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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

I visited Rome the last time I was in Europe and could not spend a month in Italy without stopping by again. I only spent two nights and one full day in the city this time, but still had a great time. I’m a big fan of history, culture, and architecture in addition to, of course, food. In my opinion, Rome has more to offer in these areas than any other place in the world. I could spend days walking around the city, admiring the beautiful buildings and eating great food.
That being said, August is a difficult time to visit Italy’s capital. Nearly every restaurant from my Slow Food guide to Italy was closed. It took me 4 hours and I walked about a dozen miles before I found a place that was open for lunch. The food was fantastic and was well worth the effort. My only proper meal in Rome was at Osteria Dell’Angelo. I had spaghetti cacio e pepe and roast bunny. I’m not a big spaghetti fan, but this was very thick, perfectly cooked pasta and it was delicious. I’ve been a little disappointed with some of my second courses in Italy, but this bunny was moist, flavorful, and amazing.
Another downside to visiting in August is the swarms of tourists. Last time I visited was in November and the Vatican Museum was quiet and peaceful despite having a significant amount of tourist traffic. This time around it was a zoo; overcrowded and noisy. There was a plus side to the situation. Taking pictures in the Sistine Chapel is forbidden, but there were so many people that the guards were unable to enforce the rule. The Vatican museum and St. Peter’s Basilica combined are one of my favorite touristy sites and I had to visit again while I was in the neighborhood. It was still incredible, but the noise and presence of so many people did detract from the experience.
I took a very long walk around the city at night and checked out many of the major attractions while they were lit up. It was really cool! The Colosseum and the ruins surrounding it were especially spectacular. I also hit up the Pantheon and had gelato at the famous place by the Trevi Fountain.
I had originally planned to stay at The Yellow Hostel, which is centrally located near Termini Station. When I showed up there were drunk 19 year old British kids dressed up as gladiators drinking at the hostel bar near reception. I ended up going to neighboring A Beautiful Place in Rome Hostel and it was very nice. The hostel was more like a hotel and was extremely clean, had wifi, and the staff were great.
My time in Rome was very brief this trip and involved more walking and a lot more tourists than I would have liked, but I’m still very happy I went. The city is so amazing that it would take a lot more to make it not worth while. I look forward to going back again when the restaurants are open and the tourists are home.

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