Maria Pasquale, Rome, Italy
Born and raised in Melbourne to Italian parents, food and travel journalist and author Maria Pasquale first traveled to Italy as a child in the 1980s and then every year until her twenties. “I was crying on the way to the airport because I never wanted to leave,” she says. Maria bit the bullet and moved to Rome in 2011. Her latest book, how to be italianis out now, heartrome.com
The Doria Pamphilj Gallery, a private noble palace, is underestimated and often overlooked. It has probably the largest private art collection in Rome and its magnificent mirror gallery takes my breath away. Stop for a cocktail or a snack (with a Caravaggio behind you) at the elegant in-house bistro, Caffe Doria, doriapaphilj.it
Rome is a pedestrian city and you can walk between all the main monuments. From the Colosseum, I like to walk Via dei Fori Imperiali to Piazza Venezia, then Via del Corso stopping at Trevi, the Pantheon, then Piazza Navona. I love the narrow cobbled streets, which you’ll sometimes share with a Vespa or see a parked vintage Fiat 500. But it’s the old ocher walls that attract me, especially when they’re bathed in that magical Roman light.
The outdoor veranda of the Osteria der Belli in Trastevere is where you will often find me for the sacred Italian Sunday lunch. I come to this Sicilian restaurant for the spaghetti alle vongole, carpaccio di spigola (sea bass) and grilled butterfly calamari. It’s not a fancy restaurant and can be overlooked for its position just off the tourist-centric Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, but trust me and come for the comfort food and family hospitality. And tell Leo I’m sending you, Piazza di Sant’ Apollonia 11.
Hotel de Russie’s Stravinskij bar is a local institution with luxurious yet friendly service. I always have a Hugo, a mix of Prosecco, St Germain elderflower liqueur and mint. For real mixology I head to Drink Kong – currently listed in the world’s 50 best bars – and my rooftop picks include Terrazza Borromini and Adele Mixology for amazing views and cocktails, roccofortehotels.com, drinkkong.com, terrazzaborromini.com, robertonaldicollection.com
Never order a cappuccino with a meal unless it’s breakfast, and never after noon. Italians strongly believe that dairy products later in the day have a negative impact on your digestion. Additionally, Aperol Spritz is an aperitif, not to be taken with your meal. Pizza and pasta? Both are excellent, but Italians never eat them together and certainly never on the same plate. Go there if you want to horrify a Roman.
Breathe. Rome is a beautiful but complex and quite aggressive city. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s noisy, the traffic is unpredictable, the bureaucracy precarious and the organization questionable. But if you know that, if you’re in no rush to get somewhere or do something, and add a healthy dose of patience, you can thrive in the city.