Rome, Italy, travel tips from an expert expat: Maria Pasquale


Rome, with its cobblestone streets and old buildings, is a walking city. Photo: iStock


Maria Pasquale, Rome , Italy

Born and raised in Melbourne to Italian parents, food and travel journalist and author Maria Pasquale first travelled to Italy as a child in the 1980s, then every year through her 20s. “I’d cry on the way to 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 Italian, is out now,


The Doria Pamphilj Gallery, a privately-owned noble palazzo, is underrated and often overlooked. It has probably the largest private art collection in Rome and its stunning Gallery of Mirrors takes my breath away. Stop off for a cocktail or snack (with a Caravaggio behind you) at the stylish in-house bistro, Caffe Doria,

Author Maria Pasquale moved to Rome in 2011.
Author Maria Pasquale moved to Rome in 2011. Photo: Supplied


Rome is a walking city and you can walk between all the major monuments. From the Colosseum I love the walk down the Via dei Fori Imperiali to Piazza Venezia then down Via del Corso stopping off at Trevi, Pantheon and then on to Piazza Navona. I love the narrow cobblestone streets, which you’ll sometimes share with a Vespa or see a vintage Fiat 500 parked. But it’s the old ochre walls that get me, especially when they are bathed with that magical Roman light.


The outdoor verandah at Osteria der Belli in Trastevere is where you’ll often find me for the sacred Italian Sunday lunch. I come to this Sicilian restaurant for spaghetti alle vongole, the carpaccio di spigola (sea bass) and the grilled butterflied calamari. This isn’t fancy dining and can be overlooked for its position right by the tourist-centric Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, but trust me and come for the comfort food and family hospitality. And tell Leo I sent you, Piazza di Sant’ Apollonia 11.

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The Stravinskij bar in the Hotel de Russie is a local institution with luxury, but 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 views and incredible cocktails,,,,


Don’t ever order a cappuccino with a meal unless it’s breakfast, and never after midday. Italians firmly believe that milky products later in the day adversely impact your digestion. Also, Aperol Spritz is an aperitif, not to be had with your meal. Pizza and pasta? Both great, but Italians never eat them together and certainly never on the same plate. Go for it 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 loud, traffic is unpredictable, bureaucracy precarious and organisation questionable. But if you know this, if you’re not in a great rush to get somewhere or get something done and you add a good dose of patience, you can thrive in the city.


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