Contributed by: Sara Marx | Last Date of Travel: October 2008
Kosher Info: Via Del Portico d’Ottavia is a street with many kosher options and it is right by the big main synagogue. There are two “upscale” meat restaurants, a dairy place (we didn’t try it), and a couple of falafel/fast food places. We ate at La Taverna Del Ghetto where I had meat ravioli with meat sauce and my husband had goulash with a side of pasta and we were both extremely happy with our choices. The restaurant had a Sukkah, as did a couple of other restaurants on the street. There was a new-looking store called something like Jewish Bistro and it looked like it sold wine and maybe some minimal groceries.
Tourist Info: I cannot recommend enough the Knopf MapGuide that we used in Rome. It was the best $10 we could have spent in preparation for this trip! Highlights include the typical stuff: Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish steps, Piazza Navona, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Colosseum. We really enjoyed the audio guide at the Vatican Museums. Be prepared for a lot of tourists and fees at absolutely everything.
We did a day trip to Ostia Antica, which is a short train ride away from Rome, and is a very cool excavation of ruins from a port city. It was super fun just to walk around and take it all in, and there are ruins of a synagogue, too. There’s not much in the town and the castle fortress has free tours, but only in Italian.
Jewish Info: We arrived in Rome on chol hamoed Sukkot and a woman who worked at La Taverna Del Ghetto was a good resource as far as where and when to show up for chag services. We went to davenning at the big synagogue erev Shemini Atzeret where there was a decent turn out, and we went on erev Simchat Torah where they had a great turnout and it was a lot of fun. My husband made his way up to the front and got a hakafah. The Italki nusach is definitely different and interesting and we enjoyed learning about it. We stayed at the Costaguti Palace B&B literally a block from the kosher restaurants and 2 blocks from the synagogue and walking distance to all the sites. It was Shabbat/chag friendly, although on the fourth floor.
For those that are interested, there are 3 Chabad centers in Rome: http://www.chabad.org/centers/default_cdo/city/Rome/country/Italy/ea/1/jewish/Chabad-Lubavitch.htm