I travel to Rome for business meetings, off-sites and team events. In the last decade I have visited Rome four to five times. It is such a fascinating city that I can’t get enough of it, and have been there for two family vacations as well. Rome has a history that spans more than two-and-a-half thousand years, and one of first things you will notice the moment you land there is the contrast within the city: It has a great mix of history and modernity, it depicts human genius in art and architecture.
The best way to get around Rome is on foot. The city has much to offer and you would not want to miss anything by taking a bus or a taxi. A bicycle is also a great way to explore Rome. You can hire an electric bicycle and zip around.
My two favourite hotels in Rome are the Westin Excelsior Rome and the Jumeirah Grand Hotel Via Veneto, both are in the celebrated Via Veneto district. Westin is a palace hotel, one of the city’s most imposing ones, rich in history, and a beautiful intersection of the old and the new. It is nestled between the Spanish Steps and the Borghese Gardens and Gallery and frequently hosts visiting celebrities, statesmen and artists. Jumeriah, on the other hand, is modern and swanky, and is excellent from a business traveller’s perspective.
Both these hotels are great to conduct business meetings in. My other favourite is the Villa Miani, which has the most stunning views of Rome and the Vatican.
I had backpacked through Rome during my college days, and at that time I stayed at one of the International Swiss Youth hostels in Via Carlo Cattaneo. It was reasonably priced and well located. If you are adventurous, then it is an option worth exploring.
Where eating is concerned, I love this restaurant called Eataly. It is a pretty, four-storeyed building that brings together some of the best food traditions of the country. It serves excellent Italian food made from fresh ingredients. Apart from enjoying a meal, you can look around for good cook books or handmade chocolates to bring back for your family and friends. My other favourite is La Campana. It is popular among locals and serves great Roman dishes. Their antipasti platter and poached pear dessert is marvellous.
There are many options to recharge yourself. The spa at Jumeirah is highly recommended. Even a simple walk around this ancient city will take you to another world.
You should walk through the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, which in itself is an imposing structure with 135 steps. In the middle of the square is the famous Fontana della Barcaccia, from the beginning of the Baroque age, sculpted by Pietro Bernini and his son, the more famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini. There’s also the house of English poet John Keats; it now houses a museum dedicated to him. You should also take a walk through St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican museums.
Take a walk around the Piazza Venezia—a palace set next to the church of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice—and through Villa Borghese, the large landscape garden that has buildings, museums and other attractions.
The city also has an awesome nightlife. I prefer the Irish pubs. My personal favourite is a night club called Elle at Via Veneto. But the best way to enjoy the culture, vibe and spirit is to spend more time outdoors.
Rome is a fashion capital and retail therapy can often be distracting. You can get everything you are looking for, from haute couture, to antiques to bargains. You can find the finest Italian shoes, jackets and leather; the famous ‘fashion street’ has the best brands. For less expensive products, there are several good outdoor markets and flea markets. Porta Portese has one of the largest flea markets and you can find everything, from antique homeware to clothes, art, jewellery, and furniture.
If you have the luxury of time, I would highly recommend a trip to Florence. It is a magical city and the museums, palaces and churches house some of the greatest artistic treasures. The three must-sees in Florence are the Statue of David, the various museums, and the Gold Market, which is near the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio.