Originally from the island of Sardinia, freelance travel writer Angela Corrias has traveled the globe, living as an expat and racking up nomad cred. Two years ago, she decided to put down roots in the Eternal City, Rome.
Always one to have her cake and eat it, too, Angela celebrates her new home base on her RomeActually blog while chronicling her adventures farther afield on Chasing the Unexpected. The Eternal City continues to earn its moniker with its “never-fading allure,” she says. “Few places make whirling back in time so easy.” Here are a few of her favorite things about Rome.
Rome Is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them to is the Imperial Fora, monumental squares that formed the backbone of the Roman Empire. I know it’s cliché, but they provide tangible insight into the Roman preoccupation with the dolce vita, a passion for the good life that can be traced back to the city’s earliest days. A fitting next step would be the Baths of Caracalla, precious testimony to the predilection Romans have always shown for pampering themselves.
Spring or fall is the best time to visit my city because, being neither too hot nor too cold, it’s a pleasure to spend the day outdoors.
You can see my city best from the narrow alleys of Trastevere, where the traces of the former working-class district mesh beautifully with vestiges of Rome’s imperial past (e.g., ancient pillars left embedded in modern buildings). From here, you can see the old Gasometer, an imposing relic of a bygone industrial era, in the Ostiense neighborhood.
Locals know to skip Giolitti near the Pantheon for “the best gelato” and check out Procopio in Via Avezzana, Gelateria dei Gracchi in Via dei Gracchi, or GROM in Piazza Navona instead.
Trastevere is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. Even though it’s popular among tourists, this lively gentrified area always seems to offer surprises for locals and tourists alike.
In the past, notable people like Emperors Julius Caesar and Augustus have called my city home. Need I say more? Writer Alberto Moravia, writer and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Academy Award-winning actor Anna Magnani have all lived in Rome as well.
My city’s best museum is the open-air city itself, because there’s history everywhere. Julius Caesar walked these same streets. Cringing before the Colosseum at its gory past or imagining a toga-clad Cicero making one of his famous speeches right where it happened will not only allow you to step back in time, it will make you feel a part of history. However, if it’s raining, Centrale Montemartini in the Ostiense neighborhood is a reputable and unconventional stand-in. The former thermoelectric center showcases classic Greek and Roman artwork alongside vestiges of a more modern industrial past.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that (unless you stay downtown) trains, subway, and trams are a better option than buses because they don’t have to contend with the city’s notorious traffic snarls.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is in the vibrant streets and parks of Quadraro, a neighborhood whose colorful street art showcases Rome’s contemporary creative zest. Though Villa Borghese is the most popular park thanks to its centrality, I recommend heading to Villa Doria Pamphili, a gorgeous green expanse that was once the country residence of the noble Pamphili family.
My city really knows how to celebrate its birthday. According to myth, April 21, 753 B.C. is the official date of Rome’s founding, and every year a plethora of events, concerts, conferences, and exhibitions are organized all over the city to commemorate it, starting with a spirited parade along Via dei Fori Imperiali.
You can tell if someone is from my city if she is not fazed by walking cobblestone streets in stilettos.
Just outside my city, you can visit Viterbo, which lies 50 miles northwest of Rome and is easy to reach by train. The mysterious and wonderful town has retained much of its medieval charm (its San Pellegrino district will make you feel like you’ve stepped back a couple of centuries) and, perhaps best of all, won’t be overrun with tourists.
My city is known for being beautiful, but it’s really much more than that. Ancient and modern, chaotic and spectacular, Rome never disappoints.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read 2night.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I stop at Supplizio, an eatery devoted to Italian street food that serves up a great selection of local delicacies in small bites. After that, I take a stroll along the Tiber River and cross its many bridges.
To escape the crowds, I go to the non-Catholic cemetery near the Piramide metro station and marvel at the fascinating interplay of sculptures, poetry, and echoes of lost love.
The dish that represents my city best is tonnarelli cacio e pepe, a delicious pasta dish made with pecorino cheese and pepper, and hot chocolate is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Flavio al Velavevodetto in Via di Monte Testaccio and Said in Via Tiburtina, respectively.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Big Mama in Trastevere, Black Market in the Monti neighborhood, and Alexander Platz (for jazz fans) in Prati are some of the best places to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out the many nightclubs in the Testaccio neighborhood.
Citizens who, after 2,000 years, still maintain the tradition of placing flowers on the site where Julius Caesar was cremated could only happen in my city.
In the spring you should explore Villa Doria Pamphili. Stop for lunch at the mouthwatering Vivi Bistrot or ask the staff at the villa to prepare a take-away meal for you so you can enjoy a makeshift picnic in the park.
In the summer you should enjoy gelato in one of the many ice-cream shops scattered around the city and cool down in a gushing fountain to channel Anita Ekberg in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.
In the fall you should take a long walk around the city and enjoy the romance of the autumn colors.
In the winter you should stroll around Piazza Navona‘s Christmas market. The festive atmosphere never fails to enchant children and adults alike.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Coliseum, where the entire family can see firsthand where the infamously cruel ancient gladiator contests were staged.
The best book about my city is Roman Tales (Racconti Romani), by Roman author Alberto Moravia.