My favorite place in Rome to gather around the table with my family is Al Moro restaurant. We’ve been going there for years and the staff is like family at this point. A typical family order would go something like this... and we love to order several things and share, in true Italiana fashion. We would start with the Carciofi alla Giudia (Roman Jewish artichokes) if they're in season. They are fried, and you eat them whole instead of scraping the leaves with your teeth. Then a nice, fresh chopped salad with seasonal, regional vegetables and a deliciously light vinaigrette that I can't seem to copy! For pasta, it's all about the Spaghetti alla Carbonara (their specialty) and the Amatriciana. You haven't had pasta until you've has a house-made Roman pasta! Then, some Osso Bucco or Grilled Sole with a light lemon sauce. And, of course, a café and whatever special pastry treat the pastry chef has dreamed up that day. I love the little espresso cookies that come at the end, and a few of them usually hitch a ride out of there in my purse!
Grab an Americano (and gifts!) at Sant Eustauchio, my fave coffee out of anywhere. The shop has been there forever, and everybody knows about it!
Make sure to stop at Il Gelato di San Crispino too.. the best gelato in Rome!
Head to Aventine Hill to catch a gorgeous sunset while peeking through the (semi) secret Cavalieri di Malta Keyhole. One glance, and you will see the beautiful gardens, Villa del Priorato di Malta, designed by the Piranesi in 1765. It's one of the properties of the famous Knight of Malt, one of the last surviving orders left over from the crusades. But, the real view is how the bushes in the garden perfectly frame the done of St. Peter's Basilica in the distance. Molto bello!
I can think of no better way to round out an evening than making a wish in the Trevi Fountain, which is conveniently located around the corner from my favorite restaurant, Al Morro! The later you arrive, the better chance you have of it not being flooded with tourists hurdling coins around you. But, do come prepared to make a wish! As saying goes... if you face away from the fountain and toss a coin with the right hand over your left shoulder, you'll return to Rome again. A newer version of this old traditon says that the one coin means a return to Rome, a second coin leads to a new romance, and a third coin leads to marriage. The history of the Trevi Fountain is actually pretty cool. Fountains were traditionally built to mark the end point of an aquaduct and the Trevi marks the end of the Acqua Vergine, one of Rome's most ancient and famous aquaducts. The Vergine was destroyed by invaders in the 6th century but restored in the 15th century by the order of the Pope, and the fountain you see today was built to commemorate that restoration of history. the Trevi Fountain is the largest, most grand fountain in all of Rome and is still serviced by the Vergine to this day...
I love to explore the little boutique shops around the San Lorenzo district. You won't find all the major labels here, but tiny stoes filled one-of-a-kind pieces. There's a shop that is lovingly known as the Red Frame Shop. It's a little hard to find because it has no name or sign, just a red brick frame around the door, which is often locked. But, that's why it's so much fun... it's a mission! Hang out for a while and the door will eventually be unlocked, and you'll be welcomed inside to shelves and shelves of hand-swen sweaters, skirts and coats, all make of the best wool and cotton on the market. It truly is a hidden gem.