It’s been too long since we had a dose of la dolce vita. So we went back to Rome — and scored big.
For dinner under the stars, order the off-menu gnocchetti and book a table on the hidden terrace at Santa Lucia (Largo Febo, 13; +39-06-6880-2427). To see Roman stars, hit rHome (Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 46; +39-06-6830-1430), the new glitterati hangout. Or taste a star at L’Altro Mastai (Via Giraud, 53; +39-06-6830-1296; now closed), Rome’s latest one-Michelin-star resto. And the pizzas at Il Leoncino (Via del Leoncino, 24; +39-06-687-6642) just get a gold star for local flavor.
The swank Hotel Locarno (Via della Penna, 22; +39-06-361-0841), by Piazza del Popolo, gives guests bicycles (Rome’s traffic is notorious). Shoppers find bliss at Portrait Suites (Via Bocca di Leone, 23; +39-055-2726-4000), the spanking-new Ferragamo hotel in Piazza di Spagna. (A splurge, but worth it.) The best-kept hotel secret is Casa Howard (Via Sistina, 149 and Via Capo Le Case, 18; +39-06-69-924-555) for price, location, and design (book the zebra room).
You’ll want some of what the Italians do best. Clothes: Until this year, Luisa Via Roma (Via di Campo Carneo, 26; +39-06-678-7557) was known as by-appointment-only fashion-insider fave De Grillis. Now it’s open to the public (though finding it remains a hunt). Shoes: Campanile is always on sale at AVC (Largo del Pallaro, 1; +39-06-6821-0670). Food: The cheese, meats, and wines at Antica Caciara (Via San Francesco a Ripa, 140; +39-06-581-2815) have been fattening up Romans for more than a century. Soccer: Nostalgica (Via di Ripetta, 30; +39-06-321-9448) carries scores of vintage jerseys. (Forza Azzuri!) Charming history: The cool daily market at Piazza Fontanella Borghese has old prints, books, coins, and jewelry.
When in Rome, use the lingo:
• La bella figura (looking good): Get a blowout (piega) at NC Cutting (Via dell’Arancio, 36; +39-06-686-4737).
• Er goloso (sweet tooth): The best gelato? Ciampini (Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina, 29; +39-06-687-6606).
• Rilassarsi (relax): The amazing Sonia at Sergio Russo (Piazza Mignanelli, 25; +39-06-678-0457) does facials, bikini waxes, and massages.
• Rimorchiare (cruise): Le Coppelle (Piazza delle Coppelle, 52), near the Pantheon, is the city’s top pick-up scene.
• Annamo (let’s go): You’ll look hot riding around on a vintage Vespa that was dropped off at your hotel.
That’s doing it like the Romans do.