Thursday, October 25, 2012


Ask Someone Who Recently Went to Rome

What's the shortest amount of time someone could/should/would reasonably spend there? Like a really long weekend wouldn't be enough, right?

I've actually done both — the first time I stayed three nights and this time six — and I can tell you there is never too little or too much of Rome. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is truly one of those cities that expands and contracts to fit your plan. New York is this way, where you can hop in for a 24-hour party and hop back out, but if you sit still for a minute, you start to picture yourself living there.

Okay, you could probably read this anywhere, but I'll give you my tiny synopsis of Rome: the central part of Rome — the part in this free map someone inevitably hands you almost the second you step off the plane (okay, not really, they have them at the train or bus or shuttle ticket window as you leave the airport) — that part is all walkable and made up of little tiny self-contained neighborhoods with pedestrian squares called "piazzas" that you can find just by opening your eyes. If you're only there for two days, hit a monument or two, eat some great meals, wander aimlessly, do a little shopping, and call it a perfect weekend.

On the other hand, Rome is so old that there layers upon layers of things to see. Depending on your level of interest in antiquity/the Middle Ages/the Renaissance/modern art and design/FOOD, you could be there forever and ever, amen. It was also recommended that we try a day or overnight trip to Florence or Naples or Sorrento by train. Supposedly those are very easy, but we were too lazy to be bothered.

Every day at 5:30 P.M., this church has an automated presentation about St. Ignatius. There are moving parts.

How many pieces of luggage did you bring, and please list every single item that was in each of them. Just kidding, but could you get away with just a little carry on? Or do you have to look snazzy at places, and stuff?

I brought one 22" carry on suitcase and a tote bag. I know this sounds ridiculous, but hear me out: I tend to wear my heels — in this case high heeled boots because it was fall — to the airport since they take up so much room and I don't want them to get smashed in my luggage. Besides, I take them off the minute I'm on the plane anyway. I packed two dresses that I can, and did, dress up and down, one pair of jeans, two pairs of leggings, a long sweater and long shirt, a few tanks, and a jean jacket that I also wore to the airport. There's laundry joints all over if you need them. You must bring at least one pair of comfy walking around sneakers, and I kept worrying that with the leggings/sweater/sneakers, I'd look like I was going to the gym in my pajamas. Normally, that would be fine, but I'm in ROME and everyone is so beautiful and put together. But in fact, if your tennies are streamlined enough, you just look Euro! And then I brought another pair of flats for going out to dinner when I didn't want to wear heels. Much of Rome is cobblestone, so you might want to skip heels altogether, though I'drather die. I still had some room in my luggage after all of that in case of shopping.

Hotel, inn, or 'partment?

Hotels, like hotel-hotels, are expensive, and personally, not quite worth it. I have asked for a tour of some rooms after dining in a hotel's restaurant for example, and the finishes are nice, but they're all small and there's no kitchen and they cost hundreds of American dollars a night. The first time I went, I stayed at a $100/night B&B my mom's friend recommended and it was where I learned that most rooms in Rome — public and private — contain an espresso maker. Glorious. Anyway, that room was nice and it had giant shutters that opened onto a gorgeous view of a super Roman looking little street and there were marble floors and free breakfast and a cool old manual elevator. But it was across the river to the west near the Vatican and I had kind of a scary, dark walk through a tunnel to the center of town and back. It didn't stop me from going anywhere or having fun, but this time I decided we should stay in the central part of town. We found a little one bedroom apartment through Airbnb near the Trevi Fountain for $120 US/night. During the day it was a busy and noisy area, but much of Rome gets pretty quiet after midnight, so it didn't bother us.

Having an apartment, too, means that you can refrigerate wine and cheese and open wine and serve cheese and use real dishes and lay on a couch and read with the shutters open. (Shutters everywhere!) When you have more than a day in Rome, you end up reading for a good chunk of time either to fight jet lag, pass a lazy morning, or while you're out at a cafe. (I say this as someone who is not into opera or theater (sorry, Nicole!) and doesn't know Italian, so entertainment was limited.) La Feltrinelli– a big chain bookstore there — has an English language section and the cover art is often different than editions you'd find in the US, so that's fun.

What did you read while you were there?

Oh, I picked a real doozy, after failing to get into Cloud Atlas. I read Swerve, "a provocative book arguing that an obscure work of philosophy, discovered nearly 600 years ago, changed the course of history by anticipating the science and sensibilities of today," which just won the Pulitzer for nonfiction. I know that sounds daunting/boring, but it's kind of a romp — lots of fun Pope scandals and treasure-hunting — and it's accesible and interesting. Plus, I had never even read the "obscure work of philosophy", On the Nature of Things by Lucretius (an epic poem now readily found anywhere), and I still "enjoyed" it. BUT! It's fucking heavy in parts, man. SPOILER ALERT: We're all going to die and nothing means anything. Upshot: according to the poem, seeking pleasure and minimizing pain should be our highest aim. I like that. It made a hell of a lot of sense in Rome. The book also has this wonderful line about death: "You will not care, because you will not exist." You will not care, because you will not exist. You will not care, because you will not exist.

Is everyone in Rome always wearing really great jeans? Or did I just make that up in my head?

Jeans, sure, but the suits? Oh MY god, the suits. I think my husband almost left me for about 100 men in suits and I would not have blamed him. Just gorgeous, gorgeous suits. And overcoats. And scarves. Like this, no kidding.

I noticed three stand-out looks for women, aside from suits, which many wear as well:

1. Cuffed jeans, Tod's style cool loafers or brightly-colored oxfords, button-down or silk tank, a spiffy blazer, scarf. Hair all wild and curly and bold glasses.

2. Eileen Fisher, only probably handmade by "textile artists" in Italy, so better.

3. Flowery dresses, again with a blazer and a scarf. Long, straight hair. A hat. Sunglasses. Perpetually 29 years old. Riding a bike or Vespa. These were everywhere.

I just want to hear about the food. What was the first thing you ate when you got there, and what was the last thing?

The very first thing was, haha, this croissant and espresso at the train station/bus shuttle stand at the airport. EVERYTHING IS BETTER IN ROME, did I say that yet? Everything. That is why "Made in Italy" used to mean it was special. You should see the leather gloves and hats. Anyway, even train station croissants are better. Roman croissants are a little orangey and they are topped with sugar.

Once we got into town and settled, we stumbled around and found a tiny piazza — these are every few streets, an empty block that is usually bordered by restaurants with outdoor seating and some touristy stores — for homemade pasta and a glass of wine. I had the fettucine all'Amatriciana. Standard pastas like that one, cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), and carbonara are done decently at a lot of little restaurants, so try a bunch. The last thing I ate was pizza at 4 A.M. Hardly any place is open then, so you take what you can get.

And what was the best thing, and the worst thing?

The worst was that pizza, but that's just because it was old. There are so many "bests" in Rome. We tried a few Time Out recommendations and both were amazing: at Roscioli I got fresh burrata with local anchovies that had been caught this spring, and at Matricianella I had the best gnocchi of my life. One night we splurged and had dinner at a fancy restaurant we saw on No Reservations. The decor and service were dreamy, and the veal was out of control, but in hindsight, no more satisfying than the panino we'd share at whatever cafe in the morning. Mmm, melty cheese. And we also found some excellent food on our own just by chance. I wish I could remember the names of some places, but who cares? A lot of the fun is finding them. The streets — just the look of them, all skinny and wind-y, and cobblestoned, and closed in by three- and four-story terracotta apartment buildings with flower boxes in the windows — they draw you in against your will and you spend hours wandering, so just go with it.

Dusk near Piazza Navona.

Two food-related things make Rome one of my favorite places. The first is that all cafes — and there are, in my estimation, as many as two per block — are also bars. WHAT? Yes, a cafe is a bar and a bar is a cafe. And second, from roughly 4-5 P.M to 7-9 P.M., at many bars and restaurants, they have a happy hour called "aperitivo." One we went to more than once for the scene — particularly fashionable, older, local businesspeople chatting heatedly in Italian — is Ciampini. "Aperitivo" is a selection of appetizers, either brought to the table or buffet-style, that come free with a cocktail or wine purchase. Often it's just pistachios and salami and cheese and olives. Which, I don't know why I just said "it's just" because that was all awesome? But some places go all-out. At Casa & Bottega I had a Negroni with focaccia, quiche, crostini, grilled sqaush, and a barley salad. Just go door-to-door asking, "Aperitivo?"

Did anyone touch you in a way you didn't want? I guess that sounds like I mean it specific to Italians, but I'd ask that of anyone who went anywhere. (Open thread in the comments?)

No, but a few times, maybe two or three, when I'd get three steps ahead of my guy, men sitting at cafes would make really loud, obvious, kissy sounds from like two feet away. It was cartoonishly funny. But no, no touching. I don't know, it's super lame to generalize because more often than not it depends who you're with and where you are exactly and there are so many other factors, BUT, my impression of Romans has been that they are unusually friendly and polite, while still being wry and funny and sassy and charming. Good time folks. I've met like two service people there who were in genuinely bad moods, and on the street, no one even notices you because it's a big city and they have their own shit to worry about.

I was in Rome — maybe, seven years ago — and there was so much graffiti on ancient buildings and beautiful fountains and such, and it depressed me a little. Is the graffiti still there?

And now a chance to talk about the Colosseum! I took the audio tour on the advice of a friend and it was great but what he failed to mention is that you get to skip the hours-long line when you do that and it only costs an extra 5 euro. Boo-ya. Did you know that the Colosseum is right in the middle of town? Like, people have apartments across the street, for real. It's not at all what we were taught, America! (If you find yourself in that area, make a pit stop at San Pietro in Vincoli to check out Michelangelo's Moses. Holy shit, for real. I got lost on my way there once, but then I heard an accordion playing and looked up a steep stairway to see a man with the box and a woman dressed like a beautiful fortune-teller, so I walked up there to listen and OMG IT WAS THE ENTRANCE!) Anyway, I may have hallucinated this, but in the audio tour of the Colosseum they mentioned ancient graffiti being on one of the pieces of marble there. I bring that up just to say that as long as there have been people and scratchable surfaces, there's been graffiti. Nothing you can do, other than not contribute, so don't worry about it! And I do not condone it, but the spray paint variety just signals to me "you are now entering a city" which in turn makes me excited. I dunno.

How much does a glass of wine cost at one of the cafes or wine bars or whatever it is that I'm envisioning you lounging around in all day? Not in a bad way, but that's all I can picture. 

And I did! We did pretty much just wander from cafe to cafe with books in my bag. You can find a cheap glass most places for around $5 — sometimes less? The more expensive glasses are at fancier wine bars, restaurants, and at some of those aperitivo hour places, but again, so worth it. Here's a money-saving tip: at many of these ubiquitous cafes, there's staggered pricing depending on where in the establishment you want to drink — and this includes coffee. The cheapest place is standing — literally standing — at the bar, the most expensive is sitting on the sidewalk. I know standing, all alone, at a bar in a busy cafe in America doesn't sound so awesome, but it's SUPER HOT in Rome, I promise.

What did you bring back?

Not much. I found myself a little overwhelmed by all the nice fashions and really couldn't decide on any one thing. The place is also super-saturated with tourist goods, and the prices on clothes you could get here are quite inflated, so it didn't seem sensible to do a lot of shopping there. We did get a little plaque for our house carved by this dude with a cramped studio on a side street full of art galleries near Piazza del Popolo. I also touched everything at Dolce & Gabbana and tried on some ballet flats at some "handmade Italian shoes" place, but in the end, everything seemed too expensive or breakable to fly with, so I just keep eating and drinking my allowance with abandon. Last time, I spent hours in this odd antique photo store — their collection is endless — and I came back with some real winners.

What thing did you try/ do/ see on the trip that you most wanted to take home/ wish were a feature of your life here?

Typical answer, but I wish we could take things a little slower and have more breaks in our day for simple pleasures like an afternoon shot of espresso and a sweet pastry, or a discussion. That is one of the stand-out memories: so many boisterous discussions taking place during daylight hours. Folks there find time to sit around in public and talk to each other, somehow. And I cannot believe that aperitivo thing doesn't exist here. I mean, it does, but in a "hot tray full of taquitos" kind of way. It kind of makes me want to open a bar, but there has to be some reason it wouldn't fly in this godforsaken place.

126 Comments / Post A Comment

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

The history on display in Rome is so incredible and incomparable. The food available is amazing. But it's still a big city, and that can weigh on you. If you want the apertivos, fashion and food, but not as many people, go to Florence.


Congratulations, welcome back, missed you, thx for the vicarious vacation!

Jane Marie

@churlishgreen haha, thank you/thank you/missed you more/you're welcome!

The Lady of Shalott

JANE! Your trip sounds delightful and lovely in all the right ways and I hope you enjoyed it!

And how exciting is it to type "my husband?" Congratulations again and welcome baaaaack!!!

Jane Marie

@The Lady of Shalott thanks! he has been whipping out "wife" liiiiike every time the phone rings? literally he said it to the geek squad dude yesterday and it gave me a start.

The Lady of Shalott

@Jane Marie :D :D :D :D :D


@Jane Marie Ha, my husband would just yell "YOU'RE MY WIFE" like once a week for months after we got married. Congrats to you both!


I studied abroad in Rome and it was one of the best experiences of my life. My mom had to threaten to come get me if I didn't get my ass on the plane at the end of those 4 months.

Thank you for reviving my own great memories!

Jane Marie

@HeyMatilda ooh where did you live?


@Jane Marie I lived in Trastevere which is considered the last truly localized Roman neighborhood in the city. The apartment was within walking distance of the Vatican so we would take late afternoon trips to Old Bridge Gelato and then mull around St. Peter's and walk back along the Tiber. It was an experience to live in the less-traveled section of the city but a nice reprieve from tourists. I would live there in a heartbeat if the Italian government was more lenient in hiring US citizens!

Jane Marie

@HeyMatilda we tried for dinner over there and ended up at a cool cafe/art gallery instead and then, duh, wandered. it's a very romantic and beautiful hood, and quiet. jealous!


@HeyMatilda I got sooo lost on the windy cobblestone streets in Trastevere last time I was in Rome. We walked by a salon so my boyfriend got a haircut, then eventually we got unlost.

Jane Marie

@xx-xx-xx perfect.


@HeyMatilda Trastevere is the best! (And I'd be there too if I could get a job legally & easily!)

like a rabid squirrel

@HeyMatilda Did you do the St. John's program? I know a bunch of people who did, and when I studied abroad there in 2009 (just for a winter break) they let us watch the inauguration on their campus. :)

Be But Little

@HeyMatilda I lived in Rome too! I went to the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies. I also studied at the American Academy of Rome, so I spent a lot of time wandering from the Centro on the Janiculum Hill to Trastevere. Trastevere has the best, authentic night life. My favorite bar there is Cioccolato e Vino, which is exactly what it sounds like: get the rum shot in a chocolate glass!

Also, the best place to get gelato is San Crispino. It's a couple of blocks away from the Trevi fountain. They don't use any artificial coloring or flavors in their gelato, and they cover it up in metal containers (most places display their gelato with the corresponding flavor; i.e. fragola has some decorative strawberries on it, etc.) BUT IT IS SO GOOD! My favorite is the honey flavor, and this is saying something because usually I'm a pistachio kind of girl.

Beatrix Kiddo

@HeyMatilda I studied abroad in Florence, but I wish I'd studied in Rome instead!


@like a rabid squirrel I did the SAI program at John Cabot. Not sure where the St. John's campus is/was? I know there are several different programs around the city including one from Temple too.

@Be But Little How long did you study there? All four years? I LOVE San Crispino. You are a lady after my own heart. I am well versed in the study of gelato.

like a rabid squirrel

@HeyMatilda Ah yes John Cabot! That's what I meant! I just knew it was in Trastevere.

Be But Little

@HeyMatilda I was only there for five months (early 2011). I wish I could have studied there all four years! I spent most of college holed up in the middle-of-nowhere Tennessee. I'm hoping to spend at least six months in Rome as a grad student but... eh, we'll see.

San Crispino is the best! I'm so glad you went there! It's a little hard to find, but it's worth it for all that delicious gelato.


Ah, that sounds lovely! I've never actually ranked Italy very high on my travel wishlist (first things first I want to go back to Germany) but oh my goddddd the pasta sounds incredible. I love pasta with all my heart and make carbonara probably once every two weeks.

Also, I love your comment on graffiti--I think graffiti is neat! I mean, it can be disrespectful and awful too, but I saw so much beautiful and interesting graffiti in Germany. My favorite was just a small note that someone had scrawled that said "NAZIS RAUS." (Also in a park near my house last week someone did a big graffiti'd face on a wall and on the other side wrote "FUCK YO COUCH" but Parks & Rec or whoever painted over it before I got a chance to take a picture. :( )


@frigwiggin Then again I also saw this in Germany, and who wouldn't want to go back after seeing that? (In case you can't tell, it's the cab of a garbage truck airbrushed with characters from Star Trek Voyager.)

Jane Marie

@frigwiggin that is a hot truck.


@frigwiggin Italy is AMAZING. If you do go, definitely travel to the south and Sicily. Rolling hills, olive trees everywhere, amazing homemade wine.


@meetapossum Sicily is so great! Incredible ancient Greek stuff too. SO ANCIENT. And it's hot, which is good.

But by the end I was like - can we eat something other than pasta or fish? Or decadent pastries or ice cream? Please? Don't shoot me.

It made me realize how historically anomalous it is to be a person who consistently has access to a wide variety of fresh foods from a wide variety of cultural traditions, and who can afford to eat basically whatever she wants whenever.


@frigwiggin When I studied in Athens there was this van always parked outside of our apartment that had various weird/hippie artwork on it. The kicker was the big message on the side that proclaimed, "Friedrich Nietzsche Loves You."


@RobotsNeedLove I spent Christmas in Calabria with my friend's family, and oh god, the food. So delicious, but SO MUCH pasta and fish. We had had Christmas lunch and went back to her aunt and uncle's house. It was just the four of us, and we had eaten, but she still made us pasta. I got a few bites down and said to my friend, "I don't think I can eat anymore." She relayed that to her aunt, who replied:

"Oh, I only made 2 kilos."

ONLY 2 kilos.
Four pounds of pasta for four people??? Oof.

polka dots vs stripes

That sounds so awesome and CONGRATULATIONS JANE!

Italy is on my ultimate travel wishlist, but mostly Florence because my family is from there, and then the Alps just because.

And then the rest of the world and all 50 states. NBD. I'll get it done.


I taught at a summer school outside of Rome for a few weeks in 2003 and haven't been back to Italy since then. Why I ask myself. Then I remember, it's because you were too busy living in Sydney, living in Glasgow, getting degrees, teaching in Catalonia, living in NYC and then moving to Embra where brokeness hath been thy name ever since. Barring trips up Ben Lomond and a bothy in Wester Ross.

One day, I'll see Rome again (and take my husband along too. We haven't gone on honeymoon, really - though that will be to Bangladesh)

P.S. Everyone can go to Rome a million times because Rome is as Jane Marie said, layers deep. Go to Nero's house next time!

Lisa Frank

Jane, can you do a post about how to pack for a trip with only a carry-on? I just can't seem to do it! Mostly it's the toiletries that I can't cram into that little Ziploc bag.


@Lisa Frank Try getting bar shampoo and conditioner from Lush. They aren't my favorite thing (they didn't last as long as I would want for the price), but you can pack them in a travel tin and then no liquid restrictions!!



@Lisa Frank REI sells some really great travel bottles. Also, Jane's makeup.com article was a lifesaver--go to Sephora and get all the tiny samples!

Lisa Frank

@Jane Marie Thanks, Jane!


@Lisa Frank OH and Space Bags. They also help with organizing your suitcase, but so much room once you squeeze the air out!


@Lisa Frank Buy the toiletries at your destination, if you don't have to have specialty stuff. When all the liquid restrictions started up that was my lazy method of dealing with it and it stuck.

(Packing is totally my thing. I did a week in the Caribbean with basically a large tote bag, and I am in no way a person who only wears a tiny bikini for a week on the beach).

Jane Marie

@KatPruska oh yeah, good thinking! i got a klorane shampoo/conditioner/soap travel pack thing when i got there for like $8?


Instead of putting a down payment on something, I lived in Rome for almost year when I was 30 because I needed much more than a week at a time to enjoy it properly. Never regretted it.


@ragazza What visa did you use?


@Cawendaw No visa--just stayed past my alloted tourist time. I didn't work so it wasn't a problem.


This sounds amazing, BUT but but Cloud Atlas is so good!


@yeah-elle Seconded!


@yeah-elle - I was scrolling through the comments looking for the Cloud Atlas peeps. HOW CAN YOU NOT GET INTO IT IT IS THE BEST.

Jane Marie

@Rosebudddd i just wanted him to talk normal!

miss buenos aires

@Jane Marie How much did you read? I had to read about three chapters before I started getting into it, and over halfway through before I started loving it.


@Jane Marie Oh you mean the Zachry in the Sloosha's Crossin' chapter? Yeeaaahh, despite my love for the book, I'm gonna give that one up to you. That was the only character that didn't do it for me. Still going to see the movie though!


@Rosebudddd I'm seeing the movie tonight having never read the book. A strange experience to NOT have read the book before a movie adaptation - but also, kind of exciting? I have NO idea what is going to happen, but that New Yorker interview with the directors totally convinced me to see the movie. The directors: they worked so hard to get this movie off the ground, and David Mitchell is a huge fan of the adaptation!

living internationally

@yeah-elle The ONLY reason I finished Cloud Atlas was because my friend and I had 2 books each and were spending a week on a train in Siberia in the Winter. And even then I considered learning Russian and asking around for books first.


Roscioli! Yes! I have bought cheese at markets large and small, famous and unknown, all over Italy and I find the guys at Roscioli to be really nice and generous. Which they totally wouldn't have to be since it's so well-known. Anyway, so much burrata consumed by me in Rome. So much. Did you get anything else there?

Jane Marie

@CheeseLouise we got some pastas and chicory and wiiiiine. and i heard you could get the cheeses vacuum-sealed to take home on the plane, but then i don't know what happened? we just left without it? haha... next time!


@Jane Marie In the evenings, Roscioli also turns into a wonderful restaurant, with the chicest Roman customers. You have to reserve, because it is tiny, but absolutely worth it!


Haha, I love that you talked about what the people wore AND the food, because that is mostly all I can talk about when I go someplace.
Rome wasn't my super favourite, though it might have had something to do with staying at a hotel so far away it wasn't on the map, and then almost not making it home at all, but I did love Palatine Hill and the forum. The Coliseum was super busy, but Palatine Hill was quite and beautiful and you could just chill up there. Personally I liked Tuscany better.
Oh! Also I kind of got hit on by a dude in a gladiator costume outside the Colliseum.
Hahah also this another place where I play Assassin's Creed and I'm like I'VE BEEN THERE AND NOW I'M CLIMBING IT LIKE A BAMF.


@Megano! Not gonna lie, I took a lot of embarrassing pics in Italy in "Assassin's Creed" poses. BAMF, indeed.


@simalie omg you are my favourite

The Dilettantista

@Megano! Assassin's Creed HUMURCA is happening! Assassin's Creed photos ALL OVER THE 50 STATES Yeeeeeah.


@The Dilettantista I think you only get to go to maybe 5 states though. And Mexico! (For some reason, BUT WHATEVER I AM EXCITED TO CLIMB ON SOME FUCKING PYRAMIDS)


I had never really wanted to go to Italy - but found myself there on an extended layover when trouble broke out in my intended Africa destination - ANYWAY - I freakin LOVE Rome. It was this total surprise and every day I just pictured myself living there. This story touched so many memory nerves - oh god the coats, THE COATS everyone had beautiful coats! The Colosseum - I was on a mission to see that and being very get out of my way get out of my way I am on my way bustling up from the train station to go find it and everyone was stopped around me at the top of the stairs and I was just (in my head) MOVE YOU IDIOT TOURISTS I NEED TO FIND THE COLOSSEUM! and um it was just right there in front of the train station. Like bam. There. Also train station croissants and espresso are the best. Everything in Rome is the best. I agree.


Ah, Rome. So wonderful, some of the best months of my life. And La Feltrinelli! I once fainted in a La Feltrinelli store and the employees were so nice. They put a chair outside for me to recoup in and one especially kind woman gave me the crackers from her lunch. I seriously love Rome.

Reginal T. Squirge

I like that the link to a picture of pasta is just a link to more dudes in suits.

Jane Marie

@Reginal T. Squirge not anymore it's not. (thank you!)

Reginal T. Squirge

Also, did you get to see any Bernini and did it change your life?


Ughhh, the kissy sounds. Right on par with the "chh chh chh" sounds in Spain.
I also remember "Ciao bella" and "Hallo" because we were so obviously American.


@meetapossum That sounds kind of judgy, but I loved Rome when I went! I am a Classics nerd, so I dragged my friends to all the monuments. I also dragged them all the way out to Augustus's Mausoleum only to discover that it was closed on Sundays. Sorry, friends!


@meetapossum I went to Rome (and Pompeii and Naples) on a month long classics trip! It was super awesome. Augustus' mausoleum was really neat. And we got to go to some dig sites outside of town and see all these outbuildings full of pottery and artifacts they'd found, so that was fun too.
Also a guy on the train who spoke no English used my lonely planet phrase book to proposition me. No touching though, but I was alone so it was a little uncomfortable, though I think he was mostly joking with me and he quickly apologized. BUT one of my classmates did totally get down with our hotel bartender and then brought him home! She was sort of crazy. For other reasons besides the bartender.

Ashmead's kernel

Rome! Swoon! Mr. Ashmead and I got married in Rome and it was the most wildly romantic thing ever. We rented a teeny apartment in Trastevere, ate spectacular food in bars all over town, walked everywhere, battled hilariously colorful Roman bureaucracy getting all our wedding paperwork ready and had the absolute time of our lives. In no other city could waiting in endless lines to get our documents properly stamped be such a fantastic experience. It was like the whole city was winking at us, happy to see two such happy people.

So glad you two had such a wonderful time. :) Congratulations!


Rome fashion observations convince me that I really need a functional fall blazer. Because I already have the curly hair and the statement glasses, hmm...


Everything in Rome is great. Second the suits--my god, the suits. So many handsome, dapper, sexyasfuck Roman men in suits. Also, the gelato. Was there on my honeymoon this past summer and we had gelato every afternoon. You can get real foodie about it, and look up the best gelato in every neighborhood...but really, just buy it, all the time, every day. So good.

And finally, what we hadn't anticipated (first time in Europe!) is that restaurant schedules are incredible specific. American restaurants are open all the time, essentially; Italian restaurants, if they do lunch, are open until like, 3, maybe? Probably earlier? And then close down and don't open back up until 7 at the earliest--more likely 8. That's where the reading and cafes and all the apperitivos come in--such a great routine.


@emb343 - si to gelato! By the time I left my week in Rome, I was fluent in Italian. "Fluent" means you know all the names of gelato flavors, right? Fragola! Limone! Baci! My favorite place was Giolitti. Sort of by the Pantheon, I think. So many flavors! Aaaaah! Rome!

The Dilettantista

@LinaLamont GIOLITTI IS THE BEEEEEEST. I did a summer program in Rome and Giolitti was five minutes from where our classes were held and I went there every day I swear. Sometimes two or three times a day. I just love Giolitti. So much good gelato, so few Euros!


Oh god, WHY must New Zealand persist with being SO FAR AWAY from everywhere?


(Congratulations, Jane!)


@KiwiTheBirdNotTheFruit Funny, I say the same thing here in Boston because N.Z. is at the top of my travel wish list. One of these days.

Although Jane's description of Rome makes me want to head to Italy too. Congratulations, Jane!


Roma is my favvvvvvorite city and the perfect place to honeymoon (my niece is there now for hers).
And I kinda love the graffiti because 1)even the ancient Romans did it! There is ancient graffiti on a lot of old ruins - Pompeii is the best for this.) and 2)as a die hard Romanista (fan of the local football club AS Roma)I took tons of pictures of football-related graffiti all over the city. I especially enjoyed all the anti-Lazio scribblings (our city rivals who are evil).


can we have a pic of your comfy shoes / sneakers? pretty please?

Jane Marie

@kikidebris they're puma running shoes with a mesh fabric. super light/compact.


@Jane Marie what color? black?

Jane Marie

@kikidebris grey and like a weird yellow accent? i can't find them online, but yeah, they're somewhat neutral, for running shoes.

like a rabid squirrel

If you're into a bit of classics nerdery and have a little extra time, I'd also strongly suggest Hadrian's Villa (Villa Adriana), which is about a 25 minute bus ride outside of town. Villa d'Este is out there as well so you can get your majestic country villa fix at the same time that you get your big bustling Italian city. Hadrian is also by far the coolest Roman emperor.

Be But Little

@like a rabid squirrel Hadrian's Villa is awesome, especially the Canopus and Serapeum.

The Dilettantista

@Be But Little Yeah my summer group day-tripped out there one day and it was AMAZING. Hadrian's Villa is just such an insane concept (Going to build the world all for myself as a metaphor for wanting to conquer all of it!) and the gardens at Villa d'Este are exquisite.

A Dolly

@The Dilettantista I was soooooooo thirsty when I visited Villa d'Este that I drank the non-potable water (?????why?????) Then I was sick for a week and couldn't eat buffalo gelato when I went to the buffalo farm.

Be But Little

@A Dolly Buffalo gelato???

A Dolly

@Be But Little The farmers made their own gelato with the buffalo milk. Amazing.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

I was in Rome just over a week ago and this post makes me miss it so much :(

I think I need to move there, and no, I don't say that about every place I visit.


My favourite thing from Rome was the pesto lasagna which was the best thing I have ever eaten in my life.

HOWEVER. I only got to spend a day there so with that little time what can you manage except food!

miss buenos aires

What did people think about When in Rome? I thought it was... slight. But enjoyable. I also saw it in a theater full of septuagenarians on the Upper West Side. I think they were all Woody Allen's cousins. They loved it. I loved them loving it.


@miss buenos aires Wait, isn't it called To Rome With Love?

Sadly haven't seen it yet. I have a weird and total love of movies that only people in their 70s love (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? Would have seen it like 6 times in theaters if I'd had the chance) so I bet that even though it was critically bashed, I would love it!

miss buenos aires

@Hammitt Oh yeah, you're totally right. Did I just accidentally reference a Kristen Bell romantic comedy? (hangs head in shame)


@miss buenos aires Haha, yes you did. I saw "To Rome with Love" and I have to say, after the delight of "Midnight in Paris," it was one of the more disappointing cinematic experiences in my recent life. Yes, the opera shower scene was brilliant, but the rest seemed disjointed.

A Dolly

@miss buenos aires I saw it with a bunch of 60 year olds. They loved it too.


I was on a crowded bus in Rome when I was about 13 and a gross creepy old guy behind me was trying to press his erection against me. At first I thought it was an accident because it was super crowded, but no, he was insistent. I started to cry and told my mom we needed to get off the bus.

Other than that, Rome was good! We were staying in an inn run by nuns near the vatican which had a curfew. One night my blood sugar was low (diabetic), and my mom tried to leave to get me something to eat and set off the alarm in the building. She tried to explain to the nuns that my blood sugar was low and they gave us a cup of sugar.

A Dolly

@thepelicanfinch A friend and I were riding tram 2 to school. It wasn't particularly crowded that day so I couldn't figure out why a man stood hovering over me, his body almost touching my hair. I turned and saw his hand in his pants going to town. We moved to the back of the tram and freaked out.


Ahhh, I just got back on Tuesday from 11 days in Rome, Positano, and Capri, and absolutely definitely the best part of being in Rome was piazza-sitting and aperitivo-drinking and people-watching. That city is magnificent.

Also, congratulations, Jane!!



On my birthday in Rome, I had the best day probably ever. And it was because I established these ground rules with my boyfriend (in return for going to see the stupid vittorio emanuel in the morning with him because he wanted to) (but then we went to the best restaurant ever near the pantheon on this tiny alley full of Italians and I forgave him for making me go climb the stupid vittorio emanuel, because, really, nothing in Rome is stupid)

1. When I want gelato, it's time for gelato
2. Ditto wine
3. We go in every church we pass.

It made for the BEST afternoon pretty much of all time. Drunk, filled with gelato, art-ed out, we stumbled into a place for aperitivo, and then went to bed at 9. Glorious. Best birthday ever.

Ashmead's kernel

You have just described my dream of a perfect day.


@Hammitt 3. We go in every church we pass.

This was my policy when I was in Paris and it served me well. Old European churches are consistently stunning.


A hint about the Colosseum: the ticket for the Colosseum is the same as the ticket for the Forum, you get both. Go to the Forum first, and wait in line there. It's ten times shorter than at the Colosseum, and once you have the ticket you can breeze right in there when you finish the Forum.

HOWEVER, do not eat lunch right around the Forum/Colosseum, it's sparse and expensive.

Also, go to the Pantheon, which is unbelievably impressive. And one of my favorite places is the Basilica di San Clemente/Mithraeum. It's a church on top of a church on top of a temple, and amazing. Also, the catacombs on the outskirts of town (Via Appia) can be slightly challenging to get to, but are so worth it.

Also, yes, gelato and cappuccino at all hours of the day. And eat in tiny restaurants, they're all great.


@oboe-d-amore Basilica di San Clemente is astounding. And gorgeous.


I had this crazy experience in Rome once. My friend and I had gone to the Vatican and were looking for somewhere to eat dinner afterwards. After a week of Italian food we settled one some Indian restaurant that we found nearby but it was closed for like 2 more hours.

We looked over our map and saw that there was a Medieval castle nearby so we walked over to that to explore for a bit. It was surrounded by a dry moat that had some staircases that you could descend and when we got there we found that the Romans were using it as a DOG PARK, IN A CASTLE MOAT. Anyway we wondered around, saw a really cute golden retriever and asked its owner, Gabrielo, if we could play with it. he said yes and also rolled a joint and got us high. I think that's my favorite Italian memory, but there's also a story about spending 1.5 hours trying to buy a fucking towel in a beach town which is for another time.

Be But Little

@boysplz You probably went to Hadrian's mausoleum. The Italians are really good at repurposing old crypts into palaces. Seriously.

Beatrix Kiddo

Jane, why does your packing situation sound ridiculous? It sounds normal/ideal to me. Anyway, when I went to Italy in the winter ten years ago, every single woman was wearing skinny jeans, pointy black boots, and a huge puffy black jacket that looked like a comforter. You obviously got to see more exciting fashions!


jaaaane! congratulations! and please, please, please, let us peek into your life a little bit and seem some bride pictures. i am so curious about your dress and your hair and you seem so stunning in normal clothes i just can't even imagine.


this whole entry is lovely, but the thing that made me want to comment was the use of the singular "panino." it made me really happy, so thank you.

The Dilettantista

I did a 6 week summer program in Rome when I was 19 and it was so many levels of amazing.

Things that made me happy.

1) The group stayed at this little bare-bones bed-and-breakfast place in the old Jewish Ghetto (My peeps! Nothing made me happier than watching all the Sephardic Orthodox folks shuffle off to synagogue on Friday evening), and the woman who kept our room tidy sort of "adopted" me and I considered her my little Italian Nonna in my head. I spoke very broken Italian to her and she was lovely.
2) I thought no one would give me two looks because I have dark hair and dark eyes, but apparently freckles are an unusual thing in Italy, because people went insane for my freckles. I took a walk along the Tiber one day, near the church where the Mouth of Truth is, and this older gentleman started walking with me and he just wouldn't shut up about my freckles. I had no idea it was a thing.
3) A very attractive young Florentine who was in Rome for the summer studying architecture sidelined me on my way back to my room from classes and took me on an impromptu Passegiata in search of the Turtle Fountain (luckily I knew how to find it, whee!) He asked me on a date and I said no BUT I SHOULD HAVE SAID YES (but I had a boyfriend back home who I broke up with as soon as I got back home because, duh).
4) ALL THE GELATO. That thing they say about losing weight in Europe because you walk so much is a LIE because ALL THE GELATO.
5) In Rome they cut their pizza with scissors and I loved this.
6) One time I walked all the way from the Castel San'Angelo (also Hadrian's Mausoleum) to the Church of San Giovanni in Laterano and it took forever but I also got to see the entire city and I got to the Church just in time to see the last set of pilgrims do their knee-climb up the stairs where Jesus was supposedly flogged. As a Jewess I find Catholic rituals just fascinating, truly.
7) That said, I just didn't understand the scary preserved clergy on view at St. Peters. That didn't do it for me.
8) But mostly I was just happy to walk around and see ALL THE ART and also eat a lot of pizza, gelato, and cornetto.

BESTEST CITY. I'm dying to go back.

Kirsten Hey@facebook

I don't understand the surprise that Roman hotel rooms don't have kitchens. Why would a hotel room have a kitchen?


The last thing: "Typical answer, but I wish we could take things a little slower and have more breaks in our day for simple pleasures like an afternoon shot of espresso and a sweet pastry, or a discussion."
This depresses me to no end. I have had this thought literally every time I've returned from anywhere—from Paris to Reykjavík to Hamburg to Victoria, BC to Chicoutimi, QC. (I live in Toronto.) I am at a loss for why our culture seems to view pleasure and human connection as something to be reserved for special occasions. And no matter how hard I try, I find it impossible to go against the grain of the dominant culture and try to carve out those rituals for myself in the middle of the work day.

tl;dr: if anyone here has managed to figure out how to slow down their own lives in urban North America, please enlighten me.

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I accidentally drove THROUGH Rome once... without a map. Or a sat nav. During a riot. #hellcation


aaah i also poked around that antique photo store last time i was in rome - so amazing. god, how do i get back...


ROME. Amazing. @janemarie agree on all points, especially about having a kitchen (which we did NOT have). Hotels are not great, and $300/night does not luxury buy. When I've stayed there for work (at the Hotel Russie, right off Piazza del Popolo which is LUXURY) I still wasn't sure that the experience was worth $500-$600 a night.

1) It is worth spending 20 euro to sit in the garden at Hotel Russie and have a glass of prosecco, if you like fancy-pants stuff. Then walk down Via Marguetta and enjoy the wisteria and some really cute galleries and antique stores.

2) Pizzarium, featured on No Reservations or The Layover (can't remember) is TOTALLY, 100% WORTH IT. Near the Vatican, and has American craft brews, which is funny. Most amazing pizza I've ever had (Guanciale and fresh zucchini with house made, light-as-air ricotta was the best)

3) Also near the vatican is a giant market, on Via Andrea Doria. Bring home vacuum packed pecorino, which is worth the extra weight. Also, wine is 1 euro a liter from these big giant drums, and it's so cute to see the little old ladies shopping for their groceries and vino.

4) My husband and I are not religious, but thought the Vatican was the best to-do on the tourist track. It is mind blowing, and their modern art collection is to-die. The Sistine Chapel is cool, but totally overshadowed by the Raphael Apartments, the art collection and Saint Peter's Basilica. Awe-inspiring.

5) Florence is also a quick trip by train... Cheap to get there and do-able in a day or two. First class train tix aren't worth it... But siting in the cafe car with real linens and glassware totally is.

We plan to do an extended trip to Rome and Southern Spain as soon as we can... We're both very well travelled, but we would go back to Italy and Spain because they beg to be SAVORED. I agree that a long weekend is still worth it... But you just feel like you want to put down roots and stay.


i envy all of those who saw rome at least once! :((...Black & White Damask Bedding Sets

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