Rome. 24 hours is never enough time to get under the skin of this fantastically chaotic, seriously sexy, carb-laden city. Therefore, to ensure I get to the very best bits, I enlist the services of my Roman friend – let’s call him ‘Signor Roma’ – who, in his own words, “knows half of Rome. The other half of Rome knows me.”
With his finger firmly on the pulse of the dolce vita I’m in good hands; we jump on his Vespa and zip along the cobbled backstreets taking in shopping, sightseeing and of course, eating and drinking stops along the way.
We start the day, the Italian way, with coffee. Neighbourhood Sant’Eustachio il Caffe serves some of the best java in town; we head here for its buzzing atmos and play a game of ‘Spot the Power Broker’ as we sip. Hint: they can often be found knocking back espresso doppios at the counter before heading back to the nearby Senate building.
Caffè Sant’Eustachio, Piazza di Sant Eustachio, 82. +39 06 6880 2048. santeustachioilcaffe.it
Sufficiently caffeinated, a spot of shopping is in order. We scoot across town, dodging pedestrians and rubbish bins on the way, ending up at Campo de’ Fiori, a neat square close to Piazza Navona.
It’s soon apparent while exploring the streets off the main piazza, that there’s plenty of shopping treats to be discovered. Among them is a must-visit, Coup de Théâtre vintage boutique. Entering this shop is like walking into some eccentric lady’s bedroom. First we rifle through her wardrobe for beaded and bejewelled evening gowns sourced from all over Italy, then we skip downstairs into a trove of lace, sequined and tulle delights to try on – playing dress-up as an adult has never been this socially acceptable (or as much fun).
At some point during my exploration of the stores on Via del Pellegrino, I’m abandoned by Signor Roma, who doesn’t do conversations about handbags. He does however, point me in the direction of Degli Effetti, and I find myself in designer heaven. This slick, charcoal-hued boutique is home to a carefully curated edit of men’s and women’s fashion by homegrown and international designers, from the likes of Rick Owens to my new favourite Italian, Gianluca Capannolo.
Coup de Théâtre, Via del Pellegrino, 17. +39 33 8181 62984. facebook.com/coupdetheatre2015
Degli Effeti, Piazza Capranica, 93. +39 06 679 0202. deglieffetti.eu
After an afternoon of shopping and incidental site-seeing, aperitifs are mandatory. Now, Signor Roma is the kind of guy who tends to hold court while dancing on a table, champagne bottle in hand, à la one of the lavish rooftop parties in “La Grande Bellezza”. Needless to say, he’s right at home at the fashionable Roof Garden bar atop the Hotel Minerva. Nothing beats its cool atmos and breathtaking vistas across the city at sunset – the aperols go down a treat too.
Minerva Roof Garden, Hotel de la Minerve, Piazza della Minerva, 69. +39 06 695 201. minervaroofgarden.it
Post-aperitivo, we beeline for Settimio All’arancio, which is one of those super-casual, unassuming back-street restos, serving simple yet delicious Roman food, with a side of local glitterati. Nestled inside what is little more than a hole-in-the-wall, we’re rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of the city; Signor Roma air-kisses at least two Italian starlets and engages in very serious conversation with one film director over his calamaro ai ferri…
Another great option – and if you want to dine like a local – is casually elegant Locanda Filomarino. Slightly outside the centro storico, there is no English menu here and not a tourist in sight. You will, however, experience the kind of exquisite local cuisine that you will think of fondly for years to come.
Settimio All’Arancio, Via dell’Arancio, 50. +39 06 687 6119. ettimioallarancio.it
Locanda Filomarino, Via di Filomarino, 7. +39 06 8621 1815. locandafilomarino.it
Check out my story here on Luxe City Guides!