Guide to Rome
Known as the Eternal City, there’s no better place to get a sense of Italy’s sprawling history than Rome. Where else can you find ancient ruins among bustling city streets and Renaissance masterpieces next to avant-garde art? Giada’s home city was made for walking, and the best way to enjoy it is to stroll the cobblestoned streets to take in all those contrasts. Standing in the middle of the Colosseum, you'll come face-to-face with the fact that people have been walking these same city streets for thousands of years.
Whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or solo, Rome is the ideal destination for anyone who wants a taste of everything that Italy has to offer.
As the country’s capital, Rome is home to Italy’s largest international airport, Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci (Code: FCO). You can get direct flights here from many major cities in the U.S. and connect through here to smaller regional airports across Italy. This makes Rome a great home base from which to start a trip through Italy. One of the best ways to get to other destinations in Italy is by train; the massive Rome Termini station has 29 platforms that serve 800 trains a day to all parts of the country and the rest of Europe. Also at Termini is the center of Rome’s limited metro system, which operates on three lines. Though it’s the smallest such system in Europe, the metro does have stops near most of the main tourist destinations. The best way to get around the city is on foot or by taxi, which is well-regulated and easy to use. Taxi stands can be found at busy points around the city; hotels and restaurants can always call you a cab; and you can use the Uber app to hail either a taxi or a luxury car.
Ai Tre Scalini
This wine bar in Monti is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. The food is amazing, and the vibe might be even better. Waiting for a table is never a chore when you can stand outside under an ivy canopy with a glass of wine!
Just steps from the Trevi fountain, this cozy restaurant is a great place to take a break away from the crowds. They serve the best spaghetti alla Moro, similar to carbonara, and pasta alle telline (a type of local clam).
For a taste of Abruzzo, this family restaurant is a great choice. Their eggplant parmesan is unbelievable!
Antica Osteria Brunetti
This old-school restaurant serves fabulous gnocchi, rigatoni carbonara, and fun salads on gorgeous traditional painted ceramics.
This intimate restaurant has been a favorite for celebrities and locals looking for a romantic meal for more than 100 years. Giada loves to sit outside under the canopy. You can also buy their fresh pastas and sauces to take home.
Antico Caffè del Moro
This 150-year-old spot has an extensive wine list and makes beautiful cocktails. It’s a great choice for a hearty aperitivo snack before dinner.
Antico Forno Roscioli
Nobody does it better than Roscioli, who have been making bread since the 1800s. In addition to the bakery, they have a complex of shops around the block, including a Pasticceria and a dine-in restaurant and deli, Salumeria Roscioli, a great place to stop for a cocktail, a plate of pasta, and some of their incredible mortadella.
Armando al Pantheon
As the name implies, this classic restaurant near the Pantheon is a perfect stop for a long, Roman-style lunch after sightseeing.
This cute coffee shop serves the best cappuccino and fabulous chocolate cornetti. It has a hip vibe for breakfast, brunch, and afternoon coffee breaks.
You can’t beat the people-watching from this classic café with plenty of outdoor tables in the piazza. Giada’s go-to order here is a cappuccino with a gianduja-filled cornetto.
For an escape from the tourist throngs around the Spanish Steps, this locals-only restaurant hidden away in a quiet alley is just the ticket. The menu is seafood-focused —Giada loves the spaghetti with clams—with one of the best tiramisu in town.
From the name, you might be able to guess what this restaurant is all about—dessert! They have an amazing selection of creative cakes, cheesecakes, tiramisu, and other sweets for a fun after-dinner stop.
This modern spot in the Campo de Fiori makes wonderful pizza with pomodorini and arugula and Roman focaccia with thinly sliced mortadella. Check out the shop next door for take-home pasta, wines, and a small bar for a quick drink while you wait for your table.
After many, many taste tests, Giada and Jade decided that this local chain has the absolute best gelato in Rome. With its rotating list of all natural flavors both classic (stracciatella, hazelnut) and creative (banana and sesame brittle, pink grapefruit and horseradish), you could visit every day and never get bored.
Forno Campo de Fiori
If you find yourself in the Campo de Fiori around breakfast or lunch time, stop by this little bakery shop to grab a quick bite to enjoy on the piazza. The pizza bianca with mortadella is one of Giada’s favorites.
Wherever you go in Rome, you’re never too far from a branch of this widespread Italian gelato chain that began in Turin. It’s always delicious, with flavors like extra-dark chocolate and mango tart.
Around the corner from the Spanish Steps, this is the kind of all-day café/bar/neighborhood meeting place we love. It has a welcoming, casual vibe that makes you want to come back again and again. In fact, on some trips Giada has gone here almost every day!
This restaurant’s motto is “fish & Champagne,” and they deliver on both! The lengthy wine list includes more than 100 incredible Champagnes, and there’s nowhere better in Rome for raw oysters and crudos.
Luciano Cucina Italiana
Look no further for the best velvety smooth carbonara in Rome. The young chef at this Michelin recommended trattoria also makes a delicious amatriciana, all served in a modern, comfortable room.
Reserve ahead for a table at this cozy, in-demand restaurant that serves wonderful fritto misto, bucatini all’amatriciana, and other traditional Roman dishes along an incredible selection of local wines.
This Tuscan restaurant delivers simple, well-done fare and great service for lunch or dinner. It’s one of Giada’s top picks in the city for a crisp and flavorful eggplant parm!
If you're looking for a restaurant in Rome that encapsulates the beauty of Roman Jewish food, this is the spot. Their shatteringly crisp carciofi alla giudia and handmade taglioni
with chicory are not to be missed.
This brewpub carries more than 100 Italian craft beers along with interesting selections from around the world. It serves wonderfully executed sandwiches and other hearty food, including Giada’s pick for the best hamburger in Rome.
The name may be gelato spelled backward, but this shop is nothing less than straightforward. In fact, the whole gelato-making process is on display here, so you can watch the masters at work. Giada loves their bold, interesting flavor combinations, like gorgonzola with white chocolate and hazelnuts and passionfruit with cocoa nibs.
Otello alla Concordia
The antipasti fritti at this neat trattoria is a delightful combination of fried zucchini flowers, anchovies, artichokes and more—everything you want. Giada also loves their lasagna and spaghetti with clams.
Pizzeria da Baffetto
Giada’s choice for Roman-style pizza, this little spot serves up thin, crispy pies topped with everything from zucchini flowers to prosciutto and bresaola.
Ristorante Al Ceppo
For classic Roman food in a sumptuous atmosphere, this lovely little restaurant is a great choice. The room is quiet and comfortable, the perfect place to linger over a long lunch with friends.
For a full meal in the same comfortable Buvette atmosphere, its sister restaurant is a fantastic choice near the Spanish Steps. Their mortadella meatballs in a creamy pistachio sauce are an all-time favorite of Giada’s.
This local-favorite bar near the Trevi Fountain has great ambiance, with comfy armchairs and creative cocktails. Take a seat outside on the piazza and take in the atmosphere!
This cool trattoria is run by an incredible young chef serving classic Roman food with a modern touch. The menu changes daily, but luckily the fan-favorite carbonara is always on offer.
This unassuming spot has been serving simple, satisfying Roman food in the Campo Marzio for more than 50 years. It’s one of Aunt Raffy’s favorites for an easy, nostalgic meal of dishes like roasted chicken, meatballs, and homemade potato gnocchi.
Tavernaccia da Bruno
This delicious spot has a great wine list and excellent service. Get the eggplant parm, lasagna, and roast pork if you are lucky enough to find it on the menu.
Trattoria Da Enzo al 29
Come for the pasta with clams, stay for the incredible amaro selection. This popular spot does not accept reservations, so be ready to get here early and wait for a table. It’s worth the wait!
Specializing in food from the Marche region, this casual restaurant has great specials that are a departure from the usual Roman fare, including scrumptious ravioli.
Some of Italy’s most romantic landmarks live in Rome, as does its most ancient history. While you could spend weeks touring all of the city’s important sites, here are just a few of my favorites, along with some hidden gems that I always love to visit.
Campo de’ Fiori
This square has been an informal marketplace for centuries, where everything from vegetables to horses has been bought and sold. Today, it’s a fun stop to browse the fresh produce, meats, and cheeses, and pick up a souvenir or two. Take a minute to notice the statue in the middle of the square; it’s a monument to the 16th-century monk Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in this spot for his belief that the Earth revolved around the sun.
Colosseum & Roman Forum
The historic ruins of the largest open-air theater ever built sit right in the center of the city. It was here that one of the most iconic activities of Roman life—gladiator games in which men and animals fought to the death in front of up to 60,000 spectators—took place. Be sure to book a ticket that allows you to explore the maze like underground area where gladiators and animals were kept before the games began.
Right next to Colosseum sits the Roman Forum, the center of ancient Roman political life. The Forum is now a grand collection of jaw-dropping archeological ruins, from the free-standing columns of the temple of Saturn to the mostly intact brick senate house. Give yourself plenty of time to wander through here and take in its layers of history. You can get access to both the Forum and the Colosseum with one ticket.
Fontana di Trevi
The largest, most ornate baroque fountain in a city full of fountains, Trevi is the end point of the Virgo aqueduct that brought fresh water to ancient Rome from the unspoiled countryside. Follow local custom and turn your back to the fountain to throw a coin in with your right hand over your left shoulder—this is said to ensure you’ll come back to Rome soon. Or, share a drink from the neighboring Lover’s Fountain with your sweetheart to make sure you stay in love forever. Don’t miss the amazing archeological site that lies below the fountain known as Vicus Caprarius, where you can see the structure of the aqueduct alongside living quarters from the 1st century.
La Bottega del Marmoraro
Tucked away on a picturesque street is this store that Giada always makes a point to visit. As soon as you take a step inside, you'll feel transported to an older time: wall-to-wall marble slabs, books, prints and paintings with perhaps not a sign of uncovered wall in sight. It feels like a magical old workshop, and it's home to one of the coolest souvenirs you can grab in the city: customized marble signs.
La Piccola Erboristeria
When she lived in Rome, Giada’s mom would get her tea from this cool herbalist’s shop on a regular basis. Now that she's back in the U.S., it’s the only souvenir she wants when Giada returns for a visit! In addition to teas, this tiny shop stocks beautiful natural makeup, skin and haircare products.
Down the road from the ruins of the Colosseum and Forum lies another relic of Ancient Rome, this temple was built in the 1st century BCE to honor the 12 Roman gods. Centuries later it was converted to a Catholic church, and renaissance friezes and frescoes were added. The artist Raphael loved the building so much that he requested to be buried here; you can see his sarcophagus in a niche on the wall to the left of the entrance.
Piazza di Spagna
Named for the Spanish Embassy that has perched on this square since the 17th century, this grand square is probably best known for the sweeping 135-step staircase that leads down to it from the Trinità dei Monti. The Spanish Steps are a popular meeting place for visitors from around the world; to get a better sense of their grandeur, come early in the morning before the crowds. In spring, they’re adorned with dozens of blooming azaleas for a gorgeous explosion of color.
This serene square faces the Palazzo Farnese, once the home of a powerful Renaissance family and currently the location of the French embassy, which was partially constructed by Michelangelo. The twin fountains in this piazza are built on massive granite basins that were once part of the ancient Roman baths.
This massive market is one of the most exciting destinations for food lovers. With 100 stalls selling fresh produce, cheese, seafood, and more, there’s so much to see and taste. Don’t miss the vendors selling pizza and other grab-and-go foods for a snack while you explore—Mordi e Vai is a favorite for panini stuffed with trippa alla Romana.
The Vatican Museums
It should come as no surprise that the center of power for the Catholic Church is home to some of the most incredible religious art ever created. The Vatican complex contains a number of smaller museums in an attempt to organize it all; one ticket will allow you to access all of them, including the Sistine Chapel, with its incredible ceiling fresco by Michelangelo. Also within the Vatican is St. Peter’s Basilica, which is free to enter and holds the tombs of 91 popes from history.
Via dei Condotti
One of Rome’s most important throughways, this arrow-straight road used to carry travelers and merchants from the Tiber river to the Pincio hill outside of town. Today, it’s where many Italian fashion houses have their flagship stores, including Gucci, Ferragamo, Prada, and more. Look up as you stroll to admire the many gorgeous palazzos that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
Via del Babuino
Between the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza del Popolo, this popular shopping street is a great destination to wander with a gelato in hand. It’s home to a number of high-end designer shops—perfect for some fun window-shopping!
Just behind the Spanish Steps is this stunning public park where you can enjoy a picnic among the beautiful gardens that once belonged to the Borghese family. It's a welcome breath of fresh air, whether you stroll, sit, or rent a bike to tour the whole park.
This gracious hotel is a peaceful oasis in the city, originally built in the 1880s as a luxury apartment building. Its jewel is the Michelin starred restaurant La Terraza, which is located on the top floor of the hotel and boasts a truly spectacular view of the city.
Within walking distance of the Villa Borghese, this fun hotel has a leafy outdoor terrace perfect for sipping a morning cappuccino before you set out for a day of sightseeing. The rooms come in sizes that range from Shoebox to Cosy, Roomy, and Biggy, all with striking midcentury design appeal.
Hotel de Russie
For a true luxury experience, this is Giada’s favorite hotel in Rome. Built in the early 1800s, the grand hotel was called “paradise on earth” by French poet Jean Cocteau in 1917. Though it’s near the bustling Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps, you feel completely secluded in the hotel’s 30,000-square-foot terraced gardens.