You don’t have to be a royal princess to enjoy the perfect Roman Holiday. I love Roma for its old-world charm, style, and gracious hospitality. Of course, if it’s your first time, you must check off the cultural attractions, but you certainly don’t need me to tell you to see the Colosseum or visit the Pantheon. What you do need from me are details for a well-curated excursion. Hence, Collectista Travelogues are for globetrotters (or those who aspire to behave as such) who want to commandeer a city like a native.
While it would be fantastic to learn the native tongue of each and every jaunt destination, who has the time or energy? It is perfectly reasonable to arm yourself with the basic niceties. This small effort tends to go a long way:
Thank you: grazie
Good morning: buongiorno
Good afternoon/evening: buonasera
Good night : buonanotte
Excuse me: scusi
ESSENTIAL STAY: When visiting Rome, it is my opinion one’s home base should be near the Spanish Steps. This location is central and is walking distance to almost anywhere a collectista would want to shop, see, or eat in Rome.
Hotel De Russie
Via del Babuino, 9
+39 06 32 88 81
The Hotel De Russie was so recently renovated that I could smell the fresh paint in my light, airy celadon and crème-hued suite this spring. The service is wonderful and, upon arrival, the cordial staff behaved as though they remembered me from my last visit. Whether they actually did is questionable, but I appreciated the effort and they all continued to address me by name the remainder of my stay. They bent over backwards to accommodate my every need, and did so with a sense of humor and smile. My favorite part of the property is the Secret Garden where one can take advantage of beautiful breakfast service, a mid-day espresso, drinks at the Stravinskij Bar or dinner at Le Jardin de Russie restaurant. The spa was quite fantastic too (I got a manicure that lasted the entire week!).
Via del Babuino, 181
+39 0632 295295
Babuino 181 is a luxury boutique hotel located in the Spanish Steps quarter. It is chic and a less expensive alternative to the De Russie. With contemporary and spacious suites, Frette linens, and warm personal service — it is favorite of jetsetters who want to be nestled in the midst of their favorite fashion designers. I love the rooftop terrace where you can enjoy breakfast or aperitivi overlooking the most beautiful streets in Rome.
Via Margutta, 54
+39 06 6992 1907
Margutta 54 is a very special collection of six converted artists’ studios. Located in a private, gated courtyard by the Spanish Steps, the Margutta was home to Picasso, Puccini and Stravinsky. Each modern and spacious suite has Frette bedding, robes and slippers as well as a pillow menu. One can even combine suites to create a luxurious, but private, family oasis at this unique and inspiring property.
Portrait Suites Via Bocca di Leone, 23
+39 06 69380742
Housed in a grand townhouse on the exclusive Via Condotti, the 14-room Portrait Roma, a member of the Ferragamo family’s Lungarno Collection, is conveniently located just above the Salvatore Ferragamo Men’s Store. As expected from a fashion family, no detail has been lost. The sleek and contemporary interior employs a range of elements and fabrics, from marble to boar skin, combined with a pop of color. Rest assured the design extends to the suites’ spacious marble bathrooms which feature large showers and nickel fixtures. While the Eternal City fills every desire, if one of your needs has not been met, you can always ask your personal butler who will arrange anything from private shopping experiences to out-of-town excursions in a Ferrari.
ESSENTIAL WAY: I loathe overcrowded tourist traps. For this reason, I want a sophisticated expert who can deliver an authentic, educational, and truly local experience.
As the Romans Do Alan Epstein Alan@astheromansdo.com astheromansdo.com When looking for a tour guide, it is best to find someone who is attentive to one’s personal interests and sensibility. My entire family adores Alan Epstein, esteemed speaker and author of the best-selling travel memoir, As the Romans Do. Originally from Philadelphia, Alan relocated with his wife and two young boys to Rome almost two decades ago. He leads intimate tours in a way that allows visitors to live this magical city through his eyes. When with Alan, ancient history comes alive in a fun and engaging way. Moreover, when touring “As the Romans Do”, collectistas dine and experience every nook and cranny of the Eternal City as if she were local; not as a traditional tourist.
ESSENTIAL PLAY: Shopping: Sadly, one is not finding the “deals” she did back in the day of the stronger USD. Further, with the advent of the internet, it is arguably not as exciting when everything is perpetually at our fingertips. That said, there are finds to be found and fortunately we sometimes have more time on our hands when globetrotting! Generally speaking, the best “shopping streets” are the Via dei Babuino, Via dei Condotti, the Via dei Spagna and Margutta if you want to shmy around. However, I do have two local favorites:
Via Margutta, 59
*Closed all Sundays and Saturdays in July
I am beyond wild about the handcrafted, avant-garde jewelry at Monies. The boutique is actually Danish and has locations in chic shopping destinations globally. Here, internationally trained goldsmiths produce seasonal “multiples” collections as well as one-of-a-kind pieces. They work primarily in natural materials like mammoth, petrified wood, fossils, stones, shells, cowhorn and 24-karat gold from Greenland. Seriously, this jewelry is stunning — it’s wearable art.
Via del Babuino, 77-81 (Women)
+39 06 3207671
+39 06 3230582
Via del Babuino, 185 (men)
+39 06 322 5954
*Smaller locations and outlets in various locations throughout Rome
Gente Roma considers itself “the embodiment of beauty” and I do agree with this sentiment. This well-edited boutique prides itself on exclusivity from the highest couture to the best new sneakers, sunnies and earphones. Though customers are their No. 1 priority, when it comes to curating their space they always focus on “consistency, value and relevance.” Women should leave themselves a nice chunk of time to make discoveries as the main space on Via dei Babuino has expanded to multiple floors, divided by designer with the exception of an entire floor dedicated to shoes and accessories. Once upon a time, it was here that I discovered my most favorite Gianvito Rossi pink snakeskin heels. Now many others have discovered Rossi, but Gente continues to carry pieces by him and others that I have yet to find any place in the U.S. On my latest trip, they had the most fun, fuzzy groovy glasses, haute knit hats and fab Dries Van Noten, Saint Laurent, and Alaia tops (amongst a gazillion other spectacular offerings from Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford and Lanvin — just to name a few of many).
Off the Beaten Path: Visit the “Artist Salon”; hang out in Trastevere, Rome’s “West Village”; go see an AS Roma soccer game.
There are so many fantastic ristorantes, enotecas, trattorias, and gelaterias in Rome. However, once again, it is way more satisfying to immerse oneself in the culture of local culinary experiences than find oneself duped in a tourist trap. I have gathered a few favorites that fit the bill:
Pierluigi dal 1938
Piazza Dé Ricci, 144
+39 06 686 8717
Due Ladroni Piazza Nicosia, 24
+39 066 861013
Vicolo del Babuino, 4
+39 06 3600 1738
Piazza Farnese, 50/50a
+39 06 687 4927
Vicolo delle Bollette, 13
+39 66 783 496
Via di Porta Settimiana, 8
Bar Alberto Pica*
Via Della Seggiola, 12 (corner of Via Arenula)
+39 06 686 8405
*I live for the riso alla cannella gelato!