Rome – Where to Stay & Eat

Hi friends, welcome back to my Italy series! Today we’re leaving Florence and heading to the Eternal City, Rome. For this train journey I booked our tickets early and upgraded to business class seats for an extra five euros. Business class comes with larger seats, less people per car, and a little snack box. I’d say five euros is definitely worth it! The train was a very easy hour and a half and we were back where we started at Rome Termini station. We opted to take a taxi from the station to our hotel, and it was a wise decision. We would’ve been miserable pulling our bags through the narrow sidewalks and cobblestone streets and I think the ride ended up being only twelve euros. I was surprised how affordable the taxis are in Rome, it seems like you can get almost anywhere in the city center for fifteen euros or less. (disclaimer: this post will cause hunger)

I was spinning my wheels trying to book our hotel, so I consulted my Rick Steves Rome book and he recommended Hotel Nazionale. It’s centrally located, the rooms are relatively spacious, and the price was hard to beat. Compared to our hotel in Florence, the bathroom seemed especially massive. While we were settling in, it seemed unusually noisy outside so I peeked my head outside and saw that we were above the famous gelato shop, Giolitti. We were worried about the noise, but we didn’t have any trouble sleeping.

We also stayed here our final night in Rome before we flew out and got upgraded to a larger, quieter room. We were very glad we chose this hotel for our last night so we could get one more gelato from Giolitti (more on that soon). I’d definitely stay here again in Rome, the location was great and we had a very comfortable stay. It’s also right next to the Parliament buildings, so very safe!

After only nibbling a little on our snack box, we needed a proper lunch. All’Antico Vinaio, the famous Florentine sandwich spot, happened to have a location in Rome near our hotel so we figured why not. We were happy to discover the line wasn’t crazy like it is in Florence. Jon and I got different flavors this time and enjoyed them overlooking the Pantheon.

We had a dinner reservation at Luciano that night and we discovered this place from a Yotutube food tour we watched. The chef is nicknamed the “King of Carbonara” and that was on our must try list in Rome. We enjoyed some Chianti wine and the appetizer was Uovo Bio (organic egg, parmigiano fondue, bread crumbs, and Béarnaise sauce). This appetizer was delicious and unlike anything we’d seen before. We each ordered a bowl of the carbonara and it was great! I’d highly recommend making a reservation early because a lot of people were turned away trying to walk in.

The dessert menu at Luciano wasn’t speaking to us so we decided to head to Giolitti after and our lives were forever changed. This gelato shop has been around since the 1900s and it was our favorite spot of the trip. They have a rather large dessert menu, but we always stuck with a two-scoop cone. Don’t be afraid of the line because it moves fast. We found the best time to go was around 9:00 when people were at dinner. The first night I got a salted caramel and Oreo with a dallop of cream. I thought this would be the best combo, but the Oreo was not as good as I thought it would be. I think Jon got Oreo and possibly peanut butter.

The next day we went back and I tried dark chocolate and salted caramel and it was game over. The dark chocolate tasted like brownie batter and was so rich and delicious.

Jon living his best gelato filled life 🙂

Jon and I shared a surprisingly light cream puff after a morning at the Borghese Gallery. This was from their little café and had been on our list. I am definitely a sweet over savory person when it comes to breakfast foods.

We had to grab a quick lunch before a tour at the Vatican and we found this little deli and sandwich shop called La Salumeria. We thought these sandwiches were better than All’Antico Vinaio. We came back here again we loved it so much. I ordered the Porcello with porchetta, onion cream, pecorino, and songino salad. Jon got the Pork in Progress with porchetta, sweet pepper jam, sun-dried tomatoes, and pecorino cheese.

We were exhausted one night and grabbed takeout pizza from Pizza e Mozzarella before ending at Giolitti.

After visiting the Colosseum we stopped into Fourinora for a late lunch and this spot was great! They made a charcuterie board for us and then we ordered paninis. This spot is currently #1 for quick bites in Rome on Tripadvisor. We went around 5 after our tour and nobody was in there.

We stopped into Sant Eustachio for coffee and an aragostine one morning. This is one of the oldest cafes is Rome.

We didn’t go in, but outside our hotel was the first Starbucks in Rome and there was always a line! We couldn’t believe it, but I guess people wanted to try some Frappuccinos.

Jon saw Bonci Pizza on Netflix’s Chef’s Table: Pizza and desperately wanted to try it, so I incorporated it into our schedule. It’s located behind the Vatican and took us about forty-five minutes to walk there. I have never seen Jon walk so fast, I had to jog at times to keep up with him. It’s a very popular spot and we got there around 11:30 before any lines formed. It was still busy and chaotic, but we didn’t have to wait too long. You grab a number and then when they call it, you order your slices by weight but everyone stands in front of the pizzas to decide what to order so it’s a lot. The menu changes by the minute based on what pizzas they have ready. I just observed and let Jon pick our slices. We got four types to try and the plainer ones were our favorite.

We tried one new gelato spot, Frigidarium, and they dip your cones in chocolate. We really liked this place too and I’d recommend their frigidarium flavor, I can’t remember what was in it, but it was delicious!

Our final meal was one of our favorites and we first stopped here on a food tour. It is called Da Enzo 29 and for dinner it opens at 7 but we were in line by 6. The line gets very long but you can order drinks while you wait. We started with a massive burrata appetizer. The couple next to us saw it and immediately ordered one. For pastas we both got a bowl of Cacio e Pepe and then shared the Amatriciana. I think the waiter thought we were crazy, but it was our last meal of the trip so we went all out.

There are so many great restaurants in Rome and we only scratched the surface! If you’re going to Rome soon, please have some Giolitti for me! Stay tuned for all the sightseeing 🙂

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36 thoughts on “Rome – Where to Stay & Eat

  1. Caution, staying in a hotel above a gelateria can lead to weight gain, even if you do not eat there. Italian food is hard to beat, sandwiches, pastas, salads, desserts and don’t even get me started on the wines. Love Jon’s gelato mustache. Thanks for sharing Lyssy. Allan

    1. So true! After a long day of sightseeing sometimes we just don’t want to go back outside, but we always found the will to walk the few steps to Giolitti. So much good food and the wine without the hangovers is a dream!

  2. My waistline has expanded by at least an inch. I have probably visited your ice cream shop because I spent a memorable weekend in Rome with a university friend who was working there. We did the Grand Tour of the ice cream shops and ate so much I couldn’t look at another one for months. I subsequently spent lots of time in Rome while working for an Italian bank – definitely to the detriment of my waistline! Glad you had such a great time.

    1. It is so hard to resist all the good Italian food! We were able to walk it all off with out sightseeing, but that is hard to do when you are in Rome working. We are having withdrawals from the gelato. We can find good pizza and pasta in NYC, but nothing compares to the gelato.

  3. Love this post! We have been right there where you took the sandwich shot in front of the Pantheon! Jon’s gelato mustache was so funny! Thanks for your great travel info. I want to go with you on every trip!

    1. Glad you enjoyed this! I loved walking by the Pantheon almost every day, it’s such a cool site. The gelato mustache pic is one of my favorites, pure happiness when having gelato. We have been on some amazing trips 🙂

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed this post, Lyssy, because you were very close to the neighborhood of my college year. When you visited Sant’ Eustachio II Caffe you were just five minutes from the place we called our dorm, the Hotel Lunetta just off the Campo dei Fiori (on the other side of the busy Corso Vittorio Emanuele II). I laughed at most of your photos because all I could think about was the contrast between your (decadent) experience and my (college-budget) one. Our hotel was a total dive (ex. shared bathrooms, cold showers, no lobby). Our breakfast was on the run at a nearby cafe (typically a shot of espresso and a hard roll). We had plenty of gelato but always at smaller, less expensive places than Giolitti. And perhaps my favorite memory of all: lunch every day sitting on the obelisk steps in front of the Pantheon with my fellow students (our classroom building was just steps off the piazza). There was a tiny takeaway place right there called Pizza Pantheon where we’d always grab a slice. If they’re still around I’m sure they still have the several Notre Dame decals on their front windows.

    1. Glad this brought back some good memories! We never made it to Campo dec Fiori, but it was on my list. I always wish I studied abroad or travelled abroad in college, but I was too busy worrying about internships. It seems that no matter the budget, there are always great memories from travels. I liked filling my water up at the fountain next to the obelisk steps, it just tasted so refreshing.

    1. I usually never want chocolate ice cream, but that gelato was just too good! It was a delicious vacation for sure 🙂

    1. Haha there was so much good food in Rome! I have also heard that people with food allergies don’t have them there because the quality of ingredients is so good.

  5. Hotel Nazionale would be a great place to stay. I love the radiator for hanging towels in the bath of the first room. A toasty warm towel can be a real luxury after a shower. I’ve modified my diet big time so I only skimmed the food photos. If only I could eat like that.

    1. It is nice having a toasty towel! The shower door didn’t close all the way which seemed weird to me. We usually only ate one big meal a day and have a sandwich for lunch. We can’t stomach two big meals a day.

  6. You certainly ate your weight in so much good food! Like you, I had a lot of great food when I visited Rome a few years ago, but you went to a lot more that I didn’t even know of! I was amused reading about Jon speed-walking to Bonci Pizza, and I’m sure he was a happy camper once he got the goods! Dipped ice cream (or rather, gelato) is decadent, and I think the trend is picking up in the US, as I’ve been to a shop that served it. Can’t wait to read more about your food adventures in Italy!

    1. We never went hungry ha! He was so happy with his pizza, otherwise he would have wondered about it the whole time. Dipped ice cream is so decadent, we have a place by us that does it. The only problem is that it’s kind of hard to eat if the ice cream under melts but you have to bite the dip.

  7. Thanks for all the good addresses ! The hotel was on the top and all Giolitti degustations too ! I love Italian cuisine and I am sure to appreciate your addresses !

  8. My mouth is watering from looking at all the delicious food you ate while in Rome. That gelato looks amazing. I can see why you returned to try some of the different flavours!

    1. So much good food! The gelato was my favorite thing there. NYC restaurants have really good pizza and pasta, but they can’t recreate that gelato.

  9. I grew up in Rome but since I left at around 14, I never really cared for eating out (and wasn’t allowed to go by myself anyways), so there are so many restaurants in Rome that I don’t know! These places look delicious and I’m definitely writing them down for the next time I go! Thank you for sharing!

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