Design Tourist in Rome

I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel frequently, and still, my travel bucket list seems to grow. This year I undertook the #take12trips challenge which has been a wonderful opportunity to see glorious things and reconnect with inspiring places and people. At the end of October, I travelled to Rome with my husband – our first weekend away together alone since our son was born four years ago. It’s a destination that’s been on my wishlist for quite some time, and at last, I’ve been. In fact, the City in its entire ancient marvel dazzled me so much that I’ve already booked a return visit.  

Rome whilst ancient in many parts is quintessentially about design. For more than 1000 years it was the heart of the ancient world, the capital city of the most powerful empire on the planet. It continued the legacy of Ancient Greece, but the Romans wanted their art and architecture to be useful as well as beautiful – could this possibly even be the birthplace of form and function? 

Analysing domes and architectural arches is intellectually arresting in Rome. Marvelling at Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns can take up many hours (and almost bored my husband into a stupor) and lead to some dumbfounded head-scratching. If you have any interest at all in architecture, it is worth the trip to Rome alone. If you also happen to enjoy food, history and culture then even when throngs of tourists surround you, you’ll be having a wonderful time. 

In Rome, discovering newness wasn’t really the design agenda I had in mind, but surprisingly it really was a delight when I discovered it. When in Italy food is often top of the “to do” list and it’s pretty hard to find a bad meal while you’re here. Maybe this is why almost all my design spots are in bars and restaurants! In fact aperitivo is my new favourite meal of the day. Aperitivo is a pre-meal drink meant to stimulate appetite and is usually served with a variety of finger food during aperitivo time. It’s also a very good excuse to sit down after pounding the cobblestones and people watch.

So aside from remarkable visits to the Coliseum, the Forum and the Vatican, here’s my favourite design tourist finds:- Rome has some impressive vantage points to view the city, which is great for your holiday photos.  One of my finds also combined enjoying aperativo – er hello perfection!  Having opened in April this year, Zuma is the stylish new kid on the block in the Palazzo Fendi – a short walk from the Spanish Steps. It offers one of the most polished interiors and an amazing terrace with views of the city. If its warm enough and you can get a table outside for aperitivo you’ll be rewarded with fantastic people watching and plenty of Instagram moments of the
adjacent eagle on the roof of Unione Militare and the stunning steel and glass lantern roof which changes colour. The cocktails are amazing, and when I’m back in Rome next year, I’ll definitely stop by for dinner.

Madre in Rome’s Monti district was on my “visit” list after it popped up on my Instagram feed.  It’s a newly opened outdoor dining room in the most delightful courtyard inside the gates beside the Church Santi Domenico e Sisto. Everywhere you look there are plants – it’s an #urbanjungleblogger paradise. In fact, with so much lush vegetation you’d easily be mistaken that you’re in a jungle.It’s colourful, full of thoughtful details from the graphics to the choice of water glasses and the ambience is charming.  I’ll definitely be back for more cocktails.

A little less trendy but Tiberino has buckets of charisma. It was the graphics and branding that did it for me here (as well as the coffee!).  A simple, yet not rustic fit out, it lets the coffee and food do the talking. Plus upstairs had the most amazing vintage lights…… if they hadn’t been attached to the wall, I’d have been haggling for them.

Given we were in Rome for only two nights, we still managed to visit the organic café Biolosophy just off Piazza Navona twice. As the only luxury organic café in Rome, it not only offered fantastic organic food including cakes (with gluten, sugar and dairy free options) it also looked amazing. It’s owned by blogger and wellness advocate Morgan Witkin, and it’s styled impeccably. 

Rome has been on my travel bucket list for quite a long time not least fuelled by the 1953 classic romantic movie Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. If like me you love a mid-century piece of furniture then I highly recommend you pop along to JK Place Roma. The interiors of this small boutique hotel are sublime, and it was a joy to stay there too.  The place is packed with antique furniture, sculptures and beautiful rugs. There is marble and onyx and heavenly colour. Its la dolce vita glamour from Italy’s golden era and they make you feel like a houseguest. I’ll be sharing more about this fabulous hotel in a separate post.

Two absolute must-visits as far as I am concerned is Tazza D’Oro for unforgettable granita di caffe` con panna and the absolutely authentic Sant’EustachioIl Caffè, an ancient Coffee Shop and Roaster that dates back to the thirties.

Rome is so easy to reach from the UK it seems wrong not to go back  – and soon. I’ve got a couple of gems up my sleeve to visit next time including a visit to the Porta Portese market and a beautiful hotel called DOM. I’ve only just scratched the surface of Rome let alone the best design spots although no matter where in the city you are; you’ll be surrounded by jaw-dropping beauty.

For more design tourist spots have a look here




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