by the overwrought Baroque. Sadly all that is left of the mosaics that once covered the walls is one section above the doorway showing in gold lettering on a blue grounds is founder’s name (Celestino I) and the date 430, and, at the sides, two female figures who personify the converted Jews and the converted pagans or Gentiles. The nave is divided from the aisles by 24 fluted Corinthian columns. The spandrels of the arcades are decorated with a 5th century marble inlay in opus sectile. And I was blown away by the large windows high above the nave which are transennae, a carved latticework. Around to the side and behind the church there is a pleasant garden with a great view of Rome looking towards central Rome to the northeast and the Vatican to the northwest.

Santi Cosma e Damiano. 6th century mosaics in the apse representing the Second Coming, with the figure of Christ centered against a blue setting as he descends a staircase of clouds. This style was the last phase in the development of late Roman mosaic. The entrance to the church is between the Colosseo and the Victor Emanuel Monument off the Via dei Fori Imperiali up a set of steps. It looks like its part of the Roman Forum, but it is not.

Entertainment

Rome has lot to offer theatergoers both in terms of venues and diversity; unfortunately, you have to have an excellent understanding of the language to truly appreciate and enjoy theater. Occasionally you will find a production performed in English. If your Italian is not up to par don’t worry there are tons of other fun things to do in the evening including concerts, dance, jazz, opera, and the cinema (shown in VO - original language).  There were two cinemas that screen English language movies, The Pasquino in Trastevere and the Warner Village Moderno in the Piazza della Repubblica. The world renowned Orchestra dell’Accademi di Santa Cecilia performs at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, is a modern concert hall designed by Renzo Piano, located north of the city center. The seats are comfortable and the acoustics are great. There are several options getting to and from the concert hall using public transportation. On my last visit I stayed near the Spanish steps, I walked north to the Piazzale Flaminio (just beyond the Piazza del Popolo), caught the number 2 tram and got off at Piazza Mancini. The concert hall is east of piazza and walking took me about 10 or 15 minutes. After the concert I walked west to the Via Flaminia and caught a bus back to the Piazzale Flamino - Piazza del Popolo. Make sure you have a bus ticket because you cannot buy tickets on buses. From the Popolo you can either walk to your hotel or take a taxi. The second option using public transportation is to take the special Linea “M” bus that leaves from the Termini station and stops at the Viale Pietro de Coubertin Auditorium right in front of the complex. Buses leave approximately every 15 minutes starting at 5:00 p.m. Many of the churches host concerts including the All Saints Church Rome , the Anglican church in Rome and St. Paul’s Within the Walls, the American Episcopal Church. For information on performances All Saints Church go to the website for Accademia D'Opera Italiana. I attended a performance of Carmina Burana at St Pauls Within the Walls and I was blown away by the performace and the setting. It was wonderful listening to this powerful piece of music while staring up at frescoes by Pre-Raphaelite genius Edward Burnes-Jones and admiring tiles (designed by William Morris) that line the walls of the church. As far as buying tickets, you have two options 1) you can buy tickets on the day of the performance right before the performance is scheduled to begin or 2) you can purchase tickets online through Classictic. One of the advantages (besides being assured of getting tickets) is reserved seating (my seat was in the second row from the front), so you can arrive just before the performance without any worry about finding a good seat. At the time I booked the tickets I didn't know this so I arrived 6:00 p.m. sharp (the concert was scheduled to begin at 6:30) to make sure I got a decent seat. Head I realized this was not necessary i would been able to do one of my favorite things in Rome - walking around exploring the city. For information on the churches and a schedule of events including concerts click on the links above. The church of Saint’Agnese in Agone in the Piazza Navona is another venue for concerts, which are held in the Sacristy designed by Borromini. The season varies, so be sure to stop in the church when you arrive to see the schedule. Reservations are recommended because the concert series is popular. Another venue I would like to mention is the Cappella Paolina in the  Quirinale. The concerts take place on the first and third Sunday every month and begin at noon. For more information (in Italian only) click on the link. Once on the site click on "I Concerti nella Cappella Paolina". In November The Festival Internazionale di Musica e Arte Sacra takes place and consists of several concerts, each held in a different basilica. Operas and ballets are performed in the beautiful Teatro Opera. The facade is rather austere, however, once inside you will be dazzled by the warmth and luxurious gilt and brocade interior. During the summer season (late June - August) the opera company transfers productions to the Termedi Caracalla (Baths of Caracalla) using the Roman ruins as a backdrop. For live jazz and a fun bar head to Gregory’s, Via Gregoriana, 54 (near the Spanish Steps) Tele: 06 6796386. Two other venues for jazz are Alexanderplatz, Via Ostia 9 (nearest metro station is Ottaviano San Pietro) and the Big Mama (web site is in Italian), Vicolo San Francesco a Ripa 18,  Trastevere. During the summer there is a jazz festival (concerts are held outdoors) at the Villa Celimontana. For a more complete listing of venues and what’s happening consult the publications I mentioned on the main page of GoingEuro Rome.

For information on and to purchase tickets online for classical concert in Rome go to Classictic.com.

Teatro Argentina - Constructed in the 18th century, this sumptuous auditorium is home to the Teatro di Roma.

Teatro Quirino - Posh 19th century theater that puts on plays in Italian by well known playwrights.

Teatro dell'Orologio - Experimental theater, as well as putting on plays in Italian by contemporary and classic playwrights .

Teatro Valle - 18th century theater that houses recitals and modern dance.

Once again on occasion you will find productions that are done in English. When planning your trip check the schedules on the respective websites to see if there are any productions being done in English.

Shopping

Almost Corner Bookshop, 45 Via del Moro (Trastevere) Tele: 06 58 36 942. Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Started by an Irish expat from Kilkenny, Dermot O'Connel this quaint bookshop is definitely worth a visit. Even if you are not in the market for a book or two you should pay Mr. O'Connel a visit. I have a lot respect for people who follow their dreams. To be able to retire to wonderful city like Rome and open a cute little bookshop in one of the most charming areas in the city is a dream come true.

An online source for other bookstores in Rome that would appeal to English speaking visitors is Bookstore Guide - an amateur guide to book shopping throughout Europe

Antiquaria Sant'Angelo, ‎Via del Banco di Santo Spirito, 61, Tele: 06 68 65 944‎. Sells antique prints of Rome, which make elegant keepsakes of a trip in general and the city in particular.

Fabriano, Via del Babuino, 173 (between the Spanish Steps and the Popolo) Tele: 06 326 99 361. Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. High end stationary and leather goods. I bought an exquisite wallet from them. The leather is beautiful. The company has an online boutique that will give you a good idea of the range of their products.

Sergio di Cori, 53 Piazza di Spagna Tele: 39 06 678 44 39. Great selection of gloves at reasonable prices. The web site has an English version about their products along with other information including opening and closing times.

Fornari & Fornari, Via Frattina, 133 Tele: 06 678 0105, is a shop near the Spanish Steps that sells silver and glassware. Back in 2005 I bought a lovely silver bell with a red ribbon for my Christmas tree. Every year since I always put it in the front near the top for everyone to admire. A lovely little memento of a fun trip I took with friends during the Thanksgiving holiday that year.

Cartoleria Pantheon dal 1910, Via della Pantheon, 15 Tele: 06 687 5313. I have been coming here for years. I have purchased everything from photo albums to thank-you cards to pens to a Commedia dell'arte musical box. I especially like their assortment of thank-you cards. I am rather old-fashioned and prefer to send a hand written thank-you cards instead of email. Though I do most of my correspondence by email these days because it's easier, faster and more convenient. Still it's nice every now and then to be able to send off a hand written note.

Stilvetro, Via Frattina, 56 Tele. 06 679 02 58. I bought a beautiful set of colored wine glasses (the kind without the stem) here.

Ruggeri, Piazza Campo dei Fiori, 1 Tele: 06 688 01091. Offers an excellent selection of cheeses and other deli products along with milk, yogurt, juice, tea, coffee, wine and so on. Good to keep in mind if you are staying in an apartment nearby.

Forno Campo de' Fiori, 22 Tele: 06 688 06662. Bakery.

Desparo, Via dei Pettinari. A supermarket near the Campo del' Friori. You can purchase paper products such as Toweling and other household supplies if you are renting an apartment in the area.

For antiques the via Babuino and via Margutta in Tridente between the Piazza del Popolo and The Spanish Steps. The quaint and narrow Via Margutta is lovely for a morning or late afternoon stroll combined with a little window shopping. Be sure to stop in the marble shop run by Enrico Fiorentini, for a keepsake of your trip to Rome. He sells a nice assortment including both small items and big items so you should find something that will fit into your budget. The shop is called La Bottega del Marmoraro, 53B Via Margutta, open 9:00 am-1:00 pm and from 3:30 pm-7:00 pm. Closed in August. Two other streets famous for their antique shops are via dei Coronari and the via Guilia near the Piazza Navona.

Grand Canal Looking Towards Maria della Salute
Grand Canal Looking Towards Maria della Salute