This Crunchy Suppli Rice Balls to Blended Frozen Coffe At Rome

Rome wasn’t built in a day – and it shows. No matter how many times you visit Italy’s capital, there will always be something left to discover; be it a hidden corner which has lain hidden for centuries or the latest street art installation.

Despite the slow-paced character often attributed to its locals, Rome is always on the move, bustling with constant innovation in the arts, culture and food, often mixing elements from the city’s characteristics; glorious and popular, stately and genuine, traditional and daring.

Across the city’s streets, the magnificence of its historical heritage lies alongside its underground culture. Fine dining restaurants mingle with the coloured chaos of neighbourhood markets, something that must be seen and experienced for anyone who wants to know the city better than an average tourist.

Rome is a huge, sprawling city, but there are little pockets of culture throughout where you can find fantastic trattorias, dedicated artisans, awe-inspiring artworks and buzzing markets brimming with fresh, vibrant produce. Knowing where to go before you get there means you can get the most out of your trip – as someone who has lived in the city for many years, I’ve done all the hard work for you already.

There is something for everyone in Rome and always the opportunity to get to know a different aspect of the city. It boasts internationally acclaimed art that isn’t confined to gallery walls, popular food markets serving both traditional local dishes, street food innovations and courses that show you how to eat and drink like a Roman. That’s not to mention the city’s iconic landmarks.

Testaccio market

The birthplace of the “five quarters” tradition, where offal was championed by butchers, is now home to famous chefs serving up street food and artisan producers selling local delicacies in different “boxes” (stalls).

The menu at Romeo changes daily depending on what other stalls are selling at Testaccio.

Cristina Bowerman, head chef of the Michelin-starred restaurant Glass Hostaria, chose the beautiful Testaccio market to base her “popular food” shops called Romeo, Cups and Frigo. At Romeo, people can buy or taste all sorts of products from its delicatessen; freshly baked pizza, a tempting selection of ham and cheese and the famous panini gourmet with creative fillings such as octopus, potatoes and squid ink mayonnaise. In the same space, there are also delicious ice creams made with natural and seasonal ingredients served in cups. The menu at Romeo changes daily depending on what other stalls are selling at Testaccio, but some of the usual options include meatballs in tomato sauce, artichokes alla Romana or bean soup.​

Go gluten-free at In Cibo Veritas (Box 57)

Mouthwatering, crunchy supplì (stuffed rice balls), freshly made pasta, colourful salads and earthy soups are among the inviting dishes at this small box opposite Cups. Everything is completely gluten-free and made with quality, seasonal ingredients sourced from the market’s stalls. Every day you will find classic and seasonal supplì (such as the al telefono ones with tomato sauce and melting cheese, or artichoke and pecorino), potato croquettes, homemade focaccia, buckwheat pancakes, seasonal vegetarian soups and ever-changing pasta dishes, including the spaghetti con le vongole (clams) on Saturdays, when the mixed fried seafood dish is a special treat. Everything is served by Luca and his friends (all passionate AS Roma football fans) with a smile.

Smell the coffee at Chicchi e Lettere (Box 43)

Testaccio market has its own coffee shop right at its centre with a nice seating area called Max Caffé in Piazzetta and another on one of the outside corners (L’Angolo del Caffé), but right in between Cups and In Cibo Veritas lies Chicchi e Lettere, a box offering in-house roasted blends and all sorts of coffee-related items such as moka coffee pots and biscuits. While it doesn’t serve hot coffee to take away (market rules, alas) you can pick up a blended, frozen variety that’s perfect when you need to cool off. Follow with a simple yet satisfying aperitivo of a glass of wine and some savoury snacks, salami and cheese.

Eat and drink like a Roman

Enter Roman homes and wine bars to get up close and personal with real local home cooks and learn more about the city’s latest wine trends.

Attend a ‘cooking with nonna’ course

Eating Italy organises proper food tours in undiscovered neighbourhoods around Rome, offering the opportunity to enter real homes and spend four hours with an Italian nonna (grandmother) to learn how they prepare specialities. The recipes – which change according to season but always include a popular antipasto, homemade pasta, meat and dessert – are then enjoyed all together in a friendly and homely atmosphere along with wine.

Enrol at the Folle Casseruola cookery school

Stefania Aphel Barzini is an expert food writer and TV personality who recently decided to open her home – which is not far from the city – to authentic Roman home-cooking. She loves to share her own experiences, anecdotes and considerations about a conscious and sustainable life and way of eating. The Cooking as Romans Do course focuses on specific aspects and ingredients of Roman traditional cooking such as pasta (amatriciana, carbonara, gricia and cacio e pepe), meat (roasted lamb scottadito, saltimbocca alla romana and peas with guanciale) or desserts (ricotta cheesecake, maritozzi with whipped cream and fritters).

Drink wine at Vino Roma

Turkish-born Hande Leimer lived in the US, Italy and Germany before settling down for good in Rome. As a member of the Italian Sommelier Association, with Wine & Spirit Education Trust accreditation, she is happy to share her enthusiasm for Italy, its wines and its food together with fellow sommeliers Theodor Leimer and Maurizio Di Franco.

In their beautiful wine studio in the Monti borough just minutes away from the coliseum, they hold “My Italians” tasting sessions to let people know more about the famous and lesser known regional Italian wines. “Wine and Cheese” classes pair five different wines and cheeses from around the country, too. Don’t think of these as formal classes and intimidating sessions; they are enjoyable, very relaxed experiences all about sharing the pleasure of drinking Italian wine.

Still have time to spare?

The largest branch of Oscar Farinetti’s food retail project, Eataly Roma is one of the main reasons Ostiense has turned into a trendy, popular district. The huge space now contains three floors showcasing the best of Italian food and wine. Each area has a small restaurant where you can taste traditional delicacies.

Set on the slopes of the Aventine Hill, the public rose garden showcases more than a thousand varieties of rose from all over the world, including modern, ancient and even primordial species.

Centrale Montemartini is a unique museum located in a former thermoelectric power station in Ostiense which displays a number of ancient statues, sculptures and mosaics which have been uncovered during excavations in the city. It also hosts temporary exhibitions dedicated to specific aspects of contemporary urban life.