Now that the spring/summer weather has arrived, we’ve put together a plan to take advantage of the city from morning till night all all’aperto, outdoors.
If you’re lucky you can nab a table out on the chic street of Via Borgognona, 44 near the Spanish Steps at Ginger, a fashionable and healthy cafe/restaurant/juice bar where you can order something fresh and fruity.
If you want a more typical Italian breakfast of a pastry and coffee with a view of a breathtaking square, then head for Bar Farnese in Piazza Farnese. You’ll pay a little more than usual to sit down here but this is one of the few piazzas that isn’t chaotic even in tourist season and you’ll be taking your colazione beside well-to-do locals.
If you want a young scene where artists and fashionistas glide by on bicycles and stop to flirt by the fountain, head to the main square of the quartiere of Monti – Piazza Madonna dei Monti, 5. Here you’ll find La Bottega del Caffè where you can sit outside and watch a parade of expats and under-30 Italians. The Italian guy who runs this magazine swears that they serve the best croissants in the city.
Head up to the famous park of Villa Borghese where you can hire a bike, segway, rickshaw or even venture out to the lake to get romantic in a rowboat. You can hire your mode of transport from the Pincio entrance, which can be reached by climbing the path that leads up from Piazza Navona.
If you’re keen to get in amongst the buzz of the city, then Campo dei Fiori with its thriving food and flower market is always busy up until about 3pm and you can buy cups of fresh cut strawberries, pineapple and watermelon. A bit touristy but definitely a must-see.
By midday that sun can get pretty hot and if you’ve been sightseeing or traipsing around the streets you’ll probably want to escape somewhere cool and serene. The Hotel De Russie on Via del Babuino, 9 is my favourite hotel in Rome, not least of all because it has a magical courtyard and garden hidden inside where you can dine on delicious local dishes with a view of orange trees, the peachy-toned palazzo of the hotel and elegant guests in tailored suits and summer dresses. The prices aren’t that exorbitant considering the beautiful setting. On the weekend they have an extravagant brunch from 12pm-3pm that costs €48, which boasts the best of Italian and Roman cuisine.
Forget Via del Corso with its chain stores and crowds of teenagers – head over to the historic and peaceful streets between Campo dei Fiori and the river, such as Via Pellegrino, Via Monserrato, Via Giulia and Via dei Banchi Vecchi here you’ll find little quirky boutiques selling all kinds of treasures: art, secondhand books, lingerie, bespoke lamps, designer baby clothes, shoes, vintage cinema posters, local olive oil, wine and chocolate… The streets are never crowded making it a lovely lazy experience when you can stroll at leisure and even just window shop.
This is the Italians’ equivalent of happy hour, however, it is custom to offer more than just bar nuts. You’ll find a spread of antipasti, which is complimentary with the purchase of one drink. Freni e Frizioni, which spreads out into the street and down the stairs on Via del Politeama, 4, attracts a big crowd of young slightly arty Italians and foreigners and the buffet is substantial enough to suffice for a light dinner. It’s in Trastevere and the vibe is very casual.
If you’re after somewhere a little more intimate or classy, head to Hotel Locarno in Via della Penna, 22. It’s just near Piazza Navona hidden off in a side street. The courtyard here is small but attracts many locals and the atmosphere is perfect for a date.
If you want somewhere truly special and slightly more formal than a trattoria, Pierluigi on Via Monserrato, or more specifically, in the dreamy little square of Piazza Dè Ricci, 144, is arguably the best place to dine outside in Rome. Excellent service, the freshest seafood and a favourite of politicians, film stars and other international celebrities. You sit outside here on a balmy evening, gazing up at palazzi decorated with 16th century frescoes and feel like you’re in a fairytale.
There are plenty of gelaterie serving delicious flavours but very few have outdoor seating, or if they do – like the famous Giolitti – they make you pay to sit down. Gelateria del Teatro is tucked away in a tiny alleyway off Via dei Coronari (Via di San Simone, 70), serves up luscious gourmet flavours like white chocolate and basil and if you miss out on grabbing one of their little mosaic tables you can always sit on the steps that lead up to the theatre and continue to admire the night sky…