The “New Roman Style” a fascinating itinerary to discover the hidden corners of Rome, from fashion to design, art and cuisine, here are all the most in places in the capital.
Rome the Eternal City? Of course, if you think of all the treasures and artistic masterpieces in the capital that represent human civilization from ancient Roman times, through the Renaissance and Baroque. But Rome is also much more than this. In recent years it has become an open-air artistic and cultural “workshop”. Alongside its historic monuments, the feature that distinguishes it around the globe, there are initiatives that look to the present and the future, just as in London, Paris and New York. There are flourishing modern art galleries, avant-garde buildings, trendy shops and night spots that go in for designer décor and minimal chic, while the oriental and ethnic styles hold sway in nearly all the neighbourhoods. In other words, you don’t need to go abroad to find out what is all the rage, because Rome has become a world leader in fashion, art and design.
In the spirit of Zen, with a minimalist look and a desire to seek out the trendiest places in the city, taste oriental dishes or enjoy the ritual of a fashionable aperitif follow our itinerary of the latest and most exotic spots in the capital.
A shop that has become one of the most popular in the city opened some time ago right next door to the Hotel dei Piranesi. It is a boutique, a feng shui furnishings centre, a florist’s, a café, a restaurant, an art gallery, a bookshop, a beauty salon, in a nutshell it is a concept store called Tad. In the very heart of Rome this is the perfect place to begin your day, it is a modular space of 1000 square metres, streamlined and decorated with gaudy colours, housing a varied collection of items for the home and for personal use. Give yourself a new look with the help of an expert stylist, buy a shantung garment and enjoy a coffee with an Arabic aroma to start the day with renewed energy. You’ll find the most original things with a particular focus on oriental trends (Tad, Via del Babuino, 155a Tel. 06 32669511).
Not far away, in Via Vittoria, there is another temple of oriental culture. It is called Thè Verde (Via Vittoria, 23 Tel. 06 32110174) after the green tea that is so popular in China and Japan. Entering this small shop is like plunging into a Zen atmosphere. Everything is arranged with the utmost care in a way that reminds you of the rules of feng shui. Soft lighting, large brickwork shelves and small niches enhance the display of very special objects that include, for example, Chinese vases, Middle-Eastern necklaces, silk and cashmere shawls, but above all tea services and the ingredients for the tea drinking ritual. Continuing down the same street, at number 55 you come to a young designer’s small jewellery shop Cristina Di Stefano Creazioni Orafe (Tel. 06 6791546). This very minimal shop has just opened and displays and sells fascinating designer jewellery in gold and silver with gemstones and precious stones in all shapes and colours. It is the ideal place if you’re looking for a special gift for a trendy spirited person who will be sure of wearing an absolutely original and unique piece of jewellery.
Obviously a piece of jewellery like this demands the right outfit to match it. Il Baco da Seta (Via Vittoria, 75 Tel. 06 6793907) is just the place for this. The name of this boutique means “silkworm” and here, of course, silk reigns supreme and it is worked in thousands of ways in colours that range from hemp to orange, from desert shades to Mediterranean hues. There are fascinating clothes by young designers who draw inspiration from the Orient and interpret the lines of samurai and geisha garments in a modern key. If you prefer the African style to the Orient, then pay a visit to Monies (Via Vittorai, 37) a small, chic, ethnic shop selling objects, furniture and items for home decoration inspired by the desert and safari style, and while we’re on the subject, pop into Exante Due at number 13 in the same street, where you’ll enjoy choosing really unusual pieces of costume jewellery.
Now it’s time for a coffee break or, if you want to be really fashionable, for a stylish aperitif. The “in” place is Shaki (Via Mario de’ Fiori, 29/a Tel. 06 6791694), a wine bar that has become a must for the young and trendy. It is small, but offers a great variety of teas and coffees with most unusual flavours, as well as appetizing snacks and good wine. Contemporary in style, everything here has that unmistakable designer touch, from the cups and plates to the glasses and napkins. If there is something that takes your fancy and you’d like to buy it, you can find it at the Shaki shop not far away in Piazza di Spagna (no. 65 Tel. 06 6786605).
We continue our itinerary through the new modish capital with a visit to the Galleria Colonna, named after the actor Alberto Sordi, which has recently reopened and become a focal point for Rome fashions. A short walk takes you to one of the latest bookstores in the Feltrinelli chain. This is a large space devoted to culture, which, as well as books and music, also has an art gallery that mounts exhibitions for young up-and-coming artists, photographers and sculptors, and a music bar where live jazz or blues is played at every Sunday brunch.
If you love technology and all the latest high-tech inventions, you’ll find two original shops in the Galleria Colonna. Tech it Easy has all the craziest and funniest designer electronic gadgets in circulation, and Sony Gallery displays the latest novelties by this Japanese company and is a real temple of high-tech.
Do you like the way out? Then Jam is the place for you. On the Corner of the Galleria Colonna, on the Via del Corso side is a vast space on two floors selling unusual, weird, crazy clothes, objects and souvenirs that sometimes verge on the kitsch, but are absolutely unique.
Now it’s time for lunch and we recommend two restaurants in the area. At Reef (Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 40/42 Tel. 06 68301430) the sea and its habitat feature in a minimalist key and are the theme of the whole design. Entering this restaurant is like plunging into tropical seas both as regards the décor and the menu. The undulating plates of glass resemble the rippling waves of the sea, the balustrades made of iron rods are close meshed like fishing nets, even the iron seems to have been rusted by salt water. The lighting and colours all create a soft atmosphere. And the food is really sublime. Gusto (Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 9 Tel. 06 3236363), however, is something else. Apart from being a very good restaurant, wine bar and pizzeria, it also has a bookstore mainly devoted to books on gastronomy from all over the world, and a shop, so it is the ideal place for those who like to read a newspaper or book over lunch.
Now we’ll take in some art. The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna (Via delle Belle Arti, 131 Tel. 06 322981; Tues-Sat 8.30 am – 7.30 pm, Sun 9 am – 7.30 pm) is located in the Villa Borghese, one of the loveliest parks in Rome, and has one of the most interesting 19th-century Italian Neoclassical, Romantic and Futurist painting and sculpture, as well as works by many 20th-century artists including De Chirico, Morandi and Marini. Outside the gallery is the Caffè delle Arti, the perfect place for a coffee in the open air and it is very popular especially at lunchtime. Lovers of contemporary art can visit the very new exhibition space MACRO (Via Reggio Emilia, 54 Tel. 06 67107900 www.macro.roma.museum; Tues- Sun 9 am – 7 pm, public holidays 10 am – 2 pm, Mon closed). MACRO is housed in the converted Birra Peroni factory, built at the beginning of the 20th century and has become a dynamic, cultural centre that includes six exhibition rooms, a bookstore, a lecture hall, a workshop and a bar. It has a permanent collection of works by world famous contemporary artists from the 1960s to the present, and periodically mounts temporary art exhibitions.
Now it’s time to relax before facing Roman nightlife, devote a few hours to your personal well-being and enjoy an oriental ritual. Rome too has its Hammam (La Culla del Benessere, Via della Maratona, 87 Tel. 06 36298573) and it is here that you’ll forget your daily stress and fatigue in the absolute peace and quiet of this temple of beauty. Let yourself be carried away by the magical exotic atmosphere of distant lands, surrounded by objects and ornaments from Morocco, by walls painted in Mediterranean colours, and sofas and armchairs covered in rich fabrics. An oriental doctor will make you welcome and then follows the full Turkish bath ritual including washing with black, date oil soap, gommage, a massage and to finish off a fragrant cup of mint tea. Now in top form, looking really great you are ready for the Rome nightlife. An absolute must among the very latest gourmet haunts is The Place, in the Prati neighbourhood, (Via Alberico II, 27 Tel. 06 68307137). This is a restaurant and American bar in a very minimal eclectic style, which in addition to an interesting menu with dishes from all over the world, has live music every day ranging from jazz to blues, funky and ethnic. If you prefer to go to a concert of classical or modern music check the programme of the new Auditorium della Musica (Via Pietro De Coubertin Tel. 06 8082058 or 06 80242350/1; www.musicaperroma.it), designed by Renzo Piano, another temple of design, where the acoustics, thanks to the special system of lines and shapes, is really extraordinary. And if you want a late meal, next to the Auditorium is another cult place Red (Via Pietro De Coubertin, 30 Tel. 06 80691630), this is one of the ultimate designer night spots where the red of the small mushroom-shaped armchairs and curious tables sets the tone, and where you can have dinner or simply taste the delicious snacks late into the night.