We slept in till almost lunchtime, unsurprisingly. We’ve been having dinner at 10-11pm each night, bed about 1am then up again early most days. It’s nice to have a sleep in every few days to recharge a bit.
First order of business for the day: espresso and gelato! I was disappointed that I hadn’t had gelato yet and I will eat it at every chance. An espresso or espresso macchiato (with milk) averages €1 usually. Rome has a thing called ‘table service’ where you pay extra to sit at the tables of the cafe or restaurant. On our bills it was about 10% of the total, but I assume that can vary. When you get espressos, you can just stand at the counter and drink it, nice and easy. I quite like that. I tried pistachio gelato for the first time, and instantly became a convert.
I’m told the difference between good gelato and great gelato is in the appearance. If it’s brightly coloured, fluffed up, covered in big decorations to look tasty, it’s probably artificially flavoured and not as good. What you want is plain and boring looking, dull colours, and in stainless steel containers, preferably closed because it will be kept at an even temperature. We went to one place that was recommended called Fatamorgana and it was incredible! By far the best gelato I’ve ever eaten.
We took the metro to Spagna, to visit the Spanish steps. The area has all the expensive brand shops, Gucci, Prada etc. And let’s not forget the selfie stick sellers that you’ll see every 2 metres. They are out in force in Rome and can be very annoying. As soon as it gets cloudy, they whip out umbrellas and ponchos. Often you can buy these items much cheaper. For example, some of them will try and sell you a selfie stick for €40, and you can buy them in shops for €1. You can haggle with them if you want to get the price down a bit, but ultimately it’s whether you think it’s worth doing. Apparently one of the ‘things to do before you die’ is to have a beer on the Spanish steps. We couldn’t find anywhere close that sold beer, so if you want to do that, you may have to buy it earlier. As expected, it’s completely packed with people, but if you climb up almost to the top you have a nice view and a bit of space to sit (before you get bombarded by people selling things).
Near the steps is one of the best places to buy Tiramisu, called Pompi.
While wandering around, we found one of the many little shops that does limoncello tasting. In addition, they do other flavours, including: pistachio, melon, peach, white chocolate, and dark chocolate. I ended up buying limoncello, pistachio and dark chocolate. Yum yum!
We headed to the Pantheon just before lunch, which is free to get into and has audio stations around the inside if you want more info. And it is completely packed, of course. It has the large circular hole in the ceiling, the ‘oculus’. It would certainly be interesting to be inside if it were raining.
We at lunch nearby, at a place recommended by one of my friends. Not completely in sight of the Pantheon, but just a bit farther down the street in front of it. I had delicious gnocchi.
We have been given a few tips on how to find a good place to eat authentic Italian food in Rome, and while helpful, it does make things quite difficult.
Things to avoid:
-Places within viewing distance of major tourist spots, unless that’s specifically what you want.
-Anywhere that has lots of flags outside
-Menus with pictures (Italians know what the food looks like!)
-Menus with multiple language columns
-People trying to coax you into entering (Italians know the good places to eat)
The reason for this is the price gets hiked up a lot and often the food is kept frozen instead of being freshly made. Some menus will have asterisks next to dishes and it will have an explanation at the bottom of the menu about the food being kept frozen.
Photos to come! Currently no working wifi in the hotel, so we’re venturing out to find free hotspots. Changing hotels tomorrow, so fingers crossed.