Third trip to Rome - I've seen enough churches. What do you recommend?
March 17, 2011 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Third trip to Rome - I've seen enough churches. What do you recommend?

I will be in Rome on business March 30 - April 15, staying on Via Veneto. I will be working long hours most days and evenings, but I'm sure I will have a break now and then to get out for a few hours.

I've already seen most of the big "attractions" - Colosseum, Forum, Vatican, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, even the Jewish Quarter, Trastevere, Piazza Navona, etc. I won't be able to get away long enough to go out of town to places like Ostia Antica or the Catacombs.

So when I have a couple hours free, what should I do?

A little about myself - 39 years old, male, married but there without my wife, into coffee, photography, music, driving my Vespa and occasionally geeky internet stuff (Twitter, blogging, etc.).

Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by kdern to Travel & Transportation around Rome, Italy (23 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Would the zoo interest you?
posted by soelo at 7:37 PM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: EUR?
posted by holgate at 7:39 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

The capuchin chapel of bones is very photogenic.

And creepy. Very creepy
posted by Mad_Carew at 7:43 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

I came here to suggest the capuchin chapel of bones suggested by Mad_Carew- I went when I was in Rome two summers ago and it was super crowded but worth doing. Be warned though, it's small, you'll be done seeing all there is to see in less than an hour.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 8:18 PM on March 17, 2011

Go on a Lorenzo Bernini tour. He is an amazing Baroque architect and sculptor, and nearly all of his work is in Rome.

He made several major fountains in Rome, including the Fountain of the Four Rivers downtown. He also designed the amazing colonnade at the entrance to the Plaza of St Peter.

Several of his best sculptures are in the Villa Borghesi. But other works are spread around the city. One of my favorites is the Ecatasy of St Teresa in Our Lady of Victory, a small local church in Rome.

You have been to the Vatican, and probably have passed some of his fountains as you walked the city. You have probably even been to the Villa Borghesa. But connecting all his work together, looking for only his work. Hunting down a few off-the-beaten-path fountains and scupltures. These things are all easy to go see.

See the city through the scope of one thought or idea. Bernini would be a good choice for the one thing to see. He is an amazing artist. Seeing his impact on the city will make you see Rome in a differnt light. Amid all the Roman and Renaissance wonder - sometimes you do not see the amazing art made in the 17th century. Bernini is worth a look.
posted by Flood at 8:27 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Have you seen the botanical gardens in Largo Cristina di Svezia, 24?
posted by fancyoats at 8:32 PM on March 17, 2011

Villa Doria Pamphili is a BEAUTIFUL park . It's near Trastevere. It's more naturally beautiful and less manicured than Villa Borghese.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 8:38 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Go to the Protestant Cemetery to visit the graves of Keats and Shelley (and the many cats hanging out there), then drop in to Volpetti, one of the best delis in Rome, where you can sample cheeses and meats and stock up for the rest of the trip.

If the weather is nice, spend some time strolling Via Appia Antica.

The Orto Botanico in Trastevere is a nice botanic garden, if you're in the area.
posted by carrienation at 8:48 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I was in Rome, I very much enjoyed walking up the Gianicolo (Janiculum Hill). The view is excellent, and the park is a nice break from the rest of the city. (On preview, joeyjoejoejr has another good reason to go in that direction too.)

If you haven't seen St. Peter's framed through the Knights of Malta keyhole, that might be worth a trip. I remember spending some time in a pretty little park along the river there too - it had orange trees and was quite pleasant, and from some quick Googling I think it must have been Parco Savello.

If you go for Flood's Bernini idea, you might also look for some of the works of Francesco Borromini. He and Bernini had quite the rivalry in the Baroque period - taking over each other's projects, building things in opposition to each other, etc. For instance...I know you said you've had enough of churches, but Borromini's San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and Bernini's Sant'Andrea al Quirinale are both small oval churches, right next to each other on Via del Quirinale. But San Carlo's main aisle runs along the long axis of the oval, and Sant'Andrea's runs along the short axis, and you have to figure they were built in opposing orientations on purpose. There are a few other examples like that across the city, which you might look up if you're interested.
posted by sigmagalator at 9:05 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

As soon as I read Vespa I was reminded of the opening scene of Caro Diario directed by Nanni Moretti. He basically spends 10 minutes zooming through beautiful neighborhoods in Rome on his motorino. Watch it for ideas.

Also, seconding EUR.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:59 PM on March 17, 2011

The MAXXI and the pasta museum.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:34 PM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: Somewhat generic, but pretend you're a Roman for a few hours? You know, get some coffee, poke into shops, just wonder and explore. Sometimes the best travel experiences occur this way.
posted by oxford blue at 12:06 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Take in the morning open-air fruit and vegetable market in Campo de' Fiori (and take a camera with you!), but be careful in the evenings: that (and Ponte Milvio and San Lorenzo) is an infamous area for drunken troublemakers "having a good time". Castel Sant'Angelo between the Vatican and the Tiber is delightful; sometimes as a bonus there's an exhibition on there, but even without exhibitions, just the structure itself is well worth a visit.

If you're into opera and your visit coincides with one of the times when Palazzo Farnese (the French embassy) is open to visitors (the hotel concierge will know), you could do the Tosca tour: Act 1 in Sant'Andrea della Valle, Act 2 in Palazzo Farnese, Act 3 in Castel Sant'Angelo, all of them withing walking disance one from another.

Also the MACRO museum of contemporary art, close to Porta Pia, recently renovated.

Check out the Wanted in Rome website before departure to see what's on during your stay.
posted by aqsakal at 1:30 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

PS: And avoid like the plague the "famous" Porta Portese weekend flea-market: it's just an overcrowded, overpriced, overrated ripoff circus in which one person out of every 3 is a pickpocket and a large proportion of the stuff on sale is stolen goods. If you're attracted by the dark side of things and want to go for that reason, don't buy anything that needs wrapping up: even if you never take your eyes off it during the wrapping process, you'll get back to the hotel and find they wrapped you up a brick - it's the local speciality.
posted by aqsakal at 1:55 AM on March 18, 2011

Even though its your third time, you've got to stop by the Trevi Fountain (so you know, come back again).
since you've seen most of the large attractions I'd just bum around Rome. I had such a great time exploring, finding unique cafes and relaxing.
Rome is so beautiful as you already know.
One thing I wish I had done if I had the time is rent a Vespa, as that would just be so much fun for an afternoon.

Have a great time!
posted by handbanana at 5:14 AM on March 18, 2011

Best answer: Campo de' Fiori (and take a camera with you!), but be careful in the evenings: that (and Ponte Milvio and San Lorenzo) is an infamous area for drunken troublemakers "having a good time".

Oi, I resemble that remark. Just kidding. ;) The latter two are where local youth & students tend to congregate to get their drink on; ditto Campo but it leans more touristy. In all cases, it can be obnoxious but not dangerous.

La Tazza d'Oro near the Pantheon has a coffee granita loaded with real whipped cream to die for. Sant'Eustachio is widely regarded to have the best coffee in Rome. Both places are usually jam packed, so it's best to either ask for a portare via or slug it back standing at the bar Italian style. If you want to sit n' sip, Bar San Calisto in Trastevere is the only bar left where sitting outside with your coffee costs the same as standing at the bar.

Roma C'รจ is my go to for what's going on, but I see that while they finally got a proper website, they've done away with the English section so use Google Translate if your Italian isn't up to scratch.
posted by romakimmy at 5:38 AM on March 18, 2011

Best answer: Seconding La Tazza d'Oro for coffee. It's awesome. Then go load up on amazing antipasti at Da Francesco. It's a hidden gem where the locals like to eat. Say no more.
posted by Decani at 6:47 AM on March 18, 2011

Best answer: The Feb edition of Monocle (sorry need subscription) profiled Esquilino, an international community in the center of Rome. It's an interesting melting pot, with immigrants from Bangladesh, Africa, Middle East, China, etc. There's an open air market in Piazza Vittorio, and plenty of Indian and Turkish restaurants. Some recommendations from the article:

Hang Zhou da Sonia - considered the best Chinese restaurant in Rome, owned by none other than the daughter of Chairman Mao. Walls lined w celebrity and Chairman photos.

Regoli - pastry shop famous for chocolate torta della nonna and giant mille feuille.

Rassi - oldest ice-cream factory in Italy

Trattoria Monti - homemade pasta in a local hangout. House specialty is tortino and a homemade flan.

Mille Records - small historic record shop with plenty of interesting finds.

Motel Salieri - men's clothing store with local and international designers. Called a motel "because clothing and art are considered the guests". (go figure)

Mas - clothing & housewares store that artists and designers flock to for inspiration.

More info from the Wikitravel page. If you want addresses or more info, just memail me. I'm jealous! Have a great time!
posted by hampanda at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the great suggestions.

@Decani - Da Francesco is my favorite restaurant in Rome! Definitely hope to go back.

@Hampanda - Esquilino and especially Mas sounds incredible.

EUR is a great idea... never been there but I bet it would make for a great photo outing.
posted by kdern at 10:16 AM on March 18, 2011

Mas - clothing & housewares store that artists and designers flock to for inspiration.

*giggle* I really want to read this article now, because I know Mas as the cramped, tacky bargain basement Roman version of KMart. Or the indoor version of Porta Portese.

Do note that the open air market in Piazza Vittorio is no longer there. Like many of the mercati rionali, they moved it a few years ago to a dedicated indoor structure on Via Principe Amedeo.
posted by romakimmy at 10:46 AM on March 18, 2011

Serie A!

Go to a match. It was one of the most amazing experiences i've had on my travels to Italy.

Looks like Roma is at home on Sunday April 3rd and Lazio is home on April 10th. Get tickets in advance (not hard, either online or at the team store downtown).

They both play at Stadio Olimpico, which is easily accessible by bus and then a walk (with 90,000 of your new closest friends).

EUR is worth the trip.

Its been a few years but San Crispino gelato has always been good (near Fontana Trevi). Its not a secret, but it is delicious.
posted by jindc at 3:00 PM on March 18, 2011

If my memory is correct, the catacombs aren't very far out of town. Surely if you have a day off at some point you could go check them out - I think we spent about half a day doing that, including getting there and back.
posted by Sara C. at 8:18 PM on March 18, 2011

nitpick: the ice cream factory is called Fassi not Rassi. And if you're hardcore about gelato you should definitely try pica, giolitti, san crispino (sp) and mondi as well
posted by 3mendo at 3:56 PM on March 20, 2011

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