“Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning.”
-Giotto de Bondone-
For me, Rome, is the epicentre of my of wanderlust, the city that speaks directly to my heart. For those of you afflicted with a place such as this, you understand such yearning. For those who have never felt such a connection, I both envy and pity you. It is a feeling of utter contentment, of peace and spiritual connection to both yourself and your surroundings, a place you long for every moment until you can return. For some this space is within the mountains, for others the streets of a specific city or a particular stretch of sand. For me, that place is Rome.
Rome is a city that is about so much more than it’s famous architecture, it’s miles of art lined hallways, it’s statues, fountains, or it’s Via Veneto. It’s a living, breathing entity, a way of life. Every square inch of this historic city is stunning and ornate. It’s the fact that I cannot sleep while I am there because there is not a single moment free of people, food, wine, sights and sounds, and I simply cannot allow any moment to escape me. It’s a sweet tooth city, a place I crave, the epitome of La dolce vita.
WHERE WE STAYED:
A few years ago Sam and I made our first trip to Rome, kid free, where we discovered the most amazing gem, Roma Boutique. When we decided to return, there was simply no other place to stay (also see Local is the New Lux). This hotel is perfect for couples and families alike. We love the location, across from the US embassy, a stones throw from Via Veneto and offering walking distance to almost all major highlights, as well as easy access to Barberini station. But it’s the incredible service that you will never forget. From a multi-lingual concierge service with invaluable tips and information, to arranging our transfers to the airport, this hotel is set to impress. It was absolute nostalgia for us to return, to be greeted by my favorite Italian, Alessandro, and for him to meet our girls. We enjoyed a beautiful room with a large queen bed, and the girls made themselves at home in a separate area that harbored a pull out couch and it`s own tv. When you also consider the air conditioning, free wifi and an incredible inclusive breakfast, it is accommodation perfection.
THE BEAUTY OF EVENING STROLLS IN ROME:
Typical of Italy, as the sun sets and the temperatures cool, the city comes to life with an almost palpable magic. For me, walking around full of pasta and wine, surrounded by the energy of the evening, is the most amazing part of the Roman experience. This is when you can grab a gelato and enjoy the street artists, listen to some amazing musicians set up along the sidewalks, and the kids can live like locals as they drink from the public fountain taps and do cartwheels in the open piazzas. Compared to Canada, Italians enjoy a late evening meal. It is common for restaurants to begin seating at 8:00 pm, so you’ll want to take this into consideration, especially with children. The other aspect I love about this typically relaxed culture, is that public attire still holds importance. Italians are such a social culture, you will see them out in the evenings, dining and strolling, chatting and gathering, and they are always well dressed doing so. People watching becomes a pleasure from a fashion aspect, and I could sit and listen to the beauty of Italian linguistics all night. It’s really quite spellbinding.
THE TREVI FOUNTAIN:
My love affair with Rome, and the experience of strolling it’s veins begins here, and it is this fountain that allowed us to return. When we were in Rome in 2012, we spent our first evening getting wonderfully lost. As it was November, it was so much quieter and much more romantic than the summer. We finally uncovered the Fontana di Trevi and had the massive and ornate masterpiece nearly to ourselves. Legend has it, that if you toss a coin in, you are ensured to return, and voila, we did. This summer we were disappointed to not be able to share the fountain with our daughters, as it was being restored. This city wide restoration project has been funded by some of the largest fashion houses, and the 2.1 million euro, 20 month restoration of this 18th century fountain was funded by Fendi.
One of our favorite areas to walk around are the streets connected to Piazza di Spagna, including the crowded but iconic epicenter, Via Condotti. While we were there, the stage for the haute couture Valentino fashion show was being constructed, highlighting the opening of the new location. The streets are filled with some of the most luxurious names that you can dream of, from Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana to Prada, Gucci and Hermès. One thing that I absolutely love about Italian stores is that the window displays are so beautifully showcased, mini galleries in a city known for art, and that each display item is marked by price, even the luxury boutiques. If you are looking for high end shopping, this is the area for you.
THE SPANISH STEPS:
Just off Via Condotti are the iconic Spanish Steps. The famous staircase, built in 1723 on a design by Francesco de Sanctis, consists of 135 steps over 12 flights, leading up from Piazza di Spagna to the Trinità dei Monti. It is one of Rome’s most common gathering places, and beginning fall of 2015, is yet another site of the city wide monument restoration project. Bulgari is to be thanked for this two million dollar, two year project that will restore the steps. Restoration of the Barcaccia Fountain at the base of the steps was completed by private donation in 2014.
I absolutely love this square, it is so alive and vibrant. Built on the site of the first century Stadium of Domitian, it follows the open spaces of what was once known as a competition stadium. You can grab a plate and people watch, stroll through the market admiring the art, or sit and admire the incredible architecture surrounding you. We always try and visit late in the day, so in the light we can view Bernini’s stunning Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi topped by a slender obelisk, and then stay as the day fades and the piazza comes to life. Other fountains of note are the Fontana del Nettuno, built in 1576 by Giacomo della Porta, and the Fontano del Moro, another design by Bernini, added in the 17th century. The large building facing into the square is that of the Palazzo Pamphilj built in 1644, former palace of the Pamphilj family, and currently the Brazilian Embassy.
Built in 1880, Via Veneto was initially named in dedication to the region of Venezia, and was later changed to honor the WWI, Battle of Vittorio Veneto. It gained it’s fame as the starlets flocked to it during the 1960 filming of la dolce vita by Frederico Fellini. It is home to some of Rome’s most prestigious cafes and hotels as well as boutiques selling Italian leather goods. Being so close to our hotel, we spent alot of time along this street, and quickly fell in love with the atmosphere as well as the familiarity. Our girls loved stopping at Hard Rock Cafe when they were craving a hamburger, and Carlos Pizza, where they could watch their own pizzas being made. Another favorite of mine is Il Vineto, a wine bar close to Piazza Barberini. This is where we had our first official Italian meal on our original trip!
VIA del CORSO:
We also like to spend plenty of time strolling this street and the piazzas at either end. Piazza del Popolo sits at the northern end, and we love it’s wide open spaces as well as the giant doors nearby where local musicians gather for impromptu performances. Piazza Venezia flanks the opposite end, where you will find Il Vittoriano, offering some of the most incredible city views during the day, and equally as beautiful when lit up at night. Via del Corso also offers many shopping opportunities for those looking at mid range stores such as Diesel, Benneton and a super-Zara, as well as the popular department store la Rinascente.
Rome is so vast and so rich in history, that it would become a lifelong journey to cover it. And you certainly cannot cover it all in a single blog! Grazie mille for taking a stroll with me, it’s truly the best part of Rome.
24 thoughts on “When in Rome…Stay and Stroll”
Great read Amy I love your passion for all things, Rome. I am a bit of an early morning wanderer and i cherish my memories of the Spanish steps at 6.30am when there was no one on them. I loved the colosseum a dawn and the silhouette of sun that started shining through the walls. To me that was the best time in Rome
I completely understand! If we are in Oahu or the Mayan Riviera, or even camping in the mountains, I am the first one up enjoying the quiet of the morning with a coffee in hand. But I think it’s because Rome is such a nightlife type of city, that I am drawn to exploring after dark!
We were in Rome this past summer and weren’t sure if it would be too busy of a city to take the kids but they loved it. And like you, evenings were our favorite time of the day, especially by the Pantheon.
We loved the Pantheon too, especially during the day when the sun would shine thru the oculus! I have to admit that it was a completely different city in November without the kids. It was so much cooler and less crowded, with little to no lineups or crowds. The heat of the summer was difficult on our 7 year old, and a huge factor in us enjoying the evening!
I absolutely loved Piazza Navona, and exploring the city after sunset. The city looks different and feels different. It has been nine years since we have been there but love the city! Thanks for sharing your experiences… Love the kids cartwhee!
It does feel different, doesn’t it?? It’s so alive! And yes, cartwheels are the girls favorite thing to do in the different places we travel. It makes for a fun photo collage! Thanks for stopping in 🙂
Oh Amy! You gave me wanderlust for one of my most beloved cities <3 such a wonderful post. I agree when you say to others who haven't been that you pity them 😉 I totally get it. I hope to visit my Roma this year. even if its for a few hours.. It is magic.
Then you know exactly how I feel! 🙂 But it is more a sense of pity for those who have never experienced such passion for a place, no matter where it is. To have somewhere that speaks to your heart like that is a blessing….and a curse, as it is so expensive to return from Canada! Thanks for reading!
Haha, here too from India. Its not easy but I am glad we are living the dream of millions.
Amy, wow the opening paragraphs were beautifully and compelling written. I could feel the emotion you feel for Rome. You also have given me such a yearning to visit that is stronger with each article I read of yours. I feel a connection to the ocean that I think you mean. I can’t get my husband to visit it much, but we are going on a cruise soon and when we are in Italy we ARE going. Great article!
Thank you! It’s easy to write well when you are so inspired and passionate 🙂 And I completely understand your connection with the ocean, I am very much the same way, and I think that’s why Italy is so special, it offers the best of absolutely everything. Sit me by the waves and I’m a happy girl!
Rome is absolutely amazing! It’s just great to see that you had such a good time in the city! I’ve been to Rome (here’s what we experienced: http://traveluxblog.com/rome/) not long ago, but already can’t wait to get back. Especially after reading your post! 🙂
Thanks for stopping in! And yes, Rome is absolutely incredible, hands down a favorite of mine!
My pleasure! Rome is just totally amazing 🙂
I really want to go to Rome! We spent Christmas in Florence and it was a wonderful place to just wander. Walking and strolling is my favourite way to get a feel for a city and I love how easy it is to just wander in European cities. I really hope we can visit Rome soon.
Florence is also the perfect strolling city, and we love it as well! Europe definitely embodies the love of getting out and enjoying the city, any time of day!
I am so happy my beloved hometown captured your heart! Growing up there, for many years I had mixed feelings about the city: like a family member, I loved it but I had to take it in small doses, so to speak. But even on a bad day, I never failed to notice how beautiful it is: the colosseum was on my way to work, for a while, and every day I remember thinking how privileged I was to pass by such an incredible building. I hope you can go back again, maybe we might even get coffee together there, or aperitivo, while the kids run around 🙂
How envious I am that you got to spend your days growing here! The colosseum was #1 on my bucket list, so the first time I saw it, I was in tears! We cannot wait to return, and I would absolutely love coffee with you!!
Fontana di Trevi and the colesseum are on the top of my bucket list for 2016. We have 7 months planned in Italy with our home base in Rome. It sounds like you have a wonderful connection with this city, I hope I fall in love with it in the same way you have.
There are no words for how envious I am of a 7 month stay!!
Last time in Rome we were quite stressed, and didnt really have that WOW time. Reading this makes me want to go back and do it all again. Love the D&G dress and the window shopping pics.
The first time we went was amazing, but I forgot to breathe in the whirlwind! This time we made a point to focus on enjoying the best parts (a lot harder in the heat and height of summer!) But the evening makes up for so much! Thanks for stopping in 🙂