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May 23, 2009 12:08 AM

Ideal Rome & Siena Itinerary?

My husband and I are going to Italy next week for our first wedding anniversary, and we want to eat eat eat. We will be in Rome for 4 nights and Siena for 2 nights. We don't have endless amounts of money to spend, but will definitely want a couple of nice evenings mixed with local easy restaurants and cafes. There are a few blanks and question marks if anyone can point us in the right direction :-) We want to enjoy every meal! Also if I've made a bad decision, please let me know. Thanks so much!

Day 1 - arrive in the morning, and walk around Via Veneto, Spanish Steps , etc.
Lunch – ?
Dinner – La Pollarolla?

Day 2 – Testaccio farmers market, Colliseum, Pantheon
Lunch – farmers market picnic
Coffee – near Pantheon , Sant'Eustachio
Dinner - ?

Day 3 – Vatican, Antique Market
Lunch- somewhere near the vatican - ?
Dinner - Antico Forno Roscioli near Camp De Fiore for pizza bianca then Paris in Travestere for dinner

Day 4 - Train to Siena
Late Lunch - ?
Dinner -Trattoria Il Pozzo ?

Day 5 - Tour of Chianti
Dinner- Ristorante Al Marsili

Day 6 - Back to Rome
Dinner - Marcello

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  1. We definitely need to know the day of the week to check if it is a good idea to do what you planned on that day. But generally:
    The testaccio market and the colosseum are barely do-able before lunch, especially if you are food interested. Also, testaccio market doesn't offer too many things to enjoy as a picnic, its produce is more geared towards cooking. But you can go to the closeby Volpetti shop and get your picnic stuff there.
    Which Antique market are you talking about (with Vatican)? Lunch around Vatican Museums (note, the museums, not St. Peter's) would be best at Pizzarium, a pizza by the slice place. Skip the pizza bianca from Roscioli in the afternoon if you are going to dinner in Paris, you'll be too full (or have the pizza bianca (with some porchetta!) for lunch)(or eat dinner at Roscioli!).

    16 Replies
    1. re: AstridR69

      Thanks so much. We were planning on a Friday for Testacchio, is it open on Fridays? I was thinking the Campo Di Fiore market originally but I keep reading on these boards that Testacchio is better. Thanks for the heads up about the picnic foods.

      The antique market I read about was Underground - Via Francesco Crispi, 96, Rome Saturdays 3pm-8pm

      Dinner at Roscioli - is that amazing? Better than Paris? Or I was also considering Dar Poeta. I'm so overwhelmed!

      1. re: jamiemica

        I've never had dinner at Roscioli and lunch only once. I was put off by the international feel, but Roscioli excels in cheeses, salumi, and breads. Paris is very classic Roman with many Jewish specialties (house-made bresaola, all the fritti). Dar Poeta is a pizzeria. They are all very good, but "amazing" seems a lot to ask. Roman food is subtle, and the earth does not necessarily move.

        1. re: mbfant

          mbfant I was hoping you would reply, you are my favorite Italian chowhound! I am reading all of these posts and am simply overwhelmed. Can you tell me your top 4 favorite restaurants for lunch and dinner in all of Rome (including one night in Travestere) - then I can stop this madness and just go where you tell me. I don't really want to spend more than 50 Euros/person anywhere - I just want great antipasti/cheese, pasta, and fish. For our last night in Rome at the end of our trip I'm thinking of taking your advice and staying on the Aventine Hill - so your best of the best restaurant recommendation for our last night in that neighborhood would be super helpful. Thanks!

          1. re: jamiemica

            In Trastevere, definitely Paris. Plan to pay more for fish than €50 for a full meal. For fish we like Tuna, on Via Veneto, not exorbitant, but still. There are no restaurants on the Aventino, but you can walk to Testaccio. There are several I never go to (I cook so much Roman food at home, I don't go looking for it), such as Felice, Agustarello, Oio a Casa mia, and a newish one called Tutti Frutti. I do go to Checchino a lot and like it very much. Our locals are La Piazzetta and Nerone, both with plenty of antipasti. I prefer La Piazzetta. Checchino has great cheese, but that will raise your price. Otherwise, for cheese go to a wine bar, such as Trimani or Cavour 313. Roscioli is good for cheese. I like Palatium for lunch, otherwise just bars for sandwiches or pizza al taglio. Also Casa Bleve, but it's chi-chi and expensive.

            1. re: mbfant

              Hi mbfant -

              I'm new to this board and am also gathering data for my trip Aug 16-19 (Sun to Wed). We'll be a group of seven adults (but sometimes nine) so hopefully the restaurants we visit can accommodate us.

              Regarding your note above, I just want to make sure I correctly understand - are the following the restaurants that fall under your "top 4 favorite restaurants for lunch and dinner in all of Rome"?

              - Checchino
              - La Piazzetta: cheese, antipasti
              - Nerone: antipasti
              - Roscioli: cheese, salumni, bread
              - Palatium: lunch


              1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                Not exactly. I never talk about "best" or "favorites". There are too many uncertainties and variables. I just talk about places I like or that fill specific needs. With the exception of Roscioli, where I've only been once, they are places I visit frequently and that I recommended for the specific requests of this post. I don't know about Roscioli but the others are unlikely to be open the week you're in Rome.

                1. re: mbfant

                  Oh no! Are you referring to the Day of Assumption on Aug 15 and a lot of the shops being closed the following week? Do you know what good places we could go to then?

                  1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                    Yes, August 15, the feast of the Assumption, or Ferragosto. The only good places likely to be open are the hotel restaurants. Gusto is always open and some of the sort of avant garde places might be. The Michelin guide is pretty good about vacation dates, and closer to the time, the local newspapers and websites ( and may have this info), but otherwise you will just have to ask the restaurants that interest you. While it is true that August is not the total shut-down it used to be, the week of Ferragosto is pretty dead.

          2. re: mbfant

            You really should try Roscioli (again). I had some of my best pastas there (and I do not mean the well-lauded carbonara, but rather the fishy ones) and the antipasti are lovely, too (octopus salad, caponata, soups in season etc.). I also had very good tuna and steaks there. And of course the cheeses and salumi you mention, too, especially the burrata....

            1. re: AstridR69

              I know you're right, and I have every intention of going back. Lately I only seem to go out either to eat fish or to take visitors. I haven't had the chance to experiment much.

              1. re: mbfant

                I know you like tuna on veneto, but how about lampara and gensola? Do you know and like them? Can you compare? ( I know lampara and gensola and don't know tuna [am thinking maybe out of my league]- and btw, that new mare on ripetta? Stay away from it!)

                1. re: AstridR69

                  We haven't tried Mare but friends have said they liked it. Tuna is not exorbitant. It's nowhere near La Rosetta or anything. Gensola is a much lower level. Lampara I walk past on my way to gym class and have never been to. I have not heard anything good about it. Tuna is good value. A gourmet friend loves San Lorenzo for fish but it left us cold the one time we went.

                  1. re: mbfant

                    Thanks so much!!! Greatly appreciated

                    1. re: mbfant

                      Thanks so much for the feedback. Hard to find reliable and knowledgeable foodie feedback on Roman dining.

                      I think we'll have to try Tuna. Sounds like just the right thing for us. Are aware that good fish costs.

                      Yes, Gensola is rather trattoria level, and at that level and price, we liked it a lot.

                      Lampara we like a lot. Pricier but everything is very fresh, very tasty and portion size is ok, too. Service nice as well. The first time we walked in there "by accident" and were at first intimidated bcs 1) seemed full of the rich & the beautiful 2) waiter suggested a 5-plate-antipasti combo which we ordered without knowing the price (wasn't on the menu) 3) waiter brought wine according to our wishes but again without price. The food and wine were so good that soon we said "to hell with it, if they are gonna overcharge us, they will, but at least this is great!" In the end, as said above, the food was great, and the prices, too (5-plate antipasti for 25 p.p., fish pasta for 18, wine under 20, no place for secondi!). Great experience and surprise.

                      Mare we first tried for lunch while it was very new, as it is very close to us. Place was rather empty (3 tables incl. us). Got an amuse (fine), fish pasta was very spicy, as if trying to hide not so fresh fish, but paranza was lovely and it has a special place in out heart. So we decided to go again for dinner (weeks later, if not months). We had seen a 25 euro p.p. antipasti combo and were eager to compare/contrast with lampara. The place was packed this time, service was non existent to bad (were asked 3 times what we'd like to order). First wine we asked from their ca. 30 item winelist - they didn't have. next one, neither. and the 3rd one neither. The waiter offered to bring a wine x that we didn't know, when he returned, we saw it was y. we ordered the 5 plate antipasto. The 5 microscopic dishes that came afterwards would have been an amuse in any other ristorante (and were here too, the first time) and quality of all was terrible - bad fish/seafood in all cases. We left half of our bites (each dish was only one bite) on the plates, while discussing the whole time it it were already the antipasto flight, hoping against hope that they were the little bites the chef was sending before it really started. We realized this was not the case as the waiter came and asked if we'd like primi now or go directly to secondi. We told the quality, as well as the quantity, was unacceptable and asked for the check. The worst meal and worst spent 80 euros of my life. We went home and cooked pasta!

                      I walk by San Lorenzo couple times a week and always wonder. If you have no good words for it, we won't try.

                      1. re: AstridR69

                        I saw Lampara today and noticed that the name was backwards or upside down and the restaurant seemed to be called Sapore di Mare, and in fact I do recall a change there a while back. San Lorenzo is reputed to have the freshest fish in the city, so I'm willing to give it another chance. We like to take the train to Anzio to eat fish (Pierino).

              2. re: mbfant

                Maureen, I enjoy your posts. We will be in Rome in a couple of weeks for only 2 days--Sunday and Monday. I am having trouble finding restaurants for those 2 evenings. What are your recommendations? We want authentic local food, mid price range. Thank you

          3. Re Siena - I'd try Al Papei which is brilliant and ridiculously well priced in the Piazza del Mercato behind the campo. Al Campane is also pretty good. Have a lovely time.