La Dolce Vita: A Guide To Rome’s Most Indulgent Escapes

From eclectic museums to luxe shops to stylish digs, here’s where to savour la dolce vita in Italy’s capital city.

May 29, 2024

Trends may come and go, but style endures — and the Eternal City has stood testament to that for over two millennia. No other city offers this depth and breadth of historical architecture, artistic treasures, and cultural riches; it is a veritable feast for the aesthete. Of course, the Colosseum, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon must be on your itinerary. But go beyond these star (tourist-thronged) attractions to savour Rome’s sumptuous pleasures.

High Art

It may be difficult to choose which of Rome’s many museums to visit, but if you’re in the city for just a weekend, Galleria Borghese is absolutely unmissable. The landscaped gardens of Villa Borghese are a visual treat, as is the city vista you can see from the Pincio terrace. Inside, Bernini’s and Canova’s remarkably lifelike sculptures stand alongside evocative paintings by Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael.

Tourists walking around Doria Pamphilj Gallery in Rome.

On Via del Corso, Galleria Doria Pamphilj is another gem — an 18th-century noble mansion housing hundreds of masterpieces, including works by Rubens and Titian, alongside period furniture adorning its opulent rooms, notably the Gallery of Mirrors.

For a modern take, head over to MACRO, Rome’s leading contemporary art museum that primarily showcases Italian art from the 1960s onwards. Also, do not miss the Zaha Hadid-designed MAXXI (National Museum of 21st-Century Art) where, amidst suspended black staircases and a fluid geometric display space, you will find everything that’s new in the world of art and design.

Shopping Cart

Valentino’s flagship in Rome.

As one of the major capitals of fashion, design and textile, the city teems with chic boutiques and international and local fashion houses. The quintessentially Italian fashion house Valentino’s flagship boutique in Piazza di Spagna designed by David Chipperfield is an essential stop – a contemporary palazzo decked out in Venetian terrazzo with Carrara chippings, timber, and marble.

Entrance to the Fendi store in Rome.

Fendi Roma Palazzo Boutique at the intersection of Via Del Corso and Largo Carlo Goldoni is another must-visit, and if you’re lucky, you will get a look inside Palazzo Privé, their ‘VIP shopping apartment’ designed by Dimore Studio. From the latest collections alongside iconic styles set in an architectural setting that epitomises Italian luxury, a tour inside the store is a peek into Fendi’s emblematic style reflected with its iconic bags, women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, décor, and more. A quick rush to the third floor is where you’ll find the very first Fendi hotel— Palazzo Fendi—for a complete Roman experience of Italian luxury if you wish to spend a few days.

 

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A stone’s throw from Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps stands Italy’s iconic department store La Rinascente, which stocks everything from international designer brands to local artisans; plus, its Maio Restaurant & Rooftop is a great place to rest your feet, savour a drink from the MAIO wine cellar, and admire the magnificent view.

Very exclusive shopping street with luxury brands at Spanish Square in Rome.

In the hip and vintage Monti district of Rome, stores such as Pulp Vintage, Humana, Pifebo, and Blue Goose beckon with their one-of-a-kind vintage goods that aren’t being sold all over the world, while in Campo de Fiori, designer Gilbert Halaby’s atelier Maison Halaby offers exquisite accessories, womenswear, and original art. For independent fashion designers and jewellers, check out Spazio Espanso near Teatro di Marcello, especially if you follow slow fashion.

 

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Platter Pleasures

From classical cucina Romana to modern Italian dining, you will be spoilt for choice in Rome. Begin your morning with a coffee and pastry in what was Canova’s atelier — Caffè Canova-Tadolini is an ornate museum-café that’s stuffed to the gills with sculptures, busts, and paintings.

 

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Another Roman classic is Antico Caffè Greco near the Spanish Steps, a centuries-old coffee house with red and gold interiors-where Lord Byron and Goethe once enjoyed coffee. 

 

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If pizza for lunch sounds like a good idea, Chef Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzarium (near the Vatican) is the place to go. Here, you will find pizza al taglio or pizza squares sold by weight with daily-changing toppings. Seu Pizza Illuminati in Trastevere is another option for fantastic pizzas with creative toppings, served in a contemporary ambience.

For dinner, book a table at the two-Michelin starred Enoteca La Torre (in the aristocratic Villa Laetitia), which is known for its poetic setting and refined plates. If you want to sample more daring takes on Italian staples amidst chic interiors, head to the one-starred Pipero. You can’t visit Rome and not eat a gelato or two (or several) — both Fatamorgana (multiple locations) and Otaleg (that’s gelato, backwards) in Trastevere offer traditional as well as inventive flavours.

Chic Stays

When it comes to luxury nobody does it better than hotels in Rome. You will find a heady mix of design, glamour, and warm Italian hospitality. Film stars, artists, writers, and politicians flock to Hotel de Russie, which holds prime position between Piazza del Popolo and Spanish Steps. Expect classic-meets-cosmopolitan vibes, Art Deco touches, and plush suites, particularly the Nijinsky Suite with a private terrace.

Want to wake up to views of the Colosseum? Housed in a 17th-century palatial residence (of a count, no less), Palazzo Manfredi is all about old-school luxury and impeccable service. The Michelin-starred rooftop restaurant Aroma serves fantastic fare coupled with sweeping views of Ancient Rome.

One of the hottest recent openings, Bulgari Hotel Roma marks a homecoming for the Rome Maison. Housed in a magnificent modernist building from the 1930s, the 100 rooms hotel is located minutes from the Spanish Steps, Via del Corso and the Bulgari flagship on Via Condotti. Don’t miss dining at Italian Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito’s restaurant with a splendid view of Augustus’s mausoleum or taking a dip in the Bulgari Spa’s Roman bath-style swimming pool with majestic columns and gold mosaics.

The hot list

  • At Hotel de Russie, the Stravinskij Bar — recently redesigned by Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen — has a new cocktail menu inspired by the hotel’s Mediterranean-style tiered secret garden.
  • At Orma Roma, the newest Michelin starred restaurant in the city, Colombian chef Roy Caceres offers an interesting fusion of his native cuisine with Italian ingredients.
  • Immerse in a sensory journey with modern Roman cuisine at the recently opened Ineo at Anantara Palazzo Niadi.
  • Book the exclusive 14-course private dining experience ‘Parallels’ at the two-Michelin starred Il Pagliaccio for a taste of chef Anthony Genovese’s Asian-meets-Mediterranean creations.