Rome: readers’ tips, recommendations and travel advice
Not everyone is fortunate enough as to have a family relative who is a priest in Rome to be their guide. Our recommended guesthouse is the Cielo Vaticano (cielovaticanoguesthouse.com) . This gem only has four rooms, is inexpensive and welcoming. St Peter’s and the Vatican Museum are easy walking distance. It is an effortless amble to Ottaviano Station. Rome’s metro is convenient and easy to use.
Our advice is to see Rome by night – midnight and beyond. View the Basilica through the keyhole at the Piazza del Cavalieri, stroll around the fountains on the Piazza Navona (left) and finish at the Old Bridge Gelateria.
For a daytime trip, head up the Appian Way to Domino Quo Vadis to view Christ’s footsteps in marble and on to the Catacombs of St Sebastiano for an informative trip underground. At lunchtime we can recommend Pizzeria San Marco Via Sardegna and for evening fare with atmosphere Il Postiglione Via Aurelia. Both are inexpensive but of excellent quality.
Craig Findlater, from Hants, wins a wildlife trip to India
More advice from readers
Visiting the Colosseum can take ages due to long queues. To avoid these visit the Forum, and in there is a pay desk to a small site that is infrequently visited. However, a ticket for this site also gets you into the Colosseum, so you can sail past the queues and enter via the automatic ticket barrier.
E Trzebinski, Surrey
Last August my wife and I went back to Rome to celebrate our Ruby Wedding Anniversary. We recommend the Leonardo Express. The train only takes 30 minutes from Fiumicino Airport to Termini Railway Station. Exploring Rome is like peeling an onion – layers of history are superimposed. Nowhere is this clearer than in the ancient Basilica of San Clemente.
Tucked away in a side street 300 yards from the Colosseum, this little gem was a highlight of our visit. At street level you enter a 12th-century church. Excavating work, begun in the 19th century, uncovered a 4th-century church underneath. Deeper still is evidence of ancient Roman buildings, including a Temple of Mithras. Visitor information and access is wholly sensitive to the treasures and frescoes preserved there.
For lunch, we found bruschetta to die for at La Fraschetta – just off Piazza Navona, where all the restaurants were twice the price.
Christopher Scott, Cornwall
For the best view of the Forum, go up the little road next to the Capitoline Museums, past the Rock of Tarpeia; then go over to the Palatine, the hill where all the top families and the emperors lived.
On the other side of the main road are Trajan’s Markets, an amazingly modern-looking brick-built shopping complex, 2,000 years old, and you’ll probably be the only visitors there. Visit the lovely Galleria Doria Pamphili, usefully open on Mondays.
In Trastevere, the church of Santa Cecilia is beautiful, and has a Roman villa below it in which wedding ceremonies can be held. And to finish off, after a short train ride, Ostia Antica is a huge, fascinating site, as good as Pompeii, but without the crowds.
Elizabeth Mumford, East Sussex
It is 50 years since I was in Rome but the Palazzo Doria out of all the many things I saw took me back to a particular moment in history. It was not just the frighteningly intense portrait by Velázquez of Pope Innocent X with his unnervingly penetrating eyes, and other works in the wonderfully diverse collection, but the part that the palazzo has played in 20th-century history. The palazzo looks out on to a pocket-sized square and there,
on an upper floor, is a tiny balcony with a block of stone on the ground. This was where Mussolini once stood to harangue the crowds below.
William Garnermann, Co Armagh
Central Rome is relatively compact and accessible on foot. It is also quite hilly. Use the lie of the land by starting your sightseeing day at a high point and strolling downhill rather than embarking on an unplanned and exhausting route march.
A personal favourite is to start at the Galleria Borghese on Pinciano. Book a two-hour time slot at 9am or 11am. The art collection is breathtaking and the setting sublime. Then stroll through Giardini Borghese, pausing perhaps for a cappuccino and to enjoy the panoramic views of the city before dropping down to Piazza del Popolo.
This vast open space offers ad-lib street entertainment and people watching. Your route becomes flat as you follow Babuino past the Spanish Steps. Five mionures’ walk later your are at the Trevi Fountain – complete with three coins at the ready.
Clive Knox, Somerset
As a contrast to Rome’s history and culture, take a train to Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope’s summer residence is situated.
Next door, in a 19th-century building built on three levels, there is a marvellous restaurant named Pagnanelli, its terraces overlooking Lake Albano, which lies in the mouth of a volcanic crater. The traditional cuisine is mainly sourced from the family farm, and the cellars, built into the volcanic cliff face, house thousands of bottles of wine and grappa. The knowledgeable sommeliers will give you a tour of the cellars to choose the wine to drink with your meal.
If you book in advance, you can arrange a wine tasting that marries a selection of fine wines with local dishes.
Janet Rees, Essex
Visit the Protestant cemetery via Caio Cestio 6 (metro Piramide). Shelley and others are there and the inscriptions are inspiring. A wonderful experience. Then do St Paul Outside the Walls, a few stops up the metro line from Piramide and truly exceptional (Via Ostiense 186). Go to the Spanish Steps metro, walk down the Via Condotti across the river to Gran Caffè Esperia, on the Lungotevere dei Mellini. Best pastries and coffee in Rome.
For lunch, do the Edy at Vicolo del Babuino 4, which is excellent. Get there for 12.50pm for lunch or book. They will split a dish between two, so try the courgette flowers and prawns this way; for the main course I’d recommend the turbot (rombo), which is excellent.
David Wilkinson, by email
Everyone ventures west of the Tiber to visit St Peter’s and The Vatican, but linger a while. From St Peter’s Square take a right and make the gentle ascent to Mount Gianicolo for the most spectacular views across Rome. It was on my third visit to the city that I discovered this viewpoint, and now it will always be a first port
of call. From here, the crazy collage that is Rome stretches out before you.
You won’t tire of the view, but when you feel the need to move on, stroll down the Via Garibaldi, to find yourself in Trastevere, the pulse-beating heart of the real Rome, with its authentic squares and bars, and the exquisite church of St Maria. And before you return east across the river, visit the Villa Farnesina. With stunning frescoes, by a host of artists, most notably Raphael, this must be the most undervalued property in Rome. It’s gorgeous, so don’t miss it.
Sally Golanski, Surrey
Ridiculously cheap, wonderfully old fashioned and swarming with loyal locals, the Fiaschetteria Marini wine bar in Rome’s Via Cadorna is a gem. In the hands of the Marini family for nearly 90 years and with a decor that has changed little, the welcome is warm and friendly and the owners are anxious to please all who enter either for a glass of wine or a plate of mama’s pasta.
Tuscan wine on tap is half a euro per glass, but there is a vast selection of wines racked on the walls, each bottle tagged and priced at silly prices, to drink in or take out.
Basic no-frills Rome specialities are on the menu – try the calves liver and onions, followed by home-made zuppa inglese and enjoy the biggest bargain that the city can offer and all away from the madding crowds in the quiet Via Cadorna.
Huw S Thomas, Carms
Take a subway train ride to the Piramide neighbourhood. Once there you’re greeted with Piramide Cestia, an ancient pyramid built on the corner of two of the most ancient roads in all of Rome. Then walk two blocks to the north-west to what’s colloquially known as the Last Trattoria, named thus because it was the last to open it’s doors to foreigners.
For a long time, tables at Felice a Testaccio (feliceatestaccio.it) were only reserved for those who spoke Italian and booked ahead. Even though they claim you still have to make telephone bookings, if you arrive at opening time you can just walk in for some of the best seasonal and authentic Italian flavours. As is a tradition in Roman cuisine, they serve a different menu every day of the week with the classics available daily.
Andrew Kamphey, Los Angeles
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