Where to eat near the Vatican: 3Quarti. 3Quarti (in Italian the name means 3/4 or three quarters) is located in Rome’s Prati district, home to Vatican City and Castel Sant’Angelo. It is a restaurant, wine bar and lounge with contemporary style and modern lines. The menu consists of typical Mediterranean cuisine with a modern twist. There is an excellent selection of pasta, fish and Danish meat as well as large salads. An extensive wine list has selections from around the world. Don’t miss out on their signature appetizer “3Quarti”: three small buns made pizza dough browned with Italian extra virgin olive’s oil, and filled with delicacies. Try to save room for the homemade desserts. Bonus: there are a number of gluten free items. Pasta dishes roughly €10-20, meat/fish dishes €15-35.
What to see in Rome: An awe inspiring collection of Rome’s Classical treasures at Palazzo Massimo. The museum has Greek and Roman sculpture, displays of ancient Roman wall paintings and mosaics. There are also objects from every day life such as coins, jewelry and tools. Visitors to the museum get an idea of Roman villas, homes, gardens, taste and trends. Reservations are not needed as the museum is a bit under the radar for most tourists. In some ways it is a much more enjoyable experience than visiting the Colosseum or the Vatican Museums, where one has to fight the crowds of tourists. Palazzo Massimo is one of four museums that are part of the National Museum of Rome.
What to see:
Portrait heads exhibited n on the ground floor. It was common to publicly display portraits to celebrate the achievements of an individual or his family in gardens and parks. The portraits were also shown in the private homes of family members as a reminder of virtue and traditions.
Fragments of Fasti Antiates ancient calendars from Republic Rome. The one shown below has a calendar year of 305 days and 10 months.
Two most important Bronzes of the Ancient Age: The Boxer and the Hellenistic Prince. Both statues were discovered during excavations of Constantine’s Baths on the Quirinale Hill. The fatigue can be read on the Boxer’s face. Red copper inlays show the effects of wounds on his body and face. The statue’s hand and feet are worn from touching – suggesting the statue used to stand in a public building and people touched it for good luck.
Decorations of animal heads from homes. Big cats adorned main horizontal structures and the wolves vertically. Movable rings between the teeth were mainly for ornamental use, often for hanging garland.
The best known statue in the museum is Discus Thrower, which show boldness and complexity of movement. It is a replica of the most accomplished masterpiece of Greek sculptor Miro.
Objects of daily life:
The largest coin collection in Italy sits in the basement of the museum. The coins are displayed chronologically from 4th century BC bronze coins to current day Euro.
The highlight of the museum is the garden painted room of Villa of Livia. Livia was the wife of Emperor Augustus. The 6m x 12m (20ft X 40ft) room is a masterpiece of Ancient painting. It was decorated to look like a garden rich in plants, trees and birds. It was not intended to represent a real garden but an artificial one. Plants and flowers are painted at the height of their bloom without taking in to consideration the various seasons. The effect is a walled garden, a place of tranquility and repose coveted by poets and writers as a refuge from the anxieties of public life. There is seating in the room so take some time to take in the beauty of this work as pictures cannot begin to due it justice.
Cefalú: the perfect beach holiday. The Sicilian fishing town of Cefalú is just the right size – it’s small enough that you escape the noise and chaos of a city but just large enough that there is a large selection of restaurants. You won’t be tripping over the same places day after day. It is best known for its crescent shaped sand beach that is major tourist destination during the summer. The crystal clear water with gentle waves rolling in on the sand beaches make it the ideal spot for a relaxing beach stay.
The ancient city is in the province of Palermo, located on the northern coast of Sicily on the Tyrrhenian Sea. High above the town is the cliff La Rocca where Arabs built their citadel. They lived there until 1061 when they were forced down the mountain by the Normans. A hiking path leads to the top of the crag but this climb is not for the weary. It’s a steep trail with lots of steps so proper footwear is a must. Those willing to make the ascent are rewarded with stunning view of Cefalú and of the sea, plus the 4th-century ruins of the Tempio di Diana. Like every other Italian town, Cefalú’s duomo is worthy of a visit. The 12-century building features stunning mosaics and because it was established as a Norman church Jesus is shown with blonde hair.
Where to eat:
Ristorante Kentia al Trappitu
Eating dinner on the terrace of this elegant restaurant while the sun sets over the sea was one of the highlights of our trip. There is wide selection of the fresh, local seafood as well as a vegetarian menu and pizza. Via Carlo Ortolani di Bordonaro, 96.
Mové This was our go to lunch spot, although it is also open at night. Located on the beach promenade their wide selection of salads hit the spot on hot summer days. The menu features a variety of items including fantastic Casarecce swordfish. Lungomare Giardina, 10/11.
Il Carretto Trattoria con Pizzeria We asked several locals for their recommendation for the best pizza in Cefalú and every one responded with “Il Carretto.” Fantastic pizza! Via Mandralisca, 66.
Tucked in one of streets in the center of Cefalú is the intimate Il Normanno. The staff is very accommodating and takes a vested interest in making sure each meal is flawless. Dishes include risotto with citrus, almond and grouper and a pork fillet crusted with pistachio and a chocolate sauce. Via Vanni, 9.
Where to stay:
This small hotel has large rooms and perhaps the biggest bathroom I have ever seen in Italy. There was more wardrobe and storage space than we could fill. It is located off the beach promenade, outside of the center of town. That equates to wonderful sea views and a very quiet sleep. No worries about being too far away, the action is only a 5-minute walk from the hotel. Breakfast on the terrace with sea breezes is a great way to start the day. Guests can enjoy the benefits of an agreement the hotel has a couple nearby beach clubs. Via Maestro V. Pintorno, 101.
What to see in Rome: Aventine Hill. The Aventine Hill is one of the seven hills of ancient Rome. Today it is a peaceful, wealthy residential area with beautifully landscaped streets and gardens. It is an often overlooked area of Rome but one worth exploring, especially for its views across the Tiber River to Trastevere and St Peter’s.
Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta (Knights of Malta) is surrounded by cypress trees and ornate walls decorated with obelisks and military trophies. The square features a large gate with an assuming green door. Peer through the door’s bronze keyhole to view to the perfectly framed dome of St Peter’s Basilica a few miles away, across the Tiber River.
Across the piazza on land donated by the Knights of Malta to the Benedictines, is the Benedictine Seminary and Church of Sant’Anselmo. The church is known for its Gregorian chants offered by the monks daily at 7:15p. Also onsite a gift shop selling liquors, marmalade, honey, handmade soap and cremes made by the Benedictines. If you don’t want to return with a simple t-shirt as a souvenir this is the perfect spot to pick up gifts for friends and family. There is also a large selection of religious objects, books and CDs.
Stop by this church and take in the original cypress doors, carved with scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The mosaics above the main door and the floor are originals. Ask to the see the 13th century cloister and cell of St Dominic who lived here before his death in 1221.
The Orange Garden, also known as Parco Savello, is considered one of the most impressive panoramic view of Rome. The name comes from the bitter orange trees in the garden. Bring your own bottle (and opener!) and watch the sunset.
Summer Nights at Castel Sant’Angelo allows special access to areas of the museum usually closed to the public.
Castel Sant’Angelo holds within its walls not just Emperor Hadrian’s burial chamber, but memories of Rome’s violent past. It was renamed after a pope had a vision of Archangel Michael sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590 AD. It was converted into a castle and Pope Nicholas III created the Passetto di Borgo – a covered passageway connecting the Vatican to Castel Sant’Angelo to be used as an emergency escape route. It was used a fortress during the Sack of Rome and later became an infamous prison. Today visitors of all ages enjoy exploring the Castel Sant’Angelo’s fortifications, hidden chambers, catapults & cannons, and papal suites.
During the special summer night openings visitors can walk along part of the Passetto di Borgo, view the prisons and see the Renaissance bathroom of Pope Clement VII. There are also free concerts nightly as well as a bar and restaurant. The views from the top of the castle are not to be missed.
Lungotevere Castello, 50
Open: Tuesday-Sunday, 8:30p-1:00A until September 7
Entry fee: € 10
Guided tours are included in the entry free by booking is mandatory: Tel. +39 06 32810. Tours in English are available at 9:00p, 10:00p and 11:00p.
Summer in Rome is hot & sticky. But there are some ways to make the experience more enjoyable. Here are tips to Survive Rome in the Summer:
Stay hydrated by drinking water. Buy a bottle of water and refill it for free at one of the many water fountains throughout the city. Cold, clear, fresh water streams out of twenty-four hours a day. Use this free iPhone app to find the nearest water fountain to your location.
Drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. Eat high-water foods such as cantaloupe, watermelon, berries and tomatoes. These foods provide minerals like sodium and potassium to help your body hold on to water.
Siestas Romans siestas are famous for a reason. There is no reason to be out in the heat of the day.There is no shade at the Roman Forum – so don’t schedule a visit it at 2p. Start the day early, take an afternoon nap when the temperatures reach the highest point and then head out again as it begins to cool off.
Castel Sant’Angelo is open at night (closed Mondays) until September 7 with jazz concerts and a rooftop bar & restaurant. Free evening tours include Passetto di Borgo (passage linking the passage linking the former papal fortress to the Vatican), prison cells and believe it or not – a papal bathroom!
“Cool” Sights Underground sights such as ruins below the Basilica of San Clemente offer relief to outdoor temps. Pop in to a church where you will find more than religion. Rome’s churches also contain architecture, art and history. The thick stone walls keep churches cool.
Italy’s beaches have public areas and private areas. The public area is free. Stake your claim by laying down your beach towel. Beaches also have private beach clubs. You do not need to be a member to enter. Daily admission is available and the price comes with sun beds/chairs and umbrellas – plus access to a bathroom. Most beach clubs have bars and restaurants.
It will not win any awards for being the most beautiful beach but it is the closest one to Rome. In the summer the coast is filled with bars, restaurants, and clubs.
How to get there: Take Metro Line B to the stop Piramide then transfer to the Ostia-Lido (using the same ticket). Get off at the Ostia Lido Centro. The beach is short walk from the station.
Santa Marinella Beach About an hour by train from Rome Termini Station is the town of Santa Marinella. Santa Marinella has good sand beaches and clear water for swimming. It’s a charming summer beach town with great seafood restaurants. For train schedules visit Trenitalia.
Sperlonga Beach Sperlonga is a lovely coastal resort town between Rome and Naples. Its beaches consistently win Blue Flag awards for high environmental and quality standards. Shops, bars and restaurants are abundant. To reach Sperlonga take a train from Rome Termini Station to Fondi-Sperlonga and then take a bus to Sperlonga from outside the station. It’s well worth an overnight trip if you can spare the time.
POOLS IN ROME
Enjoy a day in the sun between dips in a pool without traveling out of the city.
Piscina delle Rose Club: €16 per person for sunbed, umbrella and pool. Fitness center, canoe rental and restaurant also onsite. Open daily. How to get there: Take Metro Line B to stop EUR Palasport.
OS Club – Os Club is a restaurant and night club located near the Colosseum, close to the Colle Oppia Park. During the summer it also hosts a temporary pool. €12 per person for sunbed, towel and pool Tuesday-Thursday, €15 Friday-Saturday, €20 Sunday. Closed Mondays. How to get there: Take Metro Line B to stop Cavour.
Last, but not least, the best way to beat the heat is to enjoy a gelato. Check out Food Guru Katie Parla’s Gelato Guide for the best in Rome.
Where to eat on a budget: Pasta Imperiale. A good meal in Rome does not need to cost a lot of money. Head to Pasta Imperiale for a simple, inexpensive meal without giving up any quality. It’s just a couple minutes on foot from Piazza Navona. Pasta Imperiale offers pasta handmade on the premises as well as freshly made sandwiches. Pick out your pasta and choose your sauce and within minutes you have a meal. It’s a small place with just a handful of tables. This is a no frills place with items are served on plastic plates with plastic forks. Take your order to go and you will receive a cute little carton that you can eat directly from. Pastas are only €5.50 and sandwiches are €6.50. Add a desert of tiramisu or pastry filled with nutella.
Where to Eat in the Jewish Ghetto: Da Benito. This osteria offer simple, basic and genuine Roman food in a rustic atmosphere. It’s tucked on a quiet little street near the Fontane delle Tartarughe (The Turtle Fountain) at Piazza Mattei. In 1967 Benito Mercuri open Da Benito and two years ago childhood friends took over the establishment. Nicola Defino and Massimo Baroni fulfilled their dream of opening a restaurant together. It has quickly become a hotspot for business lunches and intimate dinners.
The cuisine combines traditional recipes with modern cooking techniques. The dishes consist of the freshest ingredients from the finest sources. Quality is a top priority. Because of this the menu changes daily – sometimes even in the middle of service – depending on what is available. A large blackboard in the dining room has the daily menu handwritten in Italian. Start with the appetizer tasting to experience a variety of flavors. The lamb cooked for thirty-six hours is a menu highlight. The slow cooking technique delivers incredible tenderness to the meat.
This is not the place to go for a quick meal. But if you are looking for a spot to relax and enjoy a fine meal while chatting with friends or loved ones Da Benito is a great pick. Service can be slow and/or sporadic, especially if a tourist needs the menu translated. You’ll quickly forget that you may have waited for your meal once you taste it. After all, good things come to those that wait.
Cooking classes: Da Benito offers cooking classes on Saturday mornings. A chef oversees the creation of an entire meal which is then enjoyed for lunch. Contact them directly for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the best tours in Rome is the Colosseum Underground and Third Ring Tour. Even if you’ve seen the Colosseum before it’s well worth another visit to view these VIP areas and walk the arena floor. The only way to view them is with a guided tour. General admission tickets do not grant access to these restricted zones. Tours are offered directly from the Colosseum via CoopCulture or through select authorized tour companies such as Walks of Italy. By taking a tour you will also be able to skip the long ticket long.
A tunnel the gladiators used to enter the Colosseum
The middle arch is where large animals such as elephants and giraffes entered and victorious gladiators exited
A tour guide will enhance your visit by explaining how the Colosseum was built and sharing nuggets of information. For example, most gladiators did not face death at the end of a match. It was simply too expensive to loose a gladiator after paying for training and living expenses if the warriors had a short life. Another little know fact: there were female gladiators! A guide will share how the games were conducted and explain out once and for all the answer to the debated question of whether Christians were martyred at the Colosseum. Plus you’ll see the tunnels the gladiators walked to enter the amphitheater. Also in the underground the system of pulleys and trapdoors below the stadium floor will be explained. This finely timed system allowed animals and fighters to suddenly appear in the ring to the delight of spectators. The highest level of the Colosseum still existing is the third tier where ordinary Roman citizens watched the games. The view from the here is priceless.
NEW: Just in time for summer, Colosseum underground and third ring tours are now available on Thursday and Saturday nights until November 1. Not only does a night visit free up your day to see other sights, it is less crowded – and seeing the Colosseum under the glow of moonlight is an experience not to be missed.
How to reserve the Colosseum Underground and Third Ring Tour:
CoopCulture (bookings not available online – reservations by phone only, English speaking operators available)
Telephone: +39 06 399 67 700
Just a few blocks from the Pantheon is one of the best places to eat in Rome: Osteria del Sostegno. Think you can’t find authentic Roman food near a major attraction? Think again! Osteria del Sostgeno is an intimate restaurant tucked in a small alley between the Pantheon and the Parliament. It is a spot frequented by locals as well as politicians discussing the latest issues. We love this place for its fabulous house red wine and fantastic olive oil purchased directly from a local producer. The fresh ingredients turn simple dishes into something extraordinary. The restaurant can be a slightly hard to find. Once on Via delle Colonnelle look for the neon “Trattoria” sign that points to the alley. Prices are modest, with pasta dishes typically €8-12 and meat dishes €10-20
Osteria Del Sostegno Via delle Colonnelle 5
Tel: +39 06 673842 – Reservations recommended for dinner. Open Tue-Sun for lunch; Tues-Sat for dinner. Closed Mondays.
Look for the Trattoria sign – Osteria del Sostegno