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Aug 13, 2013 05:09 PM

Advice for First Night Newbies

I'm going to Italy with my husband in September, and we're spending our first two nights in Rome at Hotel Canada before heading to Venice. We're flying in from Vancouver with a two-hour layover in Amsterdam, so we'll be jet-lagged and tired. I also know we'll want to get out and walk a bit and have some dinner.

I've been reading the CH Italy page for some time and have Elizabeth Minichilli's and Katie Parla's apps on my iPad, but some guidance for our first night would really be appreciated as neither of us have been to Rome and we don't speak Italian.

Ideally we'd like something about 20 minutes walk from our hotel, hopefully past some interesting scenery, and safe walking back from dinner. I can't eat mollusks, but other than that, no limitations. We'd like to spend an averageish amount for Rome, for food that isn't too fussy and has some lighter options on the menu, in a place that is welcoming of but not overrun with tourists. Comfortable seating would be a bonus.

I've come up with a few options, but I'm not clear about their pros and consand was wondering in anyone had any light to cast or info to share.

The options are:
Urbana 47
L'Asino D'oro
Colline Emiliane
Trattoria Monti
Trattoria Cadorna

Also, it will be a Saturday night (Sept 14). Is it a good idea to have our hotel make a reservation once we've selected a place to eat?


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  1. Are you hoping for an early dinner? Most don't open until 7:30 or 8. For myself, I'm always too jet-lagged for dinner on my arrival day and aim for a late lunch and maybe a snack in the evening--and I'm travelling from the east coast. If you want an early dinner, then Urbana 47 might be a good choice, since they look to be open almost continuously. I've never eaten there and can't vouch for the food personally, but you could probably get in there earlier than 8 and "lighter options" look possible. I love Colline Emiliane (open 7:30) and Trattoria Monti (open 8:00), but I think the former is a bit beyond your 20-minute goal and I wouldn't call the food at either "light." Wherever you choose, would definitely reserve for a Saturday night. Hope this helps to get you started.

    1. You can look up multiple favorable reviews here and elsewhere for Trattoria Monti, which is almost precisely a 20 minute walk from your hotel. It would be quite difficult to get lost walking back. The train station provides an unmissable landmark.

      You should reserve for a Saturday night. If when you arrive in Rome you feel you should go to bed rather than go eat, have your hotel cancel the reservation.

      People have different interpretations of what they mean when they say "lighter options". Here is a blogger who described a meal and took pictures

      If you use a google image search you can see pictures of the interior and make a judgment about whether you will feel comfortable there.

      1. Cadorna is about a 10 minute walk from your hotel. So if you're really tired, that would be perfect. You could arrive as early as they open (7:30 I think) and then just split the antipasto della casa for two, which is fantastic. Also saves you from having to decide what to order! It's a great mix of both hot and cold things, and delicious. It's their specialty. That and a bottle of wine should make you very happy on your first night.

        If you're still hungry after, go to nearby Com'e il Latte for a gelato.

        1 Reply
        1. re: minchilli

          Ooops, just realized from your blog post that Cadorna is closed on Saturday nights? Will check your app later, and if that's the case, choose something else.

        2. I second Cadorna! There aren't really "light options" on the menu, but what they have is great. Get the Antipasto Cadorna for 1 - it is big enough for 4pp and is Fantastic, and then each get a pasta. Personally, I think that their main courses are very skippable, but then you have more room for their Tiramisu' for dessert!

          3 Replies
          1. re: LifeItalianStyle

            Thank you, Cadorna and Com'e il Latte sound perfect.

            After being boxed into planes and airports for 14 hours we are going to want to stretch our legs and look around, no matter how tired we are.

            It's good to know that it would be acceptable to order just an antipasto and a primi. When my husband was in Italy about 15 years ago he got the sense that restaurants didn't like it when patrons didn't also order a secondi.

            The Tiramisu' sounds very tempting, but then, so does the gelato.

            But it's my birthday that day, so I might just do both.

            Thanks again!

            PS Elizabeth, I love all three of your apps!

            1. re: bonlee

              If you have the apps, you may want to consider stopping for dinner wherever you find yourself instead of coming back to the arent going to want to hang in the area around Termini for your first day in Rome, most likely. Just a thought

              1. re: jen kalb

                I agree completely with you Jen Kalb, and that's what we'll be doing for most of the rest of our trip, using the apps and our intuition to choose where to eat.

                My question was just for our first night when we want something close to our hotel the first night. We definitely won't be hanging around Termini at all! We're just staying there for our first two days, then coming back at the end of our trip for several days and staying in Prati, land of Pizzarium.