An Insider's Guide to Rome
In a monthly column produced for the Australian Financial Review's Boss Magazine, we highlight the best of a city for biz visitors and sophisticated travellers alike. This month LUXE Rome resident curator and lifestyle journalist Erica Firpo dishes on her fave Eternal City hot spots.
My single constant is my bicycle, a minty blue beauty that gets me all over the city when I’m not at my desk, in my Campo de’ Fiori home office. I start my mornings with pastries at Caffè Roscioli (Piazza Benedetto Cairoli, 16) then head to Piazza di Spagna to drop my daughter off at school, followed by a quick walk through Villa Borghese. When the sun's shining, I cycle around looking for new openings (boutiques, galleries and museums) and street art. Lunch will depend on where I park my bike. My favourites are Caffe delle Arti (via Antonio Gramsci, 73) for business meetings and Ciampini (Via della Fontanella di Borghese, 59) for its delicious – and quick – club sandwich.
Rome is a city where you can relax outside most of the year, so evenings and weekends you’ll find me at my corner table at PierLuigi (Piazza de’ Ricci, 144) with a plate of spaghetti con vongole.
In A Nutshell
After more than 2700 years on the map, Rome is truly the Eternal City; a palimpsest of history, culture and monuments with the centro storico as its epic centre, and the side streets pumping life into the city. Best time to visit is autumn, once tourism begins to ebb and the heat subsides.
Rome is all about the centre. Start the morning at the Altare della Patria, the white monument at Piazza Venezia often known as the Wedding Cake or Typewriter. Scale the steps to the second-floor cafeteria for your first cappuccino and a stunning view of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Then buy a ticket to the top of the monument, Terrazza delle Quadrighe, for a stunning 360-degree panorama of contemporary Rome to the ancient city. Take a short-cut through the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli, making sure to pay attention to the Pinturicchio fresco in the Bufalini chapel and head out to the Michelangelo-designed Campidoglio Piazza.
Here’s where you are going to get a true sense of Rome’s history: the Capitoline Museums, two 16th- and 17th-century buildings housing antiquity’s most important sculptures and bas reliefs, renaissance and baroque paintings and frescoes, and an incredible underground galleria with archaeological remains in situ.
Now you’re ready for a meal, but make sure to have some cash in your wallet when you walk over to the Ghetto, Rome’s historical Jewish neighbourhood, for lunch at Osteria Sora Margherita, a veritable hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
Where the Business Crowd Meets
While most tourists seem to converge in Monti, Trastevere or Campo de’ Fiori, the artsy crowd hangs off to the fringes in Pigneto. The business-minded know the best place for fare la bella figure is at the Hotel Russie’s Stravinskij Bar, whether inside or in the garden, or the newly opened Zuma for superb contemporary Japanese cuisine in the recently renovated Palazzo Fendi.
Eat, Stay, Play
Casa Coppelle: A little piece of Paris in Rome with an innovative Franco-Roman cuisine.
Piazza delle Coppelle 49, Pantheon. casacoppelle.com
L’Arcangelo: Swanky living-room-style restaurant serving up the best gnocchi in the city, as well other amazing Roman morsels by chef Arcangelo Dandini.
Via Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli 59, Prati. larcangelo.com
Hotel J.K. Place: Neo-classical luxe in the thick of the historic centre.
Via di Monte d’Oro 30, Ara Pacis. jkroma.com
Gran Melià Villa Agrippina: Sprawling greens, sublime spa and luminous, classic-meets-contemporary designed rooms.
Via del Gianicolo 3, Trastevere. melia.com
Ara Pacis: A first-century BC temple inside contemporary architect Richard Meier’s luminous glass palazzo.
Lungotevere in Augusta, Ara Pacis. en.arapacis.it
Galleria Barberini: Beautiful baroque palazzo with a glorious Great Hall fresco by Pietro da Cortona, not to mention its collection of paintings by the likes of Caravaggio and Raphael.
Via delle Quattro Fontane 13, Barberini. galleriabarberini.beniculturali.it
- This article originally appeared on the Australian Financial Review Boss Magazine, 5th August 2016.
Whether seeking street art in Sicily or hunting white truffles with a well-mannered Lagotto expert travel journalist Erica Firpo calls Rome her home and Italy her backyard.
- Erica LOVES... Ciampini's Cioccolato Caldo con Panna, Villa Borghese at dawn, Palazzo Farnesina, late-night scooter rides
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