Rome & Naples, Italy | Travel Guide

In Travel

Last month we shared photos and recipes inspired by our trip to Greece. It was our first just-for-us getaway in a while, since a lot of our vacation time lately has gone to volunteer work in Cambodia. After sun and fresh meals with good friends in Greece, we set out for Italy just the two of us: to Rome, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast. Here are some highlights from Rome and Naples, with recipe inspirations and scenes from the Amalfi Coast to follow. 

Seven years ago, we honeymooned in Italy. We fell head over heels over the country: its charm, natural beauty, the effervescence of the people, and the food — oh, the food. At the time, we were in our infancy of our interest in food and photography, wide-eyed 20-somethings with a point-and-shoot and a guide book. Now, after seven years of marriage, four camera upgrades, and hundreds of recipes cooked together, we returned again to our favorite spots. First up was Rome: that historic, nostalgic, and bustling city (quite a jolt after Santorini). And there it was, just as we’d left it.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

The street scenes are what we love the most. Rather than hit the museums, we spent hours getting intentionally lost in side streets, trying to capture the natural beauty of the city (not an easy task with heavy shadows, narrow alleys, and cars and motos constantly weaving in and out view!).

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Piazza Navona, a lovely large plaza.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Gelato is the star of the show in Italy. Above is lemon and strawberry gelato from Hedera, a famous little shop that prides itself on using natural and seasonal ingredients. It was pure and fluffy, almost more lemon-y and strawberry-y than the fruits themselves. After days of research, this was our favorite (one day we had a “tour di gelato” with 5 shops in one day – research, friends!).

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Our airbnb apartment was fabulous. We can’t say enough good things about this place: centrally-located, comfortable, immaculate, and beautifully decorated with a mix of ultra-modern + historic open wood beams.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

The front door. Sigh…

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

We were lucky enough to get a long list of recommendations from our Italian friend, Valentina. On the top of her street food list was Pizzarium di Bonci, a little takeout joint famous for its pizza. We were skeptical: how could a relatively young chef be famous for pizza in Rome of all places? It’s in a graffiti-covered, unromantic part of town. But from the first bite, we were completely sold. Something about the crust is so satisfyingly puffed and crunchy, and the cheese perfectly golden and gooey. The place is known for exotic toppings, but the simple cherry tomato version we tasted was extraordinary. Definitely worth the trek.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Our favorite building in Rome: the Pantheon. We couldn’t help but to take a hundred photographs as we walked by each night. We spent one sunset at the plaza, waiting for the perfect twilight where you can capture the sky bright blue.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

We were looking forward to a photoshoot of the Colosseum, but unfortunately the front was covered in ugly scaffolding (our hearts sank when we turned onto the corner to view it covered in metal). The best we could do was the back side.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

The famous Trevi fountain — possibly the reason we were back in Rome, since we threw a coin in at our last visit!

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Alex was fascinated with the different doors in the city. Each is gigantic, exquisitely designed, and unique from all the rest.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Wandering the streets at night is magical. We loved crisscrossing the river at dusk with the lights of St. Peter’s Basilica reflecting in the river.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

One of our favorite places on earth: the Roman forum. Layers upon layers of history are packed into this place, making your head spin. On our honeymoon, we spent hours in the evening when all the tourists were gone just gazing into the ruins and pondering what it might have been like in Caesar’s day.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Another favorite, the ruins of a statue of Constantine in the Capitoline Museum.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

The Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica: Alex did a little double exposure here if you can make it out…

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

More gelato. We had to.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Much as we love the city, one of our favorite parts of this trip to Rome was just outside the city in the town of Campoleone. A friend of ours from Indianapolis, Gabriele, is originally from Rome. He and his wife Andrea happened to be staying with his family while we were in the country, and they invited us to his home for dinner. The countryside is truly gorgeous and it was a welcome break from the bustle of the city.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

It’s nice to dine in restaurants, but to us, a home-cooked meal is priceless. Gabriele’s mom made a 4-course meal that was out of this world. It started with pizza bianca, white pizza with spicy broccoli rabe, and pasta with porcini mushrooms and tomatoes. (One thing we learned in Italy: we need to master al dente! This pasta was cooked perfectly, a little chewier than you’d expect in America.)

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Pizza and pasta were just the first course. Then came roasted chicken, a green salad, fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheeses (to die for), and assorted olives.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

And if that weren’t enough, fruit, followed by pastries from the market. Oh.my.pastries. They were each an incredible work of art. Our favorite – the cannoli!

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

After dinner we took a stroll around the neighborhood, admiring each family’s groves of olive trees and grape vines. Gabriele told us family and neighbors pitch in to have their grapes made into wine and olives pressed into oil. It was so picturesque we were just about ready to “accidentally” lose our plane tickets home.

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Rome, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Thank you so much to Gabriele, Andrea, and your family for the most amazing meal and company!

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

After Rome, we made our way to Naples as a stopping point before the Amalfi Coast. We hadn’t been to Naples on our honeymoon, so we were excited to try a new city. We were at once charmed, though the streets had a bit more “grunge” than Rome.

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Naples was all about pizza, since it is where pizza was invented. We were expecting a lot, and boy, did it deliver. The first we tried was from Di Matteo, a little street stand where a pizza is 1 Euro. We tried pizza marinara, crust with tomatoes and garlic (no cheese). The pizza is folded into a triangle and wrapped in paper. A little piece of heaven.

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

 

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

The next pizza we tried was at Da Michele, the place made famous by the movie Eat Pray Love. This was, in all honesty, the best pizza we’ve ever tasted. The place serves two flavors, pizza marinara (crust and tomato sauce) and pizza margarita (tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil). We went for margarita and everything about it was insane: the tender crust, tomato-y garlic-y sauce, and gooey cheese. And what made the experience was our new friend: since guests sit family-style, we had the pleasure of meeting Enzo, a business man originally from Naples. Chatting with him as we downed our pizza was a highlight of Naples.

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

 

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

The National Museum in Naples was also wonderful; we were able to see many of the mosaics rescued from Pompeii, which we visited on our honeymoon.

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

This is one of our favorite photographs from the trip: downtown Naples with a moody sky.

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Our last stop in Naples was the marina. The views of the bay with a backdrop of Mount Vesuvius were spectacular.

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Naples, Italy | A Couple Cooks

Italy - 155

We left Naples with an extensive breakfast in bed in our hotel. I could get used to this!

Overall, Rome was just as magical and charming as we remembered. However, it’s hard to try to repeat an experience you’ve had years ago; some things are always going to be different. While it was wonderful to revisit some favorite spots from our honeymoon, it was even more fun to form some new memories. And, even though we intended Italy as a romantic getaway for us, some of our favorite memories were shared with friends, new and old.

Where we stayed: airbnb apartment (Rome), La Ciliegina (Naples)

Rome and Naples Restaurant Recommendations:
Pizzarium Di Bonci (Rome) – pizza
Hedera (Rome) – gelato
Gelato del Teatro (Rome) – gelato
Baguetteria del Fico (Rome) – sandwiches
Osteria Barberini (Rome) – fancy eats; they have a whole truffle menu!
Di Mateo (Naples) – takeout pizza
Da Michele (Naples) – pizza

Rome Travel Guide

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.

35 Comments

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    July 27, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    This was so fun to read! I’m moving to Sicily in September, so I’m currently planning a few trips around Italy while I’m living there and find this post so helpful! Question: when you’re just taking pictures of the city-scape, what’s your go-to lens? I was thinking a 35mm would be good, but am wondering what you guys chose! xoxo

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 27, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      That’s exciting! What will you be doing in Sicily? We took a 24-70mm lens and a 35mm. They both worked great for city shots! It’s definitely nice to have something on the wider end of things.

      • Reply
        Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
        July 30, 2014 at 4:43 pm

        Thanks so much for letting me know! My man is moving there for part of his PhD, so I decided to tag along and work in a lab while I’m over there. I can’t wait!

  • Reply
    Millie l Add A Little
    July 27, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Such a lovely collection of photos!! Makes me want to go back to eat the amazing food!

    http://youtube.com/addalittlefood

  • Reply
    Denae
    July 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Amazing photographs. I have an ache in my stomach to return to Italy. The Forum is also one of my favorite historic sites as well. And the food! I’m getting hungry.

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 28, 2014 at 10:22 am

      Thanks!

  • Reply
    Tieghan
    July 27, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Such amazing photos. I love reading through this post, perfect way to end my night! And really, what an incredible trip. I hope to make it there some day. oh and all the pizza!! YUM!

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 28, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Thanks Tieghan! Glad you enjoyed the post :)

  • Reply
    Daniela @ FoodrecipesHQ
    July 28, 2014 at 3:43 am

    Are you going to share pics of the Amalfi coast too? I look forward to them. I was born and raised in Napoli: I completely forgot that abroad Da Michele is known mainly because of the movie! Amazing pictures, thanks for sharing your experience with such lovely words.

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 28, 2014 at 10:24 am

      Thank you for reading! We’ll be sharing Amalfi pictures next week.

  • Reply
    bethan bodaszewski
    July 28, 2014 at 4:36 am

    What beautiful photos. They bring back memories of our trip a few weeks ago. A magical place for sure :)

  • Reply
    Molly
    July 28, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Beautiful journey. I love your denim/chambray dress- where did you get it?

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 28, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks! I believe the dress was from Loft :)

      • Reply
        Molly
        July 28, 2014 at 4:14 pm

        It’s no longer on sale at LOFT, but I just tracked one down on Ebay. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
    July 28, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Such beautiful pictures! I’m sure you could frame more than few for your home. They’re just gorgeous.

    That pasta sounds incredible too. Let us know when you perfect the al dente! I’d love to learn a few tips.

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks! We’re hoping to get a few printed on canvases for our house :) And, we’ll let you know when we perfect the pasta!

  • Reply
    Karen - 2Teaspoons
    July 28, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Fantastic photos and trip! My husband and I are planning a trip back to Italy for 2015 and I’m totally excited about using some of your recommendations. We’ve been there a couple of times and I totally agree….oh, the food! The four course home cooked meal you had looks out of this world! :-)

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    July 29, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Amazing photos. When I travel I feel like it’s difficult to fully convey in a post the sights, sounds, and feelings of the experience. But your writing and photography seemed to capture your experience perfectly. I look forward to your Italian-inspired recipes to come!

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    July 29, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve only ever driven through Naples and normally tried to get out of it as soon as possible but this post makes me think that I should take some more time to explore it (and eat pizza…)

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 29, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      It certainly has it’s own type of charm! The streets kind of emptied after dark, so we didn’t do much exploring at that point, but otherwise we had a ton of fun there!

  • Reply
    Dena Norton
    July 31, 2014 at 6:42 am

    These photos are just gorgeous and such a good reminder of our trip to Italy a few years back. Thanks for bringing back those warm memories this morning!

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 31, 2014 at 11:57 am

      So glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Reply
    Michele
    July 31, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Fantastic. I am living for Italy next week and have made a list of all the things to do from your post. I love love love all those photos. Those places, pizzas and pastries. Simply Wow. And home cooked food. I am drooling already.

  • Reply
    Gina
    August 10, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Friends, this post is complete and utter TORTURE!!! And so incredibly beautiful. I desperately want to get back to Italy, and Tom and I talk about going all the time (despite being European, he’s never been). Someday….
    But until then, I’ll live vicariously (and jealously) through you!! :) Miss you both so much!

  • Reply
    Becky
    August 11, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Beautiful photographs and great reminders of a beautiful country with even more amazing food. We visited several spots in Italy last year. I agree with you about the incredible pizza at Da Michele, but it was famous way before Eat, Pray, Love!

  • Reply
    Kara
    April 1, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Amazing pictures! Takes me back to a food tour I took in Naples. It was with foodtoursofnaples.com.. So delicious. They took us around to every authentic eatery I could think of, and we feasted on fish, pasta, pizza, and some amazing desserts. I can’t wait to go back again one day.

    • Reply
      Alex
      April 2, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Sounds wonderful!

  • Reply
    Becky
    April 9, 2015 at 9:59 am

    You’re pictures were a vacation for mymind today… I’m just getting around to some old emails. We’ve visited all these places as well and it was a great reminder of the beauty Italy has to offer in food, culture, architecture and countryside. The only thing missing was a picture of a cappuccino – one of my favorite forms of art! We ate at Da Michele too and it was famous WAY before Eat, Pray, Love!! One of the first pizzerias in Naples. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Elliote Long
    April 18, 2015 at 11:33 am

    The apartment in Naples looks so beautiful! We’re planning a trip there at the moment, what’s the place where you stayed called?

    • Reply
      Alex
      April 18, 2015 at 11:52 am

      We have links at that bottom of the post. The apartment was in Rome and in Naples we stayed at the La Ciliegina hotel.

  • Reply
    Ayesha Cheema
    May 6, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Your Italy blogs just refreshed my memory and put a nostalgic smile on my face! Btw if you ever come to Northern Virginia, you must eat at Pupatella in Arlington. Their pizzas are identical to the ones I had in Italy so highly recommended :)

  • Reply
    Emma
    July 23, 2015 at 3:24 am

    Beautiful photos! What kind of camera do you use?

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 23, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Thanks! We have a Canon 5D.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    August 7, 2017 at 12:36 am

    Such beautiful photos. I’m going to Italy next year to visit Rome, Naples and hopefully Capri. I’m getting so excited to experience the sights and the food.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      August 7, 2017 at 11:36 am

      You will have an amazing time! Let us know if you need any advice (though most of it is in this post!) :).

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