- Local Time
Equal parts glamour and grit, Italy’s capital has inspired artists, writers and filmmakers since the days of the Roman Empire. Follow in their footsteps or find your own way around baroque fountains, aristocratic palazzos and boisterous trattorias that form the backdrop for a modern city deeply steeped in tradition.
Where to Stay
- A modern yellow and green themed bedroom at the Roma Lexus Hotel in RomeRoma Luxus HotelFor the budget-friendly rates
- Art decorates the walls of the cozy lounge at the Hotel VilònHotel VilònFor the hidden-gem setting
- A queen bed at the Chapter Roma with two lounge chairs by the brick wall and windowChapter RomaFor the design-forward aesthetic
- Black and white illustrations decorate the yellow walls of the Hotel de la Ville lounge in RomeHotel de la VilleFor the prime location
- A sunlit room with large windows at a suite in Le Méridien Visconti RomeLe Méridien Visconti RomeFor the business-centric location
Eat & Drink
Savoury tiramisu at All’Oro Restaurant At this Michelin–starred restaurant in the H’All Tailor Suite hotel, you will find one of Rome’s most talented chefs, Riccardo Di Giacinto. In the chic dining room – all mood lighting and velvet banquettes – he serves creative twists on Roman classics. Spring for the tasting menu, which includes a savoury tiramisu made with potatoes and salt cod, and a sublime pasta–less carbonara foam served in an eggshell.
Espresso and aperitivo at Necci dal 1924 Filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini used to hang out here when Pigneto was a rough–and–tumble working–class neighbourhood. The area has changed, but Necci is still its beating heart. The café draws local creatives, who work on laptops while sipping espresso by day, and relax on the patio with an aperitivo by night.
First–rate carbonara at Da Enzo al 29 Come early or prepare to wait; only 7:30 p.m. seatings can be booked ahead at this no–frills, family–run traditional trattoria. Expect tightly packed tables, a nightly soundtrack of clattering cutlery and happy chatter – and some of the best carbonara and cacio e pepe in Rome.
All–natural gelato at Fatamorgana In a city full of stellar scoops, Fatamorgana – which has a handful of locations – still stands out for its devotion to all–natural ingredients. The gelato flavours rotate regularly, but may include pistachio, blueberry cheesecake, and apple with almonds and cinnamon.
Wood–fired thin–crust at Pizzeria Ai Marmi The line may be long, but it moves quickly at this local favourite in Trastevere. The charmingly retro look is real: The decor hasn’t changed in decades. Start with supplì (fried rice balls filled with tomato sauce and mozzarella), then pick one of the thin–crust wood–fired pizzas. The white pie with zucchini blossoms and anchovies is a Roman classic.
“Ugly but good” cookies at Biscottificio Innocenti This artisanal bakery inspires instant nostalgia as soon as you enter. Stefania Innocenti, the third–generation owner, makes her treats – dozens of varieties – by hand, baking them in the huge oven her family bought in the 1960s. Try the brutti ma buoni (“ugly but good” cookies), made with hazelnuts, or anything covered in chocolate.
What to Do
Perfectly framed views of St. Peter’s Basilica No one knows whether it was planned or a happy accident, but the keyhole in the gate of the Villa of the Knights of Malta on the Aventine Hill has a perfectly framed view of the cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica. Anyone can peek through for free, but the gardens are off–limits to the public, unless you go with a tour operator like Imago Artis Travel.
Upscale one–stop shopping at Rinascente If your time is limited (but your shopping budget isn’t), this luxury department store has you covered for pretty much everything: designer clothing, cosmetics, home decor, gourmet food and more, by international and Italian brands (including Dolce & Gabbana, Acqua di Parma and Bulgari). The new location, near the Trevi Fountain, also has a rooftop restaurant serving Mediterranean fare by acclaimed chef Riccardo Di Giacinto.
Baroque art at Galleria Borghese Originally built by Cardinal Scipione Borghese to show off his incredible art, this 17th–century villa is also a sight to behold (note the ornate frescoes). Now a museum, it’s home to sculptures by Bernini and Canova, and paintings by Caravaggio and Raphael. Advance timed tickets, available on the website, are a must.
Made–to–order leather bags at Maison Halaby Entering this pint–sized atelier feels like arriving at an exceptionally stylish home, filled with books, plants and art. Lebanese designer Gilbert Halaby hails from haute couture, and his precise artistry shows at his shop. Pick one of his exquisite leather bags, or have one made to order, with your choice of colours (Halaby favours mixing vibrant hues), shape and material.
Vespa street–art tours by Scooteroma Locals will tell you the best way to get around Rome is by scooter, so hop aboard a Vespa driven by one of Scooteroma’s expert guides. Themed tours include a four–hour survey of street art, which takes you off the beaten path and into mural–emblazoned neighbourhoods like Ostiense and Pigneto.
Curated lifestyle accessories at Chez Dede Husband–and–wife team Andrea Ferolla and Daria Reina wrote the book on style: Assouline’s Italian Chic, to be exact. Their concept shop is duly discerning, stocking Astier de Villatte scented candles, John Derian’s decoupage plates, and the duo’s own items, like ultra–soft scarves showcasing original illustrations by Ferolla.
Ancient gods at Centrale Montemartini Inside a former electrical power plant – Rome’s first public one, dating back to 1912 – sculptures of ancient Roman gods and goddesses, part of Musei Capitolini’s collection, are juxtaposed with retro machinery. The museum stands in the city’s Ostiense neighbourhood, now shaking off its industrial past and evolving into a cultural hub.
Boutique hopping around Via Urbana and Via del Boschetto Monti – named after its defining hills – is one of Rome’s best neighbourhoods for shopping, particularly at small indie and vintage fashion boutiques, like the well–edited Flamingo. Stroll the cobblestoned Via Urbana, Via del Boschetto and the streets in between, and don’t miss Mercato Monti Urban Market, a hub of young artisans selling wares like handmade jewellery.
Jewish artifacts at Museo Ebraico Unless you go to pray, the only way to visit Rome’s main synagogue is to take a guided tour through the museum in the basement, full of artifacts from one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. Inaugurated in 1904 and lavishly decorated with frescoes, stained glass and chandeliers, the Great Synagogue is a pillar of the Jewish Quarter, which is also worth exploring. Stop by a traditional restaurant for carciofi alla giudìa (deep–fried artichokes – a Roman–Jewish specialty).
Edible souvenirs at Castroni Skip the touristy shops hawking overpriced limoncello, and head to this gourmet food store for edible souvenirs you will actually want to take home, including Italian–made artisanal pasta, espresso and olive oil. There are multiple locations, but the one on Via Cola di Rienzo in Prati is the original, founded in 1932.