WHY WE LOVE IT
- Where better to celebrate your eternal love than in the Eternal City?
- Ancient Rome: Coliseum, Pantheon, Forum, Catacombs, Castel Sant' Angelo
- People-watching on the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, and the Borghese Gardens.
- A concert in Santa Cecilia, Sinopoli, or Petrassi Hall.
- Strolling in Trastevere, and its edgier neighbors, Testaccio and Ostiense.
- Stuffing yourselves silly at hip little enotecas and trattorias.
- Good buys: leather gloves, La Perla lingerie, the wedding gifts you didn't receive from Spazio Sette and C.U.C.I.N.A.
WHEN TO GO
Best to go in April, May, June, September, or October. Many shops and restaurants close in August, and July brings heat and crowds.
Villa Borghese, Piazza Bucarest
This just-restored, frescoed neoclassical building, which lords high above the city, makes for an unbeatable setting to enjoy excellent modern Roman food.
Via A. Cadlolo, 101
Your best bet for a big splurge while in Rome—especially since noted German chef Heinz Beck garnered his third Michelin star. Expect nothing less than coffered ceilings, gilded mirrors, plush carpet, and umpteen forks. There's also a heavenly view.
Via dei Prefetti, 26
Near Piazza Navona, Obikà transformed an odd notion into a unique lunch experience: mozzarella di bufala tastings. This is not just any buffalo mozzarella cheese, but the best, from Naples and Salerno, delivered fresh daily. The table-hopping crowds at this modern eatery attest to its success.
Piazza delle Coppelle, 10a
For those important in-between-meal oyster fixes, this all-day wine bar never disappoints. You can play spot-the-politician—the eatery is handily located near Parliament—or get takeout for an alfresco snack.
FILIPPO LA MANTIA
25 Via del Pozzo delle Cornacchie
A double threat: The chef and architects are the current darlings of the style set. Sicilian La Mantia reinvents his native cuisine to delicious effect; Giammetta e Giammetta (twins) make the second-floor trat near the Pantheon buzz.
Vicolo dei Chiodaroli, 16
Modern by name and nature, this trattoria will make you feel fashionable for just sitting there. The futuristic steel bar and textural walls look appropriately edgy, and the menu's classic Latium dishes rarely disappoint.
Via di Monte Testaccio, 30
Run by the Mariani family since 1887, this absolutely authentic trattoria is located in a quaint stone house. Checchino is as cozy as it sounds, with menus to match. Standards include the pasta e fagioli, oxtail stew, lamb with Gaeta olives and arugula, great cheeses, and a special dish of organ meats.
HOTEL DE RUSSIE
9 Via del Babuino,
The chicest place of all is nestled in a perfect position next to the Piazza Popolo round lush garden courtyards and above a fabulous spa. Sexy rooms are subtly high-design; the best have their own terrace-ettes.
Piazza Trinitá dei Monti, 6
The palazzo hotel is famed for its position poised on top of the Spanish Steps, for its divine rooftop restaurant, and for its family-run, cozy, yet luxe charm. The one most likely to provide a great view.
Piazza della Republica, 47
A striking neoclassical façade concealing equally striking nouveau-neoclassical decor: striped silk walls, gilt-framed mirrors, two Adam Tihany-designed restaurants—plus a spa and rooftop pool. So hip.
Via di San Basilio, 15
From the same group as Excedra, another Adam Tihany creation, featuring a jazzy black, white, and (lots of) red color scheme and a heaven-and-hell shtick. Sleek slate-blue-and-cream rooms are not the biggest, but it's very central.
Via Ludovisi, 49
It looks like the home of a color-happy dowager New York socialite, with a glamorous rooftop restaurant-bar truly worthy of Eden. Get a front-facing room for a similarly stunning outlook, over the rooftops from high above the Spanish Steps.
Via Pellegrino Matteucci 10/20
A new one for committed moderns keen to explore the happening Testaccio-Ostiense axis. Eight wacky suites are inspired by de Chirico, Keith Haring, Fellini, and so on. Avoid the twin-bedded doubles.
Via Luigi Petroselli, 47
All minimal blond wood and beige with Art Deco details, the best rooms overlook the Temple of Vesta; top-floor ones with a balcony, to boot. The hip rooftop Circus Bar gives great cocktail, with romantic Roman vistas.
CITTÀ DEL GUSTO
Via Enrico Fermi, 161
This new foodie mecca is located in a 54,000-square-foot converted warehouse on the Tiber. Here you will find wine tastings, a formaggeria, a great restaurant, a shop, riverside terraces, and the studios of the Gambero Rosso food TV channel (gamberorosso.it). But the star is the cooking theater, where celebrity chefs perform their art—which you then eat for dinner.
CASTEL SANT' ANGELO
Lungotevere Castello, 50
It never tops lists of must-see sights, but this vast circular fortress by the Vatican, dating from 135 A.D., is incredibly atmospheric. To enjoy a beer with a view, visit the very basic café on top— it has peerless, 360-degree panoramas.
Piazza Montevecchio, 17
A newish insider bar for the Vespa set. Lutèce’s interiors are pretty standard—velvet banquettes, wooden tables, and whitewashed brick—but the rocking, boho-chic vibe is infectious.
AUDITORIUM PARCO DELLA MUSICA
The rounded, gray exteriors of Renzo Piano's three concert halls—which playfully call to mind resting armadillos— are the centerpiece of this recently completed complex, which includes the Cavea, an outdoor amphitheater with room for 3,000. Whatever your preference—symphonies, hot jazz, hip bands—this is the place to hear it.
MACRO (MUSEO D'ARTE CONTEMPORANEA ROMA)
Via Reggio Emilia, 54
Rome's contemporary art museum eludes the average tourist. Maybe not for long, though: the Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma in the old Peroni brewery near Piazza Fiume will triple in size in 2006.
MACRO AL MATTATOIO
Piazza Orazio Giustiniani, 4
A former slaughterhouse in the hip nightlife neighborhood of Testaccio now houses this 32,000-square-foot annex to the modern art museum, which specializes in cutting edge artwork. Admission is free, and Macro Al Mattatoio is open till midnight.
CASA DEL JAZZ
Viale di Porta Ardeatina, 55
This huge parkland villa confiscated from the mafia has become a mecca for jazz fans from all over the world. Enjoy a pre-concert meal at the very nice onsite restaurant.