Rachel Mascetta ’03, who majored in classical studies and music at Colgate, is now a graduate studies admissions counselor at the American University of Rome. She has lived in Rome since 2013 when she was hired as personal assistant to former U.S. Ambassador John R. Phillips.
Here, Mascetta gives the inside scoop on authentic gelato, ways to see the city while burning off those calories, and more.
Pitch perfect meals… Osteria La Gensola is a cozy restaurant in Trastevere specializing in seafood, but the homey meat-based pastas (rigatoni with oxtail ragù) are my favorite. Call ahead to get a table in the main dining room, start with the panelle (chick-pea fritters,) and take Federica’s advice on daily specials. If you’re in the mood for something more formal, Da Felice (reservations are necessary) in the Testaccio neighborhood has every must-try Roman dish. Go early to catch local families dining with their kids, and be prepared for wisecracking waiters who look like they’ve been working there since the ’40s. Get the abbacchio (lamb) and cacio e pepe. Alternatively, Grappolo d’Oro digs deep into Roman traditional cuisine in a clean, modern setting.
Trapizzino… Check out the original Roman street food invented by local pizza wizard Gabriele Bonci. I never tire of the crunchy-outside, chewy-inside pizza triangle filled with traditional Roman flavors (pollo alla cacciatore, burrata and anchovies, eggplant parmigiana).
Gelato… Beware of the chemical-laden “gelato,” on every city block. There are artisanal heroes, hidden like gems around town, and while the list is actually quite long, the gelato I crave the most comes from Come il Latte (creamy, sweet, liquid chocolate garnish); Grezzo (raw chocolate, intense!); Fatamorgana (dense and novel fruit flavors; organic and allergen-free options); Hedera (optimal quality, every flavor is worth trying); and Lemongrass near the Vatican (creamy, creamy, creamy).
Beating the crowds… Rome gets invaded by more tourists each year, so avoid the masses with an after-dinner passeggiata (walk) around the most famous sites, which are all beautifully lit, or go early in the morning before traffic clogs the city streets. Check out the smaller, masterpiece-packed jewel box museums like Palazzo Altemps, Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Galleria Barberini, or the underground layers of San Clemente, where tourists are few and far between.
Plan ahead… Take advantage of novelties like early morning breakfast and Friday nights at the Vatican Museums or underground catacomb tours. Culinary walks in Trastevere are a great way to get to know the neighborhood. Night openings of the Colosseum and special archeological tours, like the Domus Aurea reconstruction site, have limited availability, but there is always something special if you take the time to look!
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