Rome Underground

A (sort of) Local’s Guide to the City’s Hidden Gems

What do you envision when you think of Rome? Perhaps the grand ruins of the Colosseum, or the whimsical beauty of the Trevi Fountain? Maybe you think of the bustling street vendors and performers, or the smell of fresh pizza wafting through the air. Whatever you imagine, there’s no doubt that Rome is one of the most lively, charming cities in the world.

As someone who was lucky enough to live in Rome for over 4 months, I got to see its beauty firsthand. I discovered that what makes Rome so spectacular is not only its claims to fame, but rather the things one stumbles upon while getting lost: a quaint mom and pop pizza shop, a beautiful view of the city, or quite literally a hole in the wall (stay tuned for that). Here are some of my favorite spots:

Sights

Gianicolo Hill

Source: https://www.romeloft.com/highlight/panoramic-rome-view/

Located in the young, hip Trastevere district of Rome, Gianicolo Hill offers one of the best panoramic views of Rome. It’s the perfect little place to hike up to and enjoy a stunning view, a picnic, and don’t forget a bottle of wine! My pro tip: go at sunset.

The Rose Garden

Source: https://www.wantedinrome.com/whatson/romes-rose-garden-2.html

Sometimes you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and Rome’s Public Rose Garden is the perfect place to turn to. Located just a 5-minute walk from Circus Maximus, the garden is a beautiful little getaway. You can take a stroll, read about the different species, or simply take some time for a photo-op. Fair warning, though: don’t bring anything sweet, bees love the garden!

The Aventine Keyhole

Source: https://www.orderisda.org/culture/travel/peer-through-the-aventine-keyhole-and-unravel-romes-storied-past/

Remember earlier when I mentioned an actual hole in the wall? Well, this is it. It’s located near the Rose Garden and is known as one of Rome’s little miracoli. Now, to be fair, this spot can get a little touristy during the day; however, nothing says “hidden gem” quite like the Aventine Keyhole. Peer into it to get a magnificent view of St. Peter’s Basilica. And if you can, get there early to beat the crowds!

Food

Dar Poeta

Source: https://www.spottedbylocals.com/rome/dar-poeta/

Every Roman has their favorite pizza place. Mine? Hands down Dar Poeta. Located on Vicolo del Bologna, a tiny street in Trastevere, this small family-owned restaurant has the thinnest, crispiest, the most delicious pizza I’ve had in Rome. The menu bursts with a variety of pizzas, suppli, wine, and other classic Italian delights. Dar Poeta is always bustling with people, and yet the owners always manage to find a place for you to sit. Pair the restaurant’s homey atmosphere and tasty food with great company, and there really is nothing better.

Hosteria Del Moro Da Tony

Source: https://bit.ly/2HffxJE

Now, I’ll be honest. Tony’s doesn’t have the greatest food Rome has to offer. However, I dare you to find a more fun (and affordable) place to spend your Wednesday nights as a student in Rome. Tony’s offers a deal where for 15€, your table gets 4 appetizers, 2 entrees, and unlimited wine. But the best part of the night is the rowdy atmosphere of a bunch of study abroad students packed into a restaurant. There’s singing, dancing, and lots of laughter! If you’re in Rome on a Wednesday, you have to stop by.

Donkey Punch

Source: https://www.yelp.com/biz/donkey-punch-roma

If you’re looking for a quick bite, look no further than Donkey Punch. Once again located in Trastevere (what can I say, it’s my favorite part of Rome!) this rock n’ roll themed sandwich shop is unlike any other. Fresh, local ingredients formed into delicious sandwich concoctions named after famous bands/artists (or, create your own!). Bonus: they have deals for students!

Experiences

There is no limit to all the amazing experiences Rome has to offer. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Get insulted at Cencio La Parolaccia restaurant
  • Peruse through the small vintage book kiosks by the Tiber River near the Vatican
  • Create a custom ice cream bar at the Magnum Store near the Trevi Fountain
  • Missing Chipotle? Indulge in some Mexican food at Pico’s in Trastevere
  • Enjoy Michelin star rated restaurant Glass Hostaria at 25% off every third Thursday of the month, if you are under the age of 25.

The next time you’re in Rome, I hope you get a chance to stop by all my favorite hidden gems. Reminiscing about all the stories that got me to these places brings me back to one of the best times of my life. But don’t just take my word for it; go on and create your own stories. My final tip? Don’t be afraid to get lost – that is often how the best memories are made.

-Eleena

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