It’s early January and raining outside.
Rome is a city that really needs to be visited on foot, out in the open. From March through October, and especially in the summer when the sun doesn’t go down until after 9pm or even later, Rome is full of places to sit outside and people watch; have a drink and simply soak up the ambiance and the view of beautiful colored buildings crumbling away. That’s when this city is at its best.
When it’s cold and wet and grey – it’s another story. That’s when I truly feel the shortage of “cafe culture” – cute little places to just sit and kill time, perhaps read some of my book or catch up on some emails on my phone. Most restaurants are closed between meal times, and when they are open, they’re generally full of customers eating, and/or not really designed for the lingerer who wants to just have a tea and maybe something sweet. There are many bars with outdoor seating that are inviting, but most are dismal and boring indoors, designed for the quick caffé/espresso-at-the-bar crowd. And Roman bars aren’t the place for tea time.
Here’s a few exceptions, scattered around the city:
1. 2Periodico Cafe – Via Leonina 77, Monti – open all day
Located in the hip neighborhood of Monti, between Termini station and the Colosseum, this eclectic little place was converted from what was once a car mechanic. The Monti area was recently used for shooting in Woody Allen’s “To Rome with Love”, due to its quaint, cobblestone streets and ivy covered buildings. For Italian speakers, this is a good review from the Puntarella Rossa blog. Or connect with them through their facebook page.
2. Caffé Propaganda – Via Claudia 15, Celio (Colosseum) – open from 12pm to 2am
This very stylish cafe is a great place for a beautiful cocktail like you’ve never experienced. You’re on holiday, it’s ok to start drinking at 4pm. More info on their website.
Without a doubt my favorite place to stay in the neighborhood is the Appartamento Colosseo.
3. S.a.i.d – Via Tiburtina 135, San Lorenzo – open for lunch and dinner.
Once Rome’s oldest chocolate factory, opened in 1923, S.a.i.d is a restaurant and chocolate shop. Also a good place in the winter to enjoy a hot chocolate. Overpriced hot chocolate, but great atmosphere.
Best apartment in the neighborhood the beautiful 3 bedroom Appartamento San Lorenzo.
4. Bartaruga – Piazza Mattei 9, Jewish Ghetto – open from 6pm
Located in a 16th century piazza with the Fontana delle Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain). This ‘salotto’ in the Jewish Ghetto is a good place to park it on one of their cushy couches, drink a prosecco (Venetian sparkling wine) and listen to someone play the piano (if the grumpy bar guy allows it).
One of my favorite places on Cross-Pollinate is also here in the ghetto, the Casa al Portico.
5. Salotto Caronte – Via Machiavelli 23, Esquilino (Piazza Vittorio) – open from 7pm
Half restaurant and half ‘salotto’, this place is very un-Roman in all the right ways. Located where there’s virtually no other night life, this spot will make you instantly feel like you’re in the know.
6. Etablì – Via delle Vacche 9, Piazza Navona – open from 6:30pm
Restaurant and wine bar, it used to be open during the day as well (and hopefully will be again) as it was a nice place for afternoon tea.
7. Vert Cafe – Via Anton Giulio Barrili 47-47/a, Monteverde Vecchio – open from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm
I’m throwing this in as I recently read this convincing review from friend and Rome expert, Gillian McGuire. Soups, salads, sandwiches and American style sweets.
Just down the street is the adorable Honey Rooms B&B.