Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Italy >
Feb 18, 2014 11:35 PM

rome - 5 days in early may

Hi! I'm going to be visiting Rome with my sister for the first time this May. We're serious food lovers who would really like to try and get a rough taste for what Roman cuisine is about in the short time that we have -- traditional and some modern twists on traditional... with a bit of walking and sight-seeing in between meals :) We've put a bit of research into this trip and just wanted to see if we could post a few questions and get some feedback on our current thoughts.

We'll be staying at an apartment near Campo de Fiori -- halfway between the market and Ponte Sisto.

day 1 - may 6 wed:
* "lunchtime" eat 'n walk -
---- walk to Jewish ghetto, mostly for torta di ricotta at Il Boccione :)
---- stop to buy some snacks at Salumeria Roscioli and Antico Forno Roscioli, possibly Forno Campo de Fiori also
---- rest and eat at Trevi fountain and/or Spanish steps
---- walk around the villa borghese gardens
---- enjoy view and aperitivo at Bar La Terrazza in the Hotel Eden
* dinner at Armando Al Pantheon

day 2 - may 7 thurs - vatican:
* lunch at l'Arcangelo - for suppli and gnocchi giovedi
* dinner at Pizzarium or Il Sorpasso

day 3 - may 8 fri - colosseum:
* pick up some goodies at the new testaccio market in morning
* picnic at Roman Forum/Palantine Hill for lunch
* dinner at Cesare al Cassaletto

day 4 - may 9 sat - marino/frascati, testaccio
* marino = Il Norcino Bernabei
* frascati = a second round of porchetta + wine
* dinner at Perilli

day 5 - may 10 sun - vatican and/or appia antica
* if prati, lunch is currently undecided
* if appia antica, might lunch at l'Archeologia or stop to pick up some goodies to picnic with at Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo
* dinner at either La Gensola or Localino


Some Questions -

a. Day 1: We were thinking of going to Sora Margherita instead of doing the eat 'n walk -- would it be worth it to switch? How long is the usual wait for a weekday lunch?

b. Day 3: What are your favorite stalls at Testaccio Market? Items we have on the list - panini from Mordi e Vai, prosciutto and mozzarella di bufala from Lina and Enzo.

c. Day 4: Do you have any suggestions for Marino or Frascati -- esp. for wine or non-porchetta foods?

d. Day 5: What type of experience would we expect at La Gensola vs. Localino? It looks like they're owned by the same couple and specialize in seafood dishes. I couldn't find much information on Localino... for anyone who has been - what were your favorite dishes here? how much more expensive would it be than La Gensola? is it open for dinner on sunday?

e. Day 5: What are your favorite stalls at Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo? Are there many choices for prepared foods - or is it more of a produce market?

f. How early would we want to make reservations for the above restaurants? Would it be too early to make them 2-3 months ahead?

g. Is there anything that you would suggest swapping out for something else? or any street foods and quick eats that you would suggest for the walk on Day 1?

Still working on the gelato list! :)


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Wow! Great research!

    Here are some comments and answers:

    a. Day 1: If you do a pic nic, and that would be great if the weather is nice, I'd do it in the Villa Borghese. Trevi is a nightmare, and sitting on the Spanish steps to eat is illegal. But the other option, eating at Sora Margherita, is good too. You can get into the first seating, at 12:30, pretty easily if you get there by 12:15.

    c. Day 4 I always end up eating in Ariccia, so can't recommend anything in Frascati. In Ariccia I had a great meal at Fraschetta de Mia Zia.

    d. Day 5 I prefer Localino, and go there all the time. Much less touristy and a calmer setting. Also, they have outdoor seating and a wider menu.

    e. Day 5: yes there is prepared food, and you can eat it there, outside at picnic tables. But a great idea is to stock up, and take a picnic to the Via Appia. All the stands are great. I particularly love the cheese stand in the middle, next to the pasta stand. He has an incredible Conciata di San Vittore, and also does it in a blue version. Very expensive, but one of the best cheeses I've had recently.

    Have a great time!

    1. You have done your homework, very good! There are just some practical problems.
      The torta di ricotta may be gone by lunch time, go earlier if you can.
      Shopping at salumeria roscioli is not a nice experience at lunchtime due to the tables already being out in front of the counter, go earlier if you can.
      Eating a pizza al taglio is thinkable at trevi or spanish steps, but not a full blown picnic with provisions from salumeria roscioli. Crowds and laws are the problems you will encounter.
      Sora margharita is not a good alternative.
      Dinner at pizzarium: you are aware it is a hole in the wall with no seating?
      Same problem with a full blown picnic at the forum.
      Mordi e vai is my only remaining fave at the testaccio market. His good are not very transportable, more to be eaten there.
      How are you getting from marino to frascati? There might be a bus (don't know), with the train you would need to backtrack, i think as far back as ciampino.
      At the campagna amica market there is produce and cheese, meats, etc. hard to describe fave stalls as names not always prominently displayed, but massimo nesta's porchetta is one to be tried. The market is good for buying provisions (cheese, salami, bread etc) but not prepared foods.
      Between la gensola and il localino (which i both do not love) i like the former better when thinking of food only. The latter has some outdoor seating on the street.
      Reserve 3-4 days ahead of time, if you do months ahead, they will be forgotten by that time.

      1. Thanks so much for the notes and suggestions! I almost forgot to take weather into consideration + I wasn't aware of the regulations against picnics at the more popular sites... though it makes sense. Good food for thought these past few days... and I've made a few adjustments.

        day 1 - may 6 wed:
        * lunch = take pizza al taglio + snacks to villa borghese
        ---- Pallatium if the weather is bad
        * aperitivo @ Bar La Terrazza (or 0-300/Misceliamo)
        * dinner = Armando Al Pantheon

        day 2 - may 7 thurs - vatican:
        * lunch at l'Arcangelo - for suppli and gnocchi giovedi
        * early dinner at Pizzarium or Il Sorpasso

        day 3 - may 8 fri - colosseum:
        * torta di ricotta at Il Boccione in the morning :)
        * lunch = Gaudeo
        * dinner = Roscioli

        day 4 - may 9 sat - marino + testaccio/monti
        * lunch in marino = Il Norcino Bernabei
        * snack in the afternoon at testaccio market (mordi e vai), food shopping at volpetti, wander through testaccio and monti neighborhoods
        * dinner = Perilli

        day 5 - may 10 sun - appia antica
        * sweets at pasticceria regoli
        * Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo
        * lunch = picnic at appia antica
        ---- tbd if weather is bad
        * dinner = Cesare al Casaletto

        some late night places we might try if we can stay awake:
        * Ai Tre Scalini (Monti)
        * Il Goccetto (near CDF)
        * Il Pentagrappolo (near Colosseum)
        * Open Baladin (near CDF)
        * The Jerry Thomas Project (near CDF)


        vinorama -
        yes! we've heard pizzarium is pretty sparse but we're ok with standing at counters (or on the street if necessary) if the food lives up to the hype. for marino to frascati... we were thinking of backtracking on the train, but thought it over again and have since decided to sleep in that day and just make the pilgrimage out to marino. we'll just have to come back to rome for that second round of porchetta :) and thanks for the tip about il boccione -- we'll make an attempt on day 1, but will likely pass by early morning on our way to the colosseum also.

        minchilli -
        i really love reading your blog and the notes in your app! will definitely look out for the conciata di san vittore at the mercato... still thinking about localino, but being tempted by so many other options too


        still reading and adjusting... :)

        4 Replies
        1. re: fizzy

          Very good :) still some notes: mercato testaccio closes in the afternoon around 1:30, 2 latest. Around the same time volpetti closes for a long lunch break, too. What you could instead do in the early afternoon (till sun goes down) is the organic market at the ex-slaughter house in testaccio, if you want to be in that area. But after marino, doing testaccio, then monti, then returning to testaccio for dinner doesn't sound too good logistically.
          Love your late night options. Keep in mind all except jtp are open earlier, too, to allow for a pre-dinner drink if that works out better for your plans on the ground. Open baladin even starting noon. Also, jtp has nice cocktails but it is very smoky and you need the password (though two women are likely to be let in easier).

          1. re: vinoroma

            Thanks, this is good to know! I didn't realize Volpetti closed for so long in the afternoon... but it looks like they're back between 17h to 20h. I think we may end up missing Testaccio market this time around then... but the farmers market at the slaughterhouse definitely looks like a good option since we plan on visiting the Macro museum also. We'll also have the Circo Massimo mercato on Sunday. A slow drift from Termini station to Monti to Testaccio sounds good! :)

            Another quick question - what's the general rule on tipping at for drinks at a bar in Italy? I usually leave a dollar for each drink in the US, is it similar in Rome?

            I have some friends who are really into mixology, so I thought it might be fun to scout out JTP for them. Do you know if it's difficult to get into on a weekend night... or is it better on a weekday? lol, I'm a little worried about having to fight for the bartender's attention with my awkward italian. I've also heard that reservations are required.

            1. re: fizzy

              No tips.
              Jtp is of course more difficult on weekends. You can not make reservations. You need the password to get in.
              Google "katie parla rome cocktails" and you will find some articles she wrote on the subject and you will find other venues. In case you can not get in to jtp, there are other options (even better).

              1. re: vinoroma

                Thanks!! Will definitely check out Katie Parla's notes.

        2. The Holy Grail of gelato: Giolitti.

          1 Reply