Some cities are too mythological for their own good. The promise of heart-wrenching architecture, fashion shoot-worthy streets and food you’ll remember till your dying day is often an expectation too far. And for a city such as Rome – where if you’re anything like me you’ll be secretly envisioning yourself as a cross between Audrey Hepburn on a Vespa or Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain – crashing disappointment seems almost inevitable.
But for one magical weekend in November, all of my Roman Holiday dreams came true in an alchemical clash of idyllic weather (I’m British, the colour of the sky occupies my every walking thought), flawless hospitality and the kind of dreamy, unscheduled days that lilt along to their own rhythm while you float along easily with them.
I wrote about the trip for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia here, but these are my condensed highlights:
I don’t know if I’ll remember it till I die, but the memory still lingers of the mascarpone gelato at Come Il Latte, a short walk from the St. Regis Rome. They’ll even dip the cone in white chocolate if you’d like, which in my book is worth the very real risk of early onset diabetes.
The hip neighbourhood of Monti is a feast of cool bars, artisanal shops and cosy restaurants, making it a strolling-without-agenda dream. Plug Via dei Serpenti and Via del Boschetto into Google maps and get happily lost.
With only a day for agenda-less sightseeing we booked a ticket on one of the many hop-on hop-off buses and cruised the city at our own speed. We may have spent more time sipping espresso than visiting monuments but we saw everything from the outside and were well-caffeinated on the inside!
Apparently people who know about this stuff are snobby about the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II or Altare della Patria in Piazza Venezia, but I bloomin’ loved it. It’s a massive, white marble wedding cake of a construction inaugurated in 1911 and I kind of wish that more buildings looked like that. Either way, even architecture snobs will concede that the panoramic elevator within the monument affords heart-stopping views of Rome (and once you’re up there you can’t see the monument itself anyway so those of a sensitive artistic nature will be fine). The lift costs €10 and is worth every Euro.
For that classic Ekberg Trevi Fountain shot you’ve gotta set the alarm early. Even in November it’s heaving at sunset, so sunrise is your best bet to beat the crowds. I was particularly impressed by the couples that brought tripods with them, although my husband would actually have killed me had I suggested it.
We stayed at the St. Regis Rome for its relaunch party following an epic €40 million renovation. The lobby is a paradise of gleaming pale grey marble and white pillars, sparkling with natural light and soft metallic accents. It’s a couture dress of a space. Our room was equally divine in hushed shades of pale blue; it even had a water wardrobe with eight varieties of H2O. Book the hotel’s custom 1962 Fiat 600 to go the full Fellini.