From my Black Book: pro tips to enjoy Rome
Via Giulia by day
Vibrant, colorful, high-spirited and hot-blooded. Surprising and Seductive.
There’s just no place in the world like Rome!
Festive, easygoing and richly endowed with historical reminiscences Rome is a vivid blend of ancient haunting ruins and contemporary chic, mystery and beauty.
I go often, on business and for pleasure, and every time it bewitches me with something new and unexpected, catching me off guard with its unique pace, at once restless and relaxed.
There’s a small, but oh so rich and diverse, area in Rome which always fascinates me; it’s that “lopsided triangle” of twisting alleys, sudden squares and streets lined with Renaissance palaces nestled between the Tiber river and Corso Vittorio, just off Piazza Navona.
Over my last few visits I explored it a lot, and discovered a few hidden gems…
First of all, let me set the scene.
One of the reasons I love this area is that it includes Campo de’ Fiori, my favorite Roman piazza and probably the most iconic of them all.
“Field of Flowers”… a poetic name for a one-of-a-kind square with an eventful and somewhat eerie history. For centuries it was where public executions were held, and it was here that philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned for heresy in 1600 (as you can see from the sinister statue of the hooded monk). What about the flowers? Well, there actually once was a flower meadow, until the square was built in the mid-15th century, and there still are times, especially Rome’s signature drowsy Sunday mornings, when it has a nostalgic, romantic atmosphere.
But most of the time it’s booming with sparkle and life!
On weekday mornings “Campo” hosts a typical open-air market. Though expensive, compared to other larger Rome markets, and slightly tourist-oriented, it’s a fabulous place to check out the daily fresh produce, listen to the colorful voices bargaining, and grab some delicious pasta spices and herbs.
Around lunch time the piazza fills with locals and kids just out of school. Many patiently line up (and it’s a first: no one ever patiently stands in line in Rome!) on a side of the square, in front of a small door. It’s the piazza’s bakery, and everyone is hungry for a square of its specialty: fragrant just-baked “pizza romana”, a delicious kind of focaccia seasoned with olive oil or covered with tomato sauce. A real treat!
Later in the day, the sky turns golden and then fiery red, the city buzz mellows down and, in summer, the heat subsides, a tide of people of all kinds and all ages starts heading toward “Campo”: and it changes, once again! In fact, the square’s sides are lined by bars and restaurants (over 20!) of all sorts, and a bustling crowd of locals and visitors gathers to share a chat, a smile and a drink after a day of work, study or sightseeing.
The bars are packed inside, but the scene is mostly outside, with street artists performing and people leisurely milling to and from one place to the another, to greet a friend or make a new one. It’s an incessant happening, from sunset on into the night…
I recently spent a memorable (and swanky!) evening with a local friend: we first had a drink and enjoyed the scene in Campo de’ Fiori, then we walked to elegant Piazza Farnese, right “next door”.
What a dramatic change of setting!
Dominated by the impressive façade of Palazzo Farnese, Rome’s largest Renaissance palace and seat of the French Embassy, Piazza Farnese is a spacious and quiet piazza, enriched by the two stunning twin fountains made out of Egyptian granite baths.
We dined, in grand style, at the world-famous Camponeschi restaurant, one of Italy’s fine-dining temples.
Family run for generations, today by a committed father&son team, it features a sophisticated air of old-world glamour and impeccable high-class service. But the secret of its success, and fame (it’s a favorite among politicians, VIPs and dignitaries) is the exceptional selection: including typical Roman and creative renderings of traditional Italian dishes, game, freshly caught fish and seafood the Camponeschi menu is extraordinary! The wine list is, accordingly, endless and superb and there’s a family wine too, produced in their estate.
Best enjoyment tip: open for dinner only! I recommend booking, via the website or calling +39 06 6874927, especially on Fridays and weekends.
Where: Piazza Farnese 50/50a
For an unforgettable flavor experience, and a character-filled evening in a less rarefied ambiance, dine at Pierluigi, definitely one of Rome’s best restaurants. First opened as a small osteria in 1938, it is today THE address for a fish and seafood-lover in Rome, and offers outside seating on an exquisite little square lined with 16th century palaces! There are non-fish specialties on the menu too, of course, all marvelously prepared and presented. The atmosphere is, like the setting and the food, absolutely charming, and service is excellent.
Best enjoyment tip: dinner outside is lovely, and so is lunch in spring or fall, and there is AC inside too, if you want to stop for lunch on a hot day!
Where: Piazza de’ Ricci 144
When you’re done with your seafood and feel you’ve had enough vino bianco at Pierluigi’s, take a walk down Via Giulia. Walk slowly, take your time: peaceful and intimate it’s the perfect street for a walk, and no doubt one of Rome’s most beautiful ones. Just imagine: its first cobblestones were laid in the early 16th century! The whole length of the street is lined with extraordinary churches and elegant Renaissance palaces, many of which privately owned to this day.
Among these there is one I am lucky enough to know well, it’s Palazzo Sacchetti. Built in 1542 on a project of Sangallo (the same architect who built Palazzo Farnese and helped Raphael plan St. Peter’s Basilica), who designed it for himself, it is the quintessence of Renaissance splendor. Purchased by the Archbishop of Naples in the early 1600s, in the 17th century it became property of the Marquis Sacchetti’s family and is still their home today.
The first floor, known as “piano nobile”, the noble floor, comprises some of the most magnificent formal halls I have ever seen. There are marble statues, ornate ceilings, stained glass windows and spectacular inlaid marble floors. The rooms are all painted, mostly in mannerist style, and among the frescoes there are enchanting ones by Francesco Salviati, Pietro da Cortona and Jacopino del Conte.
Being private property the palace is only rarely open to the public, but may be rented on an exclusive basis for private events
Rome is the kingdom of “la dolce vita”, so you’re more than allowed to pamper yourself!
Spend a couple of nights at D.O.M hotel and I guarantee you’ll enjoy an authentic Italian aristocratic experience: service fit for a king, sweet dreams, and the best cocktails you ever tasted!
Rising within the premises of a 17th century convent in one of Rome’s most alluring streets, princely Via Giulia, this exquisite boutique hotel offers a winning blend of contemporary style, modern art (three original Andy Warhol silkscreens!), and historic gravitas. Its name stands for “deo optimo maximo”, i.e. “to God best and greatest”, as engraved on the ancient church plaques which decorate the walls. Subtle colors, vintage furniture, ingenious lighting and the staff, young and attentive, make for a genial atmosphere and polished, refined, ambiance.
There’s a pleasant peaceful roof-top terrace, and a classy restaurant managed in partnership with the famous restaurant Achilli al Parlamento, where you can savor fine dishes prepared under the supervision of Michelin-starred chef Massimo Viglietti. And then there’s the bar, which I adore and my very well-travelled British friend defines “pleasant sexy and dark”, with a really sensational barman. The last time we were there we had two of his signature creations: Bloody Mary with essence of prawn and carrot and Caprese Martini: buffalo mozzarella milk, gin, vodka and tomato!
Insider’s tip: planning a get-together or a celebration in Rome? Book the roof-top terrace for a cocktail party and your friends will love you forever!
D.O.M’s sister hotel, Palazzo Dama, is just as charming and glamorous. Strategically located on the banks of the Tiber river not far from Piazza del Popolo it’s much more than a luxury hotel, it’s an exclusive boutique-villa-hotel.
Rising in an 18th century palace once home to the noble Malaspina family, superbly furnished and decorated with elegant gold-framed paintings, sculptures and sparkling crystal chandeliers it boasts the rarest, and most precious, facility you can find in central Rome: a charming private garden and a swimming pool! It’s small but lined with marble, and a delight to soak in and relax by on a warm afternoon.
Plus, there’s a delightful neo-Rococo bar, a restaurant serving scrumptious fusion dishes and even a nightclub in the basement!
And finally, last but never least (!)
I told you, Rome always surprises me… I was taking a walk down pretty Via Monserrato, and I found a haven of flair and glamor!
Located in the historic Palazzo Capponi Antonelli Chez Dedé is much more than a shop, it’s at once an atelier, a showroom, a gallery and a concept store. My first impression actually was: what is this? a treasure chest filled with exquisite unique objects?! It is owned and managed with devotion by a special couple with an innate sense of style, Daria Reina and Andrea Ferolla, both award-winning creative directors in the fashion industry (they worked at Bulgari for a time, just to say!) committed to beauty.
Browse and explore! You’ll find a multitude of deluxe riches: vintage art, Assouline art books, John Derian decoupage tableware, Linda Rodin’s Olio Lusso line, curious paperbacks with captivating titles, and signature handcrafted accessories, like their cult tote bags and Ferolla’s own limited-edition drawings.
Where: Via di Monserrato 35
I have spent my whole life working on high end events and travelling both for job reasons and for real passion; now, it is time to share notes with you! My passion for travel started when I was a child and now it is not just a passion, it is part of my business as I work in the field of luxury travels and events. In private life, luxury is the joy I find also in details and in small things.