Worth getting out of bed for
Viewpoint Piazza del Campidoglio by night, for panoramas over the Forum and the Palatine.
Arts and culture Rome’s importance to Western civilisation is inscribed in its imposing historical sites: the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Forum, St Peter’s and the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel. Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is a mansion housing a gallery of 15th- to 18th-century art; Villa Borghese boasts a magnificent art collection and spectacular grounds.
Something for nothing A stroll at sunset in the lush Pincio Gardens, above Piazza del Popolo.
Shopping Via Condotti, starting at the base of the Spanish Steps, is Rome’s most prominent shopping street; Via Frattina runs parallel, along the same lines. Via del Corso sells younger styles. More interesting shopping can be found near Piazza del Popolo. On Via Nazionale, you’ll find leather stores and a handful of boutiques. Via Sistina is good for small, stylish outlets. Porta Portese open-air fleamarket in Trastevere is the largest in Europe, open on Sundays from 7am until around 2pm.
Also Train as a gladiator (www.gsr-roma.com). Or, if larking about in loincloths doesn't appeal, arrange a private wine-tasting lesson at the Rome International Wine School on Via della Croce (+39 331 999 5549; www.winerome.com).
Il Prado on Via Mameli is always buzzing, owing to great food at good prices – no need to book. Also good for a quick pitstop is Pizza Mariotti on Vicolo del Bottino. For more serious dining, on Piazza Augusto Imperatore, Gusto (+39 6 322 6273) is a restaurant, pizzeria, wine bar and bookshop all in one, good for weekend brunch or dinner. Originally a farmhouse, Casina Valadier on Piazza Bucarest (+39 6 6992 2090) is a café/restaurant with terraces, neo-classical columns and a beautiful garden. Arancia Blu, on Via dei Latini (+39 6 445 4105), is Rome’s best vegetarian restaurant, a rarity in these parts. Great for lunch for omnivores, too. Il Drappo on Vicolo del Malpasso (+39 6 687 7365) is an inventive Sardinian restaurant; for pudding, try the seadas (cheese-stuffed fried cake in dark honey). Camponeschi on Piazza Farnese (+39 6 687 4927) serves some of the best fish in Rome. Get seats outdoors at Santa Lucia on Largo Febo (+39 6 6880 2427), to eat Neapolitan-leaning pasta, seafood and vegetarian dishes in a spectacular location. Reef, also on Piazza Augusto Imperatore (+39 6 6830 1430), is a popular haunt for Oriental-influenced Italian food. Boccondivino on Piazza di Campo Marzio (+39 6 6830 8626) is all modern art and 16th-century columns, and lives up to its ‘divine mouthful’ name.
The terrace at Hotel Aleph on Via San Basilio is a popular summer drinking spot, as is the courtyard in the Hotel de Russie, where you’ll find Stravinskj Bar on Via del Babu (+39 6 328 881). Ketumbar on Via Galvani (+39 6 5730 5338) is a restaurant/bar serving fusion cuisine, with a sleek, minimalist interior – a great base for your entire evening.
Bar della Pace on Via della Pace (+39 06 686 1216) is a social institution. For the aperitivo – a drink before dinner, 18h–21h, head down to Campo de’Fiori. Friends on Piazza Trilussa, and Red, the bar in the Auditorium di Santa Cecilia on Via della Conciliazione, are also good options.
Spago on Via Monte Testaccio is a bar/music venue/gallery space,with live music early evenings, and dancey beats later on. Supperclub on Via de’Nari is down a narrow alley, with no sign on the door, but don’t be put off – it’s set in a gorgeous restored third-century mansion, with drapes and plush white beds. Bloom on Via del Teatro Pace (+39 6 6880 2029) is an Italian restaurant/sushi bar that becomes a nightclub after dinner. Popular in summer, Goa on Via Libetta is a mixed/gay club that plays house, hip hop and jungle. Art Café on Via del Galoppatoio is another restaurant that turns into a club in the summer: door policy is strict, so it’s worth booking a table for dinner. In winter, visit La Maison on Vicolo dei Granari.
April Good Friday: a torchlit procession from Via Crucis up the Monte Palatino re-enacts the 14 stations of the cross. Easter Sunday: the Pope’s blessing from the balcony of St Peter’s (www.vatican.va). 1 May Spring music festival in Piazza San Giovanni. May/June Dolce Vita Jazz Festival at the Palma Club (www.lapalmaclub.it) and the Parco della Musica. 29 June Feast day of Rome’s patron saints, Peter and Paul, when the city shuts down. September contemporary-photography festival FotoGrafia (www.fotografiafestival.it). Also, La Notte Bianca: al-night music, dance and theatre (www.lanottebianca.it). RomaEuropa Festival: theatre, music and dance events (www.romaeuropa.net). 25 December Christmas blessing from the Pope, delivered at noon.
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A bottle of wine, selected by the director of the Wine Academy