Header: risotto alla marinara at Imago at Hassler
In our new “50 Hours in…” series, presented by Diners Club International, we take you on a 50-hour whirlwind tour of six of the world’s top foodie cities. In each of the locations – Rome, New York, Bangkok, London, Miami and Singapore – you’ll find a wide selection of some of the essential places to visit for everything from a simple sandwich to a blow-out tasting menu.
In the first stop in the series – Rome – we visit some of the Eternal City’s must-see places for stunning views and perfect pasta. Follow the guide below and watch the video.
10:00 – Benvenuti a Roma
St.Peter's Basilica, Rome
You arrive tired after the journey and on the taxi ride into the city voices on the radio are arguing over the latest football match. The traffic is crazy, horns blaring and motorbikes speeding between the cars. The whole vehicle is vibrating due to the sanpietrini – cobblestones – beneath. You try to make sense of where you are, but the roads have no logic: the layout of the city was created over centuries, not by engineers. It is chaotic – but as soon as you look around, there is beauty everywhere: in the sky cleared by the tramontana, the north wind; in the palatial façades and in people’s smiles; and you know you’ve already fallen in love with Rome.
In no time at all, you understand why they call it the Eternal City. From the Temple of Vesta – 2,700 years old – to the Colosseum and the Tiber, you are surrounded by history. That’s the magic of a capital that turns its contradictions into cultural richness. The charm of Roman cuisine lies in its ability to marry nobility and humility, rich products and humble ingredients. Rome’s formidable legion of new-generation cooks take care of traditional flavours through contemporary techniques, so that everything can change, while staying deliciously traditional.
13:00 – Osteria la Gensola
Piazza della Gensola, 15, 00153
In the early 19th century, artists studying in the Pope’s Kingdom used to come Osteria la Gensola, overlooking the Tiber Island, for a glass of wine and were fascinated by the atmosphere of this working-class neighbourhood called Trastevere. Today, the Roman character has been influenced by a touch of Sicilian spirit, the region from where the chef hails. This explains the dishes in which the two traditions meet, such as seared cuttlefish with guanciale, rustic bean soup with clams, or monkfish alla cacciatora (hunter’s style) served with rosemary apple purée. Enjoy the Roman specialties, such as bucatini all’amatriciana (with cured pork cheek and pecorino cheese) and coda alla vaccinara (oxtail stew), with a good glass of regional wine from the well-stocked cellar.
17:00 – Antica Enoteca
Via della Croce, 76, 00186
For the Italians, there are more than three meals a day. There are also the mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, plus the indispensable aperitivo. Here appetite often goes hand in hand with conviviality, the desire to eat and drink while chatting with friends. In this case, a place like Antica Enoteca – close to Piazza di Spagna – is perfect. Its old charm has been preserved: high ceilings, arches framing the walls, the long marble bar, tables al fresco. You could have a quick aperitivo or just stop for a snack with a meatball sandwich or an octopus salad.
20:30 – Pipero
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 250, 00186
Ring the bell next to the elegant glass door on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and you will be welcomed by Alessandro Pipero, a maître d’ who instantly understands his clients’ desires and tastes. Trust him for advice on what to eat and drink (he’s a well-known sommelier), while talented young chef Luciano Monosilio takes care of the rest. At Pipero you eat the best carbonara in Rome (therefore in Italy, therefore in the world), but also plenty of other treats that speak Romanesco – the city’s dialect – with class. Try the rigatoni with sausage, broccoli sauce and pecorino foam; or the tea-flavoured lamb with raspberries and anchovy sauce. When it’s time for dessert, the fried bomboloncini, filled mini-pastries, will blow you away. Pipero has a great selection of rums and whiskies for those who want to linger and digest.
09:00 – Hotel de Russie
Via del Babuino, 9, 00187
This is one of the great classics of Roman hospitality. Businessmen, actors, singers and international travellers will all stop here, sooner or later, if only for a quick aperitivo in one of the capital's most charming gardens. Recently renovated with LaFuente furniture and retro touches, it is a stone's throw from the Piazza del Popolo. Named “de Russie” because it was once chosen by representatives of the Russian royal family, the hotel’s suites offer sumptuous comfort. Don't forget about the beautiful spa and the kitchen headed by Fulvio Pierangelini – and you’ll understand that this is a place to visit at least once in a lifetime.
10:00 - Boscolo Exedra
Piazza della Repubblica, 47, 00185
Whether you’re a guest enjoying breakfast in your room or just a lover of the first meal of the day, this is an indispensable way to start your eating day. The breakfast on the panoramic terrace has few equals for the palate and the eyes. There is a feast of sweet and savoury flavours, curated by talented chef Niko Sinisgalli, from the buffalo mozzarella arriving fresh every morning from Aversa to the wild Alaskan salmon smoked in-house; from the sourdough croissants to the homemade jams (the fig one is particularly good); and finally the cream whipped with fine vanilla beans. Don’t miss the special mini-tiramisu.
20:00 – Imàgo at Hassler
Hotel Hassler Roma, Piazza Trinità dei Monti, 6, 00187
The walls of this restaurant in the Hassler Hotel are reduced to a minimum in favour of huge windows. From here, on top of Piazza Trinità dei Monti, it is nearly impossible to put the panorama over Rome’s rooftops into words. With this ace up his sleeve, chef Francesco Apreda could be freewheeling; but instead he works hard to make his food as spectacular as the views. He combines taste and technique with strong flavours enhanced by spices, using the extensive knowledge he gained while working in Asia. Dishes include rice cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) and sesame, or breadcrumb-coated scallops with shiitake and black truffle, or rigatoni with shisho pesto. The highest level of service and a prestigious cellar complete the set for a fairy-tale experience.
12:00 – Bar Stravinskij, Hotel de Russie
Via del Babuino, 9, 00187
In the courtyard of the prestigious hotel, a small oasis of greenery – appropriately called ‘the secret garden’ – is the setting for a private square named after the building’s architect Valadier. Its peacefulness and the scent of flowers are the perfect backdrop to the bar’s wrought-iron tables, where you can enjoy a champagne-filled flute from the cellar or one of the great signature cocktails in full relaxation. From the signature mixology menu, the Perfect Twelve features 12 botanical varieties enhancing a fine gin. There is also an original cocktail menu inspired by Italy, with local liqueurs and spirits combined with herbs and flavourings; try the Italianissimo, with biological Tuscan vodka, dried tomatoes, basil and tonic water.
And that completes your whirlwind 50-hour journey through Rome. Watch the video here:
Stay tuned for the next destination in the series, 50 Hours in New York, coming next month.