Antico Forno Roscioli

Rome has no shortages of landmarks: Colosseum, Pantheon, St. Peter’s Square, Pyramid of Cestius, Circus Maximus…

But one of my favorite landmarks of all is the bright yellow FORNO sign on Via dei Chiavari.

Roscioli Forno rome

Antico Forno Roscioli is a Roman institution.  Locals come here for their daily bread, a few brutti ma buoni biscotti, and a panettone at Christmas.

roscioli bakery

Everyone, locals and visitors alike, comes here for the pizza bianca.

Roscioli Forno interior

I mean everyone.

You sometimes have to elbow your way back the pizza display, and indicate how much of what you want.  You can choose to have it wrapped up to eat on the go, or take it home if you can resist the chewy goodness for that long.

roscioli take away

There are also a few seats and counter space if you would prefer to eat there.

That is what I usually do, because the seats are located just the right distance away from the hubbub of the pizza selling so that you don’t feel actually consumed by the crowd, yet you have some great people watching opportunities.

Pesto pizza rome


But mainly I stay and eat on the spot because sometimes I pass on the pizza bianca and opt for toppings, and I love the messiest pizza of all: pesto.

Antico Forno Roscioli
Via dei Chiavari, 34  (Centro Storico)
Open: Monday-Saturday, 7 am – 7:30 pm


Goodbye, Roman Summer

With temperatures in the 80s and 90s Fahrenheit for the next four days, Rome seems to be giving summer weather one last hurrah.

Tiber river bars summer rome

The estate Romana has been impressive this year.  Heat waves and spectacular sunsets have been de riguer.

Tiber in Rome

Walking along the Tiber usually offers a few degrees of difference and a tiny bit of respite from Rome’s heat.

Rome bridgeThe river bars have closed up shop, which is fine by me because I have never been a fan of the food or drink on offer, but they do tend to add to the atmosphere.

Roma Tevere

I will miss the summer weather and the long, languid evenings.

sunset rome river


Travel Tuesday: A Day Trip to the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most popular natural attraction, and you certainly start to feel that while waiting for a spot in the car park.

Once you have maneuvered a parking space, crossed the road, and passed the gift shops, you can finally begin your hike up the cliffs.

Cliffs of Moher Ireland

It does not take long to catch sight of the view and realize that the crowds were right to come.


Steep drop offs, rolling hills, castle towers– what is not to love?

Ireland Cliffs of Moher

For some reason, I had no idea this was an actual hike. The paths are well worn, but even my booties with a low heel were inappropriate for the walk, especially since you want to feel well grounded in the the high wind gusts next to a 700 foot (214m) drop off.

distant cliffs of moher

It seems only fair to be greeted by such intensity after surviving a drive on the Wild Atlantic Way.  Coming from California, land of 10-lane highways, I was not exactly relaxed driving on the left down roads that seemed barely large enough for a single car, let alone oncoming traffic!

Irish cows

We lucked out at has very little rain during our visit, but the paths can be muddy from previous showers. We followed most of the crowd and climbed over the flagstone guardrail, only to almost instantly regret it.

The massive cliffs are awe inspiring and we had no real desire to be that close to the edge when the wind picked up.

Drop off cliffs of moher

Usually when we visit Ireland, we spend time with family, so it was fantastic to take a short day trip (manageable from Galway and back in the same day) and explore a new county.  Though… I am not in any real rush to drive on Irish roads again soon.

Concerts in Teatro Marcello

Rome is ancient.

2,768 years old, to be exact.

sunset at teatro marcello

Rome is old enough to know better, but it acts more like an underachieving child.

Roman temple

It hangs out with the wrong crowd, it really doesn’t care enough about making a good impression, and generally partakes in some activities it is going to regret when it is older.


Teatro marcello rome

Yet, Rome is still the most beautiful city I have ever been to.

I want to shake it sometimes. Tell Rome to get its act together.

Teatro Marcello concerti

There are little bits of magic around every corner (if you can see past the over flowing rubbish bins).

One example? Concerts in Teatro Marcello, one of my very favorite Roman landmarks.

Of course, the chairs are white plastic, and the concert pianist has to make an entrance from behind a plastic tarp, but those are details, people!

live music rome concertI mean, sure, it would make sense to maybe promote this in some way. Or maybe even hire a web developer who has worked in the 2000s?

But any-ways. DETAILS.

Going to see a classical concert for only 14 euro, in the shadow of an amphitheater, surrounded by ruins, is something I should not complain about. I just want Rome to seize the moment, class up the chairs a bit, and show the world how amazing it can be.


Speaking of details, more are available on this website regarding the concerts running through 11 October 2015.

Of course, it is in Italian only. But c’mon, you can overlook one little detail, can’t you?

Church: Rome-style.

I hope you like photos, because it is really hard for me to put into words how much I love this place.

Ara coeli in rome

Santa Maria in Ara Coeli in my favorite church in Rome.

It is the most beautiful church in Rome.

Most beautiful church in rome

I mean, if you like brassy and in-your-face beauty. Which I obviously do, because I am from California and I live in Rome.

What other beauty is there? Understated? Yeah. Understated in overrated.

campidoglio church rome

You know what is not overrated? 1 billion crystal chandeliers.

church details rome

Ok, maybe there are not 1 billion- but there are more chandeliers than any quiet church would ever have. No, this church is the church of ROME.

…Or at least the church of the City Council of Rome.

catholic church rome

Same thing.

Anyways, here are a few more photos so you can judge for yourself.

mass in rome

dear baby jesus in Italian

rome church ceiling

church floor rome Rome church


aracoeli church decorations Rome church tombs rome most beautiful church

When visiting Rome, it does not hurt to pop in to most of the churches you walk by. Just dress appropriately (covered shoulders and knees), and enjoy the grandeur.

This church has a few stairs because it is located on the highest point of the Campidoglio hill, but the climb is more than worth it.

view of aracoeli stairs


Palazzi Parking Spaces

One of the worst places to cross the street in Rome is in Piazza Venezia.  The traffic circle is a major artery for traffic in the historic center, and one of the main bus stops. This means, not only do you have to be cautious of cars merging on and off, you need to watch out for Roman bus drivers, which is an entirely other ballgame.

So when I do cross the street from Campidoglio, I usually let out a cartoonish “whew” and keep going.

But this time, a driveway caught my eye and I wandered past the Portiere (doorman) for a peak.

Wrought iron Rome

The palazzo’s main drive was hidden behind a wrought iron gate.

But if you lean over, you can catch a glimpse of life beyond the walls.

Roman driveway

Bigger-than-life-busts and a classic Roman fountain, with a fiat cinquecento to really seal the deal.

There are plenty of palazzi in Rome, but this one has the best parking spot I have ever seen.

Palazzo in Rome

A little glimpse into the good life to celebrate the start of the weekend.


Coffee with a Colosseum View

I won’t bore you with how hot it was.

I won’t bother trying to describe how oppressive the humidity feels when not a single wisp of a breeze can be found.

I won’t even begin to recount the discomfort, the lack of mobility, or the will do anything but lie perfectly still with the shutters closed and hope that it will all be over soon.

terrace view colosseum

It has been unpleasant.

We stayed in Rome for the long Ferragosto weekend.  We have been traveling here and there the last few weeks, and in spite of the heat, I wanted to stay put for a few days and go for a walk on familiar streets.

colosseum view

I left the house at 9 am, water bottle in hand.

Nothing is quite more Roman than the Colosseum, so that was my first stop.

rooftops of rome

The pure, white heat hit me.

I moved slowly, but continued on.  The intensity of the temperature was more surprising than painful.

rome rooftop view

Until I realized I was about to pass out.

So at 10:05, I stopped for an iced coffee at the first cafe I could find.

cafe vittoriano terrace

It involves some stairs, but the terrace of the the Vittoriano monument offers great views of Via Fori Imperiali, stretching all the way down to the colosseum.

Cafe shekerato

The terrace is free to visit, and given the location, the cafe is reasonably priced if you really really really need that coffee right now.

I did. I needed it. I needed to sit down and regroup, and sip something cool while my body temperature returned to normal.

If you order an iced coffee in Rome, you will be given a chilled shot of espresso into which sugar has already been mixed.

This time of year, I usually opt for a Caffe Freddo Shekerato – a coffee shaken, like a martini, and served over ice.

italian iced coffee

For €2.50, I regained some sanity and enjoyed the view.

If you are passing by after 10 am, then by all means opt for a Spritz. Cocktails will set you back €7-9 euro, and a glass of wine is €6.

spritz in rome

You pay for the vantage point rather than the exceptional drinks, but sometimes that is exactly the right priority to have in Rome.

terrace of vittoriano

If you don’t need a drink, the climb is still worth it for a free panorama.

roman forum view

hot summer in rome piazza venezia view


Caffetteria Italia – Complesso del Vittoriano
Piazza Venezia
Open: Everyday except public holidays, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm.



Forno Campo de’ Fiori

To me, Campo de Fiori is a meeting spot.  It is a place to agree to find each other so that you can move on to somewhere else.

It is not that I don’t like the market there, it simply is not my market.  Neighborhood markets are, by definition, in your own neighborhood.  I wouldn’t dream of carting produce from Campo de’ Fiori back to Testaccio.

Campo de fiori fresh market

As for Roma t-shirts and phallic pasta? I’m all set.

campo de fiori marketHonestly though, the piazza is too picturesque to pass up, and so even if I have no one to meet, I usually make a detour to see what is in the windows on Via Giubbonari.

But Campo is more than a feast for the eyes, it is also home to Forno Campo de’ Fiori.

Forno campo de' fiori

So in the interest of transparency, I will admit that pizza bianca is another reason I tend to make a detour through the famous piazza.

ciambelli wine cookies

Sometimes I think of colleagues and friends and pick up biscotti or ciambelline, but for the most part, I am on a pizza mission.

pizza campo de fiori

Forno Campo de’ Fiori serves up pizza al taglio, in addition to plain pizza bianca.  Simply indicate how much you want of any one flavor and then pay based on weight.

I usually stick with a quick snack, but the filled pizza bianca makes a great and easy lunch on the run.

lunch campo de fiori

One of the things that I long ago realized was an undeniable piece of my American-ness is my love for savory and sweet together.  Think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salted caramels, kettle corn… or proscuitto and fig.

Salty ham and sweet squishy fruit, held together with a chewy piece of pizza that can stand up to the soft filling.

prosciutto and fig pizza

A little piece of take away heaven.

Forno Campo de’ Fiori
Vicolo del Gallo, 14,
Roma, Italy
Open: Monday – Saturday from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm and from 4:40 pm – 8:00 pm.


Tram Depot: Testaccio’s Quirky Coffee Cart

One of the best things about Testaccio is very practical: location.

Living here, we are within a short walk to the center, a few minutes from Trastevere, and well connected to everything else by the train, metro, tram and bus lines that skirt the edges of the neighborhood.

My preference is always for the tram because it tends to be slightly less crowded than the bus.  But the most interesting tram is the one that is no longer operational, and popped up in the neighborhood the summer before last: Tram Depot.

Tram depot Testaccio

Sandwiched between busy Via Marmorata, Via Galvani, a car park and the post office, they have managed to create a small outdoor refuge.

Tram depot marmorata

The de-commissioned tram dishes out drinks, where they have transformed the kind of awkward space into a cozy and workable retreat.  The sound of the road fades away and you can catch up with friends or tap away at a laptop.
seating tram depot

I am a sucker for retro chairs, which is exactly why I stopped in the first time.

2014-10-16 11.04.06

I prefer to stop in for wine, local beer, or finger food.  I am less a fan of the coffee, which looks good but does not quite live up to expectations.

2014-10-16 11.15.37

But, it is a nice place to relax after a day of exploring, particularly after touring the Non-Catholic Cemetery and Piramide, which are just down the street.

Tram Depot
Corner of Via Marmorata and Via Galvani
Hours are supposedly 7:00 am to 2:00 am, but I find this hard to guarantee.


Civita di Bagnoregio: Day Trip from Rome

I take full responsibility for throwing the road trip completely off track.

First, I recommended we pick on the rental car from Fiumicino because then we would be halfway out of Rome already.  As you might be able to guess, that turned into a total cluster, and after a significant delay we ended up with a massive van instead of large SUV.

Second, once we piled into the van, with a row of space per person, I decided unilaterally that we would continue on to Civita di Bagnoregio instead of our pre-agreed Tuscan destination. Why? Because I wanted to and sometimes, when it comes to travel, I get a tiny bit bossy.  (I like to think it is ‘assertive,’ but no, it’s plain bossy).

So we drove those tiny Italian roads in that big ole 12-passenger van, and the 5 of us made it just fine.  (And by “we,” I mean the sole boy in the group did all the frustrating driving).

It was totally worth it, because once we abandoned the car and continued on foot, we came around the bend to this:

dying city bagnoregio

This perfectly magical medieval village.

We took some moments to savor the view, but all of that sitting at Fiumicino and then sitting in the car, meant that the first order of business was finding a toilet.  We stopped at a trattoria just before the bridge that leads into the city, and arranged to come back for lunch after touring town.  The restaurant gave us a postcard for free admittance to the city, and we strolled through the gate.


If you don’t get a free pass, don’t worry, the daily entrance fee is fair considering that the aim to conserve a city that might otherwise fall into disrepair and then literally fall to the valley floor. The 3 euro tax pays for urgent repairs.

The pedestrian bridge is the only access to the village, which hosts a population of 100 in the summer and a mere 12 during the winter.  Small, but still an increase over the grand total of ZERO that lived there after the town was hit by an earthquake in the middle ages and the homes made of tufa (limestone) rock began sliding off the side of the hill.

village of Bagnoregio lazio

I ushered my jetlagged American friends through town, all collectively oohing and ahhing over just how picturesque it all was.  Founded almost 2,500 years ago, it became known as the “dying town” (il paese che muore) when it was left empty.  However, this abandonment has done wonders for preserving the gem of a place.  The crowds were tolerable and the alleyways begging to be explored. I do not think I have ever taken quite so many pictures of cute doorways at any one time.

doors in bagnoregio

After a jaunt around the tiny hilltop town, we luckily stumbled upon Osteria al Forno di Agnese. After a look at the menu, decided to try to charm our way in with no reservation rather than hike back down the hill to eat.  We got lucky and were promptly given the last available table.

eating in bagnoregio

The town is tiny, so apart from where to eat, I have very few suggestions other than to tell you to wander and enjoy the view.

eating in bagnoregio

We made it back across the bridge, up the stairs to the modern town, and into the van to continue the journey to Tuscany, happy, full and excited to have explored this little previously abandoned corner of Lazio.  It has a very different vibe from Calcata, but is just as scenic and arguably easier to get to.

lazio day trips

So while I would like the moral of this story to be about how I am always right, the real point of the post is to encourage you to take a day trip to Civita di Bagnoregio. The trip is easiest by car (it is about 100 km outside of Rome).

Alternately, you can take the train to Orvieto and then a Cotral bus from Orvieto to Civita Bagnoregio.

day trip rome bagnoregio