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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rome: The Romantic Musts

Words by Courtney Kellar

Having travelled the globe, there’s just something about Rome! For those lovebirds considering Italy’s capital for their destination wedding or honeymoon, we have an insider tip that will help you get the most out of your time abroad. While pasta and pizza might be at the forefront of your mind, you’re no doubt going to sightsee while in Rome to lay eyes on some of the most romantic and historical spots in the world. If so, you’ll definitely want to consider the OMNIA Vatican and Rome sightseeing pass. For one flat fee (€98), you have three days to see all the top spots in Rome. Not only that, but the card also grants you Fast Track Entrance – saving you hours of standing in lines. For more information, the folks at OMNIA have weighed-in on their top picks for romance in Rome. These are just a few of the places included with the pass. For more information, visit omniavaticanrome.org.

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When you are planning a romantic honeymoon, why not opt for Rome? There is something about the eternal city that makes it undeniably romantic. The destination experts at OMNIA Vatican and Rome, the sightseeing pass for the top attractions in the city, have been on a mission to discover the romantic spots around the city of Rome.

Maybe it’s the fact that Rome is such a sensory experience. Stunning scenery, tantalising food and the sound of Italian, which, as we all know, is the original language of love. And it’s no secret that the light in Rome is magical. The glittering glow of street lamps on cobbled streets, the sun setting behind the ancient temples of the Forum, candles on red-checked tablecloths lighting up the faces of starry-eyed couples. If you need tips on amorous locations for your lovers’ getaway, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a list of both classic and hidden spots perfect for wooing your beloved:

The Roman Forum (and the Temple of Venus and Rome)

The historic ruins of the Forum are a must-see when in Rome. Among them is the Temple of Roma and Amor, thought to have been the largest of ancient Rome’s temples and perhaps the most splendid. Not only that, but it is also the perfect symbol of love in the eternal city. Why? Half the temple was built in honour of Venus, the goddess of love, while the other half was dedicated to the city of Rome itself: the ultimate combination.

Address: Entrance from Piazza del Colosseo

Opening times: Every day from 8:30am to 1 hour before sunset.

The Aventine Keyhole and Orange Gardens

A short walk from Circus Maximus, you will find Aventino: one of Rome’s “seven hills.” Most importantly, it is this one that holds a hidden surprise for those who know where to look. At the top of the hill, peep through the unassuming brass keyhole in the doors of the Priorato dei Cavalieri di Malta (Priory of the Knights of Malta). You will see a picture-perfect view of St. Peter’s Basilica, framed by a row of vined arches. Right next door is “Il Giardino degli Aranci” or The Orange Gardens, the perfect place to go on a romantic afternoon stroll. Take in the fragrance of the orange trees as well as the magnificent view across the Tiber River.

Address: Via di Santa Sabina

Opening times: Daily, from sunrise to sunset

Appia Antica

If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the centre, pack a picnic for two and hit the (2000-year old) road. That is, take your partner on a biking tour of the ancient Appia Antica, the very first road that led to Rome. The 16km stretch of cobbled stones is surrounded by beautiful greenery and takes you past ancient ruins, villas, catacombs, the Caffarella Valley and the remains of Roman aqueducts. A good place to start your journey is just past Porta di San Sebastiano, where you can also hire bikes.

Information Point & Bike Hire Address: Via Appia Antica, 58

Opening times: Mon – Sat 9:30am – 1pm & 2pm – 5:30pm, Sun 9:30am – 5:30 pm

Spanish Steps and The Keats and Shelley House

Another must-see attraction often dotted with canoodling couples is the Spanish Steps. Located in the famous and picturesque Piazza di Spagna, it offers a spot to sit down and share a gelato – or climb to the top and gaze across the rooftops of the historic centre. If you feel overwhelmed by the crowds, take refuge in The Keats and Shelley House, just a stone’s throw away. This quaint little museum is dedicated to the English Romantic poets who fell in love with Roma.

Address: Keats and Shelley House: Piazza di Spagna, 26

Opening times: Mon – Sat 10am – 1pm & 2pm – 6pm, Closed Sun

The Gianicolo Hill

The climb to the top of Gianicolo Hill is a little steep, but well worth it for one of the most stunning panoramas in Rome. There are several viewpoints along the way, starting with the incredible Fontana dell’Acqua Paola nearby. Also dubbed “Il Fontanone” (literally “the big fountain”), it was built by Pope Paul V to provide water to the local residents. Locals also used to bathe here, and although it might seem like a tempting skinny-dipping spot, bathing in the fountain is now (unfortunately) strictly forbidden.

Address: Via del Gianicolo

Monte Mario and “The Path of Lovers”

Appreciate one more sweeping view of the city from the top of another fabled hill, that of Monte Mario, the highest in Rome. This viewpoint is also known as “the path of lovers,” no doubt due to all the lovebirds that make the romantic pilgrimage to this spot. This is also the home of Monte Mario Observatory and therefore an excellent place for stargazing with your sweetheart.

Address: Riserva Naturale di Monte Mario

Opening times: from sunrise to sunset

Castel Sant’Angelo and The Tiber River at Night

With moonlit, narrow alleyways and beauty around every corner, Rome is unrivalled when it comes to nocturnal walks. One of the best night time walks is along the Tiber River. You can stroll hand in hand along the edge of the river itself or the streets above. Start from the famous “Mouth of Truth” (Bocca della Verità) and follow the riverside until you reach the Ponte Sant’Angelo bridge. Look across the river and you will be able to gaze up at the magnificent, illuminated structure that is Castel Sant’Angelo (built by Hadrian and since used as a fortress and papal residence).

The Trevi Fountain

Anyone who knows the famous scene from “La Dolce Vita” will be acquainted with the iconic romance associated with the Trevi Fountain. Although there’s no denying that it generally abounds with tourists tossing coins into the water, it is still one of Rome’s most seminal and beautiful fountains. It is worth noting that the fountain is currently being restored, so there is no water and it is covered in scaffolding. However, the fountain is still visible and there is a footbridge crossing it, so you can walk close to the fountain façade. If you’re motivated enough to lose a few hours’ sleep, try coming before 6am. This is when the piazza is at its most tranquil and you can share a magical, undisturbed moment in front of Bernini’s masterpiece.

Address: Piazza di Trevi 

The Pantheon

The Pantheon is the best preserved and arguably the most stunning building from ancient Rome. Bring your loved one here to marvel at the enormous structure from the cobbled piazza outside or admire the incredible interior, most notably the famous rotunda and oculus: a reminder of the beauty of the cosmos.

Address: Piazza della Rotonda

Opening times: 8:30am – 7:30pm

The Colloseum

Although it might seem like the most obvious suggestion, a trip to Rome would not be the same without a kiss in front of the Colloseum. Legend has it that if the Colloseum collapses, civilization itself will crumble. As the name suggests, it is colossal and literally the centre of Rome. If you are not planning on going inside, why not come here at night when the piazza is more or less deserted and the beautiful ancient arches are lit up.

Address: Piazza del Colosseo

Opening times: 8:30am – 6:15pm

Of course, Rome would not be Rome without its delectable cuisine. To make sure you and your partner get the most out of your stay, here are a few tips to tantalise your taste buds:

Sweet treats at Confetteria Moriondo & Gariglio

It’s a known fact that chocolate is an aphrodisiac. Well, a short walk from the Pantheon, you can find Confetteria Moriondo & Gariglio, a heavenly artisan chocolate shop. The Roman poet Trilussa even wrote sonnets in order to express his affection for this little shop in the heart of Rome. Now that’s amore.

Address: Via del Piè di Marmo, 21/22

Opening times: Mon – Sun, 9am – 7:30pm

Wine at Il Goccetto

One of the first wine shops in Rome, this charming little winery is located just off Campo de’ Fiori in the centre of town. With its vast selection of Italian wines and local, friendly atmosphere, it’s a great place to charm your loved one over some cheese and vino.

Address: Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 14

Opening times: Mon 11:30am – 2:30pm, Tues – Sat 8:30am – 12:30am, Closed Sun

Dinner at Il Margutta

Just a few minutes from the noisy crowds in Piazza del Popolo is one of Rome’s prettiest roads: Via Margutta. This serene, narrow street is adorned with ivy and speckled with galleries. Dine with your darling at the great vegetarian restaurant-come-art gallery at the bottom of the road. The restaurant, Il Margutta, is perfect for dinner or lunch. The ambience is elegant and intimate while the food is fresh and innovative.

Address: Via Margutta, 118

Opening times: Mon – Sun, 12:30pm – 3pm & 7pm to 11:30 pm

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Martin Fisch, Paula Soler-Moya, Paolo Margari, OMNIA Vatican and Rome, jac o p o, Marko, Neil Howard, Stephanie KrausMichael Patrick & NYC/Caribbean Regazza

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