Looking for the most relaxing places to sip an aperitivo in the Eternal City? Look no further than Rome's most stunning (and welcoming) piazzas!
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One of the most enjoyable parts of a trip to Rome is whiling away an evening with a few cocktails in one of the city's stunning piazzas. Depending on where you select, you may find cafes and tourists, or perhaps a more "local" scene, chalk-full of ordinary Romans catching up with friends.
The Classic: Piazza Navona
Undoubtedly one of the most breath-taking piazzas in Rome, Piazza Navona is certainly one of the most storied. Begun as the Stadium of Domitian, you can still see the defined oval shaping that once demarcated the stadium's boundaries. In the Renaissance, already a public space, the Piazza received an extreme make-over at the hands of Pope Innocent X, whose ancestral home loomed large above the square.
The Piazza is actually home to three fountains, though the Fontana dei Quattro Fuimi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) is certainly the most famous. In perhaps the most awesome of all festivals, for nearly 200 years (1652-1866), the Piazza was regularly flooded on summer weekends for over-the-top boat displays, funded by the Pamphilis (family of the aforementioned Pope Innocent X).
These days, you'll find a fair number of tourists admiring the stunning fountains, along with several charming cafes, where you are welcome to have a sit, grab a cocktail, and watch the crowds! I vastly prefer the Piazza at night, when the crowds are more relaxed, the heat of the day is gone, and the dinner rush has ended. While I hate to paint with a broad brush, of course the restaurants in this highly touristy area are less likely to be "the best" - but definitely stop by for a quick drink!
The Quirky: Fontana delle Tartarughe
What's not to love about the Fontana delle Tartarughe - yes, the Turtle Fountain! Older than the 4 Rivers over at Navona, it was completed in 1588 - a late Renaissance masterpiece. The Piazza is surprisingly small and uncrowded - we stumbled upon it, after poking around for a while. Similarly, there aren't a large number of restaurants to choose from if you're looking for a drink/bite to eat. But we grabbed a nice drink (and the inevitable bathroom break!) at the conveniently named Le Tartarughe Eat & Drink, nearby.
The Local: Piazza della Madonna di Monti
This is, without a doubt, my favorite spot in all of Rome. And, we stumbled across it completely unwittingly, on one of our first days in the city. It wasn't terribly far from our hotel and we were, you guessed it, lost (the first of many times!). Trying to navigate our way back (with a literal compass), we stumbled upon a group of people in the Piazza.
Though, I came to find later, it has been profiled in the New York Times, Madonna di Monti is one of the most unspoiled places in Rome. Here, you'll find locals having a cocktail, and you'll hear very little (if any) English/German/French, etc.
One of the little restaurants serves as a take-out bar (I'd give directions, but...it's the one with all the people coming in and out constantly) - with wine, beer, and cocktails meant to be carried into the square. If a sit-down restaurant is more your style, several restaurants line the piazza - or grab some take-out at Pronto.
The Historic: Piazza della Rotonda
How gorgeous is that name? The Pantheon is magical any time of day - and I'm sure you'll visit this most well-preserved Roman building, turned church, during the day. But, don't forget to stop by this incredible piazza after hours, when the square is packed with Romans enjoying their evening. The Pantheon is certainly shown to best advantage when alight with spotlights and the moon.
There are several lovely restaurants around this area as well, including the classic Da Armando al Pantheon, a Roman staple.
Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a lovely trip to Roma - I hope you'll enjoy Rome's piazzas as much as we did!
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