Anthony Bourdain's Rome Travel Tips
Anthony Bourdain has a little over 30 hours to experience the "Eternal City" of Rome. He crisscrosses the city by bus, by Fiat, and by Vespa … determined to get his fill of Italian cuisine before his flight out. Before your next visit, check out some of Tony’s tips from The Layover: Rome episode.
The Pace of Rome
"Ideally, you visit Rome slowly. You sit, you stroll, you take it slow and as it comes. You don't go to see stuff, you let it slip up on you -- one piazza, one fountain, one amazing structure at a time. That would be the best-case scenario."
"Fiumicino Airport has the usual assortment of transportation options. The easiest but pricier would be a taxi straight into town to your hotel. That’s a flat fare of about 60 bucks. There are shuttle buses for about 15 bucks, which should take about 40 minutes, but traffic can be unpredictable. I opt for the express train this time around: $20 and only 30 minutes. It's supposed to be fast, efficient, easy, but honestly as I stare down another walkway, I begin to regret my decision."
Rome’s Train Station
"Termini station is the massive transportation hub of Rome, and it’s the center of suck-dom as far as I'm concerned."
"In Rome, you can … for 1 euro, get 75 minutes of unlimited access to any of Rome’s many means of transportation … the metro, for instance. However, there are only 2 lines that crisscross the city like an X, meeting at -- guess where? -- Termini station. There are also buses and trams above ground. Not a big difference, just depends where you're going."
Where to Stay
"I suggest the Centro Storico, or historical center of the city, so you're within walking distance of all the good stuff that you want to at least lay eyes on. Hotels are expensive, so book early if you’re looking for lower-priced penziones as they tend to fill up quickly. On the other hand, if you want to blow it out and live large, and pay bigtime for the privilege, the Hotel de Russie is swankadelic, discreet, and it’s right down the street (yet comfortably insulated from) the Spanish steps. But again, it's expensive."
What to Bring
"The toilet paper in this country is not the fluffiest, it's very abrasive … like I’m sitting on steel wool every time I sit down. Here’s a traveler's tip … bring your own double-ply."
What Not to Do
"You could have that ubiquitous hotel breakfast, I guess. But you are seriously a (bleep) idiot if you do. You will be needing that real estate for good food, not room-temperature eggs."
A Proper Roman Breakfast
"No eggs, no pancakes … you save room for lunch. It's cappuccino, and maybe a cornetto. That's it.”
For a Snack
"What’s a Roman specialty you might have for a light lunch or a snack? Well, one might head off to the Pigneto district to score yourself some porchetta."
"The pride of Rome, porchetta, is a whole deboned pig … stuffed with herbs, spit-roasted and generally served with a pitcher of ice-cold Italian beer."
For a Picnic
"Italian deli/groceries, known as alimentari or salumeria, are the perfect place to stock up on some of Rome's best flavors. Procured, stored, sliced and solid with passion and real craftsmanship. You pretty much can’t go wrong with takeout like this. And of course, there are fountains and piazzas around every corner where you can sit down and eat."
The Best Gelato
"There are, of course, gelaterias (good and not so good) everywhere in Italy, but it's worth looking for a great one. Gelateria dei Gracchi in the Prati district is probably the best of the best."
An Italian Cocktail
"When making negronis at home: 1/3 high-end gin, 1/3 Campari and 1/3 sweet vermouth. I don’t really like gin, I don’t really like Campari, and I don’t like sweet vermouth … but together … your friend. The count negroni, it is said, invented this fine cocktail in Florence. Unsatisfied with the level of alcohol in his Americano cocktail of Campari and sweet vermouth, he suggested his waiter ratchet up the danger level with the addition of gin. Thus was born a classic."
Why to Rent a Vespa
"You can speed through traffic, you're out there in the world … you can actually smell it, feel it, wind in your hair. OK, it's a little more dangerous, but think about it … you can also pull over as the instinct or impulse strikes you. You know, it’s not a big commitment to park. It's cheap. It's the most totally awesome way to get around Rome. Five times as fast, 5 times as flexible, 5 times as fun … why wouldn’t you do this?"
Tony’s Final Bite in Rome
"Cacio e pepe. You could get it anywhere, but you want it good. This place, named strangely enough … Cacio e Pepe , does it good. I love this (bleep). Looks like just some plain pasta with a little black pepper and cheese … and it basically is. But, you have no idea how good that is."
The One Thing to Do in Rome
"If you do one thing in Rome, one thing ... Forget about Vatican City, all the rest, one thing: Find a place that is guaranteed by locals to make good cacio e pepe, get yourself a nice jug of wine and eat."