A phenomenon of the Irish summer is undoubtedly ‘the drizzle freak out’. The crises strike midweek, when the prospect of yet another freezing barbeque on the weekend just becomes too much to bear. And this is where the impulse weekend steps in. With no prospect of holidays for another month or two and with your sun-deprived skin gaining a luminous transparency, the only solution is to look up last minute flights toward the sun and go for the cheapest. Even two days in the sun will save you from losing your mind. With daily flights out of Dublin and temperatures that rarely go below 25° and soar up to 40° at the height of summer, it is one of the most manageable last minute places to visit. Its tourist attractions are so famous and omnipresent that there is little preparation needed, which is at the heart of the impulse holiday.
1. La Gattabuia
An unlikely tourist attraction in the summer given its ground floor grotto setting, La Gattabuia makes up for this by being one of the most authentically Roman restaurants you can hope to find. Set in the Trastevere neighbourhood, but about 10 minutes off the tourist-beaten track, it is an excellent option for people in search of some authentic Rome. Cheap, casual and an absolute fail-safe choice, it serves all the meaty local favourites, such as rigatoni alla vaccinara which is served with a big chunk of oxtail, trippa or tripe, and an excellent selection of antipasti. 25€ per person average. For more details see here
2. Ponte Sisto
This is the bridge that connects the two busiest night life areas of the city, Trastevere and Campo dei Fiori, so a spot that most visitors will no doubt become familiar with. At night-time this bridge is heaving with locals and tourists, but really it’s at its best at sunset. Situated on a nice bend in the river, lots of Rome’s splendours are visible from this cobbled bridge. It also boasts some excellent people watching, as you are allowed to drink alcohol on it and the local buskers and stall owners make for a colourful bunch. A good mixture of tourists and locals.
One of the favourite upmarket choices in the city centre is ReCafe. Located at Piazza Augusto Imperatore, it is part of a collection of Fascist buildings that surround the square. It specializes in Neapolitan food, serving antipasti of the deep-fried and irresistible variety – arancini, suppli, fiori di zucca are all lethal. It has the reputation for being a very good fish restaurant, but the pizzas are the main favourites, what with their slightly thicker Neapolitan crust. They have a big seating area outside that is glamorous and laid-back, set in the beautiful marble arcade of Piazza Augusto Imperatore. Doing your best impersonation of a Roman is recommended. For details and booking see here
4. Gelateria Oldbridge
This gelateria has regrettably become so busy that it often has queues stretching around the block at midnight on weekends. Most of the clientele are not tourists, as Oldbridge is simply a Rome obsession. They offer a vast range of ice-creams that stretch from apure nutella ice-cream, to a white chocolate and caramel, to a chocolate cake-based number. They are calorie bombs that are well worth it. It is a real motorino parade outside also, as it has become a big meet-up spot come dark. Piazza Risorgimento where Oldbridge is situated, is a 5 minute stroll from St Peters, which is at its quietest and most magnificent at night time. For more details see here
5. Hotel Visconti
A four-star hotel situated off Piazza Cavour in the heart of one of Rome’s oldest and most chic residential areas, the Visconti is pure style. From the outside it looks like a mildly ugly glass creation from the late ‘70’s, but inside it is masterfully designed and decorated, stream-lined Italian. It’s a pricey option, particularly in high-season, but it is one of Rome’s best upmarket hotels run by one of Rome’s wealthiest families. The clincher is its roof-terrace – we suspect a Martini ad was filmed here. It catches every pink ray of Roman sunset as well as offering a 360° panorama whilst being surrounded by potted orange and lemon trees. Alternatively, go simply for an aperitivo – all of the privilege for a fraction of the price of a room. For more information visit www.viscontipalace.com
Roisin Agnew @roxeenna is Rome born and bred.