24 Hours InTravel

24 Hours in Rome with Katie Parla

by Stephanie

Today’s 24 Hours in Rome guide comes to us from Katie Parla, a food and travel journalist, app developer and blogger. Katie left her Jersey roots in 2003 and headed straight to Rome where she has dedicated herself to dissecting the city’s culture ever since. Today she shares with us some of her many favorite eateries, shops and sites from this historic Italian city. Thank you so much for taking us on a tour of your ideal 24 hours in Rome, Katie! —Stephanie

Illustration by David Saracino

Read the full guide after the jump…

After 22 years on the East Coast of the United States, this Jersey girl packed up and moved 4,000 miles across the ocean to Rome, where I have lived since 2003. Although my fixation with the city’s archeology is what drew me across the Atlantic in the first place, food and drink are what keep me here and I am especially fascinated by Rome’s contemporary food and beverage culture, which is in constant evolution. Over the past decade, I have witnessed and documented a huge shift in what Romans eat and drink and rejoiced in the arrival of a credible cocktail culture, a surge in Italian craft beer consumption and the rise of shops specializing in (hearty or fried) street food.

Follow me across the city to celebrate the cucina romana, both classic and contemporary.

9 am – Romans aren’t early risers, so I follow their lead and roll out of bed after 8 a.m. and head out for breakfast by 9ish. Most locals go to a standard café for a coffee and a stale cornetto (the Roman answer to croissants), but I prefer stellar sweets made with great attention to detail. So I go to Pasticceria Andrea De Bellis and arrive early enough to snag one of the few, deep-fried cornetti rolled in sugar (think Roman Cronut).

9:30 am –  My sugar high accompanies me through nearby Campo de’ Fiori and to a table at Caffe Farnese where locals linger in the shadow of the noble Palazzo Farnese, a 16th century palace built by, among others, Michelangelo. I order a caffe doppio macchiato (one shot rarely does the trick) and bask in the Farnese family’s former glory before crossing the river to Trastevere.

10:30 am –  I’m a sucker for paintings of food, especially the bawdy garlands in Raphael’s Loggia of Cupid and Psyche on the ground floor of the Villa Farnesina—that squash and those melons weren’t arranged like that by chance. This Renaissance palace, which was built for wealthy banker Agostino Chigi, offers amazing frescoes without the soul-crushing crowds and sensory overload of the Vatican Museums.

24 Hours in Rome

12 pm – It’s time for another coffee break. There are thousands of bars serving coffee in town, but it’s worth a detour to Prati, the posh residential district near the Vatican, for an espresso at Sciascia. The nearly century-old Sciascia has a pleasantly old school vibe. The neighborhood’s retirees hold court and gossip on the cushioned benches trimming the cafe, while I join Prati’s professional crowd and drink a quick espresso (ok, doppio) standing up at the bar in a transaction that takes no more than 90 seconds to order, pay, pull and consume.

12:30 pm – Sufficiently caffeinated, I pay a visit to the Trionfale Market where farmers’ stalls sell seasonal produce. I pick up some loquats, especially tart and sweet this spring, then hop in a cab bound for the Cesare al Casaletto.

24 Hours in Rome

1:30 pm – Lunch at Cesare is perhaps my favorite Roman pastime. There are fewer things more sublime than eating polpette di bollito (fried balls of shredded boiled beef) and a rich oxtail stew on the shaded patio of Rome’s greatest trattoria.

3:30 pm – Having resisted the urge to eat dessert at Cesare, I go to nearby Otaleg for two scoops—dark chocolate and zabaione gelato spiked with Marsala Florio Targa Riserva 1840—with panna (whipped cream).

4:30 pm – After a cab ride back to the center of town, I shop around Monti, stopping at Aromaticus, an urban gardening shop, for some grow bags ideal for city-dwelling green thumbs with a meager balcony.

5 pm – It’s time for yet another caffe doppio, this time at the Chiostro del Bramante, a café within the cool stone walls of a 16th century cloister.

24 Hours in Rome

6:30 pm – Changing beverage gears, I meet up with friends for some classic cocktails at Barnum. I love their Old Fashioned and Sazerac but bartenders Patrick and Federico can mix up just about anything.

8:30 pm – I wrap up the day with dinner at Metamorfosi where deconstructed carbonara and lacquered lake eel are highlights and the food is contemporary yet approachable. It’s all paired with outstanding wine service and the best damn bread basket in town.


Eat + Drink

Supplizio (fried rice balls and other street food snacks)

Trapizzino (fluffy pizza corners filled with Roman classics)

Armando al Pantheon (a traditional trattoria)

Roscioli (wine bar, restaurant, gourmet food shop)

Litro (mezcal cocktails and natural wine)

La Barrique (wine and food)

Remigio (Champagne and other sparklers)

Open Baladin (Italian Craft Beer)




Babuino 181

Hotel Campo de’ Fiori

First Luxury Art Hotel



Spazio Artigiano

Nicotra di S. Giacomo

Lou Lou


Attractions + Art


Capitoline Museums

MACRO Testaccio

Galleria Varsi


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  • We were lucky to have Katie as our guide in Rome back in 2007. Her knowledge of special tour spots and wonderful restaurants or chocolate shops made the eternal city a favorite on our list! We have recommended her to many friends, and we are so happy to see her success! You can’t go wrong with Katie!

  • Katie is gusty to take a cab in Rome. I lived there for 12.5 years and rarely took a cab. Sounds like she needs to purchase a motor scooter. When in Rome… So glad to hear that the Eternal City is progressing, which is very exciting, since back in my day, my fellow Italians refused to eat anything other than Italian food. Some would delve into Chinese fare, but that was about it. And cocktails? Che meraviglia! Sounds like I need to honor all the coins I’ve thrown into the Trevi Fountain over the years, and take a trip “homa” (I’m an Italian citizen) to Roma. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  • I am so taking this guide next time I got to Rome, my favorite city in the world. I love it there so much. Thank you for sharing this and introducing me to a cool new blog to follow!

  • We had Katie as our guide in 2011, 2012 and are fortunate enough to see her again in a few months. She’s extremely personable and full of knowledge about the Eternal City. I can’t recommend her enough if you get the chance.

  • oh my gosh, Katie, we will be staying in an apartment near the Campo de’Fiori in June…can’t wait to try the Roman Cronut..what is it called in Italian? I have made a copy of your article and map and hope to explore your suggestions. Grazie! Erin, we will see you in Chiusi for your much anticipated Yoga Retreat!!! So excited!

    • I’m only three years too late, but so bummed I can’t find your app! I loved this post and am going to see what else I can find by you! :) My sister and I are going to Rome in January, and this little guide was great!