Beautiful RomeRome - Bella Roma
New year, new travels and a blank slate of vacation time. The latter providing so much HOPE, and so many POSSIBILITIES, for galavanting around the world. What better way to start off the New Year, than BELLA ROMA, where you can lay low, see the sites and disappear for a weekend. Rome provides the highest-end ingredients for culture, history, food and shopping—the exact recipe of which will be solely up to you.
After the hectic holidays, check into luxury at the Hassler Roma, located right above the Spanish Steps. An older hotel, the Hassler has a lot of charm, and is like staying at your wealthy aunt’s home. The Hassler has long been a magnet for the gorgeous jet set and celebrities including the many guests from the Holmes-Cruise wedding, an event which still has us scratching our heads. For beyond luxury, check into the Hotel de Russie, where you will feel like you have entered the Secret Garden. Owned by the Rocco Forte Collection, the rooms are presented with this company’s signature clean, modern styling. And of course, the service is exceptional. Of all the hotels, the Russie offers the best spa, pool and hotel bar in the city. Not to be outdone on the celeb factor, Hotel de Russie is where the Ocean’s 12 crew called home while filming in Rome. For those looking to use hotel points, the St. Regis has gorgeous, ornate rooms with the finest linens and towels, though its location is a little more off the beaten path.
Rome is a beautiful city where you can walk for miles and feel as if its sole purpose is to entertain you. With its moderate winters, it's perfectly natural to stroll around eating gelato on some Bernini tour of fountains or other aimless wander. Should your recipe for Rome be the kamikaze tourist circuit, some planning will be required to make sure you hit the tourist sites efficiently. For Day 1, you’ll want to see the Roman Forum, the Palatino and the Colosseum in a sequential circuit. Day 2 can be spent at the stunning St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican compound—a religious pilgrimage for some, a historical must-see experience for all. To make your tourist circuit seamless, put the concierge to work before you arrive. Have tickets pre-purchased where possible and wear the most comfortable shoes you can find. Check out our article on Best Loafers in The Goods, which will keep you stylish while you trek around the city.
In between taking Rome by storm, follow our more relaxed itinerary for exploring the quaint neighborhoods and experiencing the best of Roman cuisine, shopping and nightlife. After a civilized breakfast, which is generally included with our hotel recommendations, take in the view from the Spanish Steps, an iconic landmark. Descend towards the Piazza d’Espagna, where every direction you look will have seemingly endless shops and streams of people. With January upon us, the sales in Rome are legendary, with the best selection of haute couture and local brands discounted far more than any sale you might come by in the U.S. In addition to bold-faced names like Prada, Max Mara, Costume National and Alberta Ferretti, we like the local shops of Elisheva for shoes on Via de Baullari., Sermonata for accessories and Gente Roma, for perfectly edited couture. Spend some quality time along the Via Condotti and the surrounding streets leisurely browsing or doing some major damage. After shopping up an appetite, walk along the Via Margutta, one of the best streets for art galleries and exhibitions, and stop at Osteria Margutta for lunch. Osteria Margutta will give you the authentic Roman meal experience of traditional pastas, plus beautifully prepared and innovative fish dishes in a warm setting. Alternatively, you can have lunch at Casina Valadier high atop Villa Borghese and enjoy the stunning panoramic views of this ancient city.
In the afternoon, if you’re not already there from lunch, head over to the Villa Borghese to explore the park and check out the museum. Villa Borghese houses a comprehensive art collection from the beginning of time to modern day. The beauty of Rome is being comfortable enough with the city to just enjoy the atmosphere, and the Villa Borghese has lots of it. For a late afternoon/early evening respite, head back towards the Spanish Steps to Gusto in the Piazza del Popolo for wine and cheese before retiring back to your room to get dressed for dinner. As a restaurant, pizzeria, enoteca, wine bar, cheese and culinary shop, Gusto is an easy stop anytime of the day and night.
For pre-dinner drinks, head to the Hotel de Russie if you’re not already staying there, where ‘gorgeous’ must be a requirement for entry. After a long day, stay local and head to Nino, an old school, Italian trattoria near the Spanish Steps. While Nino is one of the most well known institutions in Rome, it’s where locals and tourists alike dine for authentic Roman cuisine. Any of their homemade pastas, plus the fried artichokes, are going to be a homerun. Sangallo is another option, a family-owned affair, where the food is prepared with the care you would expect from Grandma. Sangallo is situated on the Via dei Coronari, a beautiful street and the perfect romantic wander after dinner.
The next day after another leisurely breakfast at the hotel, head over to the Piazza Navona, acclaimed to be the most beautiful square in Rome. Here, you’ll see the Campo di Fiori with its fruit and vegetable vendors while taking in the buzz of the market. There’s no need to rush; just soak in the gorgeousness and discover the gems. Not too far afield is the Pantheon, surrounded by another charming area to wander through. For lunch, you can go Michelin (and accordingly priced) and dine at La Rosetta, one of the best seafood restaurants in Rome. Otherwise, head to Antica Pesa, a more gently priced Roman institution with a beautiful outdoor courtyard, sublime food and exceptional wine. As with most of our Rome recommendations, reservations are a must.
From Antica Pesa, you can spend some quality time in Trastevere, the old Jewish quarter of Rome. The Piazza di Santa Maria with its old church is the central landmark, though the culture is about wandering the beautiful old streets and soaking in the colors—colors accented by laundry hanging from clothes lines and the hustle and bustle of the locals.
To get the full cultural experience, prepare for a night out on the town, Roman style. Begin at Salotto 42, a very sexy bar near the Pantheon, owned by a very sexy Swedish model. As you can imagine, birds of a feather, flock together. From here, head to Dal Bolognese, located in the Piazza del Popolo, for another gorgeous, people watching scene and equally gorgeous food. Rome is not a big clubbing scene, but consider La Maison the only good one, and have your hotel concierge get you on the list.
For your last day in Rome, walk by the Trevi Fountain towards the Via Veneto area, which will be filled with more shops and ways to spend your money than you can imagine. Stop for a coffee or other libation at Harry’s Bar before heading up towards the Spanish Steps again. Lunch at Ristorante Babette, which is hidden away on the Via Margutta in a lively, brasserie atmosphere.
As all good things must come to an end, you will regretfully leave Rome. Enjoy your last dinner at Camponeschi in the Campo De' Fiori with a front row view of the Piazza Farnese. Camponeschi cranks up the romance factor with its candlit room and guitar player, and is the perfect place to drink Italian wine reminiscing about your soon-to-end trip. Bella Roma it is, indeed.