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Roman Holiday
Comments () | Published March 22, 2010
Great Places to Stay
For something extraordinary, book an apartment in the Landmark Trust’s Keats-Shelley Apartment (Piazza di Spagna 26; +44-1628-825925; landmarkt­, the 17th-century building where poet John Keats died. The tiled floors and high-beamed ceilings of the third-floor space have been restored, and shuttered windows look out on the Spanish Steps. Rates from 387 euros, with a minimum three-night stay.

Designed by Salvatore Ferragamo of high-heel and handbag fame, Portrait Suites (Via Bocca di Leone 23; 39-06-6938-0742; is in Rome’s most fashionable district, Via Condotti, and is perched above a Ferra­gamo store. Breakfast is delivered to your townhouse-style suite each morning, and the 14 suites and studios feature kitchenettes, cashmere blankets, and flat-screen TVs—though some also have access to a rooftop terrace overlooking the city, so you’ll want to venture outside. Rooms start at 320 euros.

Since the 15th century, when farmers bringing cattle to market are said to have slept here, Sole al Pantheon (Piazza della Rotonda 63; 39-06-678-0441; has claimed to be Rome’s oldest hotel. Once-scruffy rooms and stables have evolved, with billowing drapes, Jacuzzi tubs, and views of the Pantheon. Starting in the spring, breakfast is served in a courtyard. Rates start at 126 euros.

Tastes of Rome
The funny thing about Rome is that for a city with so many coffeeshops, the caffeine never seems to kick in. Instead, the Romani have perfected the art of stylishly loitering, and their favorite haunts are cafes. If you make it to only one, spend an hour people-watching inside its most famous coffee mecca: Tazza d’Oro (Via degli Orfani 84; 39-06-678-9792; In addition to espresso shots, this institution sells its freshly roasted coffee by the kilo. Locals recommend ordering your granita di caffè (sweetened, shaved, coffee-flavored ice) with panna (thick, hand-whipped cream).
You may need to find an ATM, or bancomat, before sitting down at La Pergola (Via Alberto Cadlolo 101; 39-06-35091; rom­ inside the Cavalieri hotel, but Rome’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant is worth it. Choose from 53,000 bottles of wine, admire the trompe l’oeil fresco on the ceiling, and take in views of the skyline while enjoying some of the finest pasta and seafood dishes you’re likely to eat in Italy.

Tucked between the Spanish Steps and Via Fontanella Borghese, Ristorante Matricianella (Via del Leone 4; 39-06-683-2100; is as Roman as it gets: Loud locals and their extended families rub shoulders with English-speaking tourists, checkered cloths cover the tables, and the menu reads like an encyclopedia of local cuisine. Consider the piquant Roman specialty, bucatini all’amatriciana—a hollow spaghetti bathed in a spicy tomato sauce made with pancetta and pecorino.

Like the Trastevere neighborhood that holds it, Da Augusto (Piazza de’ Renzi 15; 39-06-580-3798) is a delightfully scruffy spot brimming with character. Handwritten menus change often, but the frequently offered house-made ravioli, fresh lamb, and strips of beef atop arugula are well worth the inevitable wait.

Rome is to gelato what Naples is to pizza. While it’s tough to go wrong at any gelateria, Giolitti (Via Uffici del Vicario 40; 39-06-699-1243;, which has stood near the Pantheon since 1900, is widely viewed as having Rome’s best ice cream. Michelle Obama took Sasha and Malia there during last year’s G8 summit.

Good Excuses to Shop
The designer shops along Via Condotti offer well-heeled shoppers more than enough distractions for a day. For a truly Italian experience, take a leisurely passeggiata (stroll) among Fendi, Armani, Gucci, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, and other high-end retailers.

Rome’s most famous flea market takes place in the Trastevere neighborhood. Stretching around the Porta Portese on Sundays from 7 am to 1 pm, thousands of merchants peddle anything from homemade art to handmade shoes.

Just north of Rome’s most attractive square, Piazza Navona, the pedestrian-only Via dei Coronari is the city’s best street to buy antiques. Whip out your Italian dictionary and haggle for oil paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and clocks, among other wares.


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 03/22/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Articles