Everything you need to know for a fabulous weekend break in Rome
To see life lived with flair and passion. Definitively romantic, Rome’s walkable mix of glittery shops, welcoming restaurants and cultural treasures guarantees a rewarding break. History is everywhere, so just pack a good guide book, then go wandering the streets with your lover…
Villa Laetitia, an exquisitely decorated residenze recently created by Anna Fendi Venturini, one of the five sisters at the heart of the legendary fashion dynasty. Adorned with Fendi furniture and drawings by Karl Lagerfeld, it sits within a peaceful walled garden beside the Tiber. All 15 rooms are individually designed and come with a small kitchen, while suites have a patio, balcony or terrace.
The Hotel Hassler, meanwhile, has an unbeatable location atop the Spanish Steps. This small, atmospheric hotel has a rooftop restaurant, hair and beauty salon and recently played host to Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise before their star-studded Scientology ceremony.
The streets around Via Condotti offer a roll-call of swanky Italian brands, and don’t miss TAD (Via del Babuino 155), a super-hip concept store with a cool café at the back. Near Piazza Navona, Via del Governo Vecchio is good for one-off boutiques – check out Arsenale (64) and Paolo Franco (33). In Piazza di Spagna, pick up a jaunty cap at La Coppola Storta, while Sermoneta has a great range of gloves from about £20.
Rome’s culinary strength lies in its neighbourhood trattorias. If it’s full of locals, join ’em… Obika is a slick restaurant devoted to the many types of mozzarella, while Maccheroni serves hearty Italian fare. If the budget’s tight, seek out Gusto where you can enjoy a buffet and a glass of wine for £8, or if you’re feeling flash dine on the terrace at the Michelin-starred Mirabelle restaurant on the seventh floor of the Hotel Splendide Royal.
For a classic dolce vita moment, sip prosecco outside creeper-clad Caffe della Pace. Across the river in Trastevere, Freni e Frizioni is an arty cocktail bar full of handsome guys using crash helmets as handbags. For a trip into the past, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, next to Termini rail station, is a mighty museum with terrific Roman mosaics and sculptures, and also check out what’s on at the Museo dell’Ara Pacis.
The Spanish Steps, which lead down to the Spanish Embassy, are the perfect place to people-watch. Young hopefuls used to hang out here, wanting to be chosen as artists’ models, and today it remains a popular meeting place. The nearby Trevi Fountain is Rome’s largest and most famous fountain and throwing a coin in the water is said to guarantee your return to the city. No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Colosseum, a giant amphitheatre where gladiatorial contests and public spectacles were held. Equally as impressive are St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, where you’ll find the Sistine Chapel. Its ceiling, which includes the iconic image The Creation of Adam, was painted by Michelangelo and is one of the most renowned artworks of the Renaissance.
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See flightmapping.com or seat61.com for flight and train options. Shortlist Rome 2008 (£6.99, Time Out) is a handy pocket guide, or log on to romaturismo.com, romapass.it, rome-tourism.com and enjoyrome.com.