When In Rome…An Affordable City Guide

August 22, 2012 1:16 pm

As we have had one of the worst Summers in British history, it is inevitable that minds across the nation are going to wander onto ideas of hotter climates and foreign jaunts.

Rome is the perfect destination for a short city break; not too far, delicious food, historical sites, cultural activities, good weather, friendly people and the best ice cream in the world – what more could you ask for?!  Here is a selection of the best places to stay, eat and see in Rome without spending a fortune.



Best place to Stay: Blue Hostel

Don’t let the name put you off, this is by no means a hostel.  Housed in a 17th Century house, the pristine, well-decorated rooms (all with en-suite) are an absolute bargain at €60 a night in April for a double room.  Situated between Termini Station and the Colosseum, the hostel is not in the most central location but is still walking distance from all the sights.  The owner, Ercole, meets you from Termini train station and provides a map, on which he marks his recommendations of great restaurants and places to have a nice tipple.  He is also on hand 24/7 in case something goes wrong.  All in all, it is a perfect option for staying in Rome – pristine, friendly and affordable!

How to get there:  Easyjet are often having sales with flights from London to Rome so keep an eye out.  Once arriving at the airport, the best way to get into the city centre is by train to Roma Termini.  Tickets are much cheaper than getting a taxi, and the Italian train services are very reliable.

Where to Eat:

Rome is saturated with places to eat and drink, but with so many picturesque tourist spots, it is easy to choose a restaurant where you are sure to be ripped off and where you may be missing out on the delicious food that smaller, less well known restaurants have to offer.  Particularly notorious tourist traps are the restaurants around the Pantheon and on the beautiful Piazza Navona.

A trendy, up-and-coming area of Rome is the cobbled streets of Trastevere where two fantastic restaurants are located:

–       Enzo is genuinely Italian, except without the friendly people.  Do not expect niceties and smiles; it is all about the food.  This place is always packed so plan to go for an early or late dinner.  It is delicious and cheap, so try it out.

–       Augusto  is cut from the same cloth.  With queues snaking out of the door every single night, simplicity is key, with paper table cloths and a daily limited choice of one pasta dish (tagliatelle with rabbit ragu), one oozing risotto dish (delicious porcini mushroom) and one juicy meat choice (lemon veal with rocket).  The menu is about quality not quantity and it can all be washed down with a huge carafe off their delicious (and cheap!) house wine .

Although tourist attractions invariably provide inferior food for extortionate prices, there are some excellent alternatives nearby.  Near Piazza Navona are:

–       Cul de Sac, an excellent wine bar serving amazing bar snacks.  This place is full of Italians and has walls laden with different wines.  Prices range from £3-£50 a glass, so be as extravagant as you wish!

–       Ristorante Maccheroni– This place is always busy and has a menu full of simple but deliciously overflowing antipasti platters, fresh ribbons of pasta and gnocchi options – the peppery Carbonara sauce and creamy, Gorgonzola and pear gnocchi are not to be missed.

Where to get the best ice cream:

Without a doubt Giolitti not only has a fantastic name but also dishes out the best ice cream in town to native Italians and tourists alike.  Situated round the corner from the Pantheon, be sure to expect substantial queues.  However, the jokey staff makes the queuing enjoyable and you’re often grateful to have enough time to do your ‘ip-dip-doos’ before choosing your ice cream flavours in time.

The Roman highlights:

– The Trevi Fountain

– The Spanish Steps – a spectacular place to people watch and take a break from shopping while soaking up the sun

– The Pantheon

– The Colosseum and Forum

– Vittorio Emanuele Monument– climb up to the top to get amazing, panoramic views across Rome

– The Vatican – the Pope does a public address on Sundays and Wednesdays.

– Piazza Navona and Piazza de Popollo

With such a beautiful, historically rich and affordable city on our doorstep, there really is no excuse for Brits to miss out on experiencing magical Rome.


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