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Just Back from Rome: Favorites in the Eternal City

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Indagare’s Simone Girner just returned from a trip to the Italian capital—as heady, chaotic and romantic as ever. Here is her mini-guide to her favorite things to do in Rome now.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer for assistance planning a trip to Rome. Our team can match you with the hotels that are right for you, as well as advise on all our favorite activities and must-see sites. 

Favorite Newcomer

Untitled 53, a fantastic little tapas/wine bar run by Mariangela Castellana and Cecilia Moro, who are passionate about local vintages and turn out lovely dishes to share. Reservations a must.

Favorite Ritual

Seeing Caravaggio’s paintings where they were meant to be viewed—in a church—is unforgettable, especially if you plan a visit to avoid the crowds. When the Basilica of Sant’Agostino opens (7:45 a.m.), you may find yourself among local worshippers. Bring €1 to light up the incredible Madonna of Loreto, and read Teju Cole’s superb essay In Dark Times, I Sought Out the Turmoil of Caravaggio’s Paintings before or after a viewing. Piazza di S. Agostino

Favorite Cocktail

In a side street off Piazza del Popolo, the Hotel Locarno has a tucked-away little garden for a serene cocktail (or two). It helps that they make the best Negronis in town. Reservations for an al fresco table essential. 

Favorite Dish

Many Roman classics have disappeared; luckily Al Moro persists. You’re not among locals; the waiters are aloof; the prices an acquired taste—but I will forever take all that in account for the spaghetti Al Moro, an old-school carbonara that is prepared tableside and is perfectly sized so you have room for dessert (after all, Giolitti gelateria is less than a five-minute walk away). 

Favorite Street

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Via dei Coronari. Photos by Simone Girner, courtesy Indagare
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A caffe stop on Via dei Coronari. Photo by Simone Girner, courtesy Indagare
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A caffe stop on Via dei Coronari. Photo by Simone Girner, courtesy Indagare

I love the life and bustle of Via dei Coronari, home to some cute shops (Casa Elfrida; Massimo Alba) and even cuter cafês (Le Coronarie, Casa e Botthege), but, mostly, it’s a mess of pedestrians, Vespas and conversations yelled between the second stories of crumbling houses that is unmistakably Roman.

Favorite Shop

I always stock up on super-soft leather flats at Marta Ray (there are three tiny shops in Rome and one in Florence). The colors are exquisite, and the shoes are so comfortable usually I wear them straight out of the shop—which, considering the walking mileage Rome demands, is saying something.

Insider Tip: Where to Stay

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Courtesy Casa Fabbrini
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Courtesy Casa Fabbrini

For DYI travelers who don’t need full hotel amenities, the suites at Casa Fabbrini are fabulous: spacious, modern and with nice bathrooms (not always a given in Rome), and centrally located in two townhouses between the Spanish Steps and Via del Corso. A concierge is on call (though not on-property), and rooms are serviced daily and come with coffee makers and fresh-baked goods. With your key to the front door, it’s fun to play Roman resident for a few nights.

Overrated

Sadly, on this trip, classic Sant’Eustachio Caffè was thronged with tourists, many of whom didn’t understand that you have to pay for your coffee before ordering. I fled to Caffè Portoghesi (Via dei Portoghesi 7), near Piazza Navona, where the man making the world’s frothiest cappuccinos complained about back pain to a regular, students yelled orders for tramezzini and a well-dressed signora of a certain age fed flakes of cornetto to her corgi. In short, Roman bliss.

Underrated

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Palazzo Altemps. Photo by Simone Girner, courtesy Indagare
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Palazzo Altemps. Photo by Simone Girner, courtesy Indagare

The abundance of treasures of Rome’s national museums are divided between several branches. Palazzo Altemps has a gorgeous collection of classical sculptures that are dramatically displayed in an aristocratic mansion from the 15th century. It’s small enough that it can be toured in an hour. Looks for special exhibitions—the current one about the Bloomsbury Group runs through early February 2023; it’s uncanny how Virginia Woolf’s prose about emptiness and silence resonates in a room with statues from the second century A.D. Piazza di Sant’Apollinare 46

Sister museum Museo dell’Arte Salvata is also worth a visit. Opened this summer, it draws attention to the ongoing global effort to discover, save and return stolen art and artifacts to their countries of origin—in this case, Italy. The design of the changing exhibitions showcases these treasures in a new light.

Top-of-the-List for Next Time

Centrale Montemartini. The anticipated opening for the Rosewood Roma. And getting organized with Rome’s bike-share apps (Bird has lots of e-bikes, which is helpful when you’re trying to get up the Via Appia or exploring Borghese gardens).

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer for assistance planning a trip to Rome. Our team can match you with the hotels that are right for you, as well as advise on all our favorite activities and must-see sites. 

– Simone Girner on December 15, 2022

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