We’re in Europe! Okay, okay, we’ve been here a few weeks now. But after 4-and-a-half months in Central and South America, we’ve been busy reveling in some “first world” fun. We’re across the pond to visit Natalie’s family in the U.K. but are making a few stops along the way. Because, you know, it’s hard to think of a better place to spend summer than Europe.
Slow & low travel hack #385: Turn a layover into a “free” vacation
The last leg of our RTW ticket flew us from Rio to London on Air Italia. A measly $15 let us extend a 3-hour layover into a weeklong mini vacation. Not. Too. Shabby.
With only that week we stuck to Rome and planned a full on tourist blitz. We hit the Vatican, a Coliseum night tour, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, etc., and ate pizza, pasta, and gelato meal after meal, and drank liter upon liter of good, cheap house red wine.
We have to admit, we enjoyed Rome and its undeniable European-ness all the more for our recent time below the equator. Coming from Rio we generally felt as though Rome was a screaming bargain. The bang for your buck factor definitely goes further in Rome than in Rio.
Staying in the real Rome: Try Garbatella, bella
To save a chunk of change over staying in the eternally popular Trastevere neighbourhood, we moved a little off the beaten track (but still on the metro) to the very “real” Roman neighborhood of Garbatella.
Our apartment was beautiful (Airbnb, of course) and we couldn’t have been happier with our choice. Garbatella was founded in the late 1920s under Fascist rule as a communal garden district, and later forced to convert to Communism in the 70s. Garbatella remains a maze of winding streets walled with housing complexes built around shared gardens that remain meeting places for multigenerational families. Communist-leaning murals are a common sight throughout the neighbourhood.
Garbatella’s gorgeous architecture, time-washed buildings and hidden gardens make it a perfect neighbourhood for wandering and indulging in the daily Roman lifestyle — i.e. enjoying your morning cappuccino or espresso, afternoon beer or wine and aperitivo, and late night gelato steps away from one another.
These local gems didn’t always have perfect English service, but they came without paying the ridiculous premiums found elsewhere in Rome.
Get these Rome Apps!
One of the great things about traveling in such a storied city is the host of thoroughly researched, oft updated and well written Rome-centric content.
Amanda Ruggeri’s Revealed Rome is an amazing place to start planning any trip to Rome. Whether it’s your first or 10th time in the city, Amanda will undoubtably illuminate something new and worthy of your time.
We also can’t say enough good things about two new-ish Rome food apps: Eat Rome Elizabeth Minchilli and Katie Parla’s Rome . Rome is notorious for tourist traps (although not as bad as Florence), but with these ladies’ help an exceptional meal is never far.
Eating our faces off:
It was soooo nice to be back in a place that appreciates food. Technique, sourcing, and old world tradition are all alive and well in Rome. Comparing our week here to the typical South American restaurant experience is like comparing apples to foie gras.
Some of our favorite trattorias were:
- Osteria Fernanda. Via Ettore Rolli 1. +39 065894333 Another Revealed Rome tip, Osteria Fernanda is technically in the Trastevere neighborhood. It’s a bit of a walk from the center, but definitely worth it. The meal was excellent, and a fine representation of new cucina Romana.
- Perilli. Via Marmorata 39. +39065755100 Perilli serves up the classic Roman experience. The restaurant has been around since 1911. The food, ambiance, and wait staff haven’t changed much since then, and that’s mostly a good thing. Often reviewed as the best Carbonara in Rome, all roads to the quintessential cucina Romana experience, lead to Perilli.
- Acino Brillo. Piazza Eurasia. +39 065137145 Acino Brillo was literally a stone’s throw from our apartment in Garbatella, in Piazza Sun Eurasia where we spent a lot of time soaking up the late evening sun and local vibes. It was June and the piazza was always packed with locals and the food served al fresco at Acino Brillo always smelled great. We decided to give it a try our last night in Rome, and it was amazing! There was classic and creative cucina Romana on the menu, and, more importantly, the food was perfectly cooked and seasoned just right. Acino Brillo and Piazza San Eurasia might have been the crown jewel of our Garbatella local gems.
Needless to say we are enjoying our first few weeks in Europe. Rome was great start and the UK has treated us right. We are bit behind on our blog as we’ve spent a lot of time with family, relaxing, and staying in real homes with real bathrooms and sleeping in, real beds.
We are also ramping up for the second half of our Europe trip and getting ready for India! As our time in the U.K. is coming to an end we will be updating our site and have a lot more fun stuff to share so stay tuned.