ROME IS A city that has been in constant evolution for the last 2,776 years, but never as much as today. The capital is enjoying a rebirth after the harsh pandemic lockdowns that shut down much of Italy for months and turned the bustling capital into a ghost town. For those of us who weathered that storm, it was a glorious chance to explore the city without the usual bustle of tourists. But as grass grew between the cobblestones in the busiest piazzas, there was an overwhelming sense of yearning for busier times. Cafes and restaurants suddenly offered takeout and delivery services — unheard of until the pandemic — but drinking a cappuccino out of a paper cup just wasn’t the same as standing at a marble counter in a lively coffee bar.
When the city gradually reopened, everything was different. Romans suddenly realized what foreigners have loved about the city for centuries, from the splendor of the city’s museums and archeological riches to the food — in situ. Everything was different on the other side. Restrictions on indoor dining turned Rome into a city of outdoor cafes, which had never previously been the case. The government also offered incentives for renovations, meaning even some of the dingiest cafes and trattorias were renewed. Restrictions on public transportation led to a whole new facet of the city with bike and scooter sharing possibilities. The pandemic also brought the city online, with bookings for museums and even restaurants far easier than ever before.
Rome is now a city I never imagined it could be when I moved here in 1996. It is alive, vibrant, and more beautiful than I have ever seen it — not to mention far easier to navigate than ever before. For those of us who inhabit the Eternal City at this moment, it is an amazing place to live. For those who visit, it has never been more accessible.
Where to Eat
Roscioli Caffè PasticceriaA true (and truly good) Roman cafe experience
Ercoli TrastevereTraditional Roman cuisine at its best
Ad HocThe height of cuisine and romance
Vinificio EnotecaOut-of-the-ordinary, extraordinary aperitivi
RetrobottegaExperimental cuisine made with local, seasonal ingredients
Where to Stay
rhinoceros RomaLayered history and luxury with a view
Hotel LocarnoA storied hotel with glitterati appeal
Palazzo ManfrediLuxurious rooms with Colosseum views
Where to Explore
After-hours tours of Roman attractionsIntimate access to must-see sites
Caravaggio’s RomeA captivating stroll through history
Pincio GardensA hidden gem with prized city views
Top of the VittorianoAn elevated yet under-the-radar secret
Barbie Latza Nadeau Writer
Barbie Latza Nadeau is an American journalist and author based in Rome since 1996. Her books include “The Godmother” about women in the mafia and “Angel Face” about the trials of Amanda Knox. Her work regularly appears in The Daily Beast, CNN, and Scientific American.