Rome, Italy
Mariele, 30
PhD Student studying Ancient Rome
see her Rome city guide

What do you do and why do you do it?

I am a PhD student at the University of Nottingham. My research examines the economy of medieval Rome through the study of coins circulating in central Italy between the 12th and 14th centuries. I have attended archaeological excavations in Rome, and I am currently collaborating with the main Rome's museums by studying their medieval numismatic collections.

You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?

As a romantic soul, I costantly upgrade my heartbreak playlist. It consist of numerous tracks, the first I can think of are 'Focu di raggia' - C. Consoli, 'Gocce di Memoria' - Giorgia, 'Don't Let me down' - LP cover, 'River flows in you' - Yiruma, 'Us' - Regina Spektor, 'Muddy Waters' - LP, 'Non so come mai' - E. Fasano, 'Nuvole Bianche' - L. Einaudi, 'Christmas Lights' -Coldplay, 'Se telefonando' - Mina, 'Halo' - Beyoncé.

What are the best TV shows of all time?

When I was a child and then a teenager, I did not use to watch TV. The only TV show I used to watch with my family was SANREMO, a very popular song festival in Italy. Of course, I still consider SANREMO the best TV show of all time.

Name some spots in Rome that are good for a Tinder date.

''Lo Zodiaco'' is certainly a good place. It is versatile, with a restaurant and a café area. Because it is located atop Monte Mario, the highest hill in Rome north of the Vatican, this place has also a spectacular panoramic view over the city. Another good spot is il Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden), located on the idyllic Aventine Hill. This garden is an oasis of peace and beauty and has a beautiful panoramic view, with St Peter in the skyline.

Who’s your hero and where in Rome would you take them out for a serious hang?

I would say a Jewish family of bakers. Since generations, they have managed a bakery named 'Boccione' (see map for details), where they sell delicious, inimitable pies and biscuits. When I go there, I usually buy the ricotta and visciole pie, and if possible, I exchange a few words with the oldest baker; her Roman dialect is a linguistic treasure. I would take her out for a slow walk and for a good coffee at S. Eustachio (see map for details). We would talk about her life in the past, when Rome was a completely different city, and I would dare ask her to tell me the secret recipe of the ricotta pie.

Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?

Castel Romano Outlet, which is an outlet village 25 km from the centre of Rome. It offers up to 70% off clothing and products, and has a great range of designer brands.

What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?

Rione Trastevere. This is probably the only area in Rome that has maintained its medieval character. Located in the centre of the city, Trastevere is still crossed by narrow alleys lined by medieval houses. Although most of the buildings now host restaurants, bars and shops, you can still see their original medieval architecture. You can find a wide range of food in Trastevere, including pizza, fast-food, and Roman specialities. At night, baskers generally perform in the charming Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere and Piazza Trilussa.

What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?

Reading books and having walks in Villa Pamphilj (one of the biggest parks in Rome). However, I always postpone it indefinitely because of more important things to do.

What’s the most decadent / extreme dish you ever ate in Rome and where did you get it?

I would say 'Trippa alla Romana', which I tried at my grandma's many years ago. Trippa alla Romana means tripe in Roman-style. TRIPE. The texture and pungent smell made it an extreme experience, which I do not think I will try again. Many people, however, do love trippa alla romana!

Is there a hidden bar / hole in the wall in Rome that you particularly like?

I love The Jerry Thomas Speakeasy. To access it, you must know the password, which changes frequently - you have to take an online quiz to get it. There is no sign outside, so you have to know the address if you want to access (see map for details). The great decor takes you back to the 1920s, and cocktails are just amazing.

What’s the most expensive restaurant / spa / hotel you’ve ever been to in Rome? How much did it cost and what did you get there?

Once I have been to Giggetto - a Jewish restaurant in the Ghetto. The location is impressive (it is just behind beautiful Roman ruins) and food is extremely good. I still remember the carciofi alla giudia (fried artichokes) I had in that occasion. I spent around 40/50 EUR.

What restaurant in Rome looks crap, but the food’s amazing?

I would say Da Settimio (see my map for details). The location is not great, since it is outside the centre (close to the Gianicolense). The food, however, is affordable and very good. The place offers the main Roman specialities, and the innkeeper is very funny - from time to time, she sits at the table with her costumers and talk with them in a very strong Roman dialect.

Where can you get the best cocktail in Rome? Which one do you like?

I would say The Jerry Thomas Speakeasy (see map for details).

Where would you take your partner in Rome if you wanted to really pamper them?

Babingtons Tea Room, in Piazza di Spagna. It is located in a 18th century building, in one of the most beautiful squares in Rome. Tea and cakes are great. You can have a truly English experience there, while watching the Spanish Steps.

Which snacks can you only get in your country, and which ones do you recommend?

You can get many typical snacks in Rome; if you are a savoury person, you should definitively try 'filetti di baccalà' (fried cod), 'fiori di zucca' (fried courgette flower filled with anchovies and mozzarella) and 'supplì' (fried rice balls filled with mozzarella, ragù and tomato souce). Er Filettaro (see map for details) probably makes the best filetti di baccalà in Rome, while the Pizzeria Ai Marmi (see map) has amazing supplì and fiori di zucca. If you are a sweet person, go for the ice-cream of Giolitti al Parlamento (see map), and don't forget to ask for fresh cream on the top! Giolitti's cream is the best in Rome, trust me.

What’s the one place you think is overrated in Rome?

Via del Corso. It's probably one of the most famous shopping streets in Rome, and therefore, it's always super crowded. However, high fashion brands have been replaced by cheap merchandise shops over the years.

What’s the one place you think is underrated in Rome?

it's a tricky question. In terms of monuments, medieval churches are certainly underrated attractions. For instance, Santa Prassede, Santa Pudenziana, San Crisogono, Santa Maria in Trastevere, San Clemente, Santa Cecilia or San Benedetto in Piscinula are certainly less known than baroque monuments. In terms of pubs/restaurants, the quarter of Testaccio is a bastion of Roman culinary excellence, although it is not as popular as other areas in the city.

What are the Rome spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?

This is a tricky one, as Rome is huge, diversified, and it has changed substantially over time. However, if you don't have much time, and you want to get an idea of how Rome looked like in antiquity, Middle Ages and then in baroque/modern times, you can't miss the Imperial Fora, Trastevere and St Peter's square, respectively.

Tomorrow’s your last day in Rome. How do you spend it?

I'll go to the Jewish Ghetto by foot. Once there, I'll buy a ricotta pie at Boccione (see map) and have a chat with the bakers working there.

What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?

Rio Marina, a small town and port on Elba Island. It has been a village of miners for thousands of years. In Rio Marina, life is slower and sunlight brighter than in the city. Issues like 'career' and 'competition' do not seem to exist. I keep telling myself that one day I'll move there; I'll live in a small flat with a window to the sea.

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Pier Paolo Campo