Piazza Navo-No No! There are Better Choices for Eating and Drinking Nearby!
Guests sit on the beautiful restaurant terrace in Piazza Navona in Rome Italy. (Photo: © marinv | Bigstock.com)
Don’t eat or drink on the piazza itself is my earnest advice!
Instead just a 5 or 10 minute stroll away you’ll find emptier streets… yes it is possible to get off the beaten track in Rome!
For wine lovers, check out Cul de Sac on Via del Givorno Vecchio… one of Rome’s best enotecas with a veritable bible of a wine list and delicious cheeses and meats to go with it. The gents who work there are incredibly knowledgeable and only too happy to advise you. This is also a great street for people watching… a wonderful wander! I’m also a fan of il Piccolo a small and rustic wine bar just up a bit from Cul de Sac. You’ll find the local old codgers sitting out there most evenings smoking cigars over bottles of vino rosso, setting the world to rights and arguing about football.
My most favourite hidden gem in the area is Bramante’s cloisters just behind Piazza Navona. It’s where I go to write my postcards and contemplate life over a delicious coffee or a lunch time salad in the shady calm of this little known and often empty Renaissance masterpiece. They often hold fascinating little exhibitions here too.
A more perfect street than Via dei Coronari I cant imagine… exactly what you want from a Mediterranean street – filled with antique shops and dangling ivy, well worth a wander down. You may stumble upon Piazza di Montevecchio, charming, small, always empty with several delicious restaurants. Indeed there are many often-empty sunny piazzas off Coronari and I love pottering around to find new hidden places all the time.
In the evenings don’t miss Piazza del Fico – with the cool Bar del Fico where trendy bright young Romans hang out drinking mojitos and other cocktails, the ladies in impossibly high stilettos. I have never known how they negotiate the cobbles with such effortless grace! The restaurant of the same name is just behind, with a wonderful atmosphere, in my opinion the best interior design of any restaurant in Rome. And let’s not forget my favourite pasta place in Rome… da Francescos on the corner! It’s open for both lunch and supper and worth getting there early to nab a table - from 8.30p.m onwards there’s often a line.
My one exception to the Piazza Navona rule is a rather surprising little bar at the southern end of the Piazza. It is part of the museum, not overpriced at all given the location. You are seated underneath the portico which gives you a perfect view out towards the fountains. A magical little spot for a well earned prosecco! (Amazingly, people seem to miss it so it is often empty. Shhh)