Credit: Destiny M. Ridguard
In the Italian language, passeggiata means ‘a leisurely walk,’ couples, families, and friends make each evening along promenades after dinner, through the main streets of old town and pedestrian zones in the centro storico (historic center). Romans stroll through a lively metropolis and impressive European capital, rich with culture, fine cuisine and first-class style. Residents live and work among iconic landmarks, humble and unfazed in the midst of a remarkably fascinating setting. Their fun is simple, being outdoors with family, enjoying rituals technology has yet to take away.
Aside from noteworthy monuments, notice the customs of this community. Leather from Florence, Tuscan wine with every meal, and hand-blown Morena glass are just some of the testaments of the continuing legacy of craftsmanship found throughout the region. Rome’s romantic urban character invites travelers to indulge in world civilization diligently kept. Time transforms none of the traditions the city is built upon.
Within the walls, there is an animated and vibrant atmosphere of archaeology, architecture, and art. Pick a theme; food, fashion, or film and let that trend take you up crumbling cobblestone streets, through breathtaking palazzos and narrow alleys, deep into the heart of an enduring wonder. Rome leads the way in accessories and clothing, gastronomy, legendary Baroque and late Renaissance masterpieces. Holidays here provide a rare glimpse into a site of unique significance.
Any curiosity is satisfied by true splendor in each prestigious district. Rome offers the chance of a lifetime to reveal the earliest medieval secrets hidden over two thousand years ago, relish in the important design of this era, and uncover its influence and role in the construction of many contemporary structures. Explore enchanting remains and ruins of aqueducts, baths, palaces, and villas. Visitors are greeted with the grit of graffiti and glorious buildings of old.
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Admire the spectacular inlaid marble tile and incredible complexes of decorated stuccos dating back to the distant past. Explore the exceptional ethnographic objects and extraordinary fragments within lesser-known exhibits. Include an excursion to burgeoning Trastevere, and go off the beaten path to neighborhoods in the famed Jewish Ghetto. Rome appeals to anyone who appreciates natural beauty and antiquities,which are preserved in this memorable mecca. Journey into some of the highlights that every tour frequents, each map mentions, and guides don’t leave out.
Day 1: Theatre District
Check into the IQ Hotel – a linear and minimal boutique hotel with open courtyard, a signature hallmark in European architecture. It’s modern facade and industrial interior is seamlessly embedded and in sharp contrast to the crumbling cobblestone streets surrounding the Teatro dell’ Opera. Take the elevator up to the 5th floor rooftop and use the vending machines to select a chilled bottle of red or white wine, and lounge in the covered canopies.
Visit Conoko Cudini, and have tomatoes crème soup for your first course. Three entrees for sharing include the sliced beef with pear, sausage and Neapolitan broccoli, and Ruspante white pizza. Finish with a fruit tart for desert. Explore this area, because close to Termini station is the 1 star Michelin rated restaurant, Pipero Rex. Panificio Pasticceria Roscioni is the destination for jam and marmalade cookies, baked sweets and treats to take back to friends.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take an evening stroll down Via Torino to Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the great ancient basilicas of Rome, known for its mosaics and gilded ceiling.
Day 2: Villa Borghese & Piazza del Popolo
The road north of Piazza Barberini, Via Vittorio Veneto is a wide, winding avenue leading up to the Villa Borghese, a sloping and sprawling verdant landscape garden, and Rome’s third largest park replete with manicured and maintained foliage and its own amphitheater. Walk through Porta Pinciana the ancient gate, which welcomed Romans back to the city. Have a pastry at Vyta Santa Margherita, the Casa Del Cinema outdoor café. Rent a bicycle and amble up to Giardino Zoologico, then to Galleria Borghese to admire the ancient art and sculptures.
Back at the gate, stroll next door to the luxurious refurbished Marriott Grand Flora and ask the concierge to take you up to the breakfast deck. Notice the crown molding, detailed etchings, and mahogany décor inside the hotel. From here, look across the street and below to see the rooftops and the new horizon line created by the umbrella pines in the park. Take a moment in this oasis away from the tourist hustle and bustle.
Hail a quick taxi ride to the Museo della Arte, on the way ask the driver to let you out in front of one the private villas and photograph the orange trees. Once you arrive at the museum, spend an hour inside admiring the art and the bronze sculptures. Stop for chips and an apertivo at the museum’s Caffe delle Arti.
From here, hop on the tram down to the Piazza del Popolo. There is an entrance here and at the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna) to Villa Borghese if you need an excuse to go back and visit the gardens. An Egyptian obelisk is situated in the center fountain; get close enough to try to decipher the hieroglyphs. Find out where the pyramids are in Rome.
From Piazza del Popolo, three thoroughfares fan out in a trident – Via di Ripetta, Via del Corso, and Via del Baubino each with their own boutiques and curated galleries. Down Via del Corso is Mr. Boots, a one-stop shop for one-of-a-kind shoes. Get fitted for gloves or a custom suit and have the shopkeeper keep a template on file for a return visit. Have a lasagna lunch at La Buvette, a traditional cafe with wood paneling and leather benches.
Three blocks south is Via dei Condotti, infamous for the exclusive luxury labels and flagship design houses, which you can find more of in La Rinascente, a handsome indoor mall. Purchase limoncello, a lemon liqueur from Enoteca al Senato on the corner. Then pause at Trevi Fountain, a symbol of abundance and health that water gives to Rome. Neptune’s statue guarantees an astonishing scenic effect in the small space of the surrounding square, which serves as a theatre.
If you’re still in the mood for shopping, another good location is Via Quirinale. Bring bargaining skills to purchase top stitched belts and suede shoes. Prices vary, so look around, but the superiority of the materials and skill with which goods are made is unmatched. Walk up the hill past the Quirinal Palace, residence of the Italian republic; you may see the President or other foreign dignitaries arriving.
A few steps over is the Piazza de Repubblica. Grab gnocchi and gelato at Eataly and walk down Via Nazionale. Be aware of speeding traffic, and vehicles winding around this busy intersection, but don’t feel rushed, the objective is to linger and be leisurely. Continue on to Via Sacra, the main route through the Roman Forum, a vital social and commercial center and political hub, and Piazza Venezia both of which are stunning at sunset.
Take your time getting to the Colosseum, a picturesque landmark. Once inside the elegant amphitheater, built in 72 AD, 50 meters high, with capacity for 55,000 spectators, tread the ground where gladiators dueled, ferocious beasts once fought and emperors, with a gesture of the thumb, decided the fate of slaves and prisoners.
Day 3: The Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and Campo di Fiore
The Pantheon is an architectural marvel. Relish in the size and scale of the structure of the domes and the towering columns. Its construction casts a dark shadow over the plaza. This is the best location in Rome to find the hams of heaven – prosciutto and sliced salami. Rome is abundant with artisanal biscottierias, breads, condiments, meats, and pizzerias.
Access is free to countless neoclassical piazzas, the busiest and most popular being Piazza Navona. Watch the street performers levitate and pick up prints from a stationery shop.
Campo di Fiori is a fantastic open-air market supplied with fresh foodstuffs, pashmina and cashmere, and Vero curio leather bags. Be sure to take home bottles of Modena Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and quality sangria.
Have a late lunch at Ristorante alla Rampa near the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps). Their olive bar is extensive. Order the prawns and ask to buy a bottle of wine to take home with you.
Day 4: St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Vatican
Get to the Vatican Museums well after dawn, the crowds will be at lunch and you can take in the great halls with pleasure and ease. Witness a treasure trove of paintings, renowned sculptures, engravings and prints spanning from the 17th to the 20th century. For its artistic, technical and symbolic value, it is considered the most visited collection of items that range from Etruscan artifacts, Egyptian sarcophagi to Flemish tapestries.
Gaze awestruck at every step through the finest 9-mile long maze in which all can delight. Over 2000 rooms display a dazzling array of works in so many different artistic styles. Nestled among these magnificent marvels lies Michelangelo’s famous brilliant and colorful frescoes found in the Sistine Chapel. The most recognized and well loved works that grace these walls cannot fail to inspire all.
Romans eat a Mediterranean diet low in sodium, featuring few ingredients, with no additives or preservatives. Restaurant menus boast a variety of homemade pastas and fresh fish. Hosteria Cannavota is worth the trek for an authentic taste of local organic seasonal fare.
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