OCCUPATION: Executive Vice President and Creative Director, Pellicano Hotels
MY STYLE: Extremely eclectic, though I love classic aesthetics—solid colors and great shapes. I’m interested in the evolution of modern design, so I like for the pieces in my home and wardrobe to have a point of view and create a dialogue between different eras.
I LOVE ROME BECAUSE: Rome is so historical. It’s like living in a book—and not one that forever stays on the top shelf—because you interact with antiquity on a daily basis. There is so much beauty in the city, and it’s not far from the sea. There’s a lot to do and, last but not least, the food is multo bene!
Museo dell’Ara Pacis
This white marble altar dates back to 9 B.C. Though commissioned by the Senate to commemorate the Pax Romana brought about by Caesar Augustus, the structure was used as a stage for making sacrifices to the gods. Over the centuries, it was buried under silt from the Tiber but, not recovered, it is one of the most visited sites in the historical city center. In 2006, the museum opened to much fanfare. The mayor disliked architect Richard Meier’s modern design, but many view it as a stunning complement to the Ara Pacis, especially when the sun shines through the building’s glass walls and illuminates the altar just so. At times, the light has also shone on more contemporary creations, as was the case for ‘Valentino a Roma: 40 Years of Style.’
Another private villa turned public garden, Villa Celimontana is considered one of Rome’s prettiest spots. The park—decorated with marble, palms, and even an Egyptian obelisk—sits on the Caelian Hill and offers a splendid view of the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. Children love the park, and the fishpond especially, by day. On summer nights, parents come without the kids for a picnic under the stars accompanied by live music. For years now, the Villa Celimontana Cultural Association, in partnership with Alexanderplatz (Rome’s most famous jazz club) has been organizing a summer jazz festival that draws some of the best musicians from Italy and beyond. Concerts are nightly from July to September.
For a little exercise and a lot of scenery, walk up the Aventine Hill to the courtyard designed by Giovanni Battista Piranesi and owned by the Knights of Malta. There, you’ll find a large wooden door, the keyhole of which provides a view of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, perfectly framed by green hedges. To capture another cinematic shot, go back down the hill to the Basilica of St. Mary in Cosmedin (Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18). There lies the Mouth of Truth, an ancient drain covering with a carved face of Oceanus, the mouth of which is said to snap shut upon the hands of liars. Kids line up to test their fate, as Gregory Peck’s character challenged Audrey Hepburn’s to do in Roman Holiday.
Another testament to Testaccio’s charm, this family-run specialty grocery store is foodie heaven. You’ll enter to find hams hanging from the ceiling, walls lined with jams and honeys, and a small army of passionate workers eager to provide samples of fine meats and cheeses. Attention: there is such a thing as truffled salami! You can also do a tasting of Volpetti’s array of Umbrian olive oils not usually stocked in Rome. What’s more, the staff knows which products will be allowed into the U.S., and will even vacuum-pack them for you. For more onsite noshing, go around the corner to Volpettie Più, a high-class deli offering everything from lasagna to broiled codfish to rice balls to ricotta cheese pie. The pizza and fried zucchini flowers are also favorites. You’ll pay by weight, so you can take just as much as you want, which, given the quality, just might be more than you need!
Rome may be less of a fashion capital than Milan, but you wouldn’t know it from Nuyorica! The décor of the shop, complete with a brick archway and metal beams, is as cool as its wares—high-end labels from around the world including Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Chloé, Jil Sander, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and Band of Outsiders. Nuyorica’s has the stylish celeb seal of approval, courtesy of Cameron Diaz. Nuyorica Roots, a second location, is just around the corner at Via del Pellegrino, 15.
Galleria Doria Pamphilj
Following the start of construction in 1505, the Doria Pamphilj Palazzo grew along with the size and power of its owners. The building has stayed in the family, but its collection of works by Renaissance masters—Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, and others—is open to the public. “This is really a must-see gallery in Rome,” Marie Louise Scio says. Most of the paintings, of which Velázquez’s “Portriat of Innocent X” is considered the star, are in four stately wings surrounding the palace courtyard. An audio tour, available in Italian, French, or English, is included in the ticket price.
Città del Sole
With locations throughout Italy, this toy store draws parents and children with its imaginative environment and unique products. From old-fashioned wooden horses to high-tech gadgets, “you can always find really beautiful, interesting things,” says Elisabetta Ferracini. Città del Sole recognizes that toys play an important role in a child’s development, so it’s the perfect place for products that mix fun and learning. Games can be found in Italian or English.
Thanks to a recent renovation, Linari’s polished space matches its perfect-looking pastries. It’s still a real neighborhood place, though, with plenty of families and old-timers holding court. “We bike to this café near Piazza Santa Maria in Testaccio. The small round tomato pies are the best and a very Roman thing to eat for breakfast,” Marie-Louise Scio says. Morning is busiest, but the place heats up again in the late afternoon when the aperitif crowd comes calling.
Testaccio Farmers’ Market
Campo de’ Fiori isn’t the only open-air market in town. Testaccio was once an ancient river port, and the culture of trading lives on at the farmers’ market, another great place to find seasonal organic produce from Lazio’s countryside. You’ll also find a variety of meats, fitting since the beautiful pavilion space was once a slaughterhouse supplying Roman butchers. Like at any good market, there are free samples for all and farmers eager to discuss their goods. It’s the perfect place to swap recipes and get tips for la cucina Italiana!