Rome's early history is shrouded in legend too voluminous to recount here so let?s begin our culture tour in the 16th century, when it became a Renaissance city with wonderful popular feasts, horse races, parties, intrigues and licentious episodes and then skip ahead to when it became a fashionable city in the ?50s and early ?60s, the years of "la dolce vita? and ?Roman Holiday?.
The charm of Rome?s unique traditions, the beauty of its panoramic views, the majesty of its magnificent "villas", dining, hotel, markets and antiques will sweep you away all things digital taking you back in time. Numerous ancient history art museums ? Musei Capitolini, the Vatican Museums, Galleria Borghese (to name just a few), and those dedicated to modern and contemporary art, plus aqueducts, fountains, churches, palaces, historical buildings, the monuments and ruins of the Roman Forum, and the Catacombs, will keep you endlessly dazzled.
Where to stay:
The Hotel de Russie is a luxury five-star hotel located in the heart of the beautiful city of Rome between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo on the Via del Babuino. The hotel is within easy walking distance of Rome's key attractions, fashion houses and Via Condotti?s world class shopping. The Vatican City, with St Peter's and the Sistine Chapel, is just a ten-minute walk from the Hotel de Russie while Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain are also within easy access. The most unique luxury hotel in Rome, Hotel de Russie provides a stunning feature - extensive, terraced gardens, the ?Secret Garden?, so called because hidden behind the building which overlooks Via del Babuino which provide a tranquil oasis amidst the bustle of central Rome where you can dine alfresco at ?Le Jardin de Russie? Restaurant or enjoy a peaceful stroll. The hotel also has one of Rome's best health clubs and spa with a hydropool, jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish steam bath, beauty treatments and gym. If you can, stay there without a doubt. www.hotelderussie.it
Another great choice where I stayed last time is The Inn at the Spanish Steps, one of Rome's best-kept secrets. Small, discrete and luxurious, it is uniquely located on Rome's famed shopping street beside the historic coffee-house Antico Caff? Greco, founded in 1760. Listed as a national monument, the building was a stately home in the 1800's and is now fully renovated with modern comforts. Quiet and exclusive, it retains the flavor of an earlier era with charming period decor. www.atspanishsteps.com
Where to dine:
Rome's cuisine has evolved through centuries and periods of social, cultural, and political changes becoming a major gastronomical centre during Ancient Rome. Ancient Roman Cuisine was highly influenced by Ancient Greek culture, and after, the empire's enormous expansion exposed Romans to many new, provincial culinary habits and cooking techniques. On the eve of my trip, super-chic friend and world-class traveler, Jacinto shared with me his ?must dine? recommendations for memorable experiences, people watching included:
? AGATA E ROMEO
? CANOVA , in Piazza del Popolo is a wonderful and mythical cafe. People watching!
? IVO, in Via San Francesco a Ripa in Trastevere has the best pizza in town.
? And my favorite for its quintessential Roman flair is FIASCHATTERIA. No cash register, no reservations, no menu.....It is SOOOO chic.
? LA BUVETTE, romantic, cosy, warm atmosphere, Italian cuisine, tables outside ? closed on Sunday
? OSTERIA DELL?ANTIQUARIO, great atmosphere by candlelight, seafood, meat, and Roman cuisine, excellent wine and champagne list, near Piazza Navona
? GAETANO COSTA, near Via Veneto, high end modern Italian restaurant, great atmosphere, excellent food, superb service, great desserts.
? AL 59, Italian cuisine, quaint casual restaurant with excellent service, wide range menu and wine list, inexpensive.-
? PORTO DI RIPETTA, specialized in seafood, romantic atmosphere, great service.
? Or try a Rome Culinary Market and Cooking Tour designed to your specifications with an Italian chef and caterer leading a tour of family-run food shops or open markets like Campo de?Fiori or the less touristy Testaccio or Prati. The class then adjourns to a Roman apartment kitchen where participants prepare and eat a four-course meal. 500 euros for @ people, 50 euros for each additional person. www.Italyhotline.com
Outstanding markets and antique dealers while in Rome:
? Campo de' Fiori is the oldest market in Rome. Its name comes from the Piazza (south of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II), where the market has been held for the last 140 years. The food market had been in Piazza Navona since 1478 but was moved to Campo de' Fiori in 1869. The market is held in the morning, with the exception of Sunday morning when it is closed. Campo de' Fiori is also well known for its many restaurants and bars.
? Porta Portese is a street market held every Sunday from the early morning until around 1 o'clock. It is situated on the left bank of the Tiber, between Porta Portese and Stazione Trastevere. It is primarily a clothes market, selling both new and second-hand clothes.
? On the Via Ostiense there is an "Eco-Solidarity Market" which sells used clothing and antiques.
? Mercato delle Stampe is located in Largo della Fontanella di Borghese, and is held every morning except Sunday. It sells antique books, magazines, engravings and prints.
? The Via Sannio market is situated next to San Giovanni station on Line A of the Rome Metro. It sells mainly clothes and accessories. The centre of the market is covered, with stands on the surrounding streets. It is open on weekdays during the morning. On Sundays several stands move to Porta Portese for the big street market there.
? Mercato di Testaccio contains greengrocers and butchers, fishmongers and sellers of cheese and dairy products, housed in a more permanent structure, unlike many Roman markets. Located in the Piazza Testaccio.
? Via dei Coronari, Via Giulia, Via Margutta, Via del Babuino and Via del Pellegrino generally house Rome's antique dealers.
? Via dei Sediari has been famous for centuries for the production of chairs, armchairs and other household objects.
? On Via dei Gigli d'Oro can be found sellers of reproductions of ancient mosaics.
One last tip, Music:
Rome is an important centre for music, with an intense musical scene, including several prestigious music conservatories and theatres. It hosts the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (founded in 1585), for which new concert halls have been built in the new Parco della Musica, one of the largest musical venues in the world. Rome also has an opera house, the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, as well as several minor musical institutions. Complete your trip with a mesmerizing performance in the most beautiful language of all, Italian.