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Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

When in Rome…you’ll have a lot of fun!

In a nutshell…

If you’re looking for a city that oozes romance and is big on history, culture, religion, style and cuisine, then look no further than Rome ‐‐ the Eternal city. With its ancient architecture making a perfect backdrop to your snaps, make sure you take headscarves and shades so you really look the part. You don’t have to get around on a Vespa, however, as it’s more pleasurable to wander on foot from square to fountain to museum, so you don’t miss out on the atmosphere and smart street style. And whether you’re looking for a papal blessing, a perfect plate of spaghetti, or passion and indulgence in the style of the Roman Empire, you’re sure to find it…

Magnetic attractions

  • Colosseum This is the largest structure left to us by the Romans, built to satisfy the Roman appetite for gruesome games. The battles that went on here in the name of entertainment put the modern version of Gladiators to shame.
  • St Peter’s Square and the Vatican This, perhaps the most well‐known square in the world, lies immediately in front of St Peter’s church ‐‐ the most famous church in Christendom. Both the church and the Vatican museums are filled with some of the most important art in the world, so don’t miss out.
  • Roman Forum This was the area from which Europe was ruled for many centuries. To walk among its ruined arches and pillars is to feel the powerful and evocative force of history.
  • Sistine Chapel The Pope’s own domestic chapel is well worth visiting to catch the renovated frescoes on the ceiling by Michelangelo. The Renaissance masterpiece depicts the Creation as described in Genesis.

Romantic rendezvous

  • Spanish Steps The elegant steps in the Piazza di Spagna lead to the French church of Trinita dei Monti, and there is fountain at the foot of the steps in the shape of a boat. With Keats’ house just on the left, you won’t find a more romantic place to pass the time.
  • Piazza da Navona This pretty baroque square with three splendid fountains is the perfect place to take an espresso and watch the world wander by. There are plenty of pavement cafes too, so you’ll be spoilt for choice.
  • Trevi Fountain You don’t have to look as glamorous as Anita Ekberg to come to this landmark fountain and make a few wishes with your loved one. If you toss a few coins in, tradition says you will one day return to Rome. It’s particularly magical in the evening too.
  • Trastevere With its narrow and irregular streets, this old, well‐preserved district on the other side of the Tiber River is the place to go for a candlelit dinner.

Love bites, love potions

When in Rome, do as the Romans do… so basically, that means breakfast is off, apart from a coffee or two. Save the calorie space for a blow‐out lunch, a leisurely affair involving many courses. If you’re on a budget, grab a slice of perfect pizza at Pizzeria da Baffetto, a Roman institution. Make sure you leave enough room for at least one ice cream. The gelati at Giolitti are near‐perfect and you will want to go back for seconds.

Caffe Greco was the meeting place of many composers and artists from Baudelaire to Goethe, and is now a stylish place to hang out on Via Condotti. You’ll probably find yourself on that street at some point, gazing into the shop windows of Prada and Gucci. The district of Trastevere is ideal for dinner in a trattoria al fresco.

Propose here

You are really spoilt for choice in Rome, but the Pantheon is so spiritual and serene, with the shaft of light descending from the heavens, that any partner should feel moved and blessed at the same time.

To get you in the mood

Start with a viewing of Roman Holiday, the charming, old‐fashioned romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is also set in Rome and contains the famous scene with Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain. Three Coins in a Fountain is another entertaining romance, all about three American women who find romance in Rome. For a more historical angle read I, Claudius by Robert Graves, or watch Ridley Scott’s Gladiator.

Language of love

Buon anniversario! = Happy anniversary

Ti amo = I love you

Auguri! = Congratulations!

Mi voui sposare? = Will you marry me?

Stags and hens

Stag parties will certainly want to visit the ancient Roman sites, like the Colosseum, where testosterone‐fuelled warriors battled it out for the Emperor’s favour. Circus Maximus was the main stadium for chariot racing, and the Roman Forum is ideal for getting a good understanding of where all those Roman generals planned their empire‐building strategies. Hens, meanwhile, will certainly want to spend a bit of time on Via Condotti, where Italian style comes into its own.

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