To celebrate Woody Allen’s latest film, To Rome with Love, here’s a romantic guide to the city with emphasis on atmospheric places to stay, untouristy places to eat and churches that most people don’t even bother to visit.
Romantic boutique hotels in Rome
If you want to stay in the old Jewish quarter, in a quiet apartment just a few steps from the Piazza Mattei, known for the Turtle Fountain, check out this lovely B&B called Kame Hall, just around the corner.
For chic luxurious boutique hotels, I recommend the Intown Luxury House: six elegant suites near Rome’s Spanish Steps and many of the hotels listed in Mapplr’s favorite hotels in Rome. One of the hotels on my list is the Kolbe Hotel located in a renovated 15th century convent.
Recommended restaurants in Rome
The trick to finding excellent (non-touristy) restaurants in Rome is to look for places with menus that are not translated into 3 languages. Best of all are those with Italian only menus. Here are my recommended restaurants, which I enjoyed during my stay in the city.
What about gelato? Well, there are so many gelaterias in Rome that it would be tedious to list the good ones as they are all quite good. Here’s what I say (based on my experience): The best gelateria is the one closest to your hotel.
What to do
Rome is where the sacred and the profane blend seamlessly, along streets lined with butcher shops, designer stores, and solemn churches. On a narrow street leading away from the Pantheon, you’ll find a large shop selling bishops’ mitres, priests and cardinals’ robes, and just a few doors down, a boutique hawking the tighest, sexiest jeans this side of the Tiber.
NOTE: I have not listed St. Peter’s Basilica above because I visited it once, together with the Sistine Chapel, and I won’t go again unless it’s in the dead of winter. There are simply too many people inside. As you walk around Rome, you will see that there are so many lovely little churches, some no larger than a chapel. Here and there, you spot a Caravaggio painting in one of these tiny, unknown churches, and surprisingly, there won’t be anyone else around.
The main shopping street is the via dei Condotti, home to well-known designer brands such as Gucci and Prada. The service in each of these boutiques is excellent. I discovered that the prices are one third of what you would pay in the US for the same item. Moreover, they have a much better selection of clothes, shoes, and accessories in Rome.
Max Mara, via dei Condotti 17: carries all the other Max Mara brands including Sportmax, ‘S Max Mara and Weekend.
Prada, via dei Condotti 92: awesome selection of shoes, bags and clothes.
Giorgio Armani, via dei Condotti 77: one stop shop for the man who refuses to waste time trying to find clothes and accessories that fit and look good.
Max & Co: via dei Condotti, 61: this is the “young sister” of Max Mara and the clothes are stylish and affordable.
On the side streets around via dei Condotti, you’ll find other designer boutiques such as:
Mada Shoes, via della Croce 57: tiny boutique that sells shoes and bags, more affordable than the designer brands but still very stylish and beautiful leather goods are sold here.
Boutiques in other areas:
Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Corso del Rinascimento 47: heavenly perfumes, soaps, colognes, potpourri and essences from Santa Maria Novella in Florence.
Online articles about eating in Rome
Tasting Rome: gelato, pasta and the market – this is food writer David Lebovitz’s exhaustive article about food in Rome, his favorite markets and gelaterias
Time Out Rome: find out the latest restaurant and bar openings, as well as concerts and other events in Rome.