“What would be your ‘perfect day’ in Rome?”
When I received this question in a comment, I began to ponder the endless possibilities. There is so much to consider. Then I realized that it is easier to answer than I imagined. Without any knowledge on what you like or dislike, I can only base my answer on my own tastes. In which case, the answer is simple, yet perhaps not easy to achieve.
My Perfect Day begins with a run through Villa Ada, which is a gorgeous park located about a seven-minute walk behind Villa Borghese, just two blocks beyond the American Embassy Residence in Parioli. The beauty of Villa Ada is its savage untamed forest, which leads to the manicured lawns surrounding the lake filled with large jumping fish. A run around the perimeter of Villa Ada will reveal the stately Egyptian Embassy, a horseback riding course and stable, winding paths that lose you in its wilderness, a few lakes, places to climb, a children’s playground, a natural outdoor gym made of wood and lots of green grass to lay in. There are many places around the world that may be considered paradise, but Villa Ada is the kind of paradise that you can access everyday.
After taking a quick shower and dressing in something cute yet comfortable, I would have breakfast at La Baguette, which used to be Le Pain Quotidien. Italians start off their days with a cappuccino and a cornetto, which is a less flaky and heavier version of the croissant. You asked for perfection and Le Baguette makes French croissants but Italian coffee. What more could one ask for?
La Baguette – Via Tomacelli, 24 Roma (Lazio), Italy 00186 Tel: +39 066 8192585
Of course, the best way to get around in Rome is a bicycle. It would be impossible to achieve the perfect day without one. Luckily, you can rent one throughout Rome. A.T.A.C. Rome’s transportation service has provided fleets of bicycles all over the centre. You can pick it up at one location and drop it off at another.
You can get a smart-card for €10 which includes €5 of bicycle use. The smart-card can be purchased at the A.T.A.C. ticket booths at Termini, Lepanto and Piazza di Spagna.
Drop-off & Pick-up Stations
Piazza del Popolo / Piazza Venezia / Parlamento / Piazza Colonna / Piazza di Spagna / Largo Argentina / Piazza Navona / Pantheon / Campo dei Fiori / Piazza di San Silvestro / Sforza Cesarini / Via del Tritone / S. Andrea della Vale / Via della Scrofa / Via Arenula / Oratorio / Fontana di Trevi / Pontefici Piazza Dell’oro
1€ from 31 to 60 minutes (First 30 minutes are complimentary after signing up)
2€ from 61 to 90 minutes
4€ for every 30 minutes after 91 minutes of use time
I would ride around the centre from Le Baguette, straight up Via Condotti, stopping to gaze at the windows of Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Dior, turning left at the Spanish Steps and riding down Via del Babuino. I would absolutely turn onto Via Margutta, where Audrey Hepburn shot Roman Holiday, and look at some art galleries.
Then I would make my way back to Via del Babuino and make a pit-stop in TAD, a gorgeous modern concept store that sells gorgeous selections of designer attire, modern artistic furniture and decor, exotic flowers, intriguing music collections and fabulous shoes. Tad also features a salon, bar, restaurant and perfumery, where I would buy one of their rare perfumes.
Piazza del Popolo would be my next destination and I would turn back onto Via del Corso after a few photos of the obelisk and Pincio which overlooks the piazza. I would then ride down, ringing my bell at all the idiots walking in the middle of the road. After Montecitorio, I would turn right towards Piazza di Pietra and laugh at the living statue of the drunk asleep next to the garbage bin.
Then I would head towards the Pantheon. I would visit quickly, since hunger would begin to knock, so my next stop would certainly be Grano, my favorite restaurant in the area.
Grano, a lovely restaurant hidden in a nearby piazza, is a wonderful spot for an elegant lunch. The staff is friendly, honest and has a variety of unique dishes. My favorite is the giant pesto ravioli with shrimp in bisque sauce.
Grano Piazza Rondanini, 53 Roma (RM) Tel.: 06.6819.2096
For the perfect ending to your meal, ride out of the piazza one block toward the Pantheon and have one of Rome’s best gelato, San Crispino. I always get the White Summer Fig gelato with whipped cream.
Saint Peter’s is only a seven minute bike ride away. You can lock up your bike in a visible area and take one of the free unauthorized trial tours that are offered as you wait on line. They are unauthorized because they do not have a permit. You usually just tip them at the end of the tour. These tours are a light version, so if you want to know more details about Saint Peter’s Basilica, you can book an official tour with an authorized company or you can read Insider Gossip at Saint Peter’s Basilica and browse on your own.
Go shopping for souvenirs near the Vatican and for clothes, shoes and fun stuff on Via Cola di Rienzo. By the time you reach the end of the street, you will have returned to Piazza del Popolo.
Ride out toward the Flaminia Metro Station and you will see Villa Borghese’s entryway welcoming you in. Ride up the hill, pass the fountain and turn right into the entryway. This path will lead you to a beautiful lake where you can sit in a boat and feed the swans. Afterwards you can go to that gorgeous cafè towards the opposite end and have an espresso in order to pick yourself up from the long day.
Go home and change for dinner and more. Take a nap if you can. Fifteen minutes will revive you, more than 45 minutes will knock you out for the day. That espresso you had at the park should ensure your nap is short.
Aperitivo! Join the Romans for a drink in one of the many hot spots around town. Read about the most popular locations on Rome Cheap Eats: Aperitivo., which is updated regularly in order to keep you informed on Rome’s ever-changing calendar of events. Some of the most popular are Casina Valadier – Sushi Garden Aperitif and Radisson ES Hotel Rooftop-Poolside aperitivo. It really depends on the day and the season, so inform yourself ahead of time.
I would then go to Campo di Fiori for a laid-back dinner at Ditirambo, which serves deliciously satisfying cuisine from Naples. Rome’s Jewish Ghetto would be an excellent alternative for an authentic traditional Roman meal. Felice Restaurant in the neighborhood of Testaccio may have rude waiters reciting the menu, but the food is amazing and well worth it or read Mangiare Bene: How to Pick a Top Restaurant in Italy and choose your own.
Ristorante Ditirambo. Piazza della Cancelleria 75 – 00186 Roma (RM)Tel. 06.68.71.626
After-dinner drinks at Duke’s is my next stop. They make the best cocktails in Rome. Some of my favorite drinks at Duke’s are:
- Kiss Martini: Strawberries, Amaretto Di Saronno, Passoa, Cranberry Juice and Chilli Guajillo – Sweet and spicy!
- Love Me Softly Frozen Martini: Vodka, Drambuie, Dulce de Leche, Vanilla Ice-Cream, Cherry Pureé, Cherry Brandy – Dessert in a glass!
Duke’s Viale dei Parioli Roma (Lazio), Italy-00197 Tel:+39 06 80662455
However, if you would rather stay in the centre, then I would go to Salotto 42 in Piazza di Pietra near the Pantheon or wander the labyrinth behind Piazza Navona for a spot that catches your eye.
If it is your first time in Rome, and the indoor clubs are still open, then I would go to La Cabala at Osteria dell’Orso, just off of Via Zanardelli near Piazza Navona. There are hotter clubs around but this has a unique concoction of elements. It is contained within beautiful antique Roman architecture. There are multiple floors: the top floor is young and hip with beautiful impeccably dressed people dancing to the DJs hot beats; the middle level is one of Rome’s top restaurants, which is usually closing when the club opens; the ground floor is the piano bar which is frequented by many Italian celebrities, politicians and random aging starlets. This bottom floor presents a window into the Italian culture like no other window around. You see people well into their 60s, fashionably dressed, singing along to their favorite hits of all time, while their descendants aged 20-35 are upstairs grinding on the dance floor.
It is a unique spectacle, especially in the wee hours when the crowds mix and mingle. The younger under 35 crowd heads to the piano bar to cool off as the over 50 crowd heads upstairs to get their groove on. It is quite funny to observe and everyone of all ages will find something appealing until it just turns downright humorous that you just cannot help but to rudely stare. La Cabala is very upscale, so you must dress to impress.
Oh, you thought the day was over. Wrong. The day is not over until you have breakfast. That is what Romans do after a night on the town. They go to a café, which they call a bar, then have a cornetto and a cappuccino or caffè-latte.
Now for the pièce de résistance!
Take a taxi to Zodiaco on Monte Mario, just behind the Cavalieri-Hilton. There is a bar up there full of club-goers. Have a cornetto and skip the cappuccino if you plan on getting any sleep afterwards, although after a day such as this, your body will most likely fall asleep the moment you lay down.
Wander outside toward the stone wall and gaze upon the city as it takes your breath away. This panoramic view is the best Rome has to offer. You can see the Tiber as if winds below and the wedding cake of Piazza Venezia appears so close that you might try to dip your finger in its icing. The monuments glow beneath you, illuminated as the stars sprinkle a little magic to the end of a perfect day in Rome.
Create your own ‘perfect day’ anywhere in Italy or anywhere you go. Here are a few of my most memorable days, where some were more perfect than others: