Erica Firpo

Correspondent

  • Rome, Italy, Europe

Erica Firpo writes about art, culture and travel for online and print publications such as The Huffington Post, New York Times, Globespotters, The Guardian, BBC Travel and Cathay Pacific’s Discovery Magazine. She is Luxe Guide’s Rome editor. With Rome as home base, she loves to travel the Mediterranean in search of contemporary art and culture as well as traces of the Ancient Roman Empire.

  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    Where is the best shopping in Rome?

    Photo by Erica Firpo Shopping in Rome is quite easy as every neighborhood has artisanal boutiques, well known brands and souvenir shops. In general, Rome’s shopping is focused in and around Piazza di Spagna.  The piazza and streets leading to it, via dei Condotti, via del Babuino and via Frattina, are home to Italy’s home-grown brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Sergio Rossi, Missoni, Prada, Gucci, and Ferragamo.
     
    The nearby Via del Corso provides a different kind of eye-candy, with less expensive brands geared towards a much younger clientele as hipsters-in-training peruse for treasures at shops like Dada, Subdued, Energie and Diesel.  If labels are less your fancy, neighborhoods Monti and Navona are overflowing now with boutiques promoting made-in-Rome artisans from jewelry and clothing to shoes and mosaics.  Trastevere always seems to be a favorite for those looking to avoid the trendy/tourist vibe of other neighborhoods. Even though the neighborhood has long since gentrified, there are many charming shops worth a perusal.

    Market lovers can still find surprises at local open markets such as Sunday's Porta Portese in Trastevere and Monday-Saturday's Via Sannio (in San Giovannni area), but these are less and less treasure troves for vintage hunters.
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    Where is the best shopping in Rome?

    Photo by Erica Firpo Shopping in Rome is quite easy as every neighborhood has artisanal boutiques, well known brands and souvenir shops. In general, Rome’s shopping is focused in and around Piazza di Spagna.  The piazza and streets leading to it, via dei Condotti, via del Babuino and via Frattina, are home to Italy’s home-grown brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Sergio Rossi, Missoni, Prada, Gucci, and Ferragamo.
     
    The nearby Via del Corso provides a different kind of eye-candy, with less expensive brands geared towards a much younger clientele as hipsters-in-training peruse for treasures at shops like Dada, Subdued, Energie and Diesel.  If labels are less your fancy, neighborhoods Monti and Navona are overflowing now with boutiques promoting made-in-Rome artisans from jewelry and clothing to shoes and mosaics.  Trastevere always seems to be a favorite for those looking to avoid the trendy/tourist vibe of other neighborhoods. Even though the neighborhood has long since gentrified, there are many charming shops worth a perusal.

    Market lovers can still find surprises at local open markets such as Sunday's Porta Portese in Trastevere and Monday-Saturday's Via Sannio (in San Giovannni area), but these are less and less treasure troves for vintage hunters.
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    What are the best luxury hotels in Rome?

    Photo by Hotel de Russie There are many different kinds of luxury hotels in Rome. My list for the very best in luxury refinement always starts with the Hotel de Russie, an oasis by Piazza del Popolo. I love everything for its central location, garden courtyard, neo-classical design and amazing concierge service for its high-quality, customer service and positive response to any question put forth.  

    My number two (and often numero uno in the hot Roman summer) is Parco dei Principi whose design is a mix of lavish classical and cutting-edge modern.  Parco dei Principi is slightly off the beaten path as it is situated on the edge of the large Villa Borghese park which means it has a quietude that other hotels lack, as well as a lovely Gatsby-inspired outdoor pool.  

    For old school opulence, the Residenza Napoleone III is my choice. Located in the very center of the city in a 16th century palace, Residenza Napoleone III is named for notable guest Emperor Napoleon III.  Recently renovated, the residence is comprised of two substantially-sized apartments, luxurioulsy decorated in mid-19th century refinement.  Included in the residence are personal majordomo and a major amount of history both inside the palazzo and at its doorstep. 
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    Where is the best shopping in Rome?

    Photo by Erica Firpo Shopping in Rome is quite easy as every neighborhood has artisanal boutiques, well known brands and souvenir shops. In general, Rome’s shopping is focused in and around Piazza di Spagna.  The piazza and streets leading to it, via dei Condotti, via del Babuino and via Frattina, are home to Italy’s home-grown brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Sergio Rossi, Missoni, Prada, Gucci, and Ferragamo.
     
    The nearby Via del Corso provides a different kind of eye-candy, with less expensive brands geared towards a much younger clientele as hipsters-in-training peruse for treasures at shops like Dada, Subdued, Energie and Diesel.  If labels are less your fancy, neighborhoods Monti and Navona are overflowing now with boutiques promoting made-in-Rome artisans from jewelry and clothing to shoes and mosaics.  Trastevere always seems to be a favorite for those looking to avoid the trendy/tourist vibe of other neighborhoods. Even though the neighborhood has long since gentrified, there are many charming shops worth a perusal.

    Market lovers can still find surprises at local open markets such as Sunday's Porta Portese in Trastevere and Monday-Saturday's Via Sannio (in San Giovannni area), but these are less and less treasure troves for vintage hunters.
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    Where can you get the best view of Rome?

    Photo by Erica Firpo Since Rome is a city built on many hills, there are many advantageous spots to get a beautiful view of the city.  Traditionally, the Janiculum Hill (above Trastevere) has the most desirable panorama day or night, which overlooks the entire city from the west.  For a view from another country, climb the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica (in Vatican City), and you will have prime perspective on Rome’s historic center. 

    Closer to the city, the rooftop terrace at Castel Sant’Angelo has a front row view of Rome’s rooftops while the Terrazza delle Quadrighe in the very center of the city (at the monument to Victor Emanuel) looks forward into contemporary city and also back in time to the Roman Forum.  For a slightly more expensive view, book a reservation at the Cavalieri’s restaurant La Pergola, on the Montemario hill to the north of the city. There is nothing quite like watching the Eternal City glitter at your feet while having a three-star dinner.
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    Where can you get the best view of Rome?

    Photo by Erica Firpo Since Rome is a city built on many hills, there are many advantageous spots to get a beautiful view of the city.  Traditionally, the Janiculum Hill (above Trastevere) has the most desirable panorama day or night, which overlooks the entire city from the west.  For a view from another country, climb the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica (in Vatican City), and you will have prime perspective on Rome’s historic center. 

    Closer to the city, the rooftop terrace at Castel Sant’Angelo has a front row view of Rome’s rooftops while the Terrazza delle Quadrighe in the very center of the city (at the monument to Victor Emanuel) looks forward into contemporary city and also back in time to the Roman Forum.  For a slightly more expensive view, book a reservation at the Cavalieri’s restaurant La Pergola, on the Montemario hill to the north of the city. There is nothing quite like watching the Eternal City glitter at your feet while having a three-star dinner.
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    Where can you get the best view of Rome?

    Photo by Erica Firpo Since Rome is a city built on many hills, there are many advantageous spots to get a beautiful view of the city.  Traditionally, the Janiculum Hill (above Trastevere) has the most desirable panorama day or night, which overlooks the entire city from the west.  For a view from another country, climb the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica (in Vatican City), and you will have prime perspective on Rome’s historic center. 

    Closer to the city, the rooftop terrace at Castel Sant’Angelo has a front row view of Rome’s rooftops while the Terrazza delle Quadrighe in the very center of the city (at the monument to Victor Emanuel) looks forward into contemporary city and also back in time to the Roman Forum.  For a slightly more expensive view, book a reservation at the Cavalieri’s restaurant La Pergola, on the Montemario hill to the north of the city. There is nothing quite like watching the Eternal City glitter at your feet while having a three-star dinner.
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    What is public transportation like in Rome?

    Photo by Nicolee Drake @cucinadigitale Public transportation in Rome can often be equated to a game of roulette-- you never know what you will get, but sometimes it could be in your favor. ATAC, Rome's public transport system, courses throughout the city by tram, bus and metro, and is filled with passengers from all ages and walks of life. Bus stops are quite visible with bright yellow signs that pepper every street and each sign lists bus lines (by number and name) and their respective stops.

    The key to Rome's public transportation is patience, which is aided by consulting the ATAC webpage for ticket purchasing, arrival times and path configuration. On the site, you can enter in departure and destination address and ATAC will configure the appropriate methods of travel- bus, tram, metro and walking. In order to take part in Rome's  transport system, you must purchase a time integrated ticket (BIT) -  1 euro 50 gets a 100 minutes of travel,  6 euro for "daily" 24 hour ticket and long term visitors may look into monthly and yearly passes.

    Well known to Italy are its transit scioperi, public transportation strikes which can reduce any city to a crawl. These strikes are publicized well in advance (check ATAC, newspapers and websites), and though they can be frustrating, don't be daunted. When a strike shuts down transport, Rome is left wide open to pedestrians and bicycles.
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    What are the best places for gelato in Rome?

    Photo by Nicolee Drake @Cucinadigitale The great gelato question always inspires a lively debate Rome.  I think labeling a gelateria as "best" is very pesonal.  As a faithful choco-holic, I have only two gelaterie that I frequent, especially when in need of fondente (dark chocolate): Ciampini at Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina (just off of via del Corso) and Gelateria al Teatro off of Via dei Coronari near Piazza Navona.  Both make superb dark chocolate, and I am told their other flavors are heavenly as well, made from all natural products. 

    With Rome's recent gelateria-a-go-go, there are now many more spots to choose from.  A close friend swears by every unique flavor that Fatamorgana in the Monti neighborhood produces. My sister will never tire of the unending list of flavors Giolitti and Gelatera della Palma (Pantheon area). And  when chocolate is too much for me, my favorite fruit flavors are found at the tiny Corona in Largo Argentina. 
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    What are the best places for gelato in Rome?

    Photo by Nicolee Drake @Cucinadigitale The great gelato question always inspires a lively debate Rome.  I think labeling a gelateria as "best" is very pesonal.  As a faithful choco-holic, I have only two gelaterie that I frequent, especially when in need of fondente (dark chocolate): Ciampini at Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina (just off of via del Corso) and Gelateria al Teatro off of Via dei Coronari near Piazza Navona.  Both make superb dark chocolate, and I am told their other flavors are heavenly as well, made from all natural products. 

    With Rome's recent gelateria-a-go-go, there are now many more spots to choose from.  A close friend swears by every unique flavor that Fatamorgana in the Monti neighborhood produces. My sister will never tire of the unending list of flavors Giolitti and Gelatera della Palma (Pantheon area). And  when chocolate is too much for me, my favorite fruit flavors are found at the tiny Corona in Largo Argentina. 
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    What are the best local dishes in Rome?

    Photo courtesy of Eating Italy Food Tours Rome’s most beloved local dishes are the triumvirate of pastas: spaghetti alla carbonara— spaghetti with a sauce of pancetta (bacon), egg and pecorino cheese, the slightly piccante buccatini all’amatriciana- a long tube like pasta with a sauce of guanciale (cured pig cheek), tomato and pecorino cheese, and the simple and lovely caciopepe, pasta with grated pepper and pecorino cheese. 

    For main courses, Roma favorites are straccetti alla romana- thin strips of beef on a bed of arugula and shards of parmesan cheese, trippa alla romana- tripe cooked in a red sauce garnished with mint and pecorino cheese, and saltimbocca alla romana- thin medalions of veal and prosciutto garnished in sage and cooked in a light white wine.  What should not be missed are contorni (vegetables) to accompany the meal—two favorites are the seasonal carciofo alla romana- braised artichoke, carciofo alla giudia- fried artichoke and puntarelle- wild chicory spears in an olive oil, garlic and anchovy dressing.
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    What are the best restaurants in Rome?

    Photo courtesy of Eating Italy Food Tours When in Rome, eating is in the eye of the beholder.  Rome has a never-ending supply of restaurants that are constantly renovating and regenerating, so labeling any one of them “the best” is a difficult undertaking.  Michelin heralds La Pergola as the very best by giving it three stars for its cuisine par excellence and amazing view, but I don’t think it holds a candle to the carbonara and zabaglione at the more traditional Al Moro

    Matricianella is my go-to when in need of truly Roman cuisine, not just for its quaint atmosphere but its filetto al pepe verde, steak filet with a dreamy green peper sauce. Roscioli is another Roman cuisine favorite and bonuses are an unbeatable wine list and fathomless cheese counter.  If the timing is right, I’ll reserve Il San Lorenzo when in need of a fish fest. Its stylish setting and nouvelle cuisine are my idea of a perfect evening out.
     
    For a little help navigating Rome’s restaurants, Rome has several food bloggers who regularly go fork to fork over the very best.  Katie Parla and Elizabeth Minchilli wax gastronomic on their blogs and each have a Rome-centric app that details their favorite spots.
     
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    What are the best restaurants in Rome?

    Photo courtesy of Eating Italy Food Tours When in Rome, eating is in the eye of the beholder.  Rome has a never-ending supply of restaurants that are constantly renovating and regenerating, so labeling any one of them “the best” is a difficult undertaking.  Michelin heralds La Pergola as the very best by giving it three stars for its cuisine par excellence and amazing view, but I don’t think it holds a candle to the carbonara and zabaglione at the more traditional Al Moro

    Matricianella is my go-to when in need of truly Roman cuisine, not just for its quaint atmosphere but its filetto al pepe verde, steak filet with a dreamy green peper sauce. Roscioli is another Roman cuisine favorite and bonuses are an unbeatable wine list and fathomless cheese counter.  If the timing is right, I’ll reserve Il San Lorenzo when in need of a fish fest. Its stylish setting and nouvelle cuisine are my idea of a perfect evening out.
     
    For a little help navigating Rome’s restaurants, Rome has several food bloggers who regularly go fork to fork over the very best.  Katie Parla and Elizabeth Minchilli wax gastronomic on their blogs and each have a Rome-centric app that details their favorite spots.
     
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    What are the best activities in Rome?

    Photo by Erica Firpo With thousands of monuments, churches, archaeological sites and museums in Rome, the best activity that the Eternal City has to offer is a change of perspective.  On a clear day, climb the 551 steps (or take the elevator half way to the top) for a view from a country within a country. At nearly 450 feet in height, St. Peter’s cupola is the tallest structure in Rome and boasts the best view of the city.  For another point of view, the Terazza delle Quadrighe in the very center of Rome has vantage points of both the contemporary city and ancient forums.
     
    Rome’s ancient history is layered underneath centuries of literal and figurative build up.  Since almost every visible rests upon something ancient, to uncover the past, you just need to go underground.  A few steps from the Trevi Fountain is Città dell’Acqua, a walkable, imperial-era housing structure.  And nearby is the Domus Romane at Palazzo Valentini, remains of ancient houses with multi-media museum.
  • On March 22, 2013
    Erica Firpo answered the question: Erica Firpo

    What are the best local dishes in Rome?

    Photo courtesy of Eating Italy Food Tours Rome’s most beloved local dishes are the triumvirate of pastas: spaghetti alla carbonara— spaghetti with a sauce of pancetta (bacon), egg and pecorino cheese, the slightly piccante buccatini all’amatriciana- a long tube like pasta with a sauce of guanciale (cured pig cheek), tomato and pecorino cheese, and the simple and lovely caciopepe, pasta with grated pepper and pecorino cheese. 

    For main courses, Roma favorites are straccetti alla romana- thin strips of beef on a bed of arugula and shards of parmesan cheese, trippa alla romana- tripe cooked in a red sauce garnished with mint and pecorino cheese, and saltimbocca alla romana- thin medalions of veal and prosciutto garnished in sage and cooked in a light white wine.  What should not be missed are contorni (vegetables) to accompany the meal—two favorites are the seasonal carciofo alla romana- braised artichoke, carciofo alla giudia- fried artichoke and puntarelle- wild chicory spears in an olive oil, garlic and anchovy dressing.