Benvenuti a Roma!
I’ve returned to my favorite city in the world for our Rome Staycation. We are staying in a charming and quiet, yet extremely central area, shoehorned into a pocket in the ancient Roman Forum.
I’ll be meeting with my guests shortly, and we will enjoy an aperitivo and neighborhood stroll, and then dinner at my friend Paola’s restaurant. This week will be full of all of my favorite things, but none of the touristy stuff. No Colosseum/Forum, no Vatican Museum. Instead, we will marvel at hidden churches with gorgeous mosaics, find saucy frescoes, learn to make Cacio Pepe pasta, and sample the best porchetta in Lazio. Non vedo l’ora, andiamo!
Rome Tour, Day 2: Oh, the people you’ll meet
Today was about reconnecting with some of my favorite people. Rome is not just my adopted city, but also a place that is a delight to visit from a personal perspective. I have met so many wonderful people here.
Last night, we ate dinner at Trattoria Der Pallaro, which is true comfort food. Paola is sort of a Roman aunt for me, I used to eat here as a student more than 25 years ago. She still kisses me and feeds me until I burst.
Our tour today was led by Understanding Rome who has been guiding in Italy the same number of years as I have. Agnes and I agree so much on how to approach Rome, that it’s a city to be savored rather than one to be raided in “Bucket List” style. A meander with her and my group means no exact plan, but seeing where the day takes us and learning about the soul of this city.
My lunch was spent with The Catholic Traveler who I’ve been friends with for some years. We enjoyed lunch with his family, and it was great to see how his girls have grown. I have a ton of respect for scrappy entrepreneurs and the reality is that not many people do what Mountain and I do. It’s nice to have a peer that gets me.
In the evening, I had dinner with some of my Rome girls:
Elyssa, Gillian, and Lindsay are all expats that have made a place for themselves through fantastic work here in Rome. It is really lovely to have community with incredible women that have built businesses and lives in this beautiful but complicated city.
Rome is historic and so on, but it’s the people that make it home for me. Sharing some of these friends with my tour groups, I hope at least, gives them a sense of why I feel that way.
Chandeliers from the Waldorf, gloriously preserved ancient frescoes in an underground apartment, Byzantine mosaics in a rarely open church, a curious round church with gruesome frescoes, amphorae, arches, Roman windows and an enormous, buried temple.
Yes, it’s true that my weeklong Rome tour doesn’t go to the Vatican or Saint Peter’s. But that’s by design. Rome is chock-a-block with dazzling places you’ve never heard of. My job is to curate those for my guests, so that they see things they would never find, and understand the city’s many facets, rather than checking a box on a “Bucket List”.
It’s a busy Saturday here in Rome and we saw almost nobody in these fascinating places. I hope you’ll come along with me someday to see what Rome is really like, not just the stuff of postcards.
A huge GRAZIE to the marvelous Agnes Crawford, who is my pick for local guide here in Rome. She is a brilliant storyteller with a wicked sense of humor. You should follow her at Understanding Rome and subscribe to her Substack newsletter even if you aren’t coming to Rome.
Today was a very good day but the highlight was a surprise I’d arranged for my group. After our final dinner of the Rome tour, we enjoyed a moonlight tour of the Colosseum. This is a wonderful way to enjoy both the floor and the underground without crowds and beautifully lit. At this time, they do this on Saturday evenings, but tickets are a challenge to find. Thank you Parco archeologico del Colosseo for offering these special visits!
Last days in Rome. Frescoes, fragments, and all the oddities of humanity piled on top of each other…