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Life Lessons in Rome: Via S. Francesco a Ripa

By April 20, 20162 Comments

Since moving to Rome in January, one street seems to be the center of my life. I met a friend for an aperitivo there my first night, it’s the route I take to class every day, and it’s where I’ve learned a lot of life lessons about moving to a new city. This street is Via San Francesco a Ripa in Trastevere.

Giselda Forno

Every morning my friends and I stop into what we call “G café” for a coffee and pastry before class. Not only do they have great cornetti and coffee, but they also have amazing breads, meats and cookies. After class, I even stop in to grab some bread to make my homemade bruschetta with. We’ve gone so often that they are starting to recognize us. Giselda Forno is not only teaching us about Italian coffee (we’ve ordered wrong many times), but it’s also showing us that sitting and chatting over coffee instead of takeaway is a great start to the day. Don’t let the address trick you, it is on the corner of Via San Francesco a Ripa. Viale di Trastevere, 52 tel. 0645665090 open: 8:00 am-10:00 pm



Antica Caciara

I dare you to walk past this cheese shop and not go in. The smells that comes out of it are unreal. I always stop and take a peek in whether I’m going to buy anything or not. The first time I went in I bought feta greca and chickpeas to make a chopped Greek salad with chickpeas, feta, red peppers, onion, tomatoes, cucumber with a little bit of salt and lemon. Since then, I’ve been back to buy cheese to snack on at home. Their pecorino romano is sensational. Their display is just as inviting as the family who own and run the old-fashioned shop. Stopping in here has helped me with my Italian immensely because the owners don’t speak any English. Via di S. Francesco a Ripa, 140 a/b tel. 06 5812815 Open: 7:00 am-8:00 pm

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Il Mastello

While still on San Francesco a Ripa, Il Mastello is not on the side of Viale di Trastevere that many people frequent. Since I travel most weekends, I’ve been going to Il Mastello to get my laundry done. The 7,70 Euro is worth saving me the time and hassle of washing and hanging to dry my clothes at home. Interestingly, the word mastello refers to a large open container with water that people used to bathe and wash clothing in. Via S. Francesco a Ripa, 62 tel. 0688920221 Open: 7:00 am-10:30 pm


Bar San Calisto

The reason I have yet to go here is because I am so intimidated! This bar is always packed with young Italians. Not speaking the language makes it hard to meet people, but I always want to go into this bar to grab a drink and then spill onto the piazza with the rest of the Italians. My goal during my semester in Rome is to have the courage to stop in here, order a sgroppino (homemade lemon sorbet with prosecco and vodka) and chat with some of the locals. Piazza di S. Calisto, 4 tel 06 5835869 Open: 6:00 am -2:00 am

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I Supplì

I Supplì is amazing. This rotisserie chicken and pizza by the slice joint is the size of a large walk-in closet, but offers such a wide selection of food. I’ve gotten supplì, pizza, Jewish artichoke, half chicken and even pasta. Everyone behind the counter is so nice and the food is extremely cheap, which is a plus. I Supplì taught me how to use the oven in my apartment. Even though it’s a minimal lesson, the temperatures and settings made no sense, but because I wanted to eat I Supplì food so badly, I figured it out. Via S.Francesco a Ripa, 137 tel. 06 5897110 Open: 10:30 am-9:30 pm


Another life lesson I’ve taken to heart and put to use on San Francesco a Ripa is, “Qual’è il tuo preferito?” Learning the simple phrase of asking someone what their favorite thing is has introduced me to a myriad of amazing pastries, breads, and other dishes. I’ve found that the people working at each place know best.

San Francesco a Ripa has tons more to offer. Take a stroll and explore its shopping, dining and other essentials.




  • I love your essays especially because I lived in Rome 1964-65, in a furnished apartment in a converted palazzzo with windows overlooking the Ponto Roto and the Cloaca Maxima outlet into the Tiber. Rome is my heart’s home and I wish I had lived there for many more years. Now I enjoy doing that vicariously through your newsletter and website postings.

    If you ever learn an English translation for cocomero, would you please tell me? It is a small watermelon. I heard the name for it from a woman who lived in Trastevere, and when I once asked a waiter for it, he said in a shocked and reproving voice, “Signora! Where did you hear THAT word?!” I’ve never found a translation.

    • Avatar Elizabeth Janus says:

      thank you for your comment ellen and for following our newsletter and blog. we love sharing our insider information with our readers. hope that you can come back to rome soon and we’ll share a caffe together. cocomero or anguria is watermelon in english. some of the best that i’ve eaten was sold off of a farmer’s trucks on the side of the road near ostia on the way back to the city after a day at the beach. soooooo sweet and juicy on a hot day!

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