Soccer in Rome: 7 Things I Learned at the Roma-Lazio Game

Roma Lazio derby in Rome
Roma supporters at the Roma-Lazio 2013 derby

Until this week, I’d never seen a soccer game in Rome. I know. Shameful. But now, not only have I seen a Rome soccer game, but I’ve seen the Rome soccer game—the Rome derby, where Rome’s soccer teams, AS Roma and Lazio, duke it out. More importantly? I survived.

Want to head to a soccer game in Rome? Here are 7 things I learned at the Roma-Lazio game, and that you might want to know… especially if you’re as much of a soccer newbie as I am.

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Where to Catch the Pope This Easter Weekend

Way of the Cross, a chance to see the pope this Easter
Here in Rome, all eyes have been on Pope Francis I since his March election. Curious about the new guy in charge of the Vatican? This weekend, there are plenty of chances to catch a glimpse of him—from the Good Friday Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum to the papal mass at St. Peter's Square on Sunday. For more (and on more events going on this Easter in Rome), check out my latest piece for BBC Travel.

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The Most Romantic Places in Rome

The most romantic places in Rome

Looking for romance in Rome—whether you’re traveling here for Valentine’s Day, a honeymoon, or maybe even (!) to propose? You’re in luck.

No, I can’t promise you’ll meet the dark-eyed love of your life here. But if you’re already traveling with your sweetheart, you’re golden: Rome has to be one of the most romantic cities around.

Of course, lots of people tend to think that the most romantic spots are also the most famous (the Trevi Fountain, say, or the Spanish Steps). Call me jaded, but I think the 24/7 crowds and pushy rose-sellers kind of suck the romance out of them.

The most romantic places to propose or honeymoon in Rome

Want to find a spot that’s a little more tranquil… where you can actually grab a moment to yourself? Here are a few of my favorite, off-the-beaten-path romantic places in Rome. 

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Living La Dolce Vita in Rome (Or, Stomping On Your Daydreams)

Dolce vita in Rome - real or not?
La dolce vita in Rome: Is it for real?

People often have the impression that life in Rome is all about la dolce vita. By focusing just on food and travel, art and history, my blog, and others like it, encourage that idea.

But after four years of speaking to starry-eyed strangers about life in Italy, it’s time to come clean.

Living here can be over-the-top wonderful. There’s no arguing that it has some serious advantages over almost anywhere else. (The history! The food! The language!). Because I happen to adore those particular aspects of life, I’ve been the happiest here that I’ve ever been.

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Revealed Rome’s 12 Most Popular Posts in 2012

Revealed Rome posts in 2012
Two of the most popular 2012 Revealed Rome posts dealt with visiting Rome over Christmas and New Year’s

As we approach 2012’s end, I was pretty curious about which blog posts were the most popular on Revealed Rome this year. A little stats-checking proved to me that my readers are (unsurprisingly) big fans of Rome, especially when it comes to food, Christmas, shopping, and more!

Without further ado, here’s the list of the 12 most popular Revealed Rome posts in 2012… a couple of which surprised me! Do any surprise you?

#12: 5 Favorite Places for Food Near the Vatican: Oh lists, how I love thee. This one, on where to grab lunch in the food desert touristy area around the Vatican, was one of my first (semi-regular) “Five for Friday” posts—and one of the most popular.

#11: Rome’s Best Shopping Streets: Via del Boschetto: It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Rome’s shopping… when it’s done far, far away from chain-store-choked Via del Corso. One great alternative is this little street in Monti, near the Roman forum, which is chock-a-block with fantastic artisans and boutiques.

#10: How Safe is Rome, Really?: A question readers found even more pertinent in 2012 than in 2011 or 2010, when it was first published. Not sure what that says about Rome’s reputation. Or about crime in the world in general.

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Flash Sale on Italy Travel Chats: Only Until Jan. 1!

Rome consulting sessions
Coming to Rome? Then take advantage of the chance to pick my brain on everything you need to know!

In honor of 2013 being, you know, the best year yet, I want to make it a little easier for anyone who wants to to pick my brain on travel to Italy.

From now until January 1 at midnight EST, my one-hour, one-on-one Italy travel chats are just $60. Get all of your burning questions answered, plus a follow-up email with what we spoke about, lists of restaurants and shops I recommend, and more!

Here are just some of the things clients have said about our chats:

“Thanks again for the consultation. It made all the difference for us. Whenever we were thinking outside of the box, we’d remind ourselves, “what did Mandy say about this?”” –Peter Graves, Phoenix, AZ, summer 2012 trip to Rome and Venice

“We loved all of your suggestions. Thanks so much for that suggestion [for a restaurant in Testaccio]—we never would have found it without you… We’re already discussing our next trip.” –Rachel Sussman, New York, N.Y., summer 2012 trip to Sicily and Rome

So don’t wait—buy your session now (just click the button below)! (You can also buy it now and use it at any point in the next year, so if you’re not yet sure what questions you’ll have or are only just starting to think about your Italy trip, it still makes sense to save and buy a session now).

I hope to speak to you in 2013! Tanti auguri di Buon Anno!

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Where to Shop for Gifts in Rome

Looking for gifts from Italy while you’re in Rome? I’ve got you covered (just in time for the holidays)!

Here are some of my favorite shops in Rome for picking up the perfect present (maybe even for yourself…). Not only do these stores sell great gifts, but they’re all one-of-a-kind, too, unlike that J. Crew sweater that tens of thousands of people will unwrap on Christmas! Consider it just another perk of buying from artisanal and independent shops.

Le Talpe

Le Talpe, a great find for gifts in Rome
At Le Talpe in Monti

I paid a visit a week ago, and among the items I found were fantastically handpainted booties, elegant-looking jewelry made from (surprise!) medical tubing, and an ermine shrug that’s actually a stuffed animal ermine. Oh, and this handcrafted shawl/mini-jacket, which I couldn’t afford but could, at least, model for a moment. (Prices tend to be on the higher side—think €200 for a shrug like the one I’m wearing—but since the items are all handmade by some of Italy’s hippest designers and artists, it makes sense).

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Best Gifts for Travelers (or Would-Be Travelers) to Italy

Looking for that perfect gift for travelers to Italy? Here’s help! (And don’t miss the rest of our gift guide for people who love Italy!).

Update: Don’t miss the 2014 version of this guide, online now!

The best Italy guidebooks, magazines, and apps

Best guidebooks to giveThere’s an overwhelming number of guidebooks to Italy in print.

Personally, when it comes to figuring out where to go, I like seeing pictures. And that’s why the photo-heavy DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Italy is so great, especially if you want to give a gift to someone who’s just at the beginning stages of planning their Italy trip.

It’s less comprehensive on the information, though, so for someone who’s more sure about where they’re going, and wants to “dig in” to to the local culture and sights a little more, I’d recommend Lonely Planet or Rough Guide.

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Handmade in Italy: The Best Gifts from Italian Artisans

Ceramics handmade in Italy

Handmade ceramics from Le Tre Ghinee in Rome—which ships abroad

Looking for an item that's handmade in Italy… and can be shipped abroad? You've come to the right place! For the fourth post in my Italian gift guide, I wanted to spotlight Italian artisans, whose work—whether in leather or mosaic, glass or ceramics—is some of the finest in the world. 

Gift-wise, there's something here for everyone, speaking to the incredible variety of output of Italy's artisans. Need something for a mother or female friend? Check out the beautiful baubles made of Venetian glass, including necklaces and jewelry. Looking for a gift for a hostess? A handpainted ceramic serving tray is a thoughtful gift. Want a memento for someone who visited Italy, and loved it? Any of these would do!

Of course, many of Italy's artisans don't have websites, or don't ship abroad. I handpicked artisans from among the few who do. Some of their websites have online stores, where you can pay electronically; at others, you need to contact the owner to arrange payment. But aside from the slight inconvenience it might cause, the opportunity to buy a piece handmade in Italy, and shipped to you, seems worth it.

Nota bene: Some websites are in Italian only. Just run them through Google translator to put them in your own language!

Mosaic from Ravenna: Picture frames, decorations, and more

A handmade mosaic that can be shipped from Italy

Beautiful glass mosaic by Anna Fietta, a mosaicist working in Ravenna

Mosaic is an ancient tradition; on the Italian peninsula, the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines all raised it to a fine art. Luckily, Italy still has artists today who are keeping the tradition alive, producing gorgeous, elaborate images—by hand. And guess what? Many of them do ship abroad.

Ravenna is, without a doubt, the Italian (and perhaps international) capital of mosaic. So what gift could be more special than a mosaic, handcrafted by a workshop in Ravenna, and shipped to you? Remember, by the way, that a mosaic doesn't have to be a decorative image; it could be a picture frame, mirror, even jewelry.

Mosaic by Anna Fietta, an artisanal gift

A mosaic picture frame by Anna Fietta

Mosaicists in Ravenna who ship abroad, including to the U.S., include:

Anna Fietta creates such gorgeous, updated mosaics from glass, with a particularly large selection of picture frames, mirrors, and decorative animals—like this Tiffany-inspired picture frame (3.9 by 5.9 inches, just €35), shown right, or the whimsical fish, at top (4.3 inches, €22). Here's Anna Fietta's online store.

Barbara Liverani handcrafts contemporary mosaics using Byzantine techniques. She has a number of mirrors and small boxes, and also—more whimsically—gnomes and letters. Spelling out "home" or "love" seems like it would be a particularly sweet gift. You can't just purchase her items online, but you can take a look at her gallery and email her if something strikes your eye. Of course (as per the point of this post!), she ships abroad, including to the U.S. 

Glass from Murano: Jewelry, sculptures, tableware, and more

Murano glass

Glass from Ragazzi Murano, a registered Murano glass workshop

The island of Murano, off of Venice, is one of the most famous in the world for its glass. But there are countless Murano knockoffs (even on Venice itself, dozens of stores advertise "Murano glass" that's actually cheap, factory-made imports from China!). So if you want to buy the Italy-lover in your life a light-catching piece of Venice, make sure you're buying from an authentic Murano glass dealer.

Murano glass necklace

Necklace from Esse Due Murano

One authentic Murano workshop with items available online is Esse Due Murano, which has an especially excellent, and varied, collection of jewelry. The style is contemporary and stylish, and ranges from elegant necklaces like the one shown at right, €87, to items like these gorgeous drop earrings, just €18.

Another is Ragazzi Murano, who have an online shop here (however, you still have to email them for price information and to place an order). Items include whimsical clocks, picture frames, and jewelry as well as vases and tableware (shown at top). 

Finally, for the ultimate variety (and ease of purchase), the online store MuranoNet is one of the few "big ones" I would trust. It's certified and trademarked by Venice's Murano glass oversight association, and all objects come with certificates of origin and authenticity. The store has everything from sculptures to jewelry to ornaments, and definitely worth checking out if you want the perfect Murano glass gift.

Ceramics from Tuscany (and beyond): Kitchenware, home decor, and more

Handmade ceramics from Italy

Gorgeous, handpainted ceramics from Rampini Ceramics, in Chianti

Handpainted ceramics have to be one of Italy's finest artisanal traditions. And a pitcher, tray, or decorative plate, handcrafted in and shipped from Italy, makes a thoughtful gift for any hostess or homebody—especially one with a passion for Italy.

Handmade ceramics plate from Rome

Beautiful plate from Le Tre Ghinee

In Rome, my favorite ceramics workshop is Le Tre Ghinee, where ceramics artisan Susy Pugliese handcrafts contemporary, stylish plates, bowls, and more; many of her items are shown online, and you can order by emailing her.

Located in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Rampini Ceramics, one of the finest and best-known ceramics workshops in Italy, produces handmade saucers, bowls, and more using traditional handpainting techniques. Designs aren't just traditional scenes of lemon groves and olive trees (though those are lovely, too—just check out the picture above!), but also more-contemporary designs. They also sell gift sets, like a large pitcher and four mugs, all handpainted (€312), for a truly special gift. 

Tray by Ceramiche Bibi

Tray by Ceramiche Bibi

Ceramics artisan Sabina Pagliai is the artisan behind Ceramiche Bibi in Siena. All of her creations are handmade, using unleaded colors; pieces include plates, vases, and trays, all decorated with traditional emblems of Siena and Tuscany.

Since 1981, the workshop Poterie has handcrafted ceramics in Genova. Their artists specialize in decorative tiles and panels, including house number plates, with traditional Italian patterns of geometric shapes, fruits, and flora. 

The two women behind Artesia have been handcrafting, painting, glazing and firing gorgeousvases, bowls, plates, trays and more in Certaldo Alto, Tuscany since 1990. The prices couldn't be more fair: This 4.5 inch by 10 inch fruit bowl is €37, while this stunning 16-inch plate (shown left) costs €70.25.

Leather from Tuscany: Bags, wallets, iPhone cases, Kindle covers, and more

Handmade leather bag

Leather bag from La Dolce Vita

The family-run workshop La Dolce Vita has handcrafted leather accessories since 1980 in Buonconvento, Tuscany; now, you can buy their items—including beautiful bags for both men and women, like this red purse, at right, €145—online. 

Another leather workshop that lets you buy items online is Fandango, where every item is handmade in Italy. Their style tends to be contemporary and in-the-moment, and they have some great gift ideas, like a bright blue leather case for a MacBook Air (€85.90).

Italian linens: tablecloths, baby bibs, and more

The Bellavia store sells all handmade linens, including tablecloths, bed linens, and more. They ship abroad, and their online catalog is here

Since 1842, Tuscan workshop Busatti has been handcrafting fine fabrics using traditional procedures; every step of the process is done by hand and takes place in Italy, including dying, spinning, weaving, and finishing. From tablecloths to bed linens, towels to baby bibs, they have many of their items on their online store

Masks from Venice: The perfect memento (or decoration)

handmade venetian mask

Handmade mask from Ca' Macana, a workshop in Venice
Venetian mask a great gift

A gorgeous gift: a Venetian mask

Despite being one of Italy's "newer" artisanal traditions (truly), Venetian mask-making is now the most popular on the island. As with "Murano glass," though, many of these masks are cheap, manufactured abroad… and not exactly a great (or artisanal!) holiday gift.

That's why I love Ca' Macana. If you go in person to the workshop in Dorsoduro, you'll see artists crafting each mask by hand. But if you can't make it there quite yet, then check out Ca' Macana's online store. Prices are very fair, starting at €19, and if you want to get a loved one a true objet d'arte, you can even pick a full-face mask that would make a gorgeous wall hanging; the one at right is only €59.

Please note: All photos in this post, aside from those of Le Tre Ghinee, were provided by the stores themselves and are their copyright, not mine.


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The Revealed Rome Book… Has Been Published!

The Revealed Rome handbook to exploring the Eternal City has just been published! You can buy my new (and first!) Kindle book here.

If you're planning on coming to Rome, check it out. If you're familiar with my blog, you know what to expect: lots of juicy, no-holds-barred tips to exploring Rome like an insider. It's organized so you can start reading as soon as you're even just thinking about heading to Rome, with useful sections on deciding what time of year to come (and for how long).

You'll also learn tips and tricks like:

  • how to pick an authentic Roman restaurant at a glance
  • budget accommodation options you may not have considered
  • how to skip the lines at the Colosseum and the Vatican
  • how to protect yourself from pickpocketing in Rome
  • which Roman dishes you have to try
  • how to take a taxi in Rome (without getting ripped off)
  • where to find drinking water, and bathrooms, while out and about
  • how to navigate Rome's public transportation system
  • what to do if your restaurant bill seems inflated
  • the best neighborhoods in Rome for shopping

…and much more!

Yay for e-book publishing!

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