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Talking Travel With… Erica Firpo, LUXE Rome Resident Editor

This week, we’re talking all things travel with Erica Firpo, our lovely LUXE Rome resident editor, veteran travel and lifestyle journalist, and creator of the Ciao Bella digital mag and podcast.

With her Italian and American background, Erica is the ultimate Rome insider who shares her insights on Italy through fascinating interviews and features on Ciao Bella, so be sure to check that out if you haven’t done so already.

In the meantime, find out what Erica’s been up to since the pandemic hit, her top spot for carbonara in Roma and where she’s packing her bags for in 2022:

What was your travel highlight of 2021?

I am really lucky that I live in Italy, so 2020 and 2021 have been all about exploring the backyard – from the tip of Calabria to the Alps. I love it and can’t believe it took until this year to finally explore Lombard’s famed Lago di Como. It was far more enchanting than I could’ve dreamed!

I also want to give a shoutout to the south – Reggio di Calabria and its Museo Nazionale where the Riace Bronzes (larger-than-life ancient Greek bronze statues found off the coast) now stand in a city museum.

Photo: Erica Firpo

Something new you discovered in Rome during COVID?

I rediscovered the beauty of Rome’s parks including Villa Borghese, Giardino degli Aranci, Villa Pamphili, Villa Glori, Villa Ada and my favourite Parco delle Acquedotti – a vast park where two ancient aqueducts intersect.

Photo: Erica Firpo

Your current fave hangouts in your city:

For cocktails, I always go to Drink Kong. It is one of the best bars in the world because owner Patrick Pistolesi is a magician. The vibe is chill, and it’s a bit like stepping into Blade Runner.

Photo: Erica Firpo

By far, my favourite museum in Italy is La Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea. The gorgeous neo-classical palace is a temple to Italian art, specifically modern and contemporary, with non-Italian pieces as well.

Photo: Erica Firpo

Director Cristina Collu changed up the curation so it is no longer chronological, which makes it even more interesting to go through. The museum’s outdoor terrace, Caffe delle Arti, is a great spot for aperitivi as well.

Galleria Borghese can’t be missed – it’s the perfect capsule collection of Renaissance and Baroque art.

I absolutely love carbonara and I’ve found the best at Luciano Cucina, where chef Luciano Monosolio is Italy’s King of Carbonara. Luciano is part of group of young chefs who’ve evolved the trattoria concept and he is definitely taking it up a notch.

Photo: Erica Firpo

De La Ville Spa at Hotel de la Ville is one of my secret getaways. It’s quiet and quite possibly one of the biggest in Rome, with everything you’d want out of a spa. My favourite is the salt room, and I love the all-natural, all-Italian Irene Forte Skincare products.

What are your lockdown essentials:

Nestles chocolate chip semi sweet morsels, natural dark brown molasses sugar, real vanilla… I think you get where I am going…. and The Botanist Gin.

Podcast recommendation?

Photo: Apple Podcasts

For podcasts, I recommend Once Upon A Time . . . at Bennington College. This is for anyone who loves the writing of Brett Easton Ellis and the 1980s. Lily Anolik definitelly knows how to tell a story. In fact, you should listen to her first podcast Once Upon a Time …. in the Valley, a noir deep dive into the story of Traci Lords and the early-80’s adult film industry.

Tips for travelling during COVID?

Double check the local requirements and be patient. In Italy, we say “chi va piano va sano e va lontano” (slow and steady wins the race) and I think it’s the perfect mantra to help us get through the ever-changing requirements.

Any travel plans for 2022?


So far, Greece! We’re on the hunt for ancient oracles in Delphi, contemporary art in Athens, and an island that shares our younger daughter’s name.

Follow Erica Firpo on Instagram @ericafirpo and check out her website, Ciao Bella!

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