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An Abridged Guide to Alternative Rome: Some of My Personal Favorites

The city of Rome has no shortage of tourist attractions. Any good guide book will recommend at least half a week for the museums and ruins let alone the dozens of very afforable day trips. But what your trusty guide won't always tell you is where to find the less frequented spots that give you a true taste of Roman culture. So I've taken the liberty of jotting down a few of my favorite spots in the city just in case you ever have the opportunity to spend some time here
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  Il Gelato di San Crispino: Like most gelaterie in the city center, this place is little more than a hole in the wall. You'd probably never find it if you didn't know where to look which would be a truly unfortunate mishap. Of all the gelato I've had since I've been here, the artisan flavors from San Crispino have been the best by far, especially the honey gelato for which this little shop is famous. From their creamy chocolate to their flavorful whiskey, this shop really does offer some of the most varied and delicious flavors in the city and all at a highly affordable price. I would go every day if I thought my metabolism and waist line could handle it. Make sure to check it out if you ever get the chance.

Via del Corso: This street runs straight between two of the most popular piazze in the city - Venezia and Popolo - and has some of the best shopping in all of Rome. It is, admittedly, filled up mostly by chain stores like H&M, Yamamay, and Sephora which you could find in any regular mall but the real gems, the smaller stores fortuante enough to be interspersed with these big name brands, are easy enough to find. The Anglo-American Bookstore, one of my personal favorites, is just off the main road. On top of that, Via del Corso is one of the best places to find indepedent artists including dancers, musicians, and painters. Just make sure to watch out for the street vendors selling knockoff purses; wouldn't want to get in trouble with customs on the way home.

Campo dei Fiori: This little piazza near Largo Argentina is one of the most popular sites in the city, though it serves different purposes for different people. It is, by day, one of the best fresh produce markets available, selling anything from fresh fruit to artisan pasta secca to home-grown herbs. It is a great place to have a long lunch, stock up for dinner, or grab some souveniers. But after dark, it becomes a hub for those seeking the Roman nightlife. The great thing for study abroad students and tourists is that many of the bars in Campo dei Fiori, notably the Drunken Ship, cater to foreigners which means you will always be able to find the drinks and music you're looking for. Just remember that you'll probably have to take a cab back to your hotel/apartment if you stay after midnight. And please drink responsibly.

  Caffarella: The Appian Way is one of the main attractions in Rome. Where in ancient times, it was one of the most important and strategically placed Roman roads, today, it is the main walking path for those wanting to visit any (or all) of the numerous ruins left behind as a result of its historical significance. One of my favorite places to stop along this road is the Caffarella Valley, one of the few places within walking distance of the city where you can still find natural forest and wide, grassy meadows. It is a great places to sit and read, have a picnic, or just lounge in the sun and all in the midst of ancient ruins - truly a prime spot.

Mirko Bar: This little cafe is probably going to be the hardest for any regular tourist to find but for students at the CEA Global Campus is Rome, it's just around the corner. I'm not going to tell you that the Mirko Bar makes the best cappuccini or cornetti the city; that would be ridiculous (although the cappuccini are always quite delicious). But what I can say for certain is that the staff are some of the most friendly and, considering the amount of broken Italian they tolerate from CEA students everyday, patient people I have met since I've been here. They were quick to recognize my face and preferences, which made me feel much more at ease here, and equally as quick to try to befriend me despite the language barrier. If there is any (public) place in which I feel truly welcome in Rome, it's the Mirko Bar.

By Caitlin Smith
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

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