Tuesday 27 February 2024

Rome Miscellaneous: ancient buildings, fountains and food

We had a fantastic time in Rome.  So good that even after all my blog posts on our week there, I still have some random photos to share to finish up my blogging on Rome.My first visit to Rome over 20 years ago was not great but this week has found a spot for Rome in my heart.  

The first photo above is just because Rome was so full of beautiful old buildings and cute little cars.  We spent most of our time in the old centre of Rome

This is a photo of the Colesseum from the bus.  We travelled mostly by the 87 bus and it always seemed to pass the Colosseum.  Each time brought awe.  The first time we bought tickets and tried to use them on the bus but the machine did not work so the buses were accidentally free.

We'd then pass the Forum.  Also impressive.  So many ancient buildings and statues in central Rome, side by side with modern life.

Rome is so full of pasta and pizza.  I really regret not being the blue pasta.  It looked so cool!  Pasta just seems a bit bulky and fragile to stuff into a suitcase.  We left one of our big suitcases in Edinburgh with my sister-in-law so were being cautious with adding to luggage.  (And even then we returned home with two heavy suitcases!)

One lunchtime I went alone to VEG Joy (Via Vasto, 4, 00182 Roma) , a vegan restaurant down the road from where we were staying.  Actually it is on a little laneway off Via Appia Nuova.  I was greeted by the welcome sight of a terracotta coloured wall with green tables and chairs under a large white umbrella.  It was also quite cute inside with gold leaves on a dark blue wall.

I ordered the "orange glazed tempeh served with oven baked fennel with crumble nuts and potatoes" for 15 euros.  It was very nice but quite different to what I expected.  I had thought it would be tempeh with a fennel and potato with a crumble on top.  However it was very nicely presented  slabs of tempeh with smaller chunks of baked fennel and potato and a few chopped nuts.  I would have liked a few more potatoes but it was very good and I loved the glazed tempeh and soft fennel chunks as well as the mustard sauce and roasted slices of orange.  I had hoped to return but never managed it.

Walking along the cobbled laneways of Rome was always so beautiful.  (Sylvia was not very keen on what she called "wobblestones"). 

When I read about Antica Libreria Cascianelli (Largo Febo, 15, 00186 Roma), one of the oldest bookshops in Rome, I was determined to visit.  There is something lovely about old wooden bookshelves, especially when they are surrounded by stacks on the floor.  When we entered, we encountered a sign saying to request permission to ask photos.  So I asked and it was not a problem at all.

I loved this back room and the blue all behind the shelves.  A lot of these books were war history, which seemed very in keeping with antiquarian books.  Less expected with the humour of the skeleton in the shelf.

We walked a lot around Rome and often arrived home with sore feet.  I remember stopping in the Piazza Navona and enjoying the sight of this fountain.  It was the day we were waiting for Alfredo Alla Scrofa to open for dinner.  I'd decided to go to the tour of Stadium of Domitian, billed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Sylvia decided to stay on a seat near this fountain rather than accompany me.  She was wise to save her 7 Euros (9 for me) and enjoy the above ground piazza while I went to explore the underbelly of the piazza.

I was told it was a 45 minute tour of the Stadium of Domitian.  So I thought I would be wandering through a labyrinth of ruins rather than a few ruins in one (rather large) room with some parts of the stairs to the stadium and information boards.  I tried the audioguide but found it just as useful to read the information.  While it was interesting, it was fairly generic.  Given there are so many interesting ruins to see free of charge if you wander around Rome, I would not recommend it unless you have money and time to waste.  I did not.

When I returned to Sylvia, she was enjoying watching wonderful sight of the sky darkening over the Piazza Navano.  The square was busy with tourists and locals.  Restaurants were filling up and beckonling with warm lights.  One of the less attractive parts of eating outside was the smoking at these tables.  Perhaps because I was disappointed about the underground tour, I bought my most expensive souvenir in a giftshop there before we left for dinner.

While the Piazza Navona fountains are famous and many tourist sites will direct you there.  But walk through central Rome and you will stumble across many gorgeous little squares such as this one with a fountain.  It was not hard to find an outdoor table to eat and drink with a beautiful view.

I found the nearby San Giovanni gate and old town walls far more interesting than the underground tour at the Piazza Navona.  What a waste of time to pay for that underground ruins when I had these just near my apartment.

As I have said a few times, we loved the pizza that was sold by weight in Rome.  On our final day we had a great local day.  After visiting the Lateran Basilica we ate at Pizzhoria Appio (Piazzale Appio, 4, 00183 Roma).  As you will see by the above photo, it was a great place to eat good pizza with a view of the Porta San Giovanni.  We had pizza with burrata, tomatoes and basil.  Sylvia loved the burrata but it is a bit creamy for my liking.  I enjoyed the suppli, and arancini with truffle mushroom filling in one and pesto filling in another.  Sylvia had this place on her list to try and was happy both that it was close to our apartment and that we finally got to eat there.  I even got some pizza to takeaway for dinner as it was convenient.

So ends my 13 posts about our 8 days in Rome.  It was a great part of our trip.  We really enjoyed our apartment.  It is great to have a base where you have separate sleeping quarters, a kitchen and a washing machine.  I was relieved to finally get a load of laundry washed to keep us going but the constant sirens around the apartment were not great.  Outside our apartment, it was fantastic to visit some of the iconic sights and amazing places to eat.

At the end of our trip to Rome I made the biggest mistake of the trip.  I had planned to go to Venice for one night after Rome but on our final night as I sat up late planning our next leg of travel, I realised that I should have been in Venice on that night.  I had spent a lot of time planning the accommodation and transport and had to make changes as I firmed up our itinerary.  Too late, I found I had forgotten to change our Rome accommodation from 8 to 7 days.  However, Sylvia and I agreed we had had such a wonderful time in Rome that we were fine without visiting Venice.  Travel has it challenges but also such interesting experiences.  We were just excited to head to our next destination, Zurich.


  1. Your trip must have taken so much planning! Great post, and I love that you found some unusual vegan food in Rome.

  2. I've just caught up on your last few travel posts. Your trip looks glorious! So many things to do in Rome, and you seem to have found both the famous and the obscure but wonderful ones. Staying in an apartment is such a great way to travel.

    best, mae at maefood.blogspot.com


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