When in Rome
When in Rome
OK, so its pretty daunting to even try to write something unique about Rome. What hasn’t already been said about the eternal city? So, I’m just going to write about a few things that simply made me so happy I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world at that moment. And I can close my eyes and remember what it was that made the moments so special. Hopefully, you’ll find some some inspiration here if you’re going, plan to go, or can relate to if you’ve been. And you’ll close your eyes and relive some very special moments.
Our favorite Piazzas in Rome.
Piazzas are like the center of life in the city. Not like Times Square overload with a Naked Cowboy (he might be gone now, but you know what I mean), but places that are just…alive. Alive with history, art, food, wine, music, laughter…and beauty.
1) Piazza Navona
One could argue this is the most beautiful of all, the oval shape being the result of its construction over the Stadium of Domitian (where the ancient Romans gathered to watch the games). Bernini’s stunning Fontana die Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) is the visual centerpiece that overflows with movement and detail.
The Piazza is lined with restaurants, bars, gelato and coffee shops, each offering the most delicious selection of pastas to pastries, and wherever you choose to wine or dine you simply cannot make a mistake. There was a chill to the air during our March visit, and we sat under a heated tent taking in the street performers and lively atmosphere.
2) Piazza Della Rotunda
With the magnificent domed Pantheon (the ancient Roman Temple built circa 118 to 125 A.D) as it’s back drop, this intimate square has just enough restaurants, with indoor and outdoor seating surrounding the fountain of the same name.
Visit at night when the the drama is enhanced by the illuminated columns and street musicians that serenade you while sipping your Chianti.
3) Campo de’ Fiori
This bustling square is a must see for the food market where locals mix with tourists to discover the sensory overload of color and aroma. Wander down the narrow surrounding alleys to explore the shops that will surely have you buying an extra bag to check on your trip home. We found glass ornaments, wooden carving boards, colorful lanterns and more that I still wish I brought home.
As with all the Piazzas we visited, linger for a meal to remember. There’s something wonderful about slowing down a bit here for an extra glass of wine while everyone else seems to be rushing by. Stop and smell the vino, the amazing part is that you don’t have to splurge, the house wine will be magnificent.
4) Piazza del Popolo
The sheer grandeur of this space and the surrounding buildings make this a must-see. If you enter from the North, you’re greeted by the impressive gate, the Porta Flamina, and beckoned to explore Rome’s oldest obelisk that seems to divide the twin churches Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto. There are several fountains to see, and the square will be full of activity, from street performers, to artists to peddlers.
We enjoyed visiting here during the day. There are many streets that lead to the square, with a fair share of upscale shopping, and plenty of restaurants to sit outside, soak up some sun, rest your legs from climbing the Spanish Steps (if you can navigate around the people sitting). We found a an amazing spot to eat, just to the side of the steps, and spent a leisurely afternoon with a bottle of wine.
5) Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere
This lively neighborhood hosts funky bars and bustling restaurants, exuding a youthful energy that can felt by anyone of any age. We spent time there with our son, who was eager to show us some of his favorite hangouts discovered during the semester he spent there. At night the pace definitely picks up, and eventually the path will lead back to the square. Sit on the steps of the Fontana di Piazza and take in all the activity that surrounds you…street musicians, artists, and wonderful people watching. A daytime visit would not be complete without a visit to one of the most beautiful churches in all of Rome, the Basilica di Santa Maria, built in 350AD.