Soul Of Rome By Carolina Vincenti: Book Review

Soul of Rome cover

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I’ve previously reviewed Secret Rome, a book which scratched beneath the city’s skin to find the places that even the locals don’t know about. But a new title – Soul of Rome from Jonglez Publishing – attempts a seemingly even more impossible quest. Here Carolina Vincenti identifies “30 exceptional experiences” that encapsulate the real Rome, not the city that tourists see but the city as it is known to those who live there.

What Is Soul Of Rome?

Cover of Soul of Rome, showing a corner restaurant covered in ivy

Soul of Rome begins by telling you what you won’t find in the book, like “touristy trattorias” or hop-on hop-off bus tours. What you will find includes “how to sleep in a cardinal’s bed” and “the pope’s socks”. (Intrigued? I was…)

As the introduction acknowledges, there is so much to see and do in Rome that trying to find its soul in just thirty experiences is a daunting task. No other city has so much history, so much influence, so many important buildings and so many layers of significance. The author concludes that “the soul of Rome… is to be found in its contradictions”; it is a place where grandeur and opulence sit side by side with decadence and idleness.

Rome Through The Eyes Of A Local

Carolina Vincenti takes us round a Rome that is often hidden to tourists. There is a palace stuffed with artworks but mostly ignored by visitors. A historic villa where you can stay the night, and a park where locals burst spontaneously into song. And it invites you to look differently at tourist attractions, perhaps by taking a peaceful bike ride along the Via Appia Antica, or visiting the Vatican Galleries out of hours.

Interior of a large room with an ornate bed and a grand piano. There is a Renaissance frieze just below the ceiling
You could spend a night in the Villa Medici (photo copyright Assaf Shoshan)

Many of the entries bring in local personalities, like the barber with tales of the celebrities whose hair he cut in the 1960s. And there are interviews with a local poet and with “Italy’s best chef”.

Food And Drink The Roman Way

Of course, as this is Rome, food and drink are much in evidence. But it doesn’t always look much like the tourist offerings served up on the Piazza Navona… We have hidden away restaurants, a farmers’ market, and a bistro in a fishmonger’s shop. And a restaurant where you can eat “wild salads foraged by the staff in the Roman countryside”.

Preparing for a picnic with Vivi Bistrot (photo courtesy Jonglez Publishing)

You’ll also find suggestions for the best gelato in Rome and a guide to coffee drinking. Tip: if you want to pass for a Roman never drink cappuccino after a meal!

Who Should Read Soul Of Rome?

Each entry is illustrated with lots of lovely full colour photos and line drawings, and there is practical information about prices, opening times etc. However, Soul of Rome is not a guide book but an inspiration. Use it to guide your exploration when you want to step back from conventional sightseeing and to immerse yourself in the soul of the city.

Soul of Rome, by Carolina Vincenti, Jonglez Publishing, 2021, 9782361953805

About Bewitched by italy

Bewitched By Italy is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), but Italy remains one of my favourite destinations. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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