OCCUPATION: Student of Psychotherapy, mental health worker
MY STYLE IS: Never too casual, never too sophisticated.
I LOVE ROME BECAUSE: We live surrounded by beauty and history. It has plenty of parks, and amazing weather, and the sea and the mountains are very easy to reach.
Bioparco di Roma
This zoo, located on the northern edge of Villa Borghese, has undergone a number of changes in its history. In the ’30s, it was one of the first to transition from cages to ditches in order to give the animals more space to roam. Today, it works to promote environmental conservation by breeding endangered species such as the black lemur, the Turkmenian kulan, and the mandrill. Outside the entrance—an impressive art nouveau gate from the turn of the century—there are men selling baloons. Once inside, kids especially love the playground inspired by Noah’s Ark and the reptile house. “We go on the weekends during feeding time!” Nicoletta Romanoff says.
Forno Campo de’ Fiori
Italian pizza may have originated in Naples, but Romans take their pies pretty seriously, too. In fact, seriousness—along with passion and a commitment to the finest ingredients—is one of Forno’s guiding principles. In centuries past, the bakery served its breads to high-standing customers, including the lover of Pope Alessandro VI. Today, Forno often graces the incredibly competitive best-of-Roman-pizza lists. (Ricotta cake, pizza bianca, focaccia with zucchini flowers) Some swear by Antico Forno Marco Roscioli, another pizza place close to Forno and run by a different branch of the same family. For pizza bianca, however, Forno is the fan favorite.
Chiostro del Bramante
This beautiful Renaissance clister, attached to the church of Santa Maria della Pace and designed by Michelangelo’s rival, Donato Bramante, is now a gallery and cultural center. The exhibits usually have a modern bent—Warhol canvases have been shown in the past—but sometimes feature works from previous eras. Raphael’s “Sibyls” fresco is on permanent display. Walk up the original marble steps to the Bistro-Cafeteria, perfect for a glass of wine pre- or post-art-viewing or a hearty brunch—somewhat of a rarity in the Eternal City. There’s also a great bookstore with weekly theatre and visual arts workshops for children. Moms, while your kids are artistically engaged, see above about that glass of wine!
Cardinal Scipione Borghese commissioned the English-style gardens surrounding his opulent “party villa” in the 1600s. Today, they constitute Rome’s central park, and the perfect setting for more modest gatherings like family picnics or bike tours. The “floating” Ionic temple dedicated to Aesculapius is a must-see. In the warmer month, kids can ride ponies, paddleboats, and even hot air balloons (with some adult supervision, of course), or see a puppet show. To beat the heat altogether, head inside to the Borghese Gallery or the National Etruscan Museum.
Steps away from the Piazza del Popolo, Hotel Locarno offers convenience with charm. Though it has served as a film location in the past, it is more often a quiet place of relaxation. There is a rooftop terrace, and the ground floor courtyard draws travelers and locals alike with its wisteria and aperitifs. “The lounge bar here has a boho style and the happy hour is quite cool,” Elisabetta Ferracini says. “I go with my friends for the delicious fried fish they serve with cocktails!”
Hotel de Russie
After seeing Rome’s attractions, you should retire to a place equally grand, not to mention convenient. The five-star Hotel Russie, located between the Spanish steps and Piazza del Popolo, has got you covered on both counts, and its terraced “secret garden” is itself a site to see. “To Elena, it’s like an enchanted forest!” says Vittoria Puccini of her daughter. The hotel’s spa and workout facilities are top-notch, but locals like Puccini come more often for the bar and restaurant.