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Restaurant and hotel recommendations in Rome

Restaurant and hotel recommendations in Rome

May 29th, 2006, 07:53 PM
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Restaurant and hotel recommendations in Rome

I'm cheating. I posted my trip report last week, and the dull headline has attracted zero readership. So I'm leading with the recommendation angle, and re-posting the information. The restaurants and the hotels are noteworthy. Trust me.

"Trip report: Rome, three nights in May 2006

I arrived at Romeís FCO airport around noon on Sunday, having flown in from the States. I took the hotel shuttle to the Domus Julia, a nice little B&B type hotel, just below the Barberini Palace and very near the Spanish Steps, at via Rasella 32. I had time to get settled and refreshed before my daughter arrived from Florence at 5 p.m. I was not feeling at all tired or jet-lagged, just excited to be there and see Rome for the first time.

As soon as she arrived, we headed for the Spanish Steps. It was a beautiful and sunny day, with all the deep pink azaleas in bloom, and lots of people lounging on the steps. We looked around, took pictures, and then walked down to see the designer shops on via Condotti.

Next, we stopped for dinner at Rosa Rosae Ristorante, via di Pietra 88. It was a very nice atmosphere, but a bit touristy, which we expected because of its location. Food was just so-so, but service was friendly. Prices were on the higher side for the quality, at about 52 EUR for two, with a half-liter of house wine. My veal was ok, but a big tough.

After dinner, we ended our day at the Trevi Fountain, because we wanted to see it all lit up at night. It was very pretty, if somewhat crowded. We sat on the steps to enjoy it and chat. The street vendors are especially annoying there, though. They simply wonít take No for an answer, so itís best to totally ignore them. But thatís a tough thing to do at first.

Anyway, I discovered that itís a mistake to pay any attention, as the street vendors take that as showing interest, and they persist endlessly. You just have to ignore them, or they follow you and stay right in your face. I was surprised when I found out that the vendors come right into restaurants and walk up to diners at their tables, too. Itís a sad situation, really.

The next day we had reservations at the Vatican Museums at 2:00. We had a leisurely morning, enjoyed the Hotel Juliaís breakfast buffet, and then took the metro over to Vatican City. We were thrilled we were able to walk to the head of the line, which was about two blocks long. (So the hassle of faxing to the Vatican for a tour reservation, and waiting to hear back was all worth it!)

Our tour was very nice, with an informative and interesting guide. We had headsets, which are a huge convenience in enjoying the tour. It took two hours, which left us in the Sistine Chapel at 4:00. This was great timing, since the door from there into St. Peterís Basilica closes at 4:30. We had 30 minutes to enjoy the chapelís masterpiece ceiling, which is barely enough time. We then headed directly into St. Peterís to admire its dome, and especially Michelangeloís Pieta.

It made for a great day of art appreciation, without any of the headache of waiting in lines. We figured we would have spent about four hours standing in lines in the sunshine, if we didnít have the Museums reservation and didnít know about the back door from the Sistine Chapel into St. Peterís. I donít think they advertise that little shortcut, but, thanks to Rick Steves, we knew about it.

After enjoying St. Peterís Square and seeing all we wanted to see at the Vatican, we crossed the Tiber and walked around that cute neighborhood for a while, finding a nice little café to sit for a drink and a salad.

We wandered around some more, took lots of photos and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Later, for dinner, we headed back toward a restaurant where my daughter had eaten earlier that semester. Itís very casual and good, called the Maccheroni Ristorante at Piazza delle Coppelle, 44, phone 06 68307895. Itís very popular with locals and gets very busy. The service is friendly and the atmosphere is lively and interesting. About 47 EUR for two, with one-half liter of house wine.

The next day dawned with pouring rain, which was a bit concerning as it was our last full day. and we planned to visit the Coloseum and the Forum. Our luck was good, though, because after weíd finished breakfast and were ready to head out for the day, the rain had stopped. It continued to clear throughout the day, and turned into very pleasant weather after all.

When we arrived at the Coloseum, a guide was selling space in the next tour of both the Coloseum and the Forum, so we jumped in. He was interesting, but rather rushed. He gave a quick history, and then we had just 15 minutes to look around, take pics, and meet the next guide for the Forum tour. That guide was quite a bit more interesting; a self-proclaimed history buff who knew all the background stories that make a place come alive. We walked to the top of the hill, and then stopped several times throughout the Forum, and he gave a lot of information and answered all the questions. After that, we wandered around a bit on our own, then headed into the adjoining Roman neighborhood to get lunch on our way back toward our hotel.

Trying to eat Ďlunchí in Italy in mid-day is a big problem, as probably everybody already knows. Once they close after lunch around 3:00, restaurants donít open again until at least 7:00, and it wasnít easy to find a market for picnic snacks. Finding a place to sit and enjoy a salad in the afternoon is a big challenge. We didnít have much choice, so when we found a place that looked nice and was serving food at that time of day, we didnít care much about the price or the menu. Of course, it was outrageously expensive and rather mediocre. (Can you say ďtourist trapĒ?) But, it was worth every penny to get some food and take a break. And it was a really charming place, with very nice outdoor seating.

We then wandered over to see the Pantheon, Piazza Navonna, and to find a church that has Michelangeloís Risen Christ. (I canít remember the name of the church, though!)

Finally, we found a Foot Locker store to get a pair of shoes my daughter needed to hike the Cinque Terre. Hers had completely worn through after her semester of walking everywhere in Italy. That accomplished, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

We had reservations to meet my daughterís friend for dinner at 9:00. He had studied in Rome that semester and recommended his favorite restaurant in the neighborhood where heíd lived, called Il Matriciano, on Via dei Gracchi, 49- 61. (Reservations advisedóphone 063213040, or 063212327) Itís perfect for a more special dinner, but certainly not over-the-top. For three people dining, we paid just 103 EUR, which included a liter of house wine. We shared two appetizers, and two of us had veal dishes, one had just spaghetti. We each enjoyed coffee and dessert. It is a very, very friendly and pleasant place. We completely enjoyed it.

The next day, we slept in a bit, and then took a cab to the train station to take EuroStar to Florence.

Itís my habit to peek into little hotels that look nice, as we wander around in any city, anywhere. Iím collecting research for our next visit, and besides, hotel lobbies are always interesting and sometimes beautiful. While in Rome, I picked up cards from these three hotels, which looked very nice, but also more expensive than our Domus Julia:

La Lumiere di Piazza di Spagna (Spanish steps), has rooftop dining, is in an old mansion on Condotti street. More expensive than our Hotel Julia, I'm sure. www.lalumieredipiazzadispagna.com.

Hotel Barberini, Via Rasella 3, a four-star just up the street from the Domus Julia, across from Barberini Palace and near the Spanish steps. [email protected]

Hotel Bramante, near the Vatican in the 'ancient urban neighborhood of Borgo Pio". www.hotelbramante.com.

May 29th, 2006, 08:05 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,188
Maureen, I read your trip report last week so I felt I must comment this time! I'm just a bit jealous you got a view of the Spanish Steps with azaleas in full bloom. (But I guess that's what you get for going in May, rather than January like I did.) I'm glad you had some excellent experiences.

One good place to eat if you just want a simple, but appetizing, meal at odd hours is the Auto Grill on via del Corso, which is within several blocks of Hotel Julia.

I did enjoy visiting the Trevi Fountain both day and night when I stayed near it, but I sort of wish I had once gotten up and out really early so I could view it all by myself.
WillTravel is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 08:12 PM
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Hi MaureenB, I didn't see your other post. It sounds like you had a lovely time..btw, I never have jetlag when I arrive in Italy either. I only have it after I arrive home, lol! But that is better.

It is true, one should try to have lunch around 1:00pm or so..but if one gets off of the tourist areas usually there is something you can get to eat. But it is good to know what the "normal" hours are for most eating establishments.

Thanks for sharing your time in Rome!!
And wishing you many more trips.
LoveItaly is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 11:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Hi MaureenB. I agree that it is discouraging to take the time to write up a trip report and then feel that few people have read it. I felt similarly with my recent trip report on Paris. But then later I noticed someone referring to what I had said in my report, so maybe people read them and don't post a reply. I usually try to post some sort of reply, so people know that someone is appreciating their report...

Sounds like a nice time in Rome. We'll be there this summer. Can't wait.
travelgirl2 is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 01:00 AM
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I, too, read your previously posted Rome report and also your Nice report. I enjoyed them both and thank you for taking the time to write. I know what it is like to write a report and get few responses back. It doesn't necessarily mean people have not read it.

I am noting the restaurants you have mentioned for our trip coming up soon. Thank you!
Marianna is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Thanks for sharing. I'm glad that the weather cleared up for the forum/ Colosseum. I generally recommend that ,if possible, to plan Rome around the weather. This means keeping a flexible schedule. The Forum are really is best in nice weather, while museums are great for rainy days.
jabez is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 06:56 AM
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Hey, everyone, thanks for replying. Now I know my first report was not wasted effort. It gives me encouragement to finish collecting my notes for Florence, Venice, and Santa Margherita Ligure, and write those up, too.

We loved Santa Margherita Ligure. I don't see it mentioned on Travel Talk very often. It is a very charming mid-sized town, located beautifully on the sea, with lots of shops, restaurants, markets, hotels. It didn't seem as crowded with tourists, yet, either. Maybe it gets hit later in the summer, but wasn't at all crowded in May. It's an easy day trip to Cinque Terre, and also to Portofino from SML. I'll write it up and post separately.
Thanks for your kind feedback!
P.S. You're so right about Rome, jabez. Because those sights are outdoors, bad weather can really kill the experience. But, we had reservations at the Vatican Museums, even more importantly, so that set the itinerary for us on our two full days in Rome. We lucked out with seeing all the sights in two days, and then some.
May 30th, 2006, 12:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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MaureenB, I enjoyed SML also - a great place! It is a short boat ride to Portofino with such beautiful views along the way. We hope to visit there again next summer.

Where did you stay in SML? We stayed at the Hotel Laurin and loved it but we are always looking for new places to stay.
Marianna is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 12:44 PM
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Maureen, welcome back! I enjoyed your trip report very much. I remember several of your posts regarding your upcoming trip, so its nice that you took the time to write up a report. I'm looking forward to the next installment!

tcreath is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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Marianna, in SML we stayed at Hotel Nuova Riviera. It's a smallish B&B, a few blocks up the hill from the harbor. No ocean view, but a very charming place. Breakfast is included (very simple pre-packaged rolls, but nice cappuccino, also simple juice). Our room was very reasonable, 98EU for a double/twin with breakfast (would have been cheaper if I hadn't gone through venere.com).
Actually, our room had three twin beds, and was quite large with a big wardrobe, a desk, a roll-top desk, and two chairs. The room had a unique round wall, with large windows, and also a ceiling fan. The bathrooms are relatively new, with nice tiled shower stalls. It was sparkling clean and very charming.
No elevator, though, but the wonderful owner carried my biggest bag for me. The owner and his manager live there, I think, so they are there to say Hello and Goodbye whenever you are coming and going. It's a very personal touch, so you feel like you're staying in a private residence really. (Some people may or may not like this aspect.) I highly recommend it.
May 30th, 2006, 04:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 136
Just to let you know that I, too, enjoyed your post. Do you have any hints on going about getting Vatican Tour tickets? This will be our first trip and I keep reading as much as I can to ensure that the trip is enjoyable. So, thanks for the information.
kaleighsgram is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 04:40 PM
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I have another thread on the subject of "Vatican Museums tours offered by the Vatican". In a nutshell, the only way to get a reservation through the Vatican itself, is to go to the Vatican website, find Museums Tour information, fax a request to the fax number listed there. I'm sorry I don't have the fax number anymore, or I would gladly post it.
You will not receive an acknowledgement from the Vatican of your request, but if you're lucky, you will receive a reservation time via return fax, a few short days before your requested tour date. So, if you're in transit, have the Vatican fax the reservation document to your hotel in Rome. Mine arrived at 5 a.m. on the morning I flew from our home town to Rome, so it was close! You must present the Vatican's fax, plus your ID (and other tour members' IDs).
But, if it works, it is well worth it to have the guided tour by a Vatican employee. I think it's the cheapest way to get a tour, and also I think it's the only way to get a reservation for entry time, so you go to the head of the line. Good luck!
Jun 1st, 2006, 10:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 96
Hi Maureen, thanks for the report.

Could you provide a little more detail about your experience at the Domus Julia? Would you return? Pros/Cons? What type of room did you have? Thanks, it is on the top of a list I'm desperately needing to narrow!
butter924 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 10:31 AM
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I stayed at Hotel Julia in 2003. I was traveling alone. It was very clean and modern. I felt very safe. It was right near the Trevi Fountain. The breakfast buffet was great with alot of varity. The staff was friendly. I would recommend it.
JandaO is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 11:07 AM
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Butter 924, for the price, I don't think you can beat Domus Julia. Its location is very convenient, first of all. The street it's on is smallish, so relatively quiet, and it leads up to the Barberini Palace. We walked easily to the Spanish Steps, which are especially close, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navonna, the Pantheon. We didn't make it to the Borghese, but I think it's really close, too.
We took the underground to the Vatican and the Colosseum, but I think we walked the entire way back, winding through different areas of Rome.
I did not see any rooms at Hotel Julia, but we checked in/out at the hotel's front desk and ate breakfast in the hotel's nice breakfast room. As someone else said, the breakfast buffet is more than just a hard roll and coffee. There are fresh boiled eggs, ham, croissants, juice, cappuccino, etc.
I don't recall if our room had air conditioning, honestly, as we didn't need it in May. The bathroom is a good size, nicely tiled, relatively new, with a shower/tub and bidet. The room had a safe, a simple slip-covered chair, and a large wardrobe/dresser. It was a room large enough for the two of us, easily, and was very clean and nicely-kept. The common area outside the room would have been convenient if we wanted to prepare a simple meal (but we didn't use it). I would recommend the Domus Julia.
Jun 1st, 2006, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 435
Maureen, I think your advice is great - we leave in one week (and the procrastinatos that we are, DH & I) are still planning. i'm going to look into the Vatican Tour, but I'm afraid we won't get the fax in time.. Thanks again for the advice!
AngelaS is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 12:10 PM
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Butter924, I forgot to mention that I got the price of 170EUR at Domus Julia through venere.com, which was a good rate. But I wish I'd gone directly to the hotel itself, because I later found a 10 percent discount coupon. But the hotel couldn't honor it, since I'd booked through venere.
I can't remember exactly where I found the coupon, but it was offered through Virtual Tourist. Maybe it will apply to your stay.
AngelaS, have fun in Rome!
Jun 1st, 2006, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,023

I never saw your first trip report because my computer monitor konked out on me. I just hooked up my new monitor and read this thread.

You give lots of good, helpful information. We will be leaving for Italy in 23 days, and I thank you for your comments on restaurants.
i_am_kane is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 02:51 PM
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Thanks, Kane, I appreciate the compliment. Have fun in Italy!
Jun 1st, 2006, 05:06 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 43
Thanks for the great report Maureen. We are going to Rome in the fall and I appreciate all your advice. We are going to try for Domus Julia.
caitlinO is offline  

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