Nothing screams Rome like glorious reinassance architecture and art that evokes an almost spiritual experience, coupled with copious amounts of pizza, spaghetti alle vongole (clam pasta my favourite!) and of course, gelato everyday!
We had a wonderful experience at Waldorf Astoria Berlin, which lead us to give Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria a try. The bar was definitely set high and Rome Cavalieri surpassed expectations. Set high above Rome just out of the main city, the hotel has panoramic views of the city. The aristocratic suites were just the right amount of opulent luxury and the hotel even has a private art collection. In addition the hotel also houses Rome’s only 3-Michelin star restaurant. Make sure to book early!
Address: Via Alberto Cadlolo, 101, 00136 Roma, Italy
Telephone: +39 06 3509 2031.
TO DO & SEE
The Rome tourist board offers the Roma Pass (www.romapass.it), which includes free access to the first two museums and/or archaeological sites, and discounts thereafter, plus free travel on public transport. It’s valid for 48 hours or three days. Buy it from any tourist information point, participating museum or site.
The Roma Archeologia Card allows entrance to the Colosseum, Palatino, Terme di Caracalle, Museo Nazionale Romano (Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Terme di Diocleziano, Crypta Balbi), the tomb of Cecilia Metella and Villa dei Quintili. The pass is valid for seven days from the first day of use and can be purchased at any of the participating monuments or museums.
Alternatively, holders of the 3-day OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card (www.romeandvaticanpass.com) get free entry to the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel, complimentary access to a further two major attractions, including The Coliseum and the Roman Forum, plus a hop-on-hop-off bus tour ticket, unlimited travel on public transport and a guidebook. It also allows discounted entry to over 30 others sights and museums.
Basilica di San Pietro (St Peter’s Basilica)
St Peter’s Basilica lies above a shrine said to mark the burial ground of the saint. Inside is Michelangelo’s Pietà and Arnolfo da Cambio’s bronze statue of St Peter, which is famed for its foot being worn to a nub by pilgrims’ kisses. Extras include entry to the dome, the Vatican Gardens, and the Vatican Grottoes.
Opening Times: Daily 0700-1900 (Apr-Sep); daily 0700-1800 (Oct-Mar).
Address: Piazza San Pietro, Rome, 00120, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 6988 3731.
Cappella Sistina & Musei Vaticani (Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums)
A glimpse of Michelangelo’s depiction of The Creation is worth the queues. Built as a private chapel for the popes, Pope Julius II commissioned the precocious artist to paint the ceiling frescoes and work was completed in October 1512. Highlights of the vast museum include Raphael’s Rooms, the Etruscan Museum, and the Pio-Clementino Museum with classical masterpieces Laocoön and the Apollo Belvedere.
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 0900-1800 (last entry at 1600).
Address: Viale Vaticano 100, Rome, 00165, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 6988 4947.
Emperor Vespasian began this giant amphitheatre in AD72 and his son Titus completed it eight years later. On opening, Titus staged a run of games that lasted 100 days, during which 5,000 animals were slaughtered. Explore the massive amphitheatre and the skeletal remains of underground chambers where gladiators and beasts were held.
Opening Times: Daily 0830-1630 (First Mon in Oct-15 Feb)
Address: Piazza del Colosseo, Rome, 00184, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 3996 7700.
Foro Romano (Roman Forum) and Palatino (Palatine)
Today the Roman Forum is a vast expanse of tumbledown, marble fragments, columns and floor layouts. But with a little imagination (and an audio guide), you can envisage the political, commercial and social heart of ancient Rome. Above it all is the Palatine hill where once the spectacular palaces of the Romanemperors overlooked the Forum.
Opening Times: Daily 0830-1630 (first Mon in Oct-15 Feb)
Address: Largo Romolo e Remo 5-6 & Via di San Gregorio 30, Rome, 00186, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 3996 7700.
The Pantheon is Rome’s best-preserved ancient monument. Believed to have been built by Hadrian in the 2nd century, this was once a Roman temple and became a church in the 7th century. The radius of the dome is exactly equivalent to the height. The vast brass doors belonged to the original Roman building.
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 0900-1930, Sun 0900-1800.
Address: Piazza della Rotonda, Rome, 00186, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 6830 0230.
Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps
Piazza di Spagna is little changed from the 18th century and is still dominated by the elegant sweeping staircase known as the Spanish Steps. Designed in 1723-26 by Francesco de Sanctis to link Via del Babuino with Via Felice, the steps lead to the 16th-century Trinità dei Monti. From here, spectacular views over Rome’s rooftops more than warrant the steep climb.
Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Address: Piazza di Spagna, Rome, 00187, Italy
Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)
A fountain in the Trevi district in Rome designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. Coins are purportedly meant to be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder. An estimated 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day. The money has been used to subsidise a supermarket for Rome’s needy.
Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Address: Piazza di Trevi, Rome, 00187, Italy
Villa Borghese Gardens
A breather from the hectic city, the Villa Borghese Gardens include a zoo, a horse-jumping arena, mock ancient temples, and a lake. The park also harbours Rome’s most glorious gallery, the Galleria Borghese, a treasure trove of sculpture and antiquities, with masterpieces by the likes of Caravaggio and Titian, all housed in rococo splendour.
Opening Times: Tue-Sun 0830-1930.
Address: Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 5, Rome, 00197, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 32810.
TO EAT & DRINK
Three Michelin stars, over 60,000 bottles in the cellar and breath-taking views mark this roof garden restaurant in the Rome Cavalieri as one of Italy’s best. The chef, Heinz Beck, shapes the seasonal menu, creating inspirational dishes such as deep-fried zucchini flower with caviar on shellfish and saffron consommé.
Address: Cavalieri Hilton Hotel, Via A Cadlolo 101, Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 3509 2152.
Located in Rome’s ancient Jewish Ghetto, Piperno is a classic wood-panelled dining room with an intimate alfresco patio. The Roman-Jewish menu features specialities such as salt cod with ‘Jewish-style’ artichokes or fiori di zuccaripieni e fritti (cheese-and-anchovy-stuffed courgette flowers). Fresh pasta is also made in-house daily.
In the trendy Pigneto district, east of Termini station, this street food diner serves up creative cuisine using wholesome ingredients. Popular dishes include potato ‘cups’, large bowls of diced, fried potatoes tossed with all sorts of ingredients from bacon and cheese to chicken curry and lime. Stay late for the live music.
Address: Via Ettore Giovenale, 54,, Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 4559 8326.
Ginger Sapori e Slaute
If you are looking for a complete breakfast to start your day or for a quick snack with a smoothie or acai bowl head to Ginger Sapori e Slaute. Dishes and juices are enriched with superfoods such as chia seeds, baobab, spirulina, royal jelly, maca and goji berries. It was a refreshing meal after the many pizzas, pastas and prosciuttos!
Address: Via Borgognona 43-46, Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 06 9603 6390.
With tables lining one of the smartest shopping streets in Rome, Cafe Romano is the place to sit and enjoy delicious Italian favourites whilst watching fashionistas totter past. Tuck into a towering stack of baked aubergine and mozzarella or try one of the Roman dishes, such as veal saltimbocca (wine-marinated veal topped with prosciutto and herbs).
Address: Via Borgognona, 4m, Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 6998 1500. Website: www.niquesahotels.com/hotel-dinghilterra/cuisine
Just off the Campo de’ Fiori, this intimate, relaxed restaurant shows off the best of Italian regional cuisine in a decidedly touristy area. The interior is warm and inviting, ingredients are organic, and the bread and pasta are both homemade. Ditirambo does delicious desserts too that are worthy of an Instagram.
Address: Piazza della Cancelleria 74-75, Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 687 1626.
Pizzeria Da Baffetto
Da Baffetto serves some of the best Roman pizza in town. Popular with local celebrities and footballers, you’ll have to join the queue of devotees to get in. Try the fried courgette flowers to start, before moving on to classic Roman pizzas such as provolone cheese and speck.
Address: Via del Governo Vecchio 114, Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 6 6821 0807.
Pane e Salame
Pane e Salame serves delicious panini and cured meat boards! We had the 6 euro panini with ham, mozzarella and rocket which blew my mind. The fresh buffalo mozzarella isn’t like we get back home and had a much creamier texture to it. So good! The mixed boards are also decent value. We had the small 5 euro one to share between two as well and that was thoroughly enjoyable with good variety.
The guys staffing are also real friendly and look like they are having a good time in the restaurant adding to the vibe.
This is a small place so be prepared to wait for a table if you’re coming at peak hour! This is a great place to stop for a snack/drink or lunch after seeing the sites in Rome!
It’s also close to some of the main sight seeing attractions like the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon.
Address: Via Santa Maria in Via, 19, 00187 Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 06 679 1352.
A meal at Augusto’s is an experience in itself. On busy winter evenings, the dining room is packed and steamy, while in summer, rickety wooden tables spill out onto a pretty cobbled piazza. The menu is limited: favourites include polloarrosto con patate (roast chicken and potatoes), abbacchio al forno (lamb done in the oven) and tripe on Saturdays.
Italy’s has a well-deserved reputation for quality and nowhere more so than in Rome’s shops, studios and specialist boutiques. Major brands are well represented but it’s the bespoke leather goods, clothes, accessories and food that present the best value for money.
Via Condotti is where all the big-name designers have their shops. For smaller, independent boutiques try Via del Boschetto, Via del Pellegrino and Via dei Governo Vecchio. For mainstream labels and chains, focus your energies on Via del Corso. Luxury goods to take home include assorted vinegar, truffles and olive oil. Castroni, Via Cola di Rienzo 196, sells plenty of Italy’s regional culinary riches.
Rome’s largest flea market is the vast Porta Portese in Trastevere (Sunday 0700-1300) and is the place to pick up antique knick-knacks for a good price. The oldest and most famous food market is the Campo dei’Fiori (Monday to Saturday 0800-1300) for anything from fresh produce and fish to beautiful flowers.
The oldest shopping mall in Rome is the Cinecittàdue Centro Commerciale, Viale Palmiro Togliatti 2. They have everything an eager shopper could want, from perfume shops to children’s toy stores. TAD, Via Babuino 155A, is a small conceptual department store that will answer your every niche style need from high-tech gadgets to high-end fashion.
Shops in Rome are open Monday to Saturday from 0900-1300 and 1600-2000. Supermarkets and department stores stay open all day, and are open on Sundays.
Roman souvenirs range far and wide; stop in any local shop and peruse the local leather goods, from handbags to boots, or pick up a hand-carved rosary at the Vatican. The liqueur limoncello is a tasty reminder of the trip.
Value-added tax (IVA) of 22% is added to every purchase in Italy. If you are a non-EU resident and spend more than €155 on a single item then you can claim a refund when you leave the country. Only available from shops displaying a ‘tax free’ sign.
EXCURSIONS FROM ROME
Birthplace of Dante and Michelangelo, home of the Medici and cradle of the Italian Renaissance, Florence offers a culture-packed day trip from Rome by train. It’s easy to wander around the main sights – including the breath-taking Duomo; San Minato for splendid views; Michelangelo’s tomb; world-famous Uffizi gallery, before strolling down to the river for a walk across the Ponte Vecchio.
Telephone: +39 55 290 832.
Situated 20km (12.5 miles) east of Rome is the hilltop town of Tivoli, long the summer escape for wealthy Roman families. At its centre is the UNESCO World Heritage site, Villa d’Este, converted from a Benedictine monastery in 1550 into a summer villa surrounded by vast Renaissance gardens. Equally fantastical is the older Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa), which is also a UNESCO site. It’s more like a village than a villa, a massive complex of ruins, fountains and statues. Constructions such as Canopus fountain, with its columns and statues overlooking a central pool, made this a tranquil retreat for Rome’s great military campaigner.
Rome’s public transport system includes metro, tram, bus, suburban trains and buses. ATAC (www.atac.roma.it) operates the city’s buses and trams, while Met.Ro (www.romametropolitane.it) operates the two metro lines (A and B). Trains run every 5 to 10 minutes between 0500-2330.
All tickets must be pre-purchased and are available for sale at ATAC counters, tabacchi (newsagents) and at automatic ticket dispensers at metros. The cheapest ticket, the Biglietto Integrato a Tempo (BIT) is valid for up to 75 minutes of travel on buses and trams, or for one trip on the metro or suburban train lines. Day (BIG), week (CIS) and tourist (BTI) passes are also available.
Taxi ranks, with official yellow and white taxis, are located at various points around the city centre. While taxis may be called by telephone, the meter is turned on immediately after the call and not on pick-up. Tipping is not expected. To prebook a taxi, call Radio Taxi (tel: 06 3570), Radio Taxi Samarcanda (tel: 06 5551), and Pronto Taxi (tel: 06 6645).
Driving in Rome is complicated given the number of streets restricted to traffic between 0630-1800.
Blue markings denote pay-and-display parking (€1 per hour). Buy tickets at the meter or in the nearest tobacconist. The most convenient car park is at Villa Borghese, which is open 24 hours. Other car parks are located at Stazione Termini and Stazione Tiburtina.
Cars can be hired at the airport, railway station and hotels. You need to be over 21 and require a credit card and an EU driving licence or an International Driving Permit (IDP).
Bicycles, scooters and motorbikes are available for hire at Bici & Baci, Via del Viminale 5 (www.bicibaci.com). Scooters are also available at Scooter Hire, Via Cavour 80, and Treno & Scooter, Termini Train Station, next to platform 1 (www.trenoescooter.com). RomaRent, Vicolo de’ Bovari 7A, near Campo de’ Fiori, has scooters, bicycles and cars for hire.