The latest ‘in' places
The Eternal City never stops reinventing itself: new hip districts, local initiatives and secret haunts, there is always a good reason for a getaway to Rome. If you have not visited for a long time, if there is one thing that really has changed, it is the hotel scene. Charming new hotels have opened and historic old favourites have been renovated, breathing new life into the Eternal City. You opt for The Corner Townhouse as your base, a trendy boutique hotel located in the peaceful district of the Aventine, a stone's throw from the Coliseum.
Housed in an Art Nouveau villa, this designer hideaway with whimsical touches is sure to impress: it cleverly brings together a sophisticated restaurant, a bistro and just 11 rooms designed with contemporary elegance. After dropping off your suitcases, head downstairs for a drink in the cocktail bar. You sink into a velvet sofa in the fragrant garden and order a ‘Freak', a subtle blend of tequila, piña colada, agave, cardamom, eucalyptus and lime, cooled with smoky dry ice. You cannot wait to experience Michelin-starred chef Marco Martini's take on Roman cuisine. The tasting menu lives up to expectations with cuttlefish tagliatelle in amatriciana sauce, monkfish alla cacciatora with a sauce made from mushrooms, vegetables and wine, and to finish, a ricotta, pear and chocolate dessert. Your stay in Rome has got off to a very stylish start!
The Corner Townhouse
Viale Aventino, 121
+39 06 4554 8810
The traditional working-class ambiance of Testaccio
Next morning, instead of roaming round the historic centre, you decide to leave the beaten track behind and head to Testaccio. Away from the hordes of tourists, this edgy working-class neighbourhood stretches from the Aurelian Walls to the banks of the Tiber. The area owes its name to Monte Testaccio, an artificial hill created in ancient times from millions of shattered amphorae. When you get there, prepare yourself for the most amazing sight. The astonishing Pyramid of Cestius rises in front of you to a height of 37 metres. This tomb was built in honour of a Roman magistrate, at a time when the architecture of Egypt, then part of the Roman Empire, was very much in fashion. It stands in the middle of Rome's English Cemetery, the final resting place of many illustrious figures, including Romantic poet John Keats. Savour the peace and quiet in this garden of remembrance, its graves overrun with greenery.
Piazza Testaccio and the surrounding area encapsulate the authentic Roman soul of the neighbourhood. On every street corner, tempting aromas make your mouth water. In days gone by, the reputation of the area's restaurants was built on quality meat from the nearest slaughterhouses. Even today, the Romans love to come and share a good meal in its small trattorias. You are so hungry, you could eat a horse! You come across the family-run Osteria Fratelli Mori at just the right time. Spaghetti alla carbonara, tonnarelli with cheese and pepper, Roman-style tripe… Here, the chefs still cook age-old recipes passed down through the generations.
Osteria Fratelli Mori
Via dei Conciatori, 10
+39 331 323 4399
Industrial wastelands transformed into arty spaces
After this gourmet interlude, head to Mattatoio, a branch of MACRO, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome. Occupying the site of former 19th-century slaughterhouses, two large, fabulously renovated pavilions awaken the culture vulture in you with a photography exhibition, an event or dance performance. Wanting more, set off again to the industrial wasteland of Ostiense and the Gazometro, the former gasworks. Urban art junkies will love exploring this open-air gallery. You end this thrilling day within the walls of a trendy, hybrid venue in Testaccio, the Stazione di Posta with its industrial decor. Enjoy a craft beer in the bar, before savouring the inspirational cuisine on offer in its gastronomic restaurant with its fusion of Italian and Japanese influences.
Piazza Orazio Giustiniani, 4
+39 06 3996 7500
Via del Commercio
Stazione di Posta
Città dell'Altra Economia, Largo Dino Frisullo
+39 06 574 3548
Roaming around Rome's favourite flea market
If you are in Rome on a Sunday, get up bright and early and wander around the huge flea market at Porta Portese. The selling point of this weekly fixture is that it sells everything… except food! Hundreds of stalls cram the streets running parallel to the River Tiber, in the bourgeois-bohemian neighbourhood of Trastevere. This is the time to put your smattering of Italian to good use and barter with the talkative vendors who lure you in with calls of “Tutto a un euro” (everything a euro). You are treated to an authentic demonstration of Italian exuberance: a real Commedia dell'arte is performed with virtually every sale! The most interesting part of the market can be found around Via Ippolito Nievo: antiques, decorative items, old LPs and fashion accessories, such as the Borsalino, the famous hat adopted by the Romans. You can find everything in this cheerful bric-a-brac mecca… especially a unique atmosphere.
Porta Portese flea market
Viale di Trastevere
A different take on the historic centre
In nearby Via Garibaldi, Rome's great history catches up with you again. Go and take a peek in the inner courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio church. Here, you will find the Tempietto de Bramante, a small, charming circular temple built by Bramante, one of the most important architects of the Italian Renaissance. This remarkable building amazes you with its Tuscan columns and perfect proportions evoking ancient masterpieces. Then, make sure you go down into the crypt to see the cavity where the cross on which Saint Peter was martyred is said to have stood.
Feeling peckish? Near to Piazza Navona, pull up a seat at the tiny counter in Supplizio and try some supplì, tasty fried balls of rice, stuffed with tomato sauce or mozzarella.
After this hectic walk, you will find a bit of calm at the top of the Aventine Hill. Here, secret beauty lies in the details. An amazing fountain lies within the walls of the enchanting gardens of Savello Park. In 1936, a sculptor had the idea of combining a Roman thermal bath and a monumental marble mask designed by Giacomo della Porta during the Renaissance. A few minutes away, you reach Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta lined with languid palm trees. The real surprise comes when you put your eye to the lock in a large green door: through this little hole, you will be treated to one of the prettiest and most unusual views in the Italian capital. With this perspective, you have the impression of being able to touch the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica with your fingertips… and uncovering the secrets of Rome just a little bit more.
San Pietro in Montorio church
Piazza di San Pietro in Montorio, 2
+39 06 581 3940
Via dei Banchi Vecchi
+39 06 8987 1920