ROME, THE FINALE
From Panarea, we caught the ferry to Milazzo and took a cab to Taormina for the night. The next day we flew to Rome for three nights. Since there's tons of information out there about what to do and see in Rome, I'm just going to cover our highlights.
We loved our hotel, the Mario de Fiori 37. It's a boutique hotel of seven rooms located a few blocks from the Spanish Steps. The rooms (except the duplex suite) are small, but chic and modern. It feels a bit like staying in the guest room of a cool friend's downtown New York City loft. (No gym, no restaurant.) If you want a fancy place with the works, Hotel de Russie would be the spot.
While the old city is gorgeous and fascinating, exploring it can be exhausting and boring if you don't know Roman history. My husband and I don't love guidebooks or guides, but we had a fantastic sightseeing afternoon with our friend Andrew Kranis, a native New Yorker architect and former Rome Prize Fellow who leads small group walking seminars. (Reservations and inquiries can be made by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org). A few hours with him is all you need to fall in love with Rome.
Former New York Times restaurant critic and Rome bureau chief Frank Bruni compiled a great Roman restaurant list. We particularly loved La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali and Da Fortunato al Pantheon. (Before dinner at Da Fortunato, stop to see the Pantheon, which is open daily until 7 p.m.) If you want simple home cooking, Trattoria Der Pallaro is fun for dinner: They serve one set menu per night for about $40 per person, including wine. L'Orso '80 is great for lunch. Order antipasti, which will be more food than you can possibly eat for a real bargain.
Most nice bars have aperitivo hour, a kind of happy hour special where they bring you seemingly endless snacks with your drinks. Go for it and save on dinner or just keep eating and walking all night.
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