Ciampini

Tel: +39 06 678 5678
Address: Viale Trinita dei Monti
Closed: November – April

There’s no nicer place to lunch on a warm day than Ciampini, set high above the city between the top of the Spanish Steps and the entrance to the Villa Borghese, just by the Villa Medici. All the tables are outside, so you really do need a good day, and this explains why the place is shut from the end of October until April – the Romans have a different view on what’s chilly in comparison with hardier Northern Europeans. Ciampini is a bar, a gelateria and a rather classy restaurant. Whatever you choose, the view across the rooftops of Rome is delightful.

The food is of a high standard. To start, try one of the excellent light salads with sophisticated combinations such as pear, walnut and rocket, or with the sweetest cherry tomatoes and baby mozzarella. In terms of pasta, we have always gone for the linguine al limone- a fabulous combination rarely seen on restaurant menus. This time it had unaccountably disappeared but the chef was prepared to rustle it up for us nevertheless, and it was better than ever. So, worth asking for (though he may only be prepared to do it for two or more people) and if enough people ask, perhaps it will go back on the menu! However there’s plenty of other choice, including good risotto, and both meat and shellfish are good.

Puddings, as one would expect of a gelateria, are also delicious – there is usually a spectacular torte of the day and ice-cream based dishes, often mixed with fresh fruit, are gorgeous. House wines are distinctly moreish (a walk in the gardens of the Villa Borghese is often required afterwards). Service is also friendly and good.

There used to be one exception – a waiter who delighted in being rude to all comers and could do it in about eight languages. If it wasn’t your first visit, and you knew what to expect, it could be amusing to watch. However he wasn’t there this time and we can only hope he’s moved on permanently. NB if you find the Spanish Steps too daunting use the lift in the nearby Metro station… Mid-price to expensive.