6 Things I’m Psyched to Do in Rome in 2013

Rome’s amazing every year. But I’m especially excited for 2013 in the Eternal City.

Here are six things on my “bucket list” for my upcoming year in Rome (and beyond)!

Attending Rome’s best temporary exhibitions

Vermeer painting at Rome exhibition
The Vermeer exhibition: on my list of must-dos for 2013!

Compared to past years, 2013 has way fewer exciting exhibitions on. (Hello, financial crisis!). Still, there are some I’ve made note of in my calendar. Among them: the Vermeer exhibit at the Quirinale, which runs until Jan. 20, and the “Age of Balance” exhibit at the Capitoline Museums, which explores the era of the “good emperors” (Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius), until April 28.

Trying out restaurants and wine bars still on my list

Food in Rome in 2013
Food: From 2009 to 2013, one of my main reasons for loving Rome.

These include new-ish spots (like Baccano, an aperitivo, brunch and bistro spot near the Trevi Fountain; Coromandel, a bakery/brunch spot/restaurant near Piazza Navona; and Romeo, an Alfa-Romeo-car-dealership-turned-restaurant by the Roscioli brothers and the chef behind Trastevere’s Glass Hostaria), old favorites that I (eek!) still haven’t made it to (like Monti institution La Barrique), and a couple of high-end spots that just got their Michelin stars (Metamorfosi and Pipero al Rex).

My crystal ball tells me there’s a good amount of eating (and drinking) in my future.

Going to the ballet and opera at the Teatro dell’Opera

I went to Rome’s famed Teatro dell’Opera for the first time this fall. And I couldn’t believe I’d managed to stay away for so long. The space itself is gorgeous: The 19th-century opera hall, which premiered Puccini’s Tosca, is all plush red velvet, gilt gold and chandeliers. And the production I saw, Romeo and Juliet, was breathtaking.

Shows at the Teatro dell’Opera in 2013 include Giselle (Feb. 9-14), Verdi’s I Due Toscari (March 6-16) and the ballet Notes de la Nuit (April 12-17) before the performances move to an equally-cool outdoor space, the Baths of Caracalla, for the summer. I’m going to try to hit at least one of them. Maybe two.

Hitting up more of Rome’s “cool” nightlife spots

I don’t write often about nightlife on this blog. In general, I tend to gravitate toward the same few wine bars again and again. And the other areas of the city that tourists, guidebooks and study abroads some people consider “the” place to go out in Rome—namely, Campo dei Fiori—is, without exaggeration, a spot I find so repellent, I won’t set foot in the bars there unless I am physically dragged. (Really. Try me).

In 2012, though, I was pretty pleased to find a couple of new-to-me spots. One, Casa Clementina, wins the prize for the quirkiest bar in Rome. It’s actually a house—and still feels like it, complete with antique furniture—equipped with a bar and (more mysteriously) a bookstore. The crowd tends toward trendy, ever-so-slightly hipster Romans.

Another, Micca Club, is my go-to spot when I want top-notch “mixology” cocktails (a new idea for Rome), a great aperitivo spread, and fun dance music. Oh, not to mention burlesque shows. Every night has a vintage theme at this cult favorite near Porta Maggiore, whether swing dancing, cabaret, or 70s music. There’s often live jazz or swing (sometimes sung by my talented pal Tess Amodeo-Vickery) and, yes, burlesque performances. In other words, this is a place where dancing like it’s 1965 isn’t just tolerated, it’s encouraged. Love.

Visiting those final few sights I haven’t made it to yet, like the Protestant Cemetery and Colonna Gallery

Fact: There is a ridiculous number of things to see and do in Rome. I recently had to come up with 75 sights and must-sees in Rome for an article I’m working on, and was unsurprised to find that I brainstormed 95… in the first 20 minutes of sitting down. Yikes!

So, 3.5 years into living here, I obviously still haven’t seen everything there is to see. On my list for 2013: the Protestant Cemetery, the Case Romane on the Celian hill, the churches of Santa Prisca and Santa Pudenziana, Palazzo Altemps, the Colonna Gallery, and the gallery at the St. Luke National Academy. Whew.

Getting out of town

Trips in Italy
One of my favorite trips in 2012: Panarea, in the Aeolian islands

Okay, I guess this isn’t strictly something I’m excited to do in Rome. But I do tend to appreciate the Eternal City most… when I’m just getting back from a holiday. (That’s always the way, right?).

Happily, 2012 was chock-full of trips. In Italy, I discovered new spots (the Aeolian islands, Sicily, Ravenna, Lake Garda, Porto Ercole); re-visited old favorites (Naples, Verona, Matera, Orvieto, Assisi, Tivoli, Ponza, the Val d’Orcia); found I liked a city I thought I hated (Milan); and lived in the Valle d’Aosta, the Alps-ridden region of northern Italy on the border of Switzerland and France, for two months. Beyond Italy, I made a smattering of seemingly-random forays, from writing a travel story in Santorini to attending a friend’s wedding in Montana to participating in travel bloggers’ conferences in Denver and in Umbria.

What’s up for 2013? More traveling, of course! In Italy, I want to revisit, and further explore, Milan, Puglia, and other areas in the south. Farther afield, my roster includes trips to Vienna and Corsica—although I’m also kind of dying to make it to Lisbon, Budapest, the Loire Valley, the Irish countryside, Munich, and St. Petersburg. And to revisit Istanbul. And to spend more time back in the States.


Anyone have a winning lottery ticket for me? Because that could definitely come in handy.

Hey, 2013, you look like you’re going to be a busy one…

If you liked this post, you’ll love The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon or through my site here! I’m also free for one-on-one consulting sessions to help plan your Italy trip.

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  1. I know the feeling: Your list grows every time you cross something off! Restaurants, museums, parks, exhibitions: And then there’s the rest of Italy! Una vita non e basta! Have you seen Villa Torlonia? If not, add it to your list!

    Buon Anno, Amanda.

  2. Some great suggestions here, thanks for sharing. After living in Rome for two years, I finally had my first experience at the opera last summer. I’m glad I waited–seeing a performance at Caracalla is a “must” for both tourists and expats, in my opinion.
    And I think that I’ve also been to the bar that you suggested, Casa Clementina. If it’s the same place that I’m thinking not far from Cavour Metro stop, they have a great vegetarian aperitivo. I remember sitting on the bed in the back room–I kept waiting for the owner to come home and kick me out.

  3. It look like you are going to have a busy 2013.
    Rome, my hometown, amazing and full of beauty. I see you have a list well organized but how about few other aperitivo places, such as il Gianicolo, Monmarte, il fico and don’t miss to go Da Enzo (restaurant) and hit some little trattoria downtown. And the jewish neighborhood have you been?
    The ballet use to be a magical place all my childhood, saw many ballet and was lovely! You should also go to il Parco della Musica, there are many shows of any kind and the structures are to die for.
    Night life there are many places to see and, just get a friend from town and you can ride along.
    On my blog http://selectitaly.com/blog there are few posts that can help you about Rome.
    I also see your 2013 looks pretty busy, mine too, am planning if will be able to with my boyfriend to check out some of Asia/India, then go back to Italy and spend a weekend in Paris!

  4. Great post – coming into Rome next week and will definitely catch the Vermeer exhibit before its over. Feel free to write a post about winter things to do in Rome. All the best!

  5. Agree with the Campo dei Fiori comment – unfortunately that can be the case with a lot of guidebook recommendations. I like rather to take a wander and see what i can find down a (nice) back alley!

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