Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A Deluxe Weekend in Rome

Do you have a reasonable budget but not much time? Follow my suggestions and condense the essence of Rome into a long weekend. I have provided links to those elements of the weekend that you will need to book in advance.

Choose a  flight that lands in Rome late Friday morning and arrange a  private transfer with Rome Cabs who will whisk you to your hotel in no time at all.
May I suggest the Hotel de Russie? This luxurious 5 star hotel is an oasis of calm, ideally situated between Piazza del Popolo & the Spanish Steps . The dĂ©cor is understated elegance and the staff are second to none in their professionalism and knowledge, especially the concierge team, but what sets this hotel apart is a magical terraced garden planted with pine, palm, cypress, magnolia, lemon & orange trees.

Tempting though it may be to linger, I would encourage you to drop your bags and head down Via Babuino to Babbington's Tea Rooms. Founded in 1896 by two English ladies it is still owned today by their great grandchildren. It may seem strange to suggest a very English institution for your first meal in Rome but if you head through to the back lunch room you will be able to enjoy a delicious buffet of Italian/English dishes, eaten to the  sound of birdsong. The buffet is served from 12.00 - 4.00.

After lunch it is time to shop, starting on Via Margutta. This delightful street is full of antique shops and art galleries but I would like to mention two in particular. At number 53B is Bottega del Marmoraro, a small artisan workshop where you will find marble signs of all sizes.Craftsman Enrico Fiorentini  will customise an inscription for you which would make a unique souvenir. On the other side of Via Margutta, at number 190 you will find Maurizio Grassi, home to bowls full of different marble fruits which, again, would make unusual souvenirs.
You could continue your shopping trip on Via Condotti , lined with beautiful designer stores but why not go beyond the obvious and splash your cash on one of a kind, hand made items. I know just the place - Monti.
The doorman at the De Russie will call you a taxi to Piazza Madonna del Monti, the heart of the district. Here you will find 'B'. a boutique full of minimalist home and fashion pieces exclusively in black and white. Head up Via del Boschetto as far as Via Cimarra. En route you will see Pulp (no.140) where, every week, there are deliveries of vintage clothing, bags and sunglasses from exclusive designer collections.
Le Nou (no.111) is a fashion work shop where trendy creations are hand sewn on site.
Elidoro (no.109) is the place to shop for precious gems and Galleria d'Arte Jullo (no.141)is home to original paintings of wild horses by the Italian artist Roberto di Jullo.
Turn up Via Cimarra then right on to Via Clementina. At the bottom of this steep street is the sweet Piazza degli Zingari - just the place to stop for gelato. Fatamorgana may just provide you with the best gelato you will ever taste - seriously, it is that good. Your only problem will be deciding on which flavour.

Walking along Via degli Zingari will bring you back to Piazza Madonna del Monti. This time take Via Serpenti. At number 13 you will find Spazio Artigano for hand crafted items including ceramics.
Off Gioielli (no.25) is close by - handy if you are looking for bead necklaces as gifts (or even for yourself!)
Podere Vecciano(no.33) is a treasure trove of all things Tuscan - olive wood boards, ceramics, olive oil and wine. We love their wine.
Take Via Panisperna , where, on the corner with Via Boschetto, you will find Tina Songaard. This Danish designer creates hand stitched garments with materials from just outside Florence.
CAM(no.76), the vision of designers Valentina Maroni and Giorgio Bacci, is the home of 'democratic fashion' where high quality pieces are sold at accessible prices.
God Save the Look (no.227A) stocks vintage clothing from the 50's, 60's & 70's.
Le Talpe (no 222a) is an art gallery, boutique and jewellery store, all rolled in to one.
At this point retrace your steps to Via Boschetto and locate Barrique where you can enjoy a well earned glass of something sparkling -  I would suggest a chilled glass of Franciacorta , the Italian rival to Champagne.
Back at the De Russie, the spa beckons. After all, shopping can be exhausting!
Hopefully you are refreshed and ready for a short passeggiata. Walk to Piazza del Popolo and take Via del Corso from the square. Take the second street on the right, Via del Vantaggio. The First Luxury Art Hotel is located here and it has a ravishing roof terrace bar where you can enjoy a pre-dinner drink with a view.
Dinner could be nowhere else but Le Jardin de Russie. An after dinner stroll around the gardens will draw this perfect day to a close.
After enjoying a leisurely breakfast get ready for your Audrey Hepburn/Gregory Peck moment with a 'Roamin' Holiday Vintage Vespa Tour with Scooteroma. As this is a totally bespoke tour you will have arranged it before leaving home. Scooter Mavin Annie will have taken your interests in to consideration when planning the tour which will include famous city sights as well as those that are lesser well known. As it is a personalised tour you can ask to finish the tour at your lunch destination - Casa Bleve, Via del Teatro Valle. This restaurant is set in Palazzo Medici Lante della Rovere. The dining room has a gorgeous Art Deco glass ceiling & a cellar dating from the 1st century which you can ask to visit. Enjoy your gourmet buffet  lunch, accompanied perhaps, with one of the superb wines that are on offer.
After lunch stroll to the Pantheon and slip inside to view the impressive oculus.
Continue on beyond Piazza della Rotonda until you come to Piazza Rondanini. The Acanto Benessere Spa was founded on the ruins of the Baths of Nerone and the treatments on offer replicate the beautifying rituals of the ancient Romans. What better way to while away the afternoon than in these exquisite surroundings. Why not experience the hamman and do as the Romans did and soak away your cares.
Relax.......but not so much so that you miss your appointment with your sommelier at 5.00pm. Vino Roma run 'Sparkling Saturdays' wine tastings in a minimalist studio near the Colosseum where you will sample Italian sparkling wines in a convivial atmosphere. You may also get the chance to peek in the original Roman cellar.
Dinner tonight will come with an iconic view.......
.......The Colosseum from Aroma Restaurant, atop the Palazzo Manfredi Hotel.
Whatever you choose from the menu do not leave without tasting the tiramisu ('the best in Rome' so they tell me!) You will have never seen tiramisu like this before.
Time to retire to the Stravinskij Bar at the De Russie for a nightcap.
Hopefully the weather will be kind enough for you to enjoy another leisurely breakfast in the courtyard. Later,stroll down Via Babuino towards the Spanish Steps, saying 'hello' to Silenus on the way!
Just before you reach the Spanish Steps take Via di San Sebastiano on your right. At number 7/A is GiNa where you can pick up a wicker picnic basket full of delicious treats as well as all the accoutrements that you will need for an al fresco lunch in the park.
The park in question is the glorious Villa Borghese. To reach your picnic spot climb to the top of the Spanish Steps and turn left. Continue walking past the Villa Medici until you see a road veering off on the right hand side. Walking up this road will bring you to a wonderful view of the city.
Carry on into the park and choose your picnic spot. There are many shaded spots with beautiful vistas but my favourite has to be the lake complete with temple.....and turtles!

Too soon it is time to return the empty wicker basket to GiNa & yourselves to the De Russie to pick up your luggage. Your Rome Cabs driver will be waiting to take you to the airport.
Arrivederci Roma.
Hopefully you will return one day. After all, with Rome, 'A lifetime is not enough'.

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