5. Fruit Juice
If you are like me, fruit juice is no big deal, like, who wants juice? But in Rome, the juice is FRESH SQUEEZED! Yes, they have stands where people are literally squeezing fruit to make juice for you. Many restaurants have a juice machine too. Even the airport coffee shop made our orange juice fresh right in front of us. Sometimes orange juice means blood orange juice (which is even tastier in my opinion) but go with it! Every juice it had was delicious. I heard the pomegranate juice is a specialty but I didn't get a chance to try that.
Restaurant Recommendation: Camp de'Fiori. This square during market hours has stands serving fresh squeezed juice. It's also a wonderful spot to take a break and explore, there are many stalls with fruit, veggies, spreads, herbs, a great place to get some souvenirs!
Photo credit: Diane Hancock
4. Aperol Spritz
This is an aperitif (a pre-dinner drink) that's mostly prosecco (sparkling wine white) with Aperol liquor and topped with a splash of soda. The Aperol adds a bitter taste to cut the sweetness of the prosecco. This is a light and fun drink. If you order a "spritz" they can make it with Aperol or Campari liqueur, both are delicious! This cocktail is definitely worth a try, especially if you visit in warm weather.
Restaurant Recommendation: These can be found in many restaurants and they aren't difficult to make, I got one at a few different restaurants and loved them all.
The Negroni is a surprisingly good cocktail. It's gin, vermouth, and Campari liqueur (an apéritif). Most people have never had Campari, I sure hadn't, so I didn't know what to expect, but man are these good! It's barely sweet, a little bitter, and very smooth. This is worth trying while you are there. And, if you go between 5 pm and 7 pm, most casual places like trattorias will bring you out tiny snacks! Notice those pizza bites and the empty pail of chips in my photo.
Restaurant Recommendation: Bar Dei Gemelli (Via del Bufalo, 138) This bar is gorgeous! With green marble countertops and dark wooden booths, it's worth going and having a drink! It's a bit north of the Trevi Fountain in a nice area filled with shops, it was lively at night.
This was almost my #1 pick, but next to wine, it's a difficult decision. Italy is known for its coffee, and at around 2 euros per cappucino, it's worth having at least every day. The coffee is made right in front of you, the milk is fresh and perfectly frothed. Order a "Cappucino Doppio" for a double. Most coffee counters have you order and pay first at the cashier, then take your receipt to the coffee counter to get your order. Most folks stand at the counter while enjoying, then leave, although most places have a few tables if you'd like sit down services for a few extra euros.
Restaurant Recommendation: Sant'Eustachio il caffe (Piazza di S. Eustachio, 82, 00186 Roma, Italy). Located near the Pantheon, this coffee shop is it! It's one of the oldest and most respected coffee shops in Rome, and for good reason! We fell in love and came back the next day. We even bought coffee and a coffee maker to take home as souvenirs!
Tip: You will be asked if you want sugar or no sugar. I usually don't like sugar but I got it a few times and it is very good. It's granulated and they add it to the bottom of the cup before they pour coffee. It wasn't too sweet, so if you aren't a sweet coffee person, try it anyway.
1. Wine, Wine, and Mulled Wine!
What to even say. Drink. the.wine. Drink it. Ask for the house wine anywhere you go and you will get a delicious, inexpensive, local wine. The type of wine that costs $25 a bottle back in the States. When we had a nicer meal, we also asked the staff what they recommended with it. Unlike in the US, the waiters do not recommend the most expensive wine. We found the wine prices everywhere to be very reasonable, especially for the quality. I honestly didn't have a wine that I didn't like. Look for labels or descriptions that say "Lazio," those will be from the same region you are in.
Tip: Try mulled wine! A few places advertised mulled wine on boards outside their shops, but I got a cup at Camp de'Fiori and it was perfect. It's like a wine cider with fruit!
Restaurant Recommendation: Cantina Belsiana (Via Belsiana, 15, 00187 Roma, Italy) This is a laid back place with great small plates, a few entrees, and lots and lots of wine to choose from. If you see "Cantina" on a restaurant, that means it's a wine cellar, which means they will have a good, curated wine list. Tip: Get the parma ham!