Everywhere you turn looks like a film set

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

City Slicker: Rome - Eternal it may be, but autumn is one of the best times to see this city. Rhiannon Batten has tips for new and returning visitors



Why visit?


The timeless pulling power of the Eternal City means there's little need for an excuse to visit but, for committed jet-setters, now is very much the time to go, as the autumn weather sets in and the tourist hordes subside.

Eat Pray Love mania is finally dying down (though you'll still find groups following in Julia Roberts's footsteps on themed walking tours and fans queueing for ice cream at San Crispino, a gelateria mentioned in the film), and a more discerning kind of movie fan is moving in, lured by the International Rome Film Festival (romacinemafest.it). Running from 28 October to 5 November, the festival promises a celebrity-strewn red carpet as well as screenings, talks and a wider programme of events and performances. And what better location for taking time out between screenings than a city where you can follow your own trail around the backdrop to such films as Roman Holiday, La Dolce Vita or The Talented Mr Ripley?

Don't miss...

The Colosseum, a vast amphitheatre built in AD72 by Emperor Vespasian and infamously the site of gruesome contests between gladiators, slaves, prisoners and animals. The Colosseum (rome.info/colosseum) is the best-known feature of Rome's landscape of ancient monuments. Even for regular visitors, it's worth scheduling an imminent trip as areas of the amphitheatre previously off-limits to the public, such as the hypogeum, were opened up earlier this month.

A stroll around the Forum. Just next door to the Colosseum, it was the political centre of ancient Rome (rome.info/roman-forum).

Taking in St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, where more contemporary pomp and ceremony are on offer (saintpetersbasilica.org). It has the largest interior of any Christian church (holding up to 60,000). The awe-inspiring papal basilica is believed to be the burial place of St Peter.

Gazing at the Sistine Chapel. The other great Vatican City attraction (vatican.va), whose famous frescos by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Perugino, Rosselli and Ghirlandaio are enjoyed by Pope Benedict XVI when he's saying his private prayers here.

Marvelling at the Pantheon. Originally built about 2,000 years ago as a temple to the gods of ancient Rome, the Pantheon (rome.info/pantheon) has undergone several reinventions over the centuries, most lately to become a Catholic church. What sets it apart is its ceiling, which is the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome and, with its central opening, operates as a kind of sundial.

Climbing the Spanish Steps. Funded by a French diplomat in the early 18th century, the 138 Spanish Steps, or Scalinata (rome.info/squares/piazza-di-spagna) run gracefully from the Piazza di Spagna's Fontana della Barcaccia ("Fountain of the Old Boat") to the Piazza Trinita dei Monti. Also at their base is the Keats-Shelley Memorial House (keats-shelley-house.org) where the 25-year-old poet Keats died of tuberculosis in 1821.

Tarrying by the Trevi Fountain. The largest Baroque fountain in the city (rome.info/sights/trevi-fountain) is a gargantuan monument to Roman engineering. It marks the end point of one of the aqueducts that once supplied water to the city. Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the water you'll return to the city, but more legendary is the fountain's appearance in Fellini's La Dolce Vita as a smooching spot for Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni.

What's new

Pigneto

It may still be a little rough round the edges but this authentically Roman district, in the east of the city, is now full of artists, architects, film-makers and writers. Aim to visit at lunchtime if you want to catch its outdoor market (on Via del Pigneto), a hot spot of activity among the area's sleepy lanes and crumbling, colourful houses. Pigneto is home to some of Rome's most interesting restaurants, such as Necci (necci1924.com), a cosy space with white-painted chairs, bright wallpaper, old cabinets laden with wine, a long counter packed with delicious cakes, and chalkboards listing daily specials. Other modern rustic restaurants worth the detour are L'Infernotto (Via del Pigneto 31) and Primo (primoalpigneto.it). For clubbing and live music, go to Fanfulla (Via Fanfulla Da Lodi 101).

Details: pigneto.it

The Perfect Bun

It is unusual to find authentic American food in Italy, so it's little surprise that this recently opened restaurant, just by Piazza Navona, has quickly become the place to eat among the city's cool thirtysomething crowd. Its industrial styling is heavy on glass, wood and brick; a changing airport departure board takes pride of place on the wall. Food focuses on simple, freshly made burgers, steaks and salads and the friendly vibe is helped along by a big communal wooden table at its heart – and disco lights in the loo.

Details: theperfectbun.it

The Wonderfool

It originally opened a couple of years ago as an upmarket grooming salon offering tailoring services, a barbershop, clothes store, personal training and beauty treatments for men. This soothingly pared-down day spa has just started offering women's treatments too. This is the perfect retreat from Rome's chaotic streets. Book in advance to guarantee a slot in its steam room.

Details: wonderfool.it

Maxxi

Winner of this year's Sterling Prize for architecture, the new Zaha Hadid-designed Maxxi (Museum of the Art of the XXI century) is an attempt to create a series of spaces that "rather than prescribing routes, gives the visitor a sense of exploration". That might be true, but I found these meandering spaces made for a slightly frustrating visitor experience and left me unsure if I'd seen everything or not. Fortunately, the exhibitions make a trip worthwhile; current attractions incorporate a series of displays dedicated to the work of Italian artist Gino de Dominicis – including a ghoulish giant skeleton reclining outside the museum's entrance.

Details: fondazionemaxxi.it

Leon's Place

The latest member of the Design Hotel collective to arrive in Rome, Leon's Place is a 19th-century palazzo re-imagined as a shimmering 21st-century boutique hotel. It's a new kid on the block but Leon's theatrical lobby, sybaritic rooms, helpful staff and central location already make it one of the city's most popular hotel choices. Doubles from €200 (£175), room only.

Details: designhotels.com

Insider's secret

Where to find the best ice cream in the city

Vanessa Jones, writer

"The Antica Gelateria De Matteis has the best ice cream in the city. It's all made on site from natural ingredients and its interesting variety of flavours range from chilli and chocolate to fig or pine nut. It's right by the Colosseum but away from the main drag so you can get a bit of respite from the crowds while you enjoy your gelato."

Details: antica-gelateria-dematteis.it

Compact Facts

How to get there

EasyJet (0871-244 2366; easyjet.com), British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com), Alitalia (0844 815 3649; alitalia.com) and Jet2 (0871 226 1737; jet2.com) fly to Rome's main airport, Fiumicino. EasyJet and Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) fly to Rome Ciampino.

Further information

Italian Tourist Board (020-7408 1254; italiantouristboard.co.uk).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Front of House Receptionist / Receptionist

    £21K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Front of House Receptionist to provide th...

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders