If you have a passion for food, wine and travel then you need to know Katie Parla, author of the popular blog, Parla Food. An American living in Rome for the past decade, Katie has established herself as an expert in Roman food culture. Her food journalism and restaurant reviews have been featured in the New York Times, Saveur, Travel + Leisure magazine and many others.
Whether you’re planning a trip to Rome or just dreaming of one, Katie Parla’s Rome is an essential guide to help you avoid tourist traps and revel in the most authentic experiences of Rome. More than just great restaurant recommendations, the app features tools to help travelers get around, plan based on location and search for food and beverage experiences based on filters like budget, distance or type of food. Looking for a cozy wine bar to end your evening? Want to know where to find the best gelato in your neighborhood? Or maybe you’d like a to find a tour of the bustling market? It’s all there in Katie Parla’s Rome.
Ready to hop on a plane to Rome? Read this first.
Launch the app and you’re transported to Katie Parla’s world of travel — it’s whimsical and fun, beautifully designed and bursting with personality conveyed by the distinctive illustrations. Note the menu at the bottom of the screen. The home screen is dedicated to Places for Dining, Drinking, Desserts, Shopping, Tours and Katie’s Picks. You can also use the search tool to find recommendations based on specific criteria, save your favorite places to My Picks, check out Katie’s blog or learn more about the app and Katie’s story in the Info section.
The best way to get to know this app is just as you would a new city — leisurely browse each section to get the lay of the land, then zero in on specific things you’d like to experience with the search tool as if it were a friend who just so happens to be a local. Select a category and scroll through the list of recommendations. As you browse the list (Drinking for example) you’ll notice each place has information on Category (Coffee & Cafes, Wine bars, Craft beer pubs, Cocktails) as well as neighborhood in the city. The price is symbolized by € (dirt cheap) to €€ (inexpensive) to €€€€ (massive splurge). If you’ve turned on location based services you’ll notice miles to each destination appear next to two little bare feet.
This app was thoughtfully designed for travelers on the go, giving you a good bit of information at the bird’s-eye-view without being overwhelming. To filter the list by cost or location, tap the € or bare feet icon in the upper right corner. You can also view a map of all the recommendations in the category by selecting the map in the top right corner. Zoom in to get more map details by spreading your thumb and index finger apart on the phone screen It’s a fun, immersive experience that takes advantage of the mobile interface.
Where to Eat, Drink and Shop
Katie Parla’s Rome shares 175 suggestions for restaurants, pizzerias, gelato shops, bakeries, wine bars and craft beer pubs. Katie has personally vetted every place in the app, which is updated regularly to keep the information current. A photo accompanies almost every place, but it would be nice to see this happen 100% of the time. The photograph of an espresso with a spoonful of foam or a heaping plate of pasta makes the experience more immersive; Rome is so close you can almost taste it! In the descriptions you’ll also come across Katie’s tips, like how to avoid traffic en route or not to use the toilet at Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà because there are cleaner ones across the street.
Tap the star icon to save a place to your favorites in My Picks, or share all the details using Email, Facebook and twitter. View the location on a map by using the map button in the top right corner. You don’t even need an Internet connection to utilize the handy maps!
Searching for Exactly What You Want
The search tool is beautifully designed and a pleasure to use, rather than a frustration. Type your query into the search box — especially handy if you remember part of a place name or want to find a restaurant that serves steak. The search tool will find your query whether it’s mentioned in a place name or description.
To narrow down suggestions within the categories, select a category (Dining, for example) and a drop down menu of filters appears. Select one or more filters and tap search to display the results. The filters are fun and very useful, whether you’re in the mood for some Street Food or looking to bring home some souvenirs from the best Kitchen Stores.
Katie Parla’s Rome is the holy trinity of travel apps: excellent recommendations from an expert, useful tips and smart tools that travelers can really use on the go. It’s fun and modern, and friendly, approachable writing style is like having an old friend at your side in a foreign city. The content and maps are available offline, and if you try to access Internet dependent features the app warns you, “It might use data that’s expensive while your abroad. Carry on?” If you are using data services while traveling you’ll appreciate the GPS feature, which finds nearby venues automatically. The app is well worth its $2.99 price tag, delivering a generous 175 carefully chose venues and countless valuable tips only a local would know. Katie Parla’s Rome is an essential guide for the foodie traveler.