Lets start with the fact that this bridge is stunning.
All day it is packed full of people crossing the Tiber River, presumably tourists having purchased their souvenir leather goods and are now continuing on to visit the Mausoleum on the other side and the Vatican just a few blocks down.
However, visit in the early evening as both tourist hot spots begin to close their doors and you will find the angels of the bridge dappled in evening glow and the crossing empty enough to stroll.
Ponte de Dan Angelos is lined with marble angels, each in a flurry of wind-ripped robes, and each bearing an implement of Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion: the crown of thorns, the pillar, the cross, etc. Part of a master plan by our good friend and Roman native, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the angels were completed by a variety of master artists of the time (two by Bernini and his son).
This stunning arched crossing is pretty hard to miss, but the surrounding neighborhood might be easier to pass without due consideration. Which would be a shame. Because right around this area are some very quaint courtyards, smaller eateries and local bars that will make you scoff at the Chef Boyardee being served on the main drags.
(Side note: this is the best classic Roman dish you can eat. Cacio and Pepe. Why is it so great? Its simple- just a few ingredients. Fresh pasta, Pecorino Romano, roasted peppercorns. Don’t you dare leave Rome without eating a bowl -or 5- of it!)
If you cross Ponte de San Angelos, traveling away from the Mausoleum, you should continue straight one block and then take a left on Via dei Coronari. This little street is lined with leather shops that range from tourist to artesian as well as pockets of little courtyards and unique corner shops where you can pause for your afternoon Negroni. Most of these pint sized eateries have open windows with bar seats pulled right up, so you can enjoy the activity on the streets as you pop fresh olives into your mouth.
You can follow Via dei Coronari all the way to Piazza Navona OR dodge right onto Vicolo dale Vacche. Eventually, this too will drop you into Piazza Navona, which is lined with imitation foods and irritating club promotors, but along the way it will take you by plenty of tempting watering holes and mouthwatering restaurants whose tables cascade into the cobble stone streets. Each restaurant seems to have a unique personality-from funky vintage to modern class- so I am sure you will find something that hits the spot.
If you are looking for a dime of a restaurant, let me just save you all the walking:
Rather than turning left to head down Via dei Coronari, continue straight until you intersect with the very large Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and hedge left. Just a few blocks down, you will encounter Via Sforza Cesarini and Piazza Sforza Cesarini. Tucked into the back of this historic little square is Trattoria Polese.
You will be drawn in by the sparkling lights strewn between the large umbrellas over small tables. The host is buzzing around, conducting a ballet of servers, but grab him and ask for a table. He will make one appear out of, seemingly, no where within just a few minutes. You can ide your time under the quiet canopy of trees in the courtyard.
Truly one of our most enjoyable meals with the most genuine and energetic service was enjoyed here. Their Roman classics were incredible. Their specials were fabulous. Their house wine was superb. I loved it and I would love to return!
What is your favorite neighborhood in Rome?
Haven’t been? Will you promise to go here and eat a big plate of Cacio e Pepe for me?? What do you want to do most in Rome?
Be sure you check out our detailed guide for getting the most out of your time in Rome:
The Most Complete, Epic Itinerary for Rome