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LUXE x Illesteva: Set Your Sights on Rome

We’ve teamed up with Illesteva, the sharp NYC-designed, handmade-in-Europe sunglasses brand to spotlight the best places in our fave European destinations. Next up… ‘ciao Roma!’

Rome wasn’t built in a day and you certainly need more than a couple to unpeel the many magnificent layers of the Grande Bellezza. Whether you’re flitting through for a weekend, or planning an extended break, add these scene spots to your agenda and you’ll be living la dolce vita in no time.


The fash-pack fave, J.K Place Roma, is home to 30 decadent rooms and suites, swathed in dark bottle green or tasteful grey with lashings of velvet and marble, sigh-worthy bathrooms and high-style artworks courtesy of architect and interior design guru Michele Bönan. With its discrete service, rooftop garden and statement-making resto-bar J.K Café for aperitivo and Antonio Martucci’s modern comfort plates, you’ll barely want to leave this uber-glam cubby. Mwah!


Aperitivo is a mandatory observance in Rome – to max out the glamour quotient, hop over to Hotel de Russie’s Stravinskij Bar. Inside purrs with sophistication – all demure taupes, plush armchairs and clubby atmos – but it’s the lush garden aspects in its piazza privata that lure the stylistas, suits and stars. Frock up, nab a courtyard table and watch the scene unfold.

Younger, funkier auto repair shop turned hip sipper Freni e Frizioni is the spot for creative kids with Tiber-side tables and craft cocktail concoctions like the bitter-sweet Ramone Fizz. Team your tipples with Middle Eastern-inspired fare, much of which is veggie- and vegan-friendly, and start your engines!

Less market, more mammoth meet-eat hangout, Mercato Centrale sits beneath the arches of an old railway workers’ cafeteria in the Termini Station. Graze from stalls by Roman gastronomical greats such as pizza maestro Gabriele Bonci and charcuterer Roberto Liberati; you’ll also find branches of Trapizzino and heaving cheese counter Beppe e i Suoi Formaggi, plus Oliver Glowig’s smart La Tavola trattoria on the upper alcove for creatively flavoured haute cuisine that won’t give your wallet a workout.

For simple cucina Romana, beeline to the perma-packed, family-run neighbourhood fave, La Carbonara dal 1906. Running for more than a century, this cosy tratt is renowned for its graffitied walls… once you’ve tasted the namesake pasta and divine cakes prepare to inscribe your own lettere d’amore to the chef alongside them.

The lovely cafe sibling to Ciampini Roma, Ciampini Gelateria rocks a charming retro gelato bar inside scooping fresh, natural artisan-made flaves – the sinfully decadent whipped cream (panna) is only for the true devotee; ask for the lighter Mela Verde, which is a rare summer treat.

Read more: 6 of Rome’s Best Aperitivo Bars


Stacked with ancient architecture and antiquities around each and every cobbled-street corner, Rome is one huge outdoor museum. Should you be stuck on where to start,  mainline to the best bits with a private guide. Founded in Rome, our fave docent-led biz Context lifts the curtain on the Vatican, Colosseum, Galleria Borghese and other big hitters – always in small group or en privé (they also offer triff thematic ambles led by experts in food, art and archaeology).

Meanwhile, Filippo at IF Experience knows everyone and everything in Rome and for a pretty price he’ll offer you insider access to the most exclusive experiences, from A-list travel needs to private tours of museums. American-Italian foodie and writer Katie Parla’s enriching culinary, wine and craft beer tours promise to expand your mind and your waistline, while the Ancient World’s poster boy, archaeologist and TV host Darius Arya hands you the keys to monuments, specialist tours and concierge services through his company UnlockedRome.


Forget the faff of seeking out maker’s studios and artisan workshops (which are invariably closed anyway), and instead head to Assemblea, stashing the finest small-scale, modern made-in-Italy crafts. A whimsical Kinfolk-y window display gives way to an imminently shoppable showcase of hand-thrown ceramics, bags stitched from reworked vintage textiles, screened tees, Genoan soaps and quirksome jewellery. Perf for take home gifts. Bellissimo!

LUXE x Illesteva: Rome
Sights set on Roma? Don a pair of Illesteva’s Pamela sunnies, nab a copy of the LUXE Rome guide and you’ll be strutting like a local in no time…

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