Eat here: Sora Margherita, Rome

Sora Margherita
Piazza delle Cinque Scole, 30, Rome, Italy


Rome is an incredible city that’s basically a living museum, with good food and rude service. Sora Margherita is a brilliant example of both.

We found a bright yellow door tucked away in a little piazza, and a line at the door 30 minutes before opening time. We joined the queue and hoped they’d give us a seat despite not being Roman. 

I say Roman, not Italian, because many Romans feel they’re an entity unto themselves. They’re often pretty rude not just to visitors from other countries, but visitors from other parts of Italy, too. We had a big leg up on most other international visitors because I speak Italian, but if you think that earned us friendly service…

We were shoved into the tiny restaurant and taken to a table for 6, where we were each sandwiched in between two portly locals. We were handed menus, and left to our own devices for a while. When our waitress eventually came back, I had the audacity to ask what one of their pasta dishes had in it (there were no ingredients listed in the menu, it just had a bit of a vague name indicating it was a special of some sort). I couldn’t tell if she was more offended I dared speak to her in Italian as a foreigner or if I dared question the dish. My husband was mortified; I did my best not to laugh.

The pasta was worth it – a bowl of cacio e pepe, and a bowl of whatever the special was – turned out it was a perfect, plain tomato sauce, smothered in finely grated parmesan cheese, just like Nonna makes. Half a litre of house red washed it down nicely, and we were pretty full. But not our neighbours.

We were full from our deceptively big bowls of pasta, ready to pay and make our way out. But looking around, we realised that the locals don’t stuff around at lunch time. No shared entree and a bowl of pasta; by the time we were done, they’d already made their way through a salad, a warm entree, a good litre of wine, and were starting to tuck into their pasta dishes, while wondering aloud how long their next dishes would take to come out. And then there’d be coffee and dessert.

Sora Margherita is the ultimate Roman dining experience – homely feel, stereotypical cranky service, movie-setting piazza location, and really really good food.

Asolo, Italy

I’m really lucky to have parents hailing from opposite ends of the same country. The north and south of Italy are quite different, and I’ve had wonderful opportunities to see both. Mum’s side of the family are from the north, up near Venice, so I really wanted to show some of the little towns and villages in the area that most people who visit Venice never get to. While the island is obviously incredible, I wonder how many people would kick themselves if they knew what they were missing on the mainland…

Asolo is one of those little towns up in the foothills of the Dolomites that you picture when you think to yourself “how gorgeous it must be to hire a car and just drive and explore little medieval cobblestoned villages.” Dating back to pre-Roman times, Asolo has been around for a very long time, and hopefully won’t be going anywhere soon. And getting there is as easy as leaving the Venice islands for the mainland and hiring a car.

With cobbled streets, creeping greenery, delicious food in windows, remainders of medieval buildings, and seriously stunning views, it’s easy to see why so many artists and writers find their way there. Dame Freya Stark, explorer, traveller and writer, was one of those – she visited Asolo for the first time in 1923, eventually retired there, and passed away a few months after her 100th birthday there. That’s her villa in the photo below…

Asolo is one of those towns that managed to retain all of its old-world charm while Venice was being slowly commercialised and destroyed by tourism. They don’t get a heap of visitors, comparatively, and it’s so much more beautiful for that (so if you visit it, please do so respectfully!) – it’s the sort of place you want to find a little table balanced on cobblestones to sit at while you drink wine, a place you’d want to visit with a sketch book and pencil, even if you can’t draw. The fact that there isn’t a heap of big tourist attractions to see and do there is what makes it such a great place to visit as a break from the chaos that can be Venice.