Rome – synonymous with romance, it’s all in the name. As one local explained to me – if you reverse the word ‘Roma’ (the Italian word for Rome) you get ‘Amor’ – meaning love. And love is something that resonates throughout the entire city. Especially evident at nighttime, the romantic undertones permeate the place as tangibly as pizza or pasta. As intertwined as food and love may be, Rome is a place for individual passions, and whether it is architecture, dining, history or character you crave – it boasts it all in bountiful stores.
A mesmerising mix of modern and ancient, Rome is a rare and colossal capital. You literally can’t turn a corner without stumbling into some great remnant of history. It is a living monument to the incredible empire that was tirelessly built, and if ever there was a visible storybook of a people’s incredible power and reign, Rome is it.
Where to begin? The best way is to lose yourself and wander amongst the grand statues and breathtaking buildings. It’s easy to find your way as you encounter renowned landmarks such as the Colosseum and Forum, which rarely require an introduction but definitely demand a visit.
Take your pick from a large collection of public squares; from Piazza Navona with Bernini’s beautiful Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, and the Fontana di Nettuno; to the lively Piazza di Spagna and its spectacular Spanish Steps. The Capitol area is a hive of activity with sights such as the Piazza del Campidoligo replete with the statue of Marcus Aurelius, and the imposing Palazzo Venezia or ‘wedding cake’, as it is aptly known.
A feast of fountains are generously scattered throughout the city, including Rome’s largest and most famous – the Trevi Fountain. Alternatively, migrate to the Campo de’ Fiori – also a hub of nightlife – where Giacomo della Porta’s Fontana delle Tartarughe proudly awaits.
Rome’s exquisitely designed collection of churches includes: Santa Maria del Popolo, which houses two of Caravaggio’s greatest works of art (and allegedly Nero’s remains); while St Peter’s Basilica, which contains numerous works of Michelangelo, stands guard over the Vatican, the Pope’s legendary city.
Be sure to visit the museums, the memorable Sistine Chapel, and then get a traditional belly fill round the corner at the very Roman, Ristorante Dal Toscano. Beyond the box tickers, a bevy of Roman baths lie in beautiful ruin throughout the city. Head to the Esquiline area for the Baths of Titus and Trajan or the ruins in Caracalla for some spellbinding sights.
As quixotic as it is historically hypnotic, Rome makes for a magnificent weekend love-in or honeymoon destination. With an attractive fusion of Baroque, Renaissance and Medieval architecture spilling from every square, Rome is simultaneously classy and cool, welcoming and mysterious – offering the perfect paradox for an unforgettably romantic stay.
Places to eat and drink in Roma
Bar del Fico – A hip place near the historic centre and Piazza Navona, it offers traditional Roman cuisine in ambient surrounds where you can literally put your feet up. Would definitely recommend.
La Fraschetta – Popular with locals, the pizza is a particularly mouth-watering feature of the extensive menu, while the rustic interiors coolly remove you from present to past times. Friendly and really reasonable.
Ristorante Dal Toscano – One of the best Braceria in Rome, it specialises in meat dishes that are cooked to your preference with perfection. Whether you fancy Tuscan antipasto or traditionally prepared steak, there’s a delicious dish to suit every taste. Located next to Vatican City.
Etablì Caffì Ristorante Winebar – For traditional tapas in a super friendly and uber relaxed spot, this small café-come-wine bar is the perfect place to sample some regional food while enjoying live music and exhibitions with a very chilled-out vibe.
Gusto – Neutral tones and clean lines create contemporary interiors while the food is utterly fabulous. Featuring a pizzeria, restaurant, wine bar and emporium – it also makes a brilliant Sunday brunch venue.
Villa D’Este – A stunning Italian garden and UNESCO World Heritage Site housing everything from fountains to grottos in beautiful baroque style.
Parco Villa Gregoriana – A gorge, water features, caves, ancient ruins…in short, it spills with stunning scenes and innovative attractions amongst a spellbinding setting.
Villa Adriana – Or Hadrian’s Villa, is a Roman archaeological complex in Tivoli complete with gardens, ruins, statues and ancient villa that is an undeniable must-see if possible.
Lago di Bracciano – Don’t let the fact that this was the site of Tom Cruise’s marriage to Katie Holmes dissuade you, as the 32km wide volcanic lake and its surrounding scenery is nothing short of spectacular.
Sperlonga – Mid way between Rome and Naples is the stunning Sperlonga, a coastal town in the province of Latina that is the ideal way to replace city with sand for a brilliant beachside break.
Written by Hannah May for EuropeUpClose.com