Roma…La Dolce Vita

Roma…La Dolce Vita


When in Italy it is so easy to slip into la dolce vita…particularly when you are immersed in such beautiful, historic centres and surrounded by such good food.

Italian life is completely foodcentric, from the morning coffee to the sit down bowl of pasta for lunch, or the slice of pizza for a quick snack. No matter what city you land in, these are the constants.

Our trip began with a week in Rome staying in an apartment between Piazza Navona and Campo de Fiori, in what is the heart of Rome.

Almost immediately, after dumping our bags, we walked down to Piazza di Sant’ Eustachio which was around the corner for our first bite of Pizza al taglio at the hole in the wall that is Pizza Zaza. Then, espressos all round at Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè – which is probably the most famous coffee spot in Rome. It has been serving wood fire roasted coffee since the 1930’s and the shop is still in original condition.

Forget instant coffee..this is instant Italian!

Our first dinner was at La Vecchia Locanda. It’s a charming, moody little spot with lots of great examples of Roman pasta specialities on the menu – carbonara, amatriciana and the very Roman, cacio and pepe (cheese and pepper pasta). My tonarelli (thick spaghetti) with truffle was absolutely delish.

There are a few bread meccas in the world and this place is at the top of my list.

Nestled in a corner of the market square, the Forno Campo de’ Fiori turns out handmade breads, pizzas, pastries and biscuits to die for.

Peek through the glass to watch the master baker at work, kneading, stretching and shaping this humble dough in a flour dusted room…

Then open the heavy door and step inside to be enveloped by the most comforting aroma of warm, freshly baked goods that will make your insides smile…

Make your choice of which provincial style loaf you will take home…each of them crying ‘pick me’…

Stop yourself from buying everything…

Exit with your Precious, bundled under your arm, and hurry home as fast as possible for a big slice of that crusty loaf, with the chewy yet airy centre slathered with soft butter or a drizzle of local olive oil…

Satisfaction guaranteed.

To get to the foodie heart of a place, you just need to head to the local market, and in Rome, the market centre is the Campo de Fiori.

The square is lined with busy restaurants and bars, and the famous Forno de Campo de Fiori bakery hides in the corner… but the secret is out on that place, so expect to queue.

I am always drawn like a magnet to this bustling marketplace that caters for Romans and visitors alike, as it manages to retain its authentic feeling, despite the pressure of tourism.

True to its name, the Campo is bursting with bright blooms, as well as the freshest fruit and vegetables, local cheeses and specialty items like the much loved truffle, in all its derivations.

Piles of artichokes, bundles of sweet tomatoes, freshly picked greens, towers of handmade cheese… it’s all there waiting for you…

For high end, fine dining with old school service, Aroma @ Hotel Palazzo Manfredi is notable, not only for the flashy food and attentive service but for the unbeatable view of the Colosseum.

This is special occasion destination dining, and on the day we lunched, there was romance all around with couples seated by the window celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and proposals…with French champagne, Tiffany boxes and candled cakes all making an appearance.

It is definitely a classy and memorable place for that type of thing!

We settled in for a good few hours and, although we couldn’t manage the formidable degustation menu, tagliolini with lobster, sea bass and prawns, and decadent desserts, together with several complimentary mini courses, made us all feel oh so special.

Perched high on the rooftop of the Relais & Chateaux hotel, this Michelin star restaurant is the place to impress in Rome.

TIP: Go early evening, book a table by the window and have the privilege of watching the Colosseum light up as night falls, for ultimate romantic bang for your buck!

It’s a deli…it’s a wine shop…it’s a bakery…it’s a salumeria….it’s a restaurant…

Basically, Roscioli is where all your Italian foodie dreams can come true.

Start with a spritz and then peruse the menu of most excellent antipasti – we chose burrata with double sundried tomatoes and mortadella fatta in casa – followed by a seasonal salad of puntarella (a type of chicory) and anchovies, polpette romana and a few pasta dishes – but really, that’s besides the point. Choose anything and, because of their high quality produce driven philosophy, it will be good…

The very gorgeous ambience of Enoteca e Taverna Capranica in the Colonna area is just perfect when you want a cosy plate of something Italian…

And if you are in the neighbourhood, La Pollarolla that came recommended by a friend, is a good find for easy going, reasonably priced friendly eats.

Rome was festooned in pretty lights at Christmas time when we where there, adding to the festive spirit of the famous shopping strip, Via Dei Condotti. If you find yourself there on a wintry day, then be sure to stop for a Cioccolata Calda – Italian-style hot chocolate that is so thick and dark, it’s like a warm chockie pudding!

A week in Rome will sink into your bones and ignite an Italian love affair that will last a lifetime…making it all the harder when it is time to leave and you have to say…

Arriverderci Roma…

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