23 May 2011

Go Back In Time In Italy’s Enthralling Capital

Italy’s capital encompasses the very essence of its locals: it’s passionate, has exuberant history, it’s beautiful and proud. It’s quintessentially Italian, which means you’ll never go hungry or feel unloved.
An overriding sense of confidence runs through the veins of the Eternal City, so called due to its position of power throughout Europe’s history. Rome is dominant but not overbearing. The whizzing scooters are its soundtrack and its narrators are its ancient buildings – meander down its quaint alleys and roads and you’ll be told a story of its various stages of life from its grandiose and beautifully ageing architecture.
The Coliseum, the city’s iconic landmark, reveals many a tale of gladiator fights, government corruption and bravery. Further up is Roman Forum whose delicate ruins expose a former life of decadent markets where the rich and noble would meet and mingle.
While the city has adapted and evolved to fit in with modern society, Rome’s past is not to be ignored. Peer at the heavens through the incredible oculus of the Pantheon, which dates as far back as 125AD, and throw your coins into the illustrious Trevi Fountain. The traditional way to chuck in your money is left hand over the right shoulder – legend has it throwing in two coins will lead to romance. Throwing in three will ensure a marriage or divorce!
Another historical site that should definitely be on your hit list is the Spanish Steps. The Italians are so precious about this structural masterpiece and its square, Piazza di Spagna, that when the country’s first McDonald’s restaurant was built there, the locals were so outraged they protested to get it closed. Poet John Keats was known for sitting at one of the 138 steps while searching for his next muse.
While it may not be Milan, Rome’s city centre is awash with local boutiques and designer stores that offer a glittering invite to bankruptcy. That said this city is more about imbibing the café culture, so sip espresso and gossip while watching the world go by.
Italians love their food so quality bars and restaurants abound. For the sweet toothed Rome’s gelateria’s are said to serve the most divine ice-cream. Why else do you think it’s called the La Dolce Vita?

While you’re there…

Visit the Vatican
The Sovereign City State sits just outside of Rome. It’s the home of the Pope and the heart of catholism. The Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica hold some of the world’s most famous art pieces.

Chill in Villa Borghese
Escape the rat race in its shaded avenues and parks, which are so ravishing you’ll feel as if you stepped into a fairytale. Explore the ampitheatre and marvel at the Bernini sculptures.

Zara Hadid’s Sterling Prize-winning MAXXI is the first National Museum in Italy devoted to contemporary art.

Where to stay

Aldrovandi Villa Borghese (0039 06 322 3993,
Located between the green expanse of the Borghese gardens this five-star hotel combines opulence and Old World charm with nature. It’s a lush oasis with views to die for and grand dining options.

Buonanotte Garibaldi (00 39 06 5833 0733,
There are only three rooms in this quaint B&B and each have been delicately decorated by the owner, artists Luisa Longo. Located in the busy Trastevere district it’s in the heart of the action.

Villa Laetitia (00 39 06 322 6776,
The family run B&B is a superb mid-range offering. Original Art Deco features remain in the building and have been accentuated with designs by Anna Fendi Venturini, one of the five Fendi fashion-brand sisters.

Rome’s awash with visiting Hollywood stars, Jake Gyllenhaal was the latest to explore the city while George Clooney, who has a home in Como, also likes to visit the city.

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