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Compressing three thousand years of history in one day? This is the right itinerary to fill your eyes with great beauty and your belly with traditional dishes... and discover the contemporary and a little hipster side of the Capital.
Rome is full of history and tales difficult to compress into 24 hours, while trying to grasp all its contradictions: popular and noble, sacred and profane, traditionalist but libertine, decadent (very) and glorious (if you know where to go). With a busy schedule in hand, you can live the city intensely from dawn till dusk, with no missteps, and discover the most popular movie sets, most curious habits and reasons why the Capital, after all, has an irresistible charm. At the end of the day, you will want to start all over again.
Set the alarm early – it’s worth it – and climb to the Terrazza del Gianicolo to enjoy the sunrise over the eternal city, still somnolent in an eerie silence. When you get tired of the view, stroll through the gardens among the marble busts of the Renaissance heroes.
Walk to Trastevere, along via Garibaldi, and afterwards have a rest at the Fontanone (the one featured in the opening sequence of The Great Beauty, the Oscar-winning film by Paolo Sorrentino). Then stop and have breakfast at Le Levain, one of the few pastry shops in Rome worthy of the name (and French-inspired). Although there are great croissants, the real specialty are the éclairs and pains au chocolat.
Look for the small church of San Benedetto in Piscinula – one of the most beautiful and least known among the 900 churches in Rome – and then improvise a trip through the alleys of an unusual Trastevere, before it gets filled later in the day with the nightlife crowd.
Visit the MACRO Testaccio museum dedicated to contemporary art in the most eclectic neighbourhood in Rome, featuring street art, clubs and ancient culinary traditions.
A Mattatoio (slaughterhouse) once stood right where the MACRO is now – just notice the unmistakable bull emblem which still stands above the entrance. In this district, you absolutely need to experience the quinto quarto (entrails of animals). Just cross the road and reserve a table at Checchino Dal 1887 to try the rigatoni con la pajata and pig’s trotter salad or walk a few meters further to Flavio al Velavevodetto, for one of the best carbonara pastas in Rome. You’ll find yourself underneath (literally) Monte dei Cocci – a kind of Roman mound – which is an artificial hill made up of layers of testae (fragments) of the amphorae from the nearby river port, thrown here over the centuries. After dinner, explore the neighbourhood by first taking a look at the Protestant Cemetery – the resting place of Keats and Shelley – and then observe the Pyramid, one of the many historical peculiarities of the city.
Cross Circus Maximus, walk along Via dei Fori Imperiali (finally a pedestrian area, as long as there are traffic wardens to patrol the crossings) and choose how to continue the afternoon. Shopping at la Rinascente in Via del Tritone? A movie at the Casa del Cinema in Villa Borghese? A visit to the Cloister of Bramante (where you can also find a cosy café)? And why not get a tailor-made, flawless suit at Sartoria Giuliva in Monti? In this lively district, you will also find hipster barber shops, modern antique shops and young designers workshops.
Remain in the area to enjoy a drink before dinner. Fine wines can be found at La Barrique, an exclusive wine bar with an elite cellar and a penchant for bubbles (French rather than Italian).
If you respected tradition at lunchtime, in the evening indulge in a twist on classic. At Open Colonna, on the top floor of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Via Nazionale, where chef and entrepreneur Antonello Colonna, in an elegant, contemporary design dining room, proposes his Roman cuisine revisited with cleverness. Try the Negativo di Carbonara and il Diplomatico with cream, chocolate and salt caramel.
A drink before heading back to your hotel (the brand-new Hotel De’ Ricci, wine-themed and with a private, personalized cellar in every room). Where to stop? Obviously at the Jerry Thomas Project, a speakeasy tucked away in an alley between Campo de’ Fiori and Castel Sant’Angelo, to try the great classics from the Golden Age of mixology executed to perfection, as you would expect from the best cocktail bar in Rome and top 50 in the world.