My Roman Holiday, where I ate, what I saw and more!


Ahhh Rome, what a city, steeped in history and romance, it is nothing short of magical. Yes, it’s hectic with its bustling traffic and thousands of tourists (for good reason!). If you’re reading this, you either are planning a trip to Rome, you’ve been there and love it or you dream of going one day! I hope my insights and tips will help you make the most of your own Roman holiday!

I feel extremely lucky, Damiano is from Rome. He has given me an authentic glimpse into true Roman life, enriched by the company of his family and friends. Plus, having a local as a tour guide (best guide ever) and a personal Roman driver (haha) made a world of difference!  

I have not finished this article, I will edit and add more as I go. But I wanted to publish it ASAP to coincide with this week’s podcast episode!

Eating in Rome

Roman cuisine is incredible. You would not believe how well I ate over these 6 weeks. From gourmet dining experiences in exquisite restaurants to rustic trattorias. It was Christmas time so I got to experience it all, from home-cooked feasts to simple delicious meals that Damiano effortlessly whipped up in our Airbnb.  

There is a huge emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients all over Italy. This is the result of the traditions passed down from generation to generation, the passion and the quality of soil and growing conditions. Italian food culture has changed my life. From looking at food as a diet and calories in vs out, to now, feeling so much joy and love for food.  I talk more about this over here. 

The Dishes You Must Try in Rome

  • Carbonara, the real deal made with eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, guanciale, and black pepper.
  • As well as the 3 other Roman pastas. Alla Gricia, Cacio e Pepe and all’Amatriciana.
  • If you are travelling in autumn or winter try the artichokes, either “carciofi alla romana” (braised with herbs) or “carciofi alla giudia” (Jewish-style deep fried artichokes).
  • Supplì (fried rice balls with tomato sauce and mozzarella and many other flavours).
  • Pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), the pizza that they cut and you pay by the weight (yes, this is exciting for me, they also do this when you buy bread at the supermarket).
  • Pizza alla Romana, it’s crispier, and it’s got a thinner crust than the Napoli style. It’s delicious! 
  • Puntarelle Alla Romana. It’s a delicious salad made with anchovy and garlic dressing. Yes, please try it!
  • Another contorni, side dish, chicory. Delish bitter wild greens, sauteed Roman style with garlic and chilli pepper. I ate this A LOT!
  • Maritozzi, I am not a super sweet treat person BUT if you order this with me I will take a huge bite! They are sweet buns filled with lightly sweetened whipped cream. For one of your Roman breakfasts, order this with an espresso.


Some Restaurants in Rome I went to and LOVED

  • Pizzeria da Remo, an authentic pizza experience, so much fun!
  • Nuovo Mondo, very rustic, always busy! 
  • Emma Pizzeria – not just because we share the same name! Probably more touristy than the above options.
  • Roscioli – I’ve tried the pizza al taglio at Antico Forno and the and Maritozzi at the caffe. 
  • Il Maritozzo Rosso – in the vibrant and historic neighbourhood of Trastevere. We had delicious award-winning carbonara (pictured above) and salty maritozzo.
  • Pizza Nader – outside of Rome centre but I loved it here and had to mention. An amazing pizza al talio and bread experience. 
  • Dogma Ristorante – seafood delicious and very chic. 
  • Hosteria Grappolo D’oro – carbonara and so much other good stuff, in the city centre.
  • Armare – seafood, order the shared entree it was so fun and delicious! 
  • L’Osteria dell’Orologio amazing seafood Fuimincno and Chef Marco Claroni will give you a night to remember! If you have a special occasion while travelling in Rome, it’s a great option!

Must-Sees to Tick Off during Your Roman Holiday

My top recommendation is to explore the city centre on foot. You need days, if not weeks, to fully appreciate its beauty. Make a point to experience the city centre at various times throughout the day and night. The Colosseum, for example, is a must-see both during the day and at night. The same goes for the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and other iconic sites. Each time offers a different feel and perspective when visited under the changing light and energy.

Do I need to list the big ones? I am sure they are on your list! 

The Colosseum 
Recently I read someone’s experience and they said it was overrated, nope they are wrong, it’s amazing! It’s such a monumental relic of Rome’s past. I recommend you book a tour, or at least read some books and articles prior to going. Don’t go and take your selfie and just leave. Be there, imagine what it was like back during the time of Gladiators! It’s not even hard to imagine, re-watch Gladiator!  We did a tour of the Colosseum, the Forum and Palatine Hill during our last trip and it was fantastic.  

Here’s our selfie, we walked around the back to where it was quiet. 


The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum was the heart of ancient Rome, serving as the epicentre of political, commercial and social life. This sprawling complex of ruins once housed majestic temples, vibrant marketplaces and government buildings. It truly is an amazing experience, to wander through the ruins and take a glimpse into what life was like. 

Palatine Hill
One of Rome’s most ancient parts, offering a panoramic vista of the Roman Forum and the Circus Maximus. The hill upon which Rome was founded. In Roman myth, the Palatine Hill was the location of the cave (Lupercal) where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf Lupa, who nurtured and cared for them.

Trastevere is a vibrant and historic neighbourhood in Rome, known for its narrow cobblestone streets, Roman trattorias, artisan shops and bustling nightlife. Walk, enjoy, go for a drink at Bar San Calisto and be mindful of tourist traps.

The Appian Way, or Via Appia
The Via Appia is one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. I did a short walk around here, but would love to explore more. 

Ostia Antica
It was such an amazing experience to walk around this massive archaeological site with Damiano. He used to give tours to other kids as part of school. Exceptionally well-preserved ruins of ancient homes, temples, theatres and bathhouses. You can imagine what daily life may have been like in a classical Roman city.

We followed Ostia Antica with a visit to Castello di Giulio II. Of course, in between we had lunch (and a bottle of wine) near by the castle. We accidentally explored the castle very tipsy! 

Secret keyhole
I’m not sure if it is so secret anymore! Perhaps call it the famous Aventine Keyhole. I would love to take my Dad here, as he is a surveyor he would get a lot of satisfaction from looking through the keyhole to see a perfectly framed St. Peter’s Basilica in the distance. Located on the Aventine Hill, walk through the nearby orange gardens( Giardino degli Aranci) and checkout the city view while visiting the keyhole.

Villa Borghese 
There are many Villas in Rome, with beautiful gardens and amazing history. Pop Villa Borghese on your must-see list, then book your tickets for the Galleria Borghese. Beautiful gardens, art, views and history! What more could you want. 

Once the private estate for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V. Cardinal Borghese was a patron of the arts and an avid art collector. We booked in a tour of the gallery and it was amazing! See artworks and sculptures by Caravaggio, Bernini, Canova and Titian. The villa itself is also magnificent! 


A remarkable ancient Roman temple, now a church. Known for its massive dome and oculus, which offers a direct view of the sky. Architectural and engineering brilliance… from almost 2000 years ago! 

St Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel (oh and all the other amazing churches!)
St Peter’s is an architectural masterpiece, with its grand dome dominating the Roman skyline. It serves as a pilgrimage site for millions of Catholics, but if you’re not religious (like me) you’ll love visiting. You’ll discover amazing art, sculptures, interiors and architecture. For example, we saw a Caravaggio at the Church of San Luigi dei Francesci. I love seeing the differences between all the churches, the patterns, the massive columns, high ceilings, the magnificent frescoes and even the floor tiles. 

The Trevi Fountain
Fontana di Trevi is completely iconic, and this is why it’s packed with people at all hours! You’ll see everyone throwing their coins into the water to promise a return to the Eternal City (Roma).  A baroque marvel designed by Nicola Salvi and completed in 1762.  

Here you will find the famous Testaccio Market, where you can shop for fresh produce, meats and all the delicious things. Lots pf great places to eat and drink here as well. Plus, historical sites like the Pyramid of Cestius.

Piazza Navona
One of Rome’s most famous squares, known for its beautiful Baroque architecture, including the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi) designed by Bernini. The piazza is bustling with street artists, cafes and restaurants. 

Campo de’ Fiori
A lively square famous for its daily market selling fresh produce, flowers and local delicacies. By night it’s a social hub with bars and restaurants.

Via del Corso
A bustling shopping street that stretches from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo. 

Day trips from Rome

A short drive from Rome, Tivoli is an ancient Italian town in Lazio (this is the region that Rome is part of like Tuscany is for Florence). It’s famous for its rich history and remarkable villas like the beautiful Renaissance Villa d’Este and the ancient Hadrian’s Villa or Villa Adriana in Italian (I have yet to go to the ancient site).  

Villa d’Este Renaissance villa and garden was just spectacular. We packed our bags with panini and made a day of it (on my birthday!). The elegant architecture and breathtaking collection of fountains, nymphs and grottos will forever be etched in my mind. 

Caprarola is a small town in the Lazio region, renowned for its rich history and the magnificent Palazzo Farnese, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and art. 

The Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola, Italy, is a prominent Renaissance mansion. Owned by the influential Farnese family and is a prime example of Renaissance architecture and art. Gosh, we were so lucky to explore the Palazzo in the low season, we were the only ones there besides a small school group. The Royal Staircase was just exquisite (for me, literally, jaw-dropping), exploring each frescoed room followed by an enchanting walk through the forest that led to a magnificent garden, complete with a maze and grand sculptures.

Abruzzo, Rocca Calascio 
Our day trip to Rocca Calascio was a real magical adventure! In early winter (when we went) Abruzzo showcases snow-dusted mountains and crisp, cool weather. The views on the drive and during the walk up to the castle Rocca Calascio were just wonderful! It truly was an unforgettable expereience, walking through a medieval fortress against the snowy backdrop of the Apennines. Of course, we found a delicious lunch spot on the way home! This is the great thing about day trips from Rome, you experience another region’s cuisine!


Castello Orsini-Odescalchi in Bracciano
Castello Orsini-Odescalchi is a historical castle and fortress located in the town of Bracciano, just outside of Rome. It has a rich history dating back to the 15th century and is still owned by the Odescalchi family, mind blowing!  This majestic and well-preserved medieval castle, is in the most beautiful location, it overlooks Lake Bracciano. There’s also a massive weapon collection if you’re interested in that kind of thing. It was rather amazing seeing all the armour!

We went to Calcata after and had an amazing lunch!
Calcata is a unique and picturesque medieval village in Italy, on top of a volcanic tuff cliff in the Lazio region. Known for its bohemian atmosphere and artistic community, the town’s narrow, winding streets and old houses offer a charming and almost mystical step back in time. The old town is surrounded by the lush, green landscape of the Treja Valley. We also had the most AMAZING lunch here, it was a super small place with one man cooking, serving, clearing plates and fixing the bill. With the most delicious food, a very memorable dish was a pasta with broccoli broth. A lunch to remember! 

Just a short train trip away from Rome! Orvieto is a historical city (hah like many in Italy) located in Umbria. It’s renowned for its striking medieval architecture, in particular the Orvieto Cathedral, a 14th-century masterpiece with a stunning (STUNNING!) mosaic façade.

Florence (but stay longer than a day!)
We visited Florence, Tuscany, during our last trip in 2022, and it was an unforgettable experience. I completely fell in love with Florence! The art, the vibrant streets, the delicious food, enchanting atmosphere, and the magical Christmas lights made it extra special. 


If you do go to Tuscany, be sure to go to Volterra. A beautiful hill town, known for its rich history that dates back to the Etruscan period. Magical streets, a Roman theatre and an Etruscan site. The town is also renowned for its alabaster craftsmanship (I bought a few presents here). When it was time for lunch we let our noses choose, we could smell truffle and we were sold! Gosh, now I’ve well and truly ventured into Tuscany… I also need to mention another beautiful town! 

San Gimignano
San Gimignano, known as the “Town of Fine Towers,” is a gorgeous medieval town in Tuscany.  Walking the historical streets is the stuff of dreams. Famous for its scenic views, narrow streets and artisan shops. 

Alright! I am sure I have more to add but I need to stop and press publish! Rome is an extraordinary city, and Italy is an amazing country. I love that art and architecture are everywhere. I love that art is admired and celebrated. I love how you can walk the streets and see layers of history. I love the pasta, the pizza, the vegetables, the cheese, the prosciutto, the wine and even the sparkling water deserves a mention. 

I hope you enjoy your Roman Holiday! Share some photos of something delicious or somewhere you loved visiting with me(@themerrymakersisters on Instagram!) I’d love to see them!

Always merrymaking,

Ps. oh my last tip is to watch some films set in Rome beforehand. Even better, choose Italian cinema. My top two picks are “La Dolce Vita” and “The Great Beauty.”  And of course, there is Gladiator, Roman Holiday, Eat. Pray, Love and many more!


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