There seem to be about 5 million vegetarians and vegans in Italy. There are about 60 million people in Italy. So that's approaching 10%. (Rome has about 3 million people.)
There are at least two vegan fast food franchise chain restaurants ("vegan McDonald's", Universo Vegano and Veggy Days) and several completely vegan businesses of different kinds: a vegan market stall, organic food shops, shoe shops, ice cream shops etc.
Must-go in Rome: Vegan Store market stall in Testaccio food market
There are quite a few other vegan businesses in Rome not mentioned here. You can find most of them on HappyCow. I was told by a local vegan to particularly mention a 100% vegan restaurant called "Gusto Italia". If I had had more time I would have certainly gone there.
Almost everyone smokes in Rome, and almost everyone looks you in the eye - except in the Chinese shops of course.
Roma Termini is the central railway station. If you arrive from either Fiumicino or Ciampino airports by coach you're likely to arrive there. There are many cheapish hostels nearby. I stayed at Alessandro Downtown in an 8 person mixed dorm for 15 Euros per night, and I have no complaints.
The Terravision coach from Ciampino to Termini cost 4 Euros, but the Terravision coach from Termini to Ciampino was supposed to cost 6 Euros. The Terravision staff at Termini was also quite unfriendly and I found a coach by another company going to Ciampino for 3.90 Euros (on the western side of Termini - Terravision arrives and leaves from the eastern side).
The northern (or north western) side of Termini - where the taxis are
Downstairs, inside Termini station is a supermarket that sells bread, soya milk, soya yoghurt, vegan biscuits, olives, ... (open until midnight)
Benetton's anti-homophobia ad inside Termini
Remember how Pinocchio was so modest he only ordered half a nut kernel when these two fellows tricked him into inviting them to a restaurant?
WEST SIDE (I'm making these terms up - west of Termini)
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele
Being easily enthused, I'll say: This is one of my favourite places in Rome. My hostel was very close to this park. Lots of neighbourhood activities like cat feeding, homelessness, picnics and Chinese fitness group dance.
The ruins next to the Magic Gate with the two Bes statues (see below) are inhabited by many magic cats.
These are the two Bes statues which were found in 1888. Bes is an "ancient Egyptian demigod of apotropaic, oracular, and demonic significance, whose cult was widespread in the Roman world" (see the text above). I don't know when he was popular.
East of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele towards Termini is a sort of China Town with lots of Chinese shops.
The following are some pictures from within or close to the Monti neighbourhood (between Termini and Colosseo roughly).
A vegan-friendly cafe
Shoe lasts - if you want to obsess about shoe aesthetics, Rome is the place to go.
Pizzerias everywhere (some might use animal fat in the dough, but this seems relatively uncommon (?)). If I had had money, I would have only eaten pizza all day long.
Pacific Trading is a Chinese supermarket on Via Principe Eugenio (south of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele). They sell cheap tofu, vegan meats, peanuts, soya milk, ...
This market is just between Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and Termini. It's on Via Prinicipe Amedeo, I think, and it's called Nuovo Mercato Esquilino, I think. Great cheap bread, lots of fruit and vegetables, ... Don't buy bread in the supemarket, buy it here.
This is Piazza Manfredo Fanti
In the Emma Piu supermarket on Via Principe Eugenio with Viale Manzoni.
An alert for people with favism.
In this Tuodi supermarket the woman in the in-store bakery said none of the breads had animal ingredients.
Via Urbana 130, Monti neighbourhood
Grezzo is a raw vegan cafe selling all kinds of sweet things, no savoury food I think. I recommend the nocciola ice cream.
Gelato Piccolo 3.00 Euros each
VEGAN STORE Box n° 83 Nuovo Mercato Testaccio
Via Lorenzo Ghiberti 19Tel. 0039 333-7894869
Vegan Store is a 100% vegan market stall that opened about 6 months ago. It's like a shop so you actually walk in and enter the "box". It's easily walkable from Circo Massimo - I walked from Termini in about 45 min (?). Vegan Store is run by the owner (see photo below) who speaks very good English (and some German too!). You can get freshly made, freshly warmed sandwiches with the best of the best of vegan cheeses, vegan meats and marinated vegetables including aubergines (eggplants) or artichokes. You can even sample the cheeses before choosing one for your sandwich.
The stall is surrounded by quite a few butcher shops whose owners have apparently been quite nasty and aggressive towards the vegan shop owner.
If there's one must-go on your list in Rome, make it this one. Best sandwiches, best cheese, best seitan, best service, 100% dedicated to promoting veganism...
Bring your non-vegan friends and show them how good vegan food can taste. 5 out of 5 stars.
One of the entrances to Testaccio market
Italian vegan cheese from Arezzo, Tuscany
UNIVERSO VEGANO (Piazza del Paradiso 18)
I went to Universo Vegano twice. Once I had the “vegan burger” and once the “vegan beach burger”. The latter was supposed to be flavoured with seaweed, but I couldn’t detect the slightest hint of seaweed – which was fine by me because I don’t really like seaweed that much and had only ordered the beach burger in order to try something different.
BUDDY, a non-vegetarian restaurant with an extensive vegan menu, located on one of the main streets of the centre. Very close to Universo Vegano. Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 105
Check out the vegan menu on their website.
Campo de' Fiori area
The omnipresent (in tourist areas) cazzetti pasta
I don't think Google maps knows this Piazza Gerusalemme, but in the area around Via di Santa Maria del Pianto there are lots of Jewish restaurants. Some of them sell falafel, but generally they seem very meat-heavy.
This is also close to the "Go Green Store", which is as far as I can tell a 100% vegan shop, that also sells vegan shoes.
GO GREEN STORE
When I was there it wasclosed (I was there late in the evening and found it by chance because of this sign.) 100% vegan shop, I think.
Also close to Universo Vegano. Just cross the river and you'll be in the Vatican in 5 minutes.
"Écru" is French Italian meaning "of its natural colour/unbleached".
CITTÀ DEL VATICANO
St. Peter's Basilica
A pigeon promulgating the virtues of a vegiterranean diet.
Unfortunately I don't have a bigger picture of this lion.
The only dragon I found in St. Peter's Dome.
The Supreme Court, I think (not in the Vatican anymore)
Fontana di Trevi
Caldarrosta (roasted chestnut) seller
Piazza del Popolo (close to the Villa Borghese park)
Rome could be called the city of lions.
How many parrots? Between Colosseo and Circo Massimo
The park next to the Colosseo is suitable for picnics.
Copy vegan After Eights
In Rome cypresses (cipressi) are called "alberi pizzuti", and that has something to do with them being typical cemetery tress, as their roots grow straight down and don't damage the graves.
A non-vegan café serving vegan breakfast, somewhere in Monti.
In the Parco Del Colle Oppio (park next to the Colosseo). This is a statue of Alfredo Oriani who according to th English wikipedia is "often considered a precursor of fascism". Note the white power graffiti.This area is generally not full of neo-Nazi graffiti. Two areas with a lot of neo-Nazi graffiti are the area south west of Termini, near the Emma Piu supermarket, and one area near Anagnina metro station.
CIRCO MASSIMO to your right
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) on your left
In 2016, the United Nations International Year of Pulses, I went to the FAO cafeteria. There was one vegan dish, called "pulses" or something like that (on the right). I added a salad (on the left) and paid 7.10 Euros. Even weirder I received a receipt listing salad and gelato, and the receipt was not by "FAO canteen" or something of the kind, but by "Pedevilla SPA,Via Fonte Meravigliosa 74/76". Now OK, FAO outsources the catering to Pedevilla and Pedevilla come up with a "three beans in water" dish. But the Pedevilla staff did know what "vegan" means.
If you're vegan and visit or work at FAO, I'd recommend walking to the Vegan Store in Testaccio Market. If Pedevilla is looking for someone to train their staff in preparing vegan meals, I can surely recommend someone.
I also saw someone stealing a plate in that canteen.
Views from the FAO canteen terrace
The main FAO IMPORTANT ROOM
We also went to visit IFAD. And the visit was a very pleasant surprise. But this is way out south, not near FAO, Circo Massimo or Colosseo.
This is just south of Circo Massimo.
Non-vegan parmesan - maybe in the future there'll be huge blocks of vegan parmesan like this.
South of Piramide you'll get to Ostiense.
Very good quality and cheap fruit and vegetables,Via P Matteucci 64/66
Via Francesco Negri 15100% vegan café
I was there outside of the opening hours - as usual - and intentionally so.
Isola Tiberina is a little island on the river and is also close to Circo Massimo.
Trastevere is across the river from where Isola Tiberina is. There are quite a few vegan restaurants in this area, but I didn't go there.
EAST SIDE (East of Termini)
VEGAN ROMA BIO MARKET
Via dei Marrucini 12B
This shop is not very visible. So go to the exact address: Via dei Marrucini 12B. If you end up in front of 12B and don’t see a shop, be assured you are in the right place.
The first time I went, the shop was closed. Probably they opened a little late. This first time I detected the shop because of side panels next to the entrance that said “vegano". But the top panel above the door where one would expect a shop sign was covered with a plastic bag and duct tape. So I asked the neighbours who assured me that the shop was definitely not permanently closed. A few days later I came back and the shop was open, but strangely the side panels next to the door had disappeared. So without knowing it wasn’t obvious that this is a 100% vegan shop.
More pictures from the area east of Termini
"Lollo" is short for the San Lorenzo, the name of this neighbourhood.
Here they used to sell vegan cakes but not anymore. No one bought them. They allegedly have good pizza though.
I saw this place by chance. Yes Food. They have several vegan items on their menu.
Via Tiburtina, 186
A most enchanting view of Via Milazzo from the fifth floor
A sandwich shop named Hüsker Dü 1979
CIMITERO DEL VERANO
Amazing old cemetery. And you have it mostly to yourself as most Italians will not visit a cemetery just for fun. There are many cats, too.
Pigneto is an artsy area south west of Termini
SO WHAT100% vegan café
Via Ettore Giovenale 56–58
It's rumoured to be very good. I idn't eat there so I don't know.
Who is the guy on the right? Left is Victor Jara.
NORTH SIDE (north of Termini)
Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri - my favourite church
This reminded me of Vienna's Heldenplatz, but in a good way.
A catholic artistic interpretation of male genitals.
There's a big park north of Termini called "Villa Borghese", I think the park is called villa, but I might be wrong. In that park is the Borghese Gallery. You'll have to buy tickets in advance, or peek through the windows. From viewing through the windows I would say it looks pretty impressive. Lots of marble statues and paintings.
Famous Italian poet Ugo Foscolo who apparently died in West London and is buried in Chiswick.
West of the Villa Borghese park
Just to see if Armani has come up with any new and good design ideas I went to Via dei Condotti. These shoes and bags are NOT vegan. And I'm not impressed by the design.
This type of bread bun is called “rosetta”. It’s apparently typically Italian, though not typically Roman, and it’s hollow.
There are many gelaterias that sell vegan ice cream and there's apparently at least one 100% vegan gelateria in Rome. I didn't really explore ice cream, but you can probably find something better than the packaged stuff.
Soya milk is often quite expensive and often not fortified with calcium. But some brands are available for 1 Euro or a little more.
AESTHETICS OF CAKE PRESENTATION
The following cakes are NOT vegan. They're just shown here to explore the visual presentation of cakes.
Straight from Calcutta
Il Gatto Con Gli Stivali ("Puss in Boots") 100% vegan shop
I didn't go there, but you might want to.
Via Tommaso Inghirami, 82
Via Tuscolana 924–926
Both the burgers at Veggy Days and at Universo Vegano (both vegan fast food franchise chain restaurants) seem quite plain. The burger patties themselves don’t have a strong taste nor a very meaty texture – not bad but nothing to convince a carnivore. And the burgers come with lettuce and vegan mayonnaise. This could be improved with pickled gherkins, onion rings, or whatever cheap ingredients other fast food outlets use. It’s great that these places exist but if you take a meat eater with you they might get the impression of mediocre tasting burgers that are made for vegans who “cannot eat the normal food”.
Our stay also included a funny (in a good way) waiter, observing a fight between all the staff through the look-into-the-kitchen-window (the shouting was mostly done by the guy who might be the manager), and the staff getting a pizza from across the road (post-fight).
Also on Via Tuscolana, a Bar Tabacchi selling vegan cappuccino and croissants
CINECITTÀ SKATE PARK (aka Cinetown Skatepark)
This is near Anagnina metro station.
an organic supermarket chain, somewhere around Cinecittà
Park near Subaugusta, Cinecittà and Anagnina metro stations
Somewhere around Anagnina
There is a vegan restaurant (Passione Vegana) in near the train station Ciampino but this isn’t easily accessible by foot from the airport Ciampino as far as I could tell.
Campari still contains E120 unfortunately.