I think we can all safely agree that Rome is one of the great food cities in the world. But, let's say that you've got limited time in the Eternal City --- maybe you're on a cruise with a day stop or you have a short layover --- what should you eat? What are the musts? Here's my guide to 24 Delicious Hours in Rome.
Breakfast: Cappuccino at Antico Caffe Greco
Wake up early and head directly to Antico Caffe Greco (also known as Caffe Greco). Founded in 1760, this coffee shop is Rome's oldest bar. Hans Christian Anderson, Goethe, Shelley, and Keats have all sipped coffee at this venerable establishment.
Today, you sit at marble-topped tables in burgundy and gold rooms, as white-gloved waiters come to take your order of drinks and desserts. Or, stand at the bar, and order an espresso and a cornetto --- Italy's answer to the French croissant, and an essential part of the Italian breakfast.
Antico Caffe Greco is located on the posh Via Condotti, #86, one of the best streets in the city to window shop, near the Spanish Steps.
Mid-morning snack: Mozzarella at Obika Mozzarella Bar
Once you've gotten your fill of shopping at the Spanish Steps, make your way past the Trevi Fountain to the Campo de Fiori. This bustling flower market also is home to one of Rome's most fun and unique food bars. Obika specializes in mozzarella di bufala (buffalo's milk mozzarella), sourced from the Campania region of Southern Italy.
While Obika serves up a variety of full delicious meals, stick to the degustazione (or tasting) platters where you can pair varieties of mozzarella or delicate and creamy burrata cheese with meats and vegetables. You've still got a full day of eating ahead of you!
Obika Mozzarella Bar is located on Piazza de Campo de Fiori and is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Lunch: Carciofi Alla Romana at Armando al Pantheon
After meandering through the beautiful Campo de Fiori, gaze in amazement at the Pantheon. Lunch will be at Armando al Pantheon, which serves a wide selection of dishes at reasonable prices. This restaurant is usually crowded with both tourists and locals and it can sometimes be hard to find seats, so go a bit early to reserve your seat.
This Slow Food restaurant serves up many Roman specialties, though my favorite is the carciofi alla romana. This beautiful dish literally means Roman-style artichokes and is made by braising the artichoke hearts and stems in a mixture of wine, olive oil, and garlic and mint.
Armando al Pantheon is located at Salita de Crescenzi, 31.
Afternoon snack: Pizza at Pizzarium
Once you've thoroughly gorged, burn off calories by taking a brisk trek across the Tiber to Vatican City. Given the huge lines, you probably won't have time to visit the famous Cathedral and museums, but, you can see the outside of the cathedral and walk through the City itself.
Then, walk just outside Vatican City to Gabriele Bonci's Pizzarium, located in a tiny shop directly next to the Cipro Metro Station. Pizzarium serves pizza al taglio (or by the slice). You walk in, order the pizza you would like by weight, and the waiters will cut a slice for you with a pair of mammoth kitchen shears.
The crust is thin and crunchy. The toppings are simple and innovative. The pizza is so good that you'll want to keep going back there over and over again.
Pizzarium is located at Via della Meloria, 43.
Late afternoon gelato: Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi
Hop on to the Cipro Metro Line and head to the Vittorio Emanuele station. You'll find many of Rome's famous ancient attractions within a 10-minute walk from this station, including the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
And, you'll also find Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi, one of Rome's best spots for gelato. Gelato is similar to ice cream, but with about half the calories, since it is made from milk rather than from cream, which means that you should have no shame in indulging on this frozen treat! Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi has been producing artisanal gelato since 1880 and serves up about 30 flavors on a daily basis. There are always large crowds at this place so you know that the gelato will be fresh and delicious. Prices are also very inexpensive here, as you can spend about 2 Euros for 3 huge scoops of gelato.
Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi is located at Via Principe Eugenio, 65.
Dinner: Pasta at Cantina e Cucina
Choose one of Rome's great pastas at Cantina e Cucina, a traditional trattoria not far from the stunning Piazza Navona. Rome is famous for a variety of pastas, including amatriciana (pasta with guanciale or cured pig's cheek, pecorino cheese, and tomatoes), carbonara (pasta with guanciale, eggs, and cheese), Alfredo (pasta with a cheese and butter sauce), cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper), and gricia (pasta with garlic, onion, and pancetta). You can try all of these varieties at Cantina e Cucina, in a beautiful and low-key setting.
Cantina e Cucina is located at Via del Governo Vecchio, 87.
Dessert: Cannoli at Cannoleria Siciliana
Make a few ounces of space in your stomach for the best cannolis you've ever had at Cannoleria Siciliana, not far from the Piazza Navona, right on the Tiber. Cannoleria Siciliana serves up traditional Sicilian desserts, including the famous cannoli at its small shop. The shell is flaky and buttery and the mascarpone and ricotta center is creamy, sweet, but not cloying, and studded with chocolate chips. This is the perfect dessert to cap off 24 delicious hours in Rome.
Cannoleria Siciliana is located at Via Monte de Brianzo, 66.