A City Guide To Rome, Italy

Rome is a living museum where every cobblestone whispers tales of the past. Here’s where to head in the Eternal City, from artsy hotels to innovative culinary concepts

Rome is a city that captivates the visitor with its undeniable charm. From Fellini's La Dolce Vita to Ryan Murphy's Eat Pray Love, the city has long served as a cinematic muse, but it's only through visiting the dynamic capital that you can experience its intimate allure. We'd start any first-time visit with a glimpse of the Roman skyline: one of the most notable balconies in the city is the Pincio, located in the Villa Borghese gardens, just above Piazza del Popolo. From here, most of the city's guidebook highlights can be easily reached on foot, including the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Forum and Piazza Venezia.

Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy

But to find Rome's lesser-known treasures, you'll want to look elsewhere. There are plenty of gems worth discovering, from the enchanting hall of gold-framed Venetian mirrors in Palazzo Doria Pamphilij to Galleria Spada, with its curious optical illusion designed by baroque master architect Francesco Borromini. Walk along the picturesque little Via Margutta, immerse yourselves in historic Trastevere cheese shop Antica Caciara and marvel at ornate Liberty-style facades in Coppedè. The Monti district is up-and-coming - stroll through it to find cool cafés and independent boutiques. Testaccio is the haunt of the city's hungry gourmands: the residential neighbourhood is home to Testaccio Market, originally a slaughterhouse, which today houses a handful of legendary trattorias. For an escape from the city's chatter, we'd head to Gianicolo, a small park just above Trastevere, where, shaded by pine trees, you can catch the dome of St Peter's bathed in soft pink light at sunset.

Then, there's only one other piece of advice we'd offer when exploring the Eternal City: when choosing a restaurant, stay away from those which invite you in as you walk past.

Eternal adoration: where to sleep, eat and explore in Rome, Italy

Where to stay

The Hoxton, Rome, Italy
The Hoxton, Rome, Italy

The Hoxton exterior, left, and lobby

The Hoxton

Located in the affluent Parioli district, The Hoxton is a hop and skip away from the MACRO and MAXXI, two museums worth a visit. The brand's Rome address was designed by Ennismore Design Studio and Fettle: expect bold colours, a playful mix and match of shapes, bespoke furnishings and mid-century detailing inspired by the nostalgic interiors of classic Italian cinemas. Rooms - from the single Shoebox to suites - are homely with retro nods, including a Roberts radio and funky 60s telephones. Downstairs, Cugino is an easy win for morning coffee, exceptional banana bread and pastries, while evening meals are on offer at Elio - it's the place to savour a classic piatto di pasta. For drinks, the hotel's decadent marble cocktail bar awaits.

L.go Benedetto Marcello 220, 00198
+39 06 9450 2700
thehoxton.com/rome
Chapter Roma, Rome, Italy
Chapter Roma, Rome, Italy

Dining, left, and a room at Chapter | Photo credit: Paola Pansini

Chapter

Tucked between the terracotta-coloured buildings of the Regola district is Chapter. This stylish, 42-room townhouse hotel boasts snazzy interiors by South African designer Tristan du Plessiss. Exposed brick walls are spritzed up with bright pops of colour, art and graffiti. Bedrooms are sumptuous: expect velvet headboards and lots of white marble. Campocori restaurant offers contemporary cuisine and excellent cocktails. Beyond the front door, you'll find a nearby daily market in Campo de' Fiori (open from 7am-2pm), and Piazza Navona, one of the city's most picturesque squares, home to the Sant'Agnese in Agone church, a breathtaking baroque building designed by Italian architect Francesco Borromini.

Via di S Maria de' Calderari 47, 00186
+39 06 8993 5351

chapter-roma.com

G-Rough, Roma, Italy
G-Rough, Roma, Italy

Suites at G-Rough | Photo credit: Serena Eller

G-Rough

Stepping into G-Rough is like walking into a living art gallery. Founded by entrepreneur and design-enthusiast Gabriele Salini, the man behind Puglia's Palazzo Daniele, this intriguing hotel is located within the walls of a 17th-century palazzo and showcases iconic Italian furniture made between the 1930s and 1960s. Enter through the Gallery Bar, where eclectic features such as bronze-coloured mirrored walls, original hexagonal cementine flooring and 1950s leather armchairs serve as a backdrop for evening aperitifs. The bedrooms are just as fun. Spacious and awash with natural light, all feature traditional tiled flooring, distressed walls and prestigious furniture pieces by the likes of Gio Ponti, Ico Parisi and Afra and Tobia Scarpa.

Piazza di Pasquino 69-70, 00186
+39 06 6880 1085
g-rough.com
Hotel Vilon, Rome, Italy
Hotel Vilon, Rome, Italy

Lobby at Hotel Vilòn, left, and a room | Photo credit: Ryan Neeven

Hotel Vilòn

Elegant and charming, Hotel Vilòn is situated on the quiet Via dell'Arancio, tucked behind a small black door. The most highly coveted rooms and suites overlook the magnificent courtyard of Palazzo Borghese, one of the city's most important noble residences, but we'd argue that those facing the hotel's idyllic internal courtyard are just as joyful. All are elegantly painted in soothing pastel colours. Downstairs, a snug living room kitted out with comfy sofas and coffee tables stacked with books and adorned with small trinkets offers afternoon teas and cocktails, while at Adelaide Restaurant, the heart and soul of the hotel, chef Gabriele Muro's menu offers a journey through Italy's cookbook, from Campania to Rome.

Via dell'Arancio 69, 00186
+39 06 878 187
hotelvilon.com

Hotel de la Ville

Iconic terracotta stripes and luxurious fabrics are emblematic of Hotel de la Ville - the handiwork of Italian architect Tommaso Ziffer. Ziffer, alongside the creative director of the Rocco Forte Hotel Group, Olga Polizzi, drew inspiration from the Grand Tours of yesteryear to create an art-filled space incorporating precious Italian fabrics, vintage tapestries, handmade wallpapers and bespoke furnishings. All 104 rooms are a delightful mix of antique and contemporary styles. If you're seeking a taste of la dolce vita, head here: from the peaceful internal courtyard to the sweeping views of the city skyline at the Cielo terrace and the contemporary spin on traditional Italian cuisine plated up by Roman-born, Tuscan-trained chef Fulvio Pierangelini, Hotel de la Ville is the ultimate city refuge.

Via Sistina 69, 00187
+39 06 977 931
roccofortehotels.com


Where to eat - restaurants

Ruma, Rome, Italy
Ruma, Rome, Italy

Ruma Bottega's dining space, left, and buffalo cheeses | Photo credit: Giada Mariani

Ruma Bottega

Matidia and Guido Pallini, proprietors of a buffalo farm in the Tuscan Maremma, expanded their food-focused family empire by opening Ruma in Italy's capital. The concept? To bring "something fresh and unique to the centre of Rome… giving locals and travellers a different option than the usual trattoria". This outlet, a cross between a delicatessen and a Parisian bistro, showcases the family's buffalo milk produce alongside other locally sourced ingredients. A well-curated menu spans breakfast to dinner and features an exciting mix of cheese products, light veggie plates and buffalo meats. Don't miss the buffalo milk ice cream.

Via di Parione 13, 00186
+39 06 8947 1435
rumabottegaecucina.com

Pianostrada

Founded by four women linked through family and friendship, Pianostrada offers a contemporary upgrade to a classic bistro. In the open kitchen, you'll find Paola Colucci and her friend Chiara Magliocchtetti - they met during a cooking class. Paola's two daughters, Flaminia and Alice, also work at the restaurant. Sharing a passion for "good food, high-quality [produce] and simply tasty things", the quartet started out serving Italian street food, such as focaccia and salads, and, in time, developed a neatly curated lunch and dinner menu that reads as an ode to traditional Italian cuisine. If you order just one thing, make it the homemade focaccia topped with seasonal ingredients (such as caramelised figs), paired with an Italian wine.

Via delle Zoccolette 22, 00186
+39 06 8957 2296
pianostrada.superbexperience.com
Marzapane, Rome
Marzapane, Rome

Over-flame cooking, left, and dining at Marzapane

Marzapane

Founded by Mario Sansone, this curious, cool concept restaurant aims to "bring back to life a piece of lost agricultural history". The menu offers a contemporary spin on rural cuisine, using ingredients sourced from Italy's fields, woods and sea, all cooked in various methods involving fire: smoked, grilled, under ash, over charcoal and in terracotta. Enjoy the theatre of a seat at the chef's table or wind away the hours in the tastefully designed dining room. On warmer days, the outdoor terrace is popular.

Via Flaminia 64, 00196
+39 06 6478 1692
marzapaneroma.com

Lo Scopettaro

One of Rome's most historic gastronomic pit stops, Lo Scopettaro has been dishing up exceptional meals for almost a century. The former broom shop (hence the name) is situated in the historic Testaccio district. The menu of traditional Roman cuisine is simple; what makes the restaurant stand out is the kitchen's skill in sourcing top-notch ingredients. Dishes include slow-cooked oxtail, a carbonara made with free-range guanciale, amatriciana and aged pecorino, and rich meatballs in tomato sauce. Just don't ask for spaghetti with them - it's not a done thing in Italy.

Lungotevere Testaccio 7, 00153
+39 06 575 7912
loscopettaroroma.com
Zia, Rome, Italy
Zia, Rome, Italy

A dish at Zia, left, and staff at the restaurant

Zia

Tucked away in the backstreets of Trastevere, the sober exterior of Zia is the antithesis of the complex, intricate cuisine served within. Chef Antonio Ziantoni serves dishes made with very few ingredients - a maximum of two or three - with the aim of elevating the best produce to its highest potential through different cooking techniques and presentation. The tasting menu is a great way to explore Ziantoni's repertoire. The wine list is prestigious, with an eye towards smaller, independent labels. Ask sommelier Valentina for pairing suggestions.

Via Goffredo Mameli 45, 00153
+39 06 2348 8093
ziarestaurant.com

Pizzarium Bonci

Acclaimed Italian baker and pizzaiolo Gabriele Bonci is known for his revolutionary techniques in pizza making - skills that saw him starring in an episode of Netflix's Chef's Table. Head to Pizzarium Bonci to try his Roman-style tray-baked pizza that's soft but crispy, and cut into rectangular slices. A few minutes' walk from the Vatican, you can take a slice to go.

Via della Meloria 43, 00136
+39 06 3974 5416
bonci.it
Seu Pizza, Rome, Italy

Pier Daniele Seu | Photo credit: Andrea di Lorenzo

Seu Pizza Illuminati

Pier Daniele Seu started cooking at the age of 20; since then, he's won numerous awards for his pizza-making pizzazz. Seu Pizza Illuminati, close to Trastevere, offers multiple varieties of his award-winning pies. You'll always find the traditional combinations on the menu, but every three months, a few exciting one-offs appear, adding a touch of seasonality. Before digging in, order some of Rome's fried specialities for a starter, such as the potato croquette with provola cheese or the supplì. For dessert, try one of Seu's sweet pizzas, made with a caramelised sugar base.

Via Angelo Bargoni 10-18, 00153
+39 06 588 3384
seu-pizza-illuminati.business.site

Where to eat - cafés

FARO, Rome, Italy
FARO, Rome, Italy

Café visitors, left, and a sweet treat at Faro | Photo credit: Alberto Blasetti

Faro

Located in the Rione Sallustiano near Porta Pia, this fun, hip space serves up exceptional single-origin coffees from Aliena Coffee Roasters. Interiors are contemporary - the kind you would only find in the coolest of European hubs. Alongside your favourite coffee (non-dairy milk alternatives are available), we'd recommend trying the exceptional cruffins (a mix between a muffin and a croissant), or, since you're in Rome, a whipped cream-filled maritozzo.

Via Piave 55, 00187
+39 06 4281 5714
farorome.com

Forno Conti & Co

In the hip district of Monti, Scandi-style Forno Conti is the brainchild of Sergio Conti, a fourth-generation Roman bread maker. Sergio fills the shelves with fresh sourdough loaves made from unusual flours every morning, and you'll find croissants flaked to perfection, warm pains au chocolat, indulgent cinnamon rolls and local speciality maritozzi (cream-filled buns) served on the counter in front of the loaves. Savour a cup of artisanal coffee there or, during the warmer months, take a seat outside for the ultimate people-watching spot.

Via Giusti 18, 00185
+39 06 275 7595
fornoconti.co

Dolcemascolo Roma

The Dolcemascolo brothers Matteo and Simone have followed in the footsteps of their grandfather, pastry chef Salvatore Dolcemascolo, the owner of a small patisserie in the capital. "We wanted to share our story and the identity we've built with the city," says Matteo. Each pastry, cake, and mignon is crafted with the utmost care, with ingredients sourced from local producers in the Lazio region. Take a seat in the airy café for a cup of speciality coffee (or start early with a natural wine) and indulge in the delectable sweet and savoury delights available from morning until evening.

V.le Giuseppe Mazzini 84, 00195
+39 06 8911 8542
pasticceriadolcemascolo.com

Marigold

Located on the outskirts of Rome's historic Ostiense quarter, Marigold is a micro-bakery and restaurant. Head here for an avocado-on-rye-bread toast with a runny poached egg, and toasted banana bread slathered in the Marigold butter made to a secret recipe. Chef Domenico Cortese and baker Sofie Wochner have concocted a menu of natural wines, fine coffees and organic cuisine.

Via Giovanni da Empoli 37, 00154
+39 06 8772 5679
marigoldroma.com

Where to drink

Vinificio, Rome, Italy
Vinificio, Rome, Italy

Quality bites and natural wines on offer at Vinificio

Vinificio

Located in Testaccio, and housed within a multifunctional space, this wine bar offers a menu of natural wines, quality bites to accompany the glasses, great tunes and a fun, chilled environment in which to enjoy Roman evenings. Ask the highly knowledgeable sommelier Alessandro to recommend one of the 500 labels on offer. In the kitchen, you'll find Alberto Mereu, who trained under the much-lauded chef Heinz Beck. Dishes are made to be shared.

Piazza dell'Emporio 1, 00153
+39 389 179 8451
vinificionaturale.it

Antica Latteria

Formerly a much-loved café, Antica Latteria has now switched milk for spirits and become a wine bar. Set behind Campo de' Fiori, it's home to retro-inspired interiors (think a classic green marble counter, original tiled flooring and cosy, armchair-surrounded fireplace), an extensive wine list featuring a thoughtfully curated selection of wineries from around Italy, and a small menu of nibbles that incorporate the flavours of the Spanish owner's heritage in tapas-style plates of pata negra and tortilla.

Vicolo del Gallo 4, 00186
instagram.com/anticalatteriacocktailbar

Enoteca l'Antidoto

There's much to love about this intimate, modern wine bar serving a curated selection of natural wines by the bottle. Its owner, Flaviano Pizzoli, has created a space where people can disconnect from the outside world and enjoy life's simple pleasures. Order a few bites to accompany your drink from a limited but well-formulated food menu that changes on a seasonal basis. Occasionally, the kitchen also hosts various guest chefs who bring a taste of their home cuisine to Rome for a few days. Check the website for upcoming events.

Vicolo del Bologna 19, 00153
enotecalantidoto.com

What to do

Antico Forno Roscioli, Rome, Italy
Antico Forno Roscioli, Rome, Italy

The counter at Antico Forno Roscioli, and the deli's traditional pizza

Scoff Antico Forno Roscioli pizza on the go

Even before you reach Antico Forno Roscioli, you'll notice people walking around with a succulent slice of pizza wrapped in white greaseproof paper and you just know it's from Roscioli. Simply follow the scented trail of freshly baked bread to the pizzeria, which, despite being one of the most historical bakeries in Rome, has a surprisingly contemporary appearance. But the freshly baked goods laid out within are undoubtedly made following traditional recipes: long slabs of pizza in teglia are displayed on the counter, made in rectangular trays and oven-baked until crispy on the outside, then topped with various fresh ingredients. You'll also find various small, round, tomatoey pizzettas, "fritti Romani", savoury pies and an endless selection of sweet bakes and pastries.

Via dei Chiavari 34, 00186
+39 06 686 4045
anticofornoroscioli.it

Try the maritozzi at Pasticceria Regoli

A large, vintage shop sign reading "Regoli Pasticceria" in a funky font is displayed above the door and, to the left, enticing cakes and small pastries are elegantly displayed in the shop window, inviting you to step into this sweet heaven. Pasticceria Regoli has been a firm local favourite since opening back in 1916, celebrated for its perfectly plump maritozzi with soft whipped cream, small tartlets topped with wild strawberries, and fagottini alla ricotta - something like cannoli on steroids, with a soft, flaky topping.

Via dello Statuto 60, 00185
+39 06 487 2812
pasticceriaregoli.com
Chez Dede, Rome, Italy
Chez Dede, Roma, Italy

Curios and trinkets at Chez Dédé | Photo credit: Daria Reina

Find the perfect souvenir at Chez Dédé

On a quiet little road that runs parallel to Via Giulia lies Chez Dédé, which was opened by creative power couple Andrea Ferolla and Daria Reina. The pair's background in styling, photography, illustration and interior design led them to open a shop that touches upon all of these elements - a maximalist space filled with vintage trinkets, unique pieces by independent Italian and international brands, as well as items made in collaboration with worldwide luxury brands. Fashion, art, furniture, design, jewels, books and homeware are all beautifully displayed - it will be tricky to walk out empty-handed.

Via di Monserrato 35, 00186
+39 06 8377 2934
chezdede.com

Taste porchetta at Antica Norcineria Iacozzilli

Opened in 1924, Antica Norcineria Iacozzilli is now run by Piero Iacozzilli, Rome's "king of porchetta" (according to local press). While pork is at the heart of this historic shop, the family-led butchery also sells carefully selected Italian delicacies sourced from across the country, including creamy wedges of pecorino romano and aged Parmigiano Reggiano, and pizza scrocchiarella from a local bakery.

Via Natale del Grande 15, 00153
+39 06 581 2734
instagram.com/anticanorcineriaiacozzilli
Le Tre Sarte, Rome, Italy
Le Tre Sarte, Rome, Italy

Fabrics on offer, left, and outside Le Tre Sarte

Take home a unique gown from Le Tre Sarte

Camilla Voci adds colour to the traditions of tailoring, her aim being to "unstiffen the concept… and bring a new, fresh aura to its meaning". Her two little shops (one selling feminine attire, the other menswear) are filled with a library of eclectically patterned fabrics that she uses in creating off-the-rail designs and custom-tailored clothes. Sustainability is at the core of Le Tre Sarte: the materials used are leftovers from high-flying Italian brands including Lisa Como, Loro Piana and Brunello Cucinelli.

Via dei Pianellari 15, 00186
+39 371 455 6943
letresarte.com
Discover More
Mitshel Ibrahim’s Insider Guide to Milan