Rome: discover the Italian capital with Eleonora Galasso

Eleonora Galasso, the spirited Italian food lover behind new cookbook As the Romans Dois well-acquainted with the historical city of Rome. She shares her must-sees and must-dos in the Italian capital with Khoollect — notebooks at the ready, travellers:

What do you love most about Rome?

It’s a layered city. I love to get lost in its alleys and discover hundreds of enveloping buildings belonging to so many different eras… and find myself again.

Your favourite places for …

  • Coffee?
    Caffe S. Eustachio, a place all about coffee, just behind the monumental Pantheon of Rome. There, you can find moka pots (those old-school electric coffee makers), coffee-flavored chocolate bars, coffee-scented liqueur and freshly ground coffee. But I mainly go there to enjoy their service at the counter: typically squeezing between a minister, a prince and a showgirl, I can taste the best licorice-flavored espresso in town.
  • Dinner?
    I love everything family-run. To recognise such establishments is not that hard. They don’t have fixed menus and rarely speak English. I love Settimio all’Arancio for their amazing meat, Fiaschetteria Beltramme for their primi piatti, and the traditional deli by day/contemporary restaurant by night Roscioli.
  • Fresh produce?
    Whereas Campo dei Fiori is an establishment that’s been lately contaminated with a few international not-so genuine takes on the original, I love to go on weekends to the Mercato Campagna Amica at Circo Massimo. Located in a breathtaking area, it provides the best products that the Roman countryside can seasonally offer.

eleonora galasso

The best nook in the city for getting recipe inspiration?

Rome is an open-air museum, you don’t need to go indoors to grasp the greatness of the city. Just by walking through Piazza Navona or Via Condotti, especially at nighttime, away from tourists traps, you can get a stream of delightful inspiration. At sunset, I personally like to take a walk on top of the stairs of Piazza di Spagna and enjoy the view radiating with that orange light that’s so unique in this eternal city. Just like a dish of mouth-watering carbonara pasta.

What are your top five green parks, gardens or outdoor spaces?

  • Villa Borghese, the park par excellence: there, you can either rent bikes to wonder around or hop on a boat for a romantic date at the park’s lake
  • Macro: a contemporary art museum located in a former slaughterhouse;
  • Circo Massimo: an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium, today an appreciated public space boasting its horizon with the most flabbergasting Roman remains;
  • The courtyard of Palazzo Spada and its Borromini trompe-l’œil (a trick of the eye that will leave you speechless).
  • The Terrace of the Hotel Raphael: definitely upscale but hands down the best view with a cocktail you could ever get.

Where you go for the best breakfast?

Romans usually take coffee standing up al bar, accompanied by a pastry. You can go to even the most upscale bars and you’d still get it for very cheap. I love the Caffè Ciampini with its politicians and journalists; I’m at home at Bar Pica, where the carabinieri love to get their rice ice-cream and the 80-year-old owner never smiles at you unless you’re talking recipes; the hipster Caffè Perù welcomes the movie business crowd along with those who have a project, which is bound to be chit-chatted about (that’s Rome, too); the elegantly old fashioned Antico Caffè Greco is where you’ll see a cardinal discussing Vatican affairs with that curious woman always wearing satin gloves.

eleonora galasso

How do you spend a lazy Sunday?

I’m an early riser, I like to be overwhelmed by the magic of the waking city. We don’t really do brunch here, so I’d indulge in a homemade breakfast composed of cappuccino (while dunking my ugly but good biscuits), then I would have a stroll in Piazza Farnese, where I would naturally and most probably bump into some friends. Lunch on a Sunday is a bit of a sacred ceremony here. It’d be at someone’s place. There’s no chance of getting there empty-handed (I’d buy some pastarelle in a pasticceria on my way, full bells-ringing soundtrack on), nor of possibly refusing a second handful of scrumptious lasagna. And that’s the time when my lazy side kicks in: I’m good to go for a nap followed by a wonderful candle-lit read inspired by my wander-lustful Roman walks . The world stops for a moment. Until it’s Monday again.

If not Rome, where would you be?

I’d be in Venice, enjoying a good old spritz in a cicchetteria overlooking the laguna. Or in Paris, having oysters at Regis in Saint Germain. You know how they say, ‘when in Rome…’

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Portrait by David Loftus. Other images from Eleonora’s Instagram.