If there is one person who knows the right way to see Rome, it’s Italian poet Eugenio Montale.
In his famous work, Meriggiare, he talks about spending the day in deliberate languidness – observing the cracks on the pavement and watching the ants march in a single file – and the pleasure derived from doing it.
Meriggiare means “to pass the hottest hours of the day in a shady outdoor place.” It has no direct translation in English, but if it did, it would simply mean “the best way to enjoy Rome,” which is to say purposefully unhurried.
Even if you’re only in Rome for a layover, all you have to do is download the Rome Travel Guide and Offline City Map find a cozy café using its offline maps, order an espresso, and check out eTips suggestions on how to travel in Rome based on the art of meriggiare.
Take A Walk
Rome is notorious for its bad traffic. In fact, it’s widely recognized as one of the worst places to drive in the world. So, if you only have a few hours to spare in the city, forget about traveling by car.
There is no better way to see Rome than by foot. Take a stroll in the alleys of the Jewish Ghetto,
the oldest Jewish community in Europe, and indulge in the community’s historic and picturesque charms.
One of the ghetto’s must-see attractions is Bocca della Verità or the Mouth of Truth located in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedia. Legend has it that it was used in ancient times as a lie detector during trials.
The way it works is that the accused will place his hand inside the mouth. If he’s telling the truth, he gets to keep his hand. If he lies, the Mouth of Truth will punish him by biting off his hand.
You’ll probably recognize the Mouth of Truth from Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s film Roman Holiday.
Visit A Local Market. But first, a grattachecca.
As Anthony Bourdain would tell you, if you want to know a city, you have to visit its local market.
Found just south of Piazza Navona, Campo de’Fiori is known as one of the best open-air markets in Rome. It has everything from fruits, vegetables, spices, cheese, flowers, even tableware. There are also stalls that hawk unique souvenir items.
But the highlight of any market are the food stalls. Snack on some porchetta, pizza al taglio, deep fried cod, supplì, and even a cone or two of gelato for a pre-pub hopping fill, before Campo de’Fiori transforms from midday market to an open-air pub at night.
But first, get yourself a refreshing glass of grattachecca, a dessert made from shaved ice, syrup, and fruit toppings, to start your day.
Nightcap at Trastevere
Trastevere translates to “across the Tiber” is a laidback neighborhood which seamlessly combines Rome’s medieval past and bohemian present.
Indulge in its hipster neighborhood vibe while getting a bite from a trattoria or sipping on wine in an outdoor cafe.
You can start your day with a walk through Trastevere’s winding cobblestone streets. Get your aperitivo on while admiring the well-preserved Medieval architecture, before heading to Piazza Santa Maria to do some people watching.