Roman Holiday: Your Travel Guide to the Eternal City
Wine, pasta, cheese, more wine… What’s not to love about la dolce vita? For this installation of our European city guides (we’ve visited Dublin and covered Budapest), we’re focusing on that most romantic (and immortal) Italian city: Rome. You don’t have to be fluent in a Romance language to understand the beauty of the city’s culture, not to mention its rich heritage. But, of course, there’s more to Rome than its iconic landmarks, so we’ve rounded up your guide for eating, drinking, and exploring your way through Italy’s capital. Read on to find out how you can best travel to Rome (with love, of course).
WHERE TO STAY
If you want to experience la dolce vita at the most luxurious level, then book a room at either the Hotel de Russie or the equally iconic Hotel Eden, both of which are (quite fittingly) members of the Grand Luxury Hotels group. The Portrait Roma is another hotel in this esteemed collection, and its porch-side views of the night sky make the room rate well worth the price. If you’re in the mood for something equally decadent (not to mention palatial), then look no further than the J.K. Palace Roma, located just blocks away from the Tiber River, which is just as gorgeous as the Seine, FYI. (No disrespect to Paris, but we feel the Tiber gets less credit for its romantic waterfront boulevards.)
For history buffs, the Comfort Hotel Bolivar is walking distance from the Colosseum, as well as the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and Via Veneto. Plus, it’s convenient for weary travelers, since it’s mere minutes from Termini railway station, which provides easy access to both the Ciampino and the Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport. Another gorgeous option? The Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora combines the quality and high standards of the Marriott brand with the Italian elegance of a grand hotel in the heart of Rome.
Another gorgeous hotel located near the Spanish Steps (directly atop the Spanish Steps, actually) is the Hotel Hassler Roma. Boasting a Michelin-starred restaurant and an incredible view of the Rome skyline, this is the location where Audrey Hepburn stayed while filming Roman Holiday, which speaks for itself, we think.
Speaking of romantic comedies, if you’re looking to recreate the classic film The Holiday, then look no further than Love Home Swap to experience the most authentic version of Roman living. The selection of available homes in Rome is sure to appeal to every type of vacationer. So go ahead and walk a (Roman) mile in someone else’s shoes.
Another option is The Plum Guide, a vacation rental platform which curates an elite collection of stylish (and accurate) listings, as demonstrated by the photo above, of an apartment in a historic palazzo. The service has gone global, recently expanding to Rome (the platform already exists in Paris and London). We recommend checking out the art-filled Roman flat The Terrace Sicilian or renting out parts of the celebrated singer Lucio Dalla’s original residence with a stay at Lucio and the Sea or Lucio & Stella Maris.
For the savvy culture vulture on a budget, the Romehello Hostel offers a free Italian hand gestures class and a pasta carbonara cooking class — equally useful whether you’re at home or abroad.
WHAT TO DO
There’s no shortage of activities in the Eternal City, from exploring the Colosseum and pretending you’re a gladiator to walking up the Spanish Steps or tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain. Venture through the Piazza Venezia, a famous city square that’s infinitely photo-worthy (as is every town square in this city, TBH). To fully understand all the history, take a city tour, so you can get a better understanding of the ruins you’re seeing — because, let’s be honest, sometimes it can be hard to keep track of centuries.
Other highlights include the Ara Pacis (a monument commemorating peace in the Mediterranean that was built between the years of 13 to 9 BC), the Piazza Navona, and the Villa Borghese (the gardens surrounding the Spanish steps) and the Borghese Gallery.
For travelers looking for some retail therapy, the Monti neighborhood is your go-to spot for shopping or window shopping, while travelers on a pilgrimage should head to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museums provides some much-needed historical context — watching the Young Pope on HBO doesn’t count as Sunday school.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Finally, on to the most cherished of traditions in the Eternal City: eating and drinking. On this count, we will admit that Italians do it better. Canova in Piazza del Popolo is peak Roman dining at its finest: al fresco, with wine, in a gorgeous town square. (Remember to always order wine and cheese, the last ideally atop pasta, everywhere you go.) And did we mention bread? France doesn’t have a copyright on the baguette, so trust us: Now is not the time to be healthy and skip the bread basket.
Looking for a taste of New York in Rome? La Pergola in Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, combines the decadence you may associate with uptown Manhattan with a distinctly European vibe and taste. And we’re serious about the taste: Michelin stars don’t lie.
Felice A Testaccio offers traditional Roman cuisine, not just in Rome but in Milan as well (a nice tip for travelers on the go). Trust us, you’ll want to fit this meal into your itinerary. Finally, go for a wine tasting at Antico Arco in central Rome and toast to your next meal (preferably right there in the restaurant, in an hour or so). So, what are you waiting for? The new flights on Norwegian Air mean there’s nothing holding you back from a surprisingly affordable Roman holiday.
What are your favorite places in Rome? Tag us in your go-to spots on Instagram @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty and The Plum Guide)
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