Live La Dolce Vita the way the locals do in the Eternal City.
As Italy’s capital and Giada’s birthplace, Rome has a special place in our hearts here at Giadzy. With thousands of years of history to explore alongside exquisite art and trendsetting boutiques, Rome has been a gathering place for visitors from around the globe for millennia. But with so much to do, we often find ourselves rushing to see it all! Between standing in long lines and hurrying to get from one tourist attraction to the next, it can be easy to miss Rome’s unique charm, even when it’s right in front of you.
As we focus on slowing down and traveling wisely this month, it’s time to rethink the way we experience Italy’s capital and take a page from the locals. The next time you find yourself in the Eternal City, take it slow! Here are our recommendations for how to experience la dolce vita and do Rome as the Romans do.
Stay Outside of Centro Storico
Staying in the busy center of the city can be convenient and exciting, with plenty of hustle and bustle at all hours of the day. For a slower taste of local life, we recommend staying in one of Rome’s smaller, quainter neighborhoods, such as Monti, Prati, and Trastevere. All three of these neighborhoods are quieter and more residential, but still filled with a plethora of restaurants and romantic, winding alleys to wander. And not to worry! They’re still well within walking distance of many of Rome’s main attractions.
Enjoy a Long Morning Coffee
Although Rome isn’t like the U.S., with its sea of morning coffees to go, some people will still have a caffè quickly standing up at a coffee bar before continuing on their way to work or a day of sightseeing. Other locals will sit down, take their time, and catch up with those around them. To do the same, grab a seat, order a coffee and a cornetto, and just take it all in. Giada’s favorite spot for a slow morning coffee is Sant'Eustachio il Caffè. Locals flock to this Roman institution for their expertly roasted coffee and bustling atmosphere, perfect for getting a true taste of Rome. Sant'Eustachio has lots of outdoor seating (for Rome!) that overlooks a gorgeous piazza, so take a seat, place your order, and take in the beauty and vibrant energy of Rome in the morning.
Avoid Museum Crowds at Galleria Borghese
Don’t get us wrong, we love the Vatican Museums and Saint Peter’s Basilica, but the dense crowds and long lines at the height of tourist season can cause stress that feels quite the opposite of la dolce vita. For a more relaxing experience where you can admire truly remarkable works of art at your own pace, visit Galleria Borghese. Housed in a Renaissance-era villa built by the illustrious Borghese family, this smaller museum is one of Rome’s crown jewels. With truly stunning 17th-century rooms filled with awe-inspiring works by Bernini, Caravaggio, and Raphael, the experience will transport you back in time. Galleria Borghese only allows 180 people in at a time and reservations must be made in advance, making the experience much more serene and intimate, as each room never gets overcrowded. Book your two-hour time slot on Galleria Borghese’s website, and don’t miss the gardens if they’re open!
Unwind in Nature
Although all roads lead to Rome (and there are plenty of roads to explore!), the city is also filled with a number of stunning parks where you can embrace tranquility. After your visit at Galleria Borghese, explore Villa Borghese, a 150-acre park with fountains, sculptures, and breathtaking views of Rome. On the south side of Rome is Giardino degli Aranci, a beautiful garden filled with orange trees that has an incredible view of Saint Peter’s Basilica. A favorite among locals at sunset, this is the perfect place to enjoy a snack or aperitivo and relax as the sun sets into the Tiber River.
Take a Passeggiata Through the City
Italians often enjoy a passeggiata, a long leisurely stroll, after dinner, but we recommend taking one through Rome during the day. It is so rare when we travel to simply walk without a destination in mind, but it really allows you to slow down and fully capture Rome’s magic. Explore the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood you're staying in or meander down the gorgeous path along the Tiber River. Two of Giada’s favorite streets to walk along have always been Via Margutta and Via Del Pellegrino, but no matter where you choose to stroll, you’re sure to discover smaller churches, piazzas, and sights that will awe you.
Skip Campo de’ Fiori and Visit Testaccio Market
Although we love the Campo de’ Fiori, the bustling market in the center of Rome doesn’t exactly make for a relaxing experience. That’s why Giada loves to travel further south to Testaccio Market. Here, you’ll find almost exclusively Romans shopping for the day’s produce or grabbing a casual lunch at one of the many food stands. The Testaccio neighborhood is a bit off the beaten path, but is known for its food scene amongst Roman locals (as it was during ancient times, too!). Whether you visit the market or try one of the neighborhood’s many restaurants, you’ll experience a true slice of local life.
Take Aperitivo Outside
Aperitivo is one of our favorite Italian traditions. Trendy bars all over Rome offer a glamorous aperitivo experience, including the rooftop bar Cielo (one of Giada’s favorites), but for a more relaxed cocktail hour, we like to grab a drink from any bar and join locals in the middle of a piazza. As dusk falls, you’ll notice Romans gathering in their respective neighborhoods, perched around each piazza’s main fountain, building community with one another. Taking an hour after the work day to have a drink, chat with neighbors, and unwind together is one of the many ways that Romans engage in la dolce vita. Join in on the experience in Piazza degli Zingari, Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, or any piazza near where you’re staying and say cin cin with the locals.
Enjoy Long, Late Dinners
Our favorite way to travel slowly and experience the best of Italy? Don’t rush dinner! Enjoying a long, luxurious, multicourse dinner is one of the best ways to experience local culture and connect with loved ones on your trip. Giada and her family never miss an opportunity to dine together at Trattoria Al Moro, but there are so many incredible restaurants to choose from in our Rome travel guide at all price points. Pick one that calls to you, settle in, and indulge in multiple courses the Italian way, from antipasti all the way to dolci!