Kat is a multifaceted solo woman traveler, who side-stepped her originally chosen career path in Zoology and Psychology to give expression to her inner passions: writing, photographing and exploring the world. In September 2011, she started cutting out a small piece of the World Wide Web to record her experiences, thus “Travel with Kat” was born. We at GowithOh have immediately fallen in love with Kat, because of her spontaneity and contagious smile and we are sure that our readers will appreciate her suggestions and tips.
So let’s start our adventure with Kat and, what else for a better beginning, than a street food tour among the eternal city’s paths and alleyways: Rome!?
Rome is a wonderful city to explore on foot and it is often in the little side streets, that you wander down, quite by chance, that you make the most memorable discoveries. I have found in many cities that this is also where you can find some great street food. In Rome, however, as throughout Italy, the locals take food very seriously and always make time to sit down, preferably with friends, even if having a light snack, rather than eat on the move.
This doesn’t mean that they don’t have street food, they do, although it maybe a little harder to find than in many other European cities and you’ll always find a few tables and chairs even at the smallest whole-in-the-wall take-away. There is one exception to this and that’s gelato and what better place to start a look at Rome’s street food scene.
There are an amazing number of gelateria in Rome but the quality varies greatly from the mass produced rubbish to the finest artisan gelato, made daily from the freshest ingredients. Every local will have a different gelateria that they will recommend as the best in town and every Italian will know when they walk into any shop whether it’s selling artisan gelato, or not, simply by glancing at few of the flavours on offer. Firstly, artisan gelato is made from only the freshest of ingredients that are in season, so you wouldn’t find strawberry gelato in the middle of winter, for instance.
Also they don’t use added ingredients to enhance the colour, so banana gelato is cream, as are peeled bananas, and not bright yellow, and pistacchio gelato is a pale brown with a hint of green and most definitely not vibrant green. Don’t be tempted to stick to the familiar flavours. Try toasted sesame seed or even salted peanut! My favourite, however, is zabione, an Italian dessert made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine, and it goes perfectly with a scoop of the slightly bitter 100% dark chocolate.
Budget pasta by the Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are a well-known tourist attraction and are surrounded by stylish restaurants and designer boutiques. Not the place to eat if you are on a budget, or so you’d think, however, there’s a little café that the local workers go to in their lunch break called Pastificio, on Via della Croce, just off the Piazza di Spagna. If you weren’t looking of it you’d probably not notice it but you can buy a plate of pasta with wine for just €4.
It’s pretty basic with plastic plates, cutlery and glasses but it’s probably the best value food you’ll find in Rome, especially in such a fashionable area. You can eat your pasta in the café, if you can find a spare seat – there aren’t many – or take it over to the Spanish Steps and do a spot of people watching while you tuck-in!
Pizza by the slice and pizza bianca
Another great lunch time snack to eat on the go is pizza by the slice or pizza bianca, a very moorish type of pizza without any toppings both are great to take with you as you wander through Rome’s enchanting streets.
The best cup of coffee in town
In Rome, they say “The better the view, the worse the coffee” so you are unlikely to find a great cup of coffee next to any the famous sights. Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè in Piazza Sant’Eustachio is reputed to serve the best coffee (and the view actually isn’t that bad either!) There are just a couple of tables and chairs outside as most people drink standing at the bar.
Remember to pay for your coffee at the till and then take your receipt over to the opposite counter where they will make your coffee. Their mousse caffè, which is served chilled, is particularly wonderful and refreshing on a hot summer’s day.
And for a late night snack
For all you night owls, look out for Il Sorchettaro, on Via Cernaia, a fabulous bakery only open from 9pm until the following morning!
Their most popular midnight snack is the Sorchettaro, a kind of flat croissant served with Nutella and whipped cream. The perfect treat to alleviate those late night munchies!