OCCUPATION: World Wide Communications Director, Valentino
MY STYLE: I love my high heels with jeans or with anything I wear. I’ll even wear them on my bicycle, which I ride everywhere, or when I push my son in his stroller through the Roman cobblestone streets. I always try to maintain my feminine essence no matter what.
I LOVE ROME BECAUSE: The weather is fantastic most of the year and nothing beats the location of this city. I am 1.5 hours from the Amalfi Coast and 1.5 hours from the hills of Tuscany! Rome’s airport has direct flights to anywhere in the world, so travel is easy. I go to New York every two months and also travel to Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Shanghai regularly for business.
The Hotel Eden, located in the heart of Rome and just minutes away from the Spanish Steps, Via Veneto, and Via Condotii, has “magnificent city views,” says Francesca Leoni. Like most of the Eternal City’s attractions, this hotel has a long history. Built in 1889, it’s housed real-life kings, queens, princes, princesses, and a Grand Duchess, all of whose signatures remain in the hotel’s “Golden Book” records. Today, Hotel Eden is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and its restaurant, La Terrazza dell’Eden, was voted one of the Top 10 Hotel Restaurants worldwide. The restaurant’s wall-to-wall windows allow you to watch the sun set over Rome while you eat and make the pricey admission worth every Euro. Upon entering and exiting the hotel, a white-gloved doorman with a full suit and top hat will wish you “buongiorno.”
Etabli is not only a restaurant, but also a wine bar and café tucked away on a small side street just minutes from the always-touristy Piazza Navona. If you want to escape from the bustling international crowds and enjoy a glass of wine with a small bowl of spaghetti that won’t leave you filling stuffed, this is the perfect place. Located in a 17th century building, the restaurant has a rustic and cozy atmosphere reminiscent of the South of France. You can sit down at an antique Provencal working table, on a worn-in wooden chair that looks like it could be in your grandmother’s kitchen, but beneath a classical chandelier. “I love this place in the winter,” says Francesca Leoni. “It has a fireplace and it’s like being in someone’s living room.” Etabli does its best to make you feel like you’re at home, whether you’re a native or a tourist visiting from thousands of miles away.
The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps, also known as the “Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti” for the church at the top of the steep incline, are the widest steps in Europe. Commissioned in the early 1700s by a French diplomat who wanted to create a link between the church, which was owned at the time by the Bourbon kings of France and the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, the steps today are a major tourist attraction. As a result of the large crowds, the surrounding piazza is filled with luxury shops like Dior, Prada, and Gucci, as well as high-class restaurants and hotels. If you’re feeling more intellectual, the famous poet John Keats used to live at the top of the steps, (although he probably wasn’t shopping at Dolce and Gabbana), and you can still visit his house, which has been turned into a museum. Photo by Goran Bogicevic/Shutterstock.com
Cavallieri Hilton Hotel
This Waldorf Astoria Hilton Hotel is luxurious and decadent from floor to ceiling. Its private art collection, which is one of the greatest in the world, features pieces like a crib commissioned by Napoleon for his son, a coiffeuse table designed for Marie Antoinette, and a toilet designed for the King of Poland. If that doesn’t satisfy your art history yearnings, the hotel can also arrange a tour of the Vatican Gardens and Sistine Chapel for you. Francesca Leoni is most drawn to the hotel’s magnificent indoor and outdoor pools, though. “My son is little—only six months old—but he already loves the water,” she says. “So we have started going to the pool for swimming lessons, or more like flapping around lessons.” For kids older than seven who prefer to stay dry, the hotel also offers “gladiator training.”
According to Francesca Leoni, Roscioli is still the “best-kept secret” in Rome. “It’s like dining in a delicatessen,” she says. A delicatessen that serves foie gras, that is. The restaurant is actually a delicatessen of sorts, with various meats, cheeses, canned goods, and other items for sale in the front, but in the back you can experience fine dining and wine tasting. “Dinner for me starts and ends with the most incredible selection of cheeses paired with a bottle of red wine and bread that they make in their bakery across the street. The menu is extensive in all that is divine!” says Leoni. The reason it’s relatively unknown is that the main dining areas are located in wine cellar-like rooms with cavernous ceilings and exposed brick. The bottles of wine that fill the space also add to the underground atmosphere.