Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rome, Italy (Accommodation, Dining, & Nightlife)

We spent four days and nights in Rome during September of 2011.

Accommodation:
As I had been to Rome previously I more or less had an idea of where I wanted us to stay. During my first trip I stayed about a ten minute bus ride away from the Vatican City, which was much too far from the center.  I knew that I wanted us to be centrally located in Rome near Piazza Navona and also near a major street which would provide quick and easy access to a bus route.

Additionally, having stayed in a variety of lodging throughout Europe (hotel, bed and breakfast, hostel, private apartment) I had come to learn that my first choice was a private apartment. I enjoy the complete privacy an apartment offers: no one to bother you, ask you questions, or awkward moments when the cleaning lady stops by. Additionally, you don't have to worry about making too much noise when coming in late at night or talking. Furthermore, private apartments are usually situated in ideal locations of a city (i.e. historical center) and often feature small kitchens, and eating and sitting areas, which I very much appreciate. Finally, the reason I like to stay in private apartments the most is because they are a great value, often much less expensive than what you would pay to stay at a hotel or bed and breakfast.

Per the advice of a co-worker, I ended up selecting an apartment for us through Rental in Rome. In all other situations where I have rented an apartment, it has always been done after having read reviews on Trip Advisor or user reviews from VRBO. Unfortunately, I had a difficult time finding any sort of reviews on Rental in Rome on the internet period, but I trusted my co-worker and went forward with the rental agreement. We ended up selecting an apartment just off of Campo de' Fiori called Cappellari Hi-Tech Open Space Apartment. The rate was only 110 Euro per night, plus a 20 Euro agency fee. The apartment was housed on the ground floor of a building from the 16th century that had recently been remodeled. Outside the apartment was a beautiful and quiet courtyard. Even though our apartment was only about 100 yards away from Campo de' Fiori, you never would have known for as soon as we opened the door to the courtyard, we were met with silence.
Cappellari Hi-Tech Open Space Apartment
Cappellari Hi-Tech Open Space Apartment
Cappellari Hi-Tech Open Space Apartment
Kitchen in the Cappellari Hi-Tech Open Space Apartment.
Eating and sitting area in the Cappellari Hi-Tech Open Space Apartment.
Bathroom in the Cappellari Hi-Tech Open Space Apartment.
Inner courtyard of the Cappellari Hi-Tech Open Space Apartment.

Dining:
To be completely honest, Rome's dining options overwhelmed us. In hindsight, I should have done more research in advance of specific places we wanted to eat at. Instead, we would often find ourselves wandering around trying to pick a place for dinner that didn't appear to be overly touristy. This not only wasted time, but it caused a lot of stress. Additionally, picking restaurants strictly from just peeking at their posted menus does not provide one any indication of the potential quality of food.

Note: for whatever reason (and much to my disappointment), I did not take many photos of food in Rome so I apologize for the lack of visuals that normally go along with my restaurant descriptions.



Ristorante Pizzeria da Francesco: This small but charming family-run restaurant is located just east of Piazza Navona on an atmospheric tiny little square called Piazza del Fico. We ate a late lunch here on our first day in Rome and both ordered a pizza (the restaurant serves Neapolitan-style pizzas). I had the traditional margherita while Shyawn ordered one with buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto. I enjoyed my pizza immensely as it was the thin crust and delicate cheese flavor that I had been craving for so many years since I had last been in Italy. Shyawn's pizza was also quite flavorful but for some reason there was an abundance of excess moisture which resulted in a very soggy crust. Aside from the disappointing crust, we liked the pizzas and the ambiance of the restaurant. Apparently it's quite normal at dinner time for people to wait in a line for a spot, so do what we did and come for lunch instead to avoid the dinner rush!

Cybo Osteria: This lovely restaurant is also located near Piazza Navona on Via di Tor Millina. We had been going back and forth trying to decide on several restaurants on the same street but eventually made the wise choice to eat here which ended up being our best meal in Rome. Cybo has a very extensive menu including appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, meat and fish dishes. Having completed our cooking class earlier in the day and still feeling a little full we both decided to go with just a pasta dish. I chose the spaghetti pachino, bufala e basilico (spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella) and Shyawn ordered the spaghetti alla carbonara con guanciale (spaghetti with beaten eggs and pork cheek). Both of our dishes were absolutely amazing! The pasta was obviously homemade and the sauces in each of our dishes were incredibley flavorful. Although we didn't get to try many restaurants while in Rome, this one was our favorite by a landslide!

Pizzeria Galleria Sciarra: Prior to visiting the Trevi Fountain on our third night in Rome, we decided to poke around the neighborhood and find a place to eat. Since we had eaten pasta the night prior, we were both in the mood for pizza again. Upon our arrival the restaurant appeared to be filled with more locals than tourists so we figured it was a safe option. We ordered an appetizer plate which included a variety of fried items such as mozzarella and pumpkin flowers. Unfortunately, none of the deep fried items were good so most of it remained uneaten. We ended up getting the same piazza (mozzarella with prosciutto and mushrooms) and it was very tasty. The restaurant is located right next to the Galleria Sciarra which I enjoyed photographing.
Ham and mushroom piazza from Pizzeria Galleria Sciarra.

Pietro al Pantheon: After photographing the Pantheon on our last night in Rome we wandered around Piazza della Rotonda and the nearby side streets aimlessly looking for a place to eat. Every place we found was either super crowded or obviously filled with tourists. After much wandering we finally decided on Pietro al Pantheon on Via dei Pastini. It was a small restaurant that appeared to have been in business for a very long time and thus seemed promising to us. Unfortunately, the restaurant was a dud; neither of our pasta dishes were even remotely good. My pasta was some sort of white cream sauce with tomatoes and pumpkin flowers that I had a difficult time even eating and Shyawn's carbonara dish wasn't much above the edible scale. We left the restaurant not feeling satisfied, nor happy, with our last meal in Rome. Don't make the same mistake we did! Plan your dinner meals in advance so you are guaranteed to have good food.
Outdoor seating at Pietro al Pantheon.
My pasta dish from Pietro al Pantheon. I didn't write down the name of the dish, but it had tomatoes and pumpkin flowers in it.

Grom Gelato: Although we didn't realize it at first, this gelato shop is a chain within Italy and has locations all over the country. Additionally, they also have a few locations in the United States, France, and Japan. Grom prides itself on using the freshest and highest quality of ingredients to make their gelato. They offer some of the traditional gelato flavors, including tiramisu and stracciatella, and other less-familiar flavors, including mirtillo (blueberry) and fico (fig). Be aware that they change some of their flavors every month based on the seasonality of ingredients.
Grom Gelato
Grom Gelato
Shyawn's gelato choices from Grom Gelato; stracciatella and caffe.

Quick meals/snacks/lunch: For those of you on the go in Rome, or those of you that prefer to have one sit-down meal of the day (dinner) and want a quick lunch, grabbing pizza or sandwiches from literally hundreds of take-away shops in Rome is the way to go. It's quick, hot, and cheap. We purchased pizza and sandwiches from several shops on or near Campo de' Fiori and all were excellant.
This is how most take-away pizza places appear in Rome; the pizza is already cooked and ready to go except for being warmed up for a few minutes.
Delicious take-away pizza in Rome.

Nightlife:
We didn't partake in a tremendous amount of nightlife while in Rome, but we did manage to hit a lot of the famous areas (Campo de' Fiori, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon). Out of these, Campo de' Fiori seemed to be the spot that most Italians were actually enjoying. At night, the piazza transforms from its daytime persona of a market into a nightlife spot with restaurants and bars lining its perimeter.
Busy Campo de' Fiori.
Campo de' Fiori.

6 comments:

  1. I LOVE your food pictures, they are magazine worthy! Puts me in the mood to return to Italia prontisimo.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My, wife and 11 years old son, planning a trip to Rome this summer.
    We liked the pictures of the room you posted.
    Do you still have contact information to the owner ?
    Perhaps a phone number, or e-mail address ?
    We found the listing on RENTALIN, but there is no way to communicate to owner directly without booking the room first, unlike to what we use to.
    If you can shear the contact information to the owner - the would be great.
    My e-mail Arsen@new-world-realty.com
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately I don't have contact information for the owner of the apartment we stayed at. We booked directly through www.rentalinrome.com. They are a third party service that manage apartment rentals all throughout Rome. I both spoke and emailed representatives at Rental in Rome without any issues. I also had a co-worker use the company and he had no complaints. You could maybe ask the represenatives at Rental in Rome if they have the contact information for the owner, but they might not be able to share that due to privacy concerns/issues.

      Sorry I couldn't have been of more help! I have rented multiple apartments during my travels and have only dealt with the owners on a few occasions when they handle the rentals themselves. I actually prefer using a company as there seems to be more safeguards this way (i.e. if something happened to the apartment they could place you in another one at no extra cost).

      Delete
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