We often find ourselves spending a night in Rome on our way to or from other places in Italy, as we did last month, and we enjoy the opportunity to savor the sights and tastes of the city even with just an overnight.
We’ve found a favorite little four-room inn, Relais Cavour, housed in a Roman palazzo that is a ten minute walk from Rome’s Termini Train Station, from where it’s an easy trip to the airport. With comfortable well-equipped quiet rooms – excellent beds, a sleek bathroom, space for our luggage, superior wifi, and plenty of electrical outlets – it’s a perfect fit for a one night stay. Breakfast can be delivered to your room – there are a table and chairs in each room – or if you’re leaving early, in a to-go bag. The Monti district, a few minutes walk from the Inn, has gotten a lot of press in recent years regarding new restaurants and boutiques, and is well worth a wander. When we spent a night there last fall, I mentioned the district and Kirk found an old-Rome trattoria on Yelp that we tried out – and LOVED. One of the best Carbonaras I’ve tasted! When we were at the Relais in January, arriving from the airport just in time for a late dinner, we tried to remember the name to find it again – we’d just finished a few days in Malta following a private tour for a guest who was seeking out her roots on the Adriatic Coast of Italy so we hadn’t planned for Rome except for booking a room! Couldn’t find it on Yelp, so we just started walking in the general direction, and after wandering down one cobbled street that didn’t look quite right, we tried the next one and there it was, at via dei Capocci #4- Trattoria al Tettarello! I had that memorable Carbonara again, and Kirk enjoyed one of the best steaks he’s ever had, along with an excellent bottle of Rosso de Montalcino. With unbelievably good prices and a cozy intimate down-home dining room, it’s a place we’ll return to again and again! In addition to the fun Monti neighborhood, Relais Cavour is also within walking distance of Rome’s number one sight, the Colisseum! It was a pleasure to walk to that icon at sunrise last fall before heading for the airport for the long flight home. We circled the massive structure, stopped for one last good Italian coffee, and gathered our bags at the Relais to be on our way. Another Roman beauty is even closer – Santa Maria Maggiore, which we pass on our way to dinner at al Tettarello. And if you have a little more time, the Campo dei Fiori market, always a delight, isn’t too far. Nor is the glorious Pantheon, and just around the corner, Kirk’s favorite coffee pause – Sant Eustachio. So even with less than 24 hours, it’s easy to enjoy a mini Roman Holiday!
What draws us away from our favorite city of Florence? Our daughter, who awaits us in Rome! A quick train trip south, and we check in to our hotel, then stroll by impressive city mansions and across the river to more down-home Trastevere, where we’ll meet for dinner. As we’re taking in a few favorite sights, who should walk into Piazza Santa Maria de Trastevere but Sunshine and her friend Gabriel! Is there anything more fun than bumping into someone you love in a European square??! Hugs all around, and we walk together to Sette Oche, ready for dinner. Beginning with a platter of crostini to share, we sample several Roman specialties together – their Carbonara and Amatriciana, served on homemade pasta, are outstanding!
After stopping by our hotel to pick up all the Tuscan goodies we bought for dinner tomorrow night, we walk to their quirky and tiny “hobbit house” apartment near Campo dei Fiori and hand off the food.
When we first came to Rome, nearly two decades ago, we stayed near Piazza Navona, and it’s still one of our favorite squares, so we sidetrack through before heading “home” to bed.
Where to pick up a few more things for dinner? Campo dei Fiori market, of course! In the summer those flowers find their way into the fountain to cool off – not necessary on this chilly winter day!
Can’t do Rome without a stop at Kirk’s favorite coffee bar – Sant’Eustachio, near the Pantheon. We join the throngs (it’s ALWAYS packed!) for a Gran Caffé – their secret recipe.
I can’t resist this gentle fresco on a nearby wall – it always calls my name!
Continuing the rounds of Roman favorites, we linger at the Pantheon, where Kirk does a 30 second loop as a talented guitarist plays, then pause for a rare selfie. Back across the river to Trastevere, we enjoy the faded façades, revisit the gilded mosaics of Santa Maria in Trastevere, and enjoy an al fresco lunch at Cajo e Gajo, an easy choice after seeing Carciofi alla Giudia on the menu – you know how I love my fried artichokes!!
And I’ve never seen gnocchi with seafood before – delicious as well!Another piazza, another church – this one with hidden depths. Santa Cecilia, the patron saint of music, was a Roman martyr, and the church is built over the ruins of what was her home. We wait for the little gift shop in the rear of the nave to open, and pay our euros to descend the stairs. A warren of ancient stones await us, and peering into the dimly lit rooms, we follow one path after another til we arrive at a gilded chapel honoring the saint. Above ground again, the rosy streaks in the sky lead us to the river, where we just stand in awe, swiveling from one side to the other, taking in the vivid sunset over the city.
Returning by another way to the hotel, we pass an ancient theater, incorporated into the city how many generations ago?A lovely fountain graces another piazza – we’re enjoying these new-to-us Roman discoveries!
And now it’s time to share our Tuscan goodies with Sunshine and Gabriel for dinner. We start with salumi (cold cuts) and truffled pecorino, with jeweled spicy fruit – mostarda – as a relish, remembering the delicious tastes we sampled at the Mercato Centrale in Florence as we chose.
Then Kirk starts his magic in the tiny kitchen, painstakingly preparing his Famous Pasta – the final touch is crisp-fried garlic and pine nuts, then grated-by-Gabriel parmigiano – yum!We squeeze in a Tuscan dessert, Cantucci and Vin Santo, before bundling up and heading out for New Year’s Eve fireworks, prosecco in hand. Where’s the best place to see fireworks, we had asked….and the answer was by the river. So we head for beautiful Castel Sant’Angelo, and join fellow revelers on the bridge, counting down as midnight nears. Then the fireworks start, all over the city – we circle and ooh and aah with the rest of them, sipping our bubbly, guarded by the angels. Auguri! As the fireworks end and the crowd trickles away, we decide to visit other party piazzas – we’re not ready for the revels to end! Campo dei Fiori is crazy, with music booming from every corner. Piazza Navona’s more our style, and as tunes bop from a nearby restaurant we twirl in the New Year – may it be the best yet!!
Music and Markets Blog
Slip into the window seat in our aisle and join us on our search for a symphony of views, flavors, culture, sounds, and friends. We'll let you know when we hear the harmony we seek - whether in a WOW classical concert, an awesome night of jazz, a magical vineyard or olive farm, or an outstanding bistro, trattoria, wine, garden, or experience. From our delightful maison de village near a Languedoc beach* to a canal-side string ensemble in Amsterdam, you'll read and feel like a real local.
The best way to describe us (Kirk and Anne Woodyard) is that we're interested in the stories that make the places we visit come alive.
We've visited Europe more times than we can count, learned some entertaining stories there, and met some warm and helpful people who also enjoy the wonders of music and life in Europe. Between our music-related travels, we split our time between our homes near Washington DC and in the the south of France. We look forward to sharing these stories and friends and experiences with you.