Rome in the eyes of an independent family-run retailer

At the beginning of May, we ventured on a short family holiday to Rome, this fabulous city has always been on our bucket list! Rome is the legend of hundreds of stories and historical events! A family holiday is always a precious time and very special to our little family, we have had so many happy memories together. For my husband and I, we are usually running off our feet nurturing our business and our 11-year old daughter has a jam packed schedule of hobbies, so by Sunday we’re shattered. Our family holidays truly are an escape, leaving all our stresses of everyday life behind and just enjoying each other’s company!

Rome was a 5-day intensive city tour! Getting up every morning at 8am and retiring to our hotel exhausted every night at midnight! By the end of it we truly felt like the old nursery rhythm ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ marching again and again:) There was just so much to see, we didn’t want to miss anything! Rome has always been very special to me, the people are so warm and affectionate, the food is unlike anything in our English palate just so vibrant and fresh and the history and architecture just blows your mind……

The Pantheon was absolutely awe-inspiring, we sat in silence in amazement staring up at the building for a long time admiring the beauty of this 2000-year old building. Useful tip, download Rick Steve’s audio guide to Rome before you go, all the stories on his audio guide just made the visit so much more interesting!…..And oh my word,  St Peter’s Basilica! We visited it on the Sunday afternoon for Sunday service. It is a must see! If I have any indication of what Heaven looks like I’m guessing  St Peter’s Basilica. I have never seen a church which reflects the glory of Heaven in such a way ! I didn’t want to leave! I really could have stayed there for eternity basking in its beauty!

And the Trevi fountains! It is absolutely stunning! We threw our coins in and made  our wishes like every other tourist! Every day thousands of euros of coins are tossed into the fountain. Do you wonder where all the coins go? You will be pleased to know that they are all swept out every morning and then donated to local charity projects!

My most favorite thing about Rome was their local family-run businesses! We were lucky enough to visit two amazing family-run restaurants during our short stay, one is called Trattoria Dell’OMO, the other is called Sora Magerita. Both of these two restaurants had charming Italian mamas working there in the kitchen, a good sign that you are getting the real stuff! The lasagna we had at Dell’OMO was totally out of this world, it was the best lasagna I had ever had, so soft and smooth, almost melted in my mouth, and the flavor was just so unbelievably good! After we had the lasagna at Dell’OMO, we were so chuffed that we went to the kitchen straight away and asked the Italian mama to take a photo with us! Apparently she runs this restaurant with her son, and it is the 52nd anniversary this year!

At Dell’OMO,  I don’t know how he managed it, but the owner of the restaurant, the son,  ran around in circles looking after about 25 people all on his own! He was busy serving , taking orders, talking to every body making sure that every one was being looked after! Yet he always kept that lovely smile on his face!

Neither of these two restaurants looked fancy and were extremely humble from the outside. We wanted to go to restaurants where locals would go, and we only found them through word of mouth from the owner of the hotel where we stayed. The menus in both restaurants were handwritten, the chairs looked battered, but upon entering these two restaurants, it felt as if we were instantly transported into the home of an Italian family, immersed in the overwhelming sense of warmth and comfort!  Restaurant Sora Magerita’s walls are covered with sticky notes, so many people commented on the notes how good the food was! I saw a lot of press releases about Sora Magerita on the walls, apparently they won quite a few awards for their authentic Roman dishes! We were very lucky to get a seat, as it was getting fuller by the moment, resulting in a lot of people being turned away. Lots of locals were dining at these two restaurants, police officers, office workers, mums with toddlers……

Even though we didn’t understand the Italian language, we really enjoyed the great atmosphere in the air, and of course the mouthwatering homemade food!

To find real gems like them, you really have to learn not to judge a book by its cover, you really have to learn to appreciate that there is so much loveliness, so much character and personality behind all the humbleness of the appearance! If you are used to shopping with big brand names, travelling four/five stars and dining in Michelin starred restaurants, why not step out of your comfort zone and give these local family run businesses a try? I’m sure you will just love independent restaurants with their mouth watering food and heartwarming smiles. If you are looking for the best family run Gelateria in Rome, try Giovanni Fassi! They have been making gelato for 136 years!  They have even got their 100-year old gelato machine on display in the shop. How cool is that! At times it was the only Gelateria that remained open in Rome during the second war! And yes, their gelato is the best!

rome pic 3
Look at us enjoying Giovanni Fassi getting snapped next to the gelato equipment dating back to over 100 years old.

There are just so many ”a hole in the wall” restaurants in Rome, run by local families. Even when you go on TripAdvisor for Rome, the top restaurants with the largest number of good reviews are almost all family-run independent businesses! The Italian people cherish and support their small family run businesses because of their strong family values!

To us, Rome is not only an encyclopedia of history, it is a city which oozes with character, a city which celebrates and cherishes its independent family run business! As a family run business, we support  a lot of other family-run businesses by buying a lot of our products from them. Our handcarved Italian Nigri chess sets,  handmade Indonesian shell lamps, handcrafted Bali wooden sculptures are all made by independent family run businesses, too! We travel many miles and voyage on many adventures to seek these gems out for you!

As the owner of a small family-run business, I know how stressful it is to run your own business and look after your  family at the same time. During the early years of running this retail business in the recession, I  often struggled to find the balance between spending time with my daughter and working on my business. I salute those who passionately support small family-run businesses and chose the independent rather than chain stores. You keep our fighting spirit going! We are Proudly Independent!

 Rome wasn’t built in one day, being an independent means working hard for you lovely people

every day!

Love Scape xxx


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