Rome Revival: A new generation of hotels, restaurants and attractions are transforming the Eternal City. Elizabeth Harvey reports.
In the Risorgimento of post-pandemic travel, Italy has proudly reclaimed its spot as a ruling force in the pantheon of top destinations. I made an early return in the fall of 2021, when testing was still required and crowds were sparse, for a grand tour from Sicily to Milan (and I found myself moved to tears on numerous occasions). This summer, Indagare members flocked to the beaches of the Amalfi Coast, Puglia and Ischia, and to the northern lakes of Como and Garda, to delight in sunshine, spritzes and sailing.
It’s impossible to choose a favorite destination in Italy. Florence is luscious and proud; Venice is a daydream brought to life; Taormina is fiercely colorful; Capri is the apotheosis of romance. But it is perhaps only Rome that manages to capture all of the country’s charms in one place. It is the city that burns brightest in our imagination: Audrey Hepburn flying through narrow streets on a Vespa; Anita Ekberg striding in a long black gown into the Trevi Fountain at twilight; Russell Crowe raising his fists against the bloodstained sands of the gladiator arena; Matt Damon surveying the ruins of the Forum after the murder of Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law); Julia Roberts indulging in a euphoric plate of pasta. Rome’s delights and the icons they inspire are eternal. But at this moment, a contemporary generation of new hotels, restaurants and exhibitions are seizing the city and taking the stage.
Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to Rome. Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you and help you craft the ideal itinerary.
Where to Stay: New Hotels in Rome
Nearly a dozen major luxury hotels are scheduled to open throughout Rome in the next few years. The most eagerly anticipated property set to welcome guests in early 2023—expected this month—is the Six Senses, the brand’s first hotel in Italy, housed within a UNESCO-protected, 18th-century Baroque palazzo on the Piazza di San Marcello, just steps from the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. Designed by the Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola, the Six Senses will have 96 guest rooms and suites, an open-kitchen trattoria and bar, a botanical garden and a rooftop terrace with spectacular 360-degree views. And certo, there will be a destination spa, inspired by the ancient Roman baths.
The other headliners, scheduled for 2023 and 2024 debuts, respectively, and likewise centrally located, are the Bulgari Hotel Roma and the Rosewood Rome. The Bulgari will celebrate the fashion house’s connection to the city (it was founded here in 1884) within a 1930s Modernist building just minutes from the flagship atelier on Via Condotti; highlights will include a restaurant by Michelin-grade chef Niko Romito and rotating exhibitions of both antique and contemporary art. The Rosewood will span three historic buildings, including a former bank headquarters. On-property experiences are being curated around the Roman concept of il dolce far niente—the art of doing nothing.
Other newcomers of note include the Rome EDITION, bringing Ian Schrager’s signature cool factor (and signature scent) to Italy for the first time, along with treats like a rooftop pool and the Punch Room bar for craft cocktails; Nobu Roma, which will transform the current Grand Hotel Via Veneto into a sleek locale with a Nobu restaurant; the Corinthia Rome, occupying a restored 19th-century building on Parliament Square; the InterContinental Rome Ambasciatori Palace, which was first built in 1900 to host ambassadors and later served as the American Embassy Library—and will now house an outpost of New York’s Scarpetta restaurant; The Pavilions Rome, The First Musica, a boutique hotel along the banks of the Tiber with prime views; and Rome footholds for the Hoxton and W brands, both open now and both must-visits for their colorful, lively atmospheres and buzzy dining and cocktail venues.
Additionally, the Palazzo Naiadi Hotel on the Piazza della Repubblica is being refurbished by Anantara, bringing new life—and culinary- and wellness- focused amenities—to a striking landmark, which preserves architectural elements commissioned by Pope Clement XI for the Vatican in 1705 and also sits above the ancient Diocletian Thermal Baths, whose pools and mosaics can be seen through the floor.
Related: The Best New Hotels of 2023: Top Picks from Around the World
Where to Eat: New Restaurants and Bars in Rome
Traditional, family-owned, no-fuss trattorias will always be what distinguishes Italian cities’ restaurant scenes from those in other foodie favorites around the world, and no trip to Rome is complete without a taste of classic plates like bucatini all’amatriciana, cacio e pepe, fried artichokes, pizza al taglio, trapizzino sandwiches and, yes, tripe. But for a sprinkle of new-age variety to enliven your gastronomic journey (and you could fill an entire itinerary just with reservations), Rome has recently welcomed a parade of inventive, plant-based eateries; craft beer and natural wine bars; and collaborations highlighting Nordic, Central American and Japanese influences. A few names to know: Pulejo, the first venture from chef Davide Puleio, who hails from Rome and previously worked at Noma in Copenhagen and L’Alchimia in Milan; Carter Oblio, a New Nordic–inspired creation by chef Ciro Alberto Cucciniello, featuring a simple but effective menu of twists on typical dishes from throughout Italy as well as the Mediterranean; and Romanè, the first restaurant from Stefano Callegari, the alleged inventor of the aforementioned trapizzini, located on Via Cipro (the menu will champion Roman staples, not just the sandwich, in a cheery space decorated by a gallery of ceramic plates).
For anything from a glass of wine to a multi-course tasting menu, check out: Enoteca Quartino, a modern wine bar with over 2,000 labels that spotlight small-production organic vineyards alongside the biggest Tuscan estates; 53 Untitled, a female-owned, sustainability-focused take on the tapas bar, through a Roman lens; Almatò, a minimalist gem offering five- and seven-course seatings at reasonable prices, in the up-and-coming Prati neighborhood; and Bottega Tredici, a cozy spot created by three friends whose casual atmosphere belies the elegance of its food. And for a fun night out, Don Pasquale at the new Maalot Hotel and Cecconi’s Terrazza at the new Soho House Rome are two addresses of note (the latter is open to Soho House members and their guests only).
Related: Indagare Top Tables: Rome — The Best Restaurants in the City
Where to Explore
This summer, the Museo dell’Arte Salvata opened to showcase the excellent craftsmanship of the nation’s master restorers—and to draw attention to the ongoing global effort to discover, save and return stolen art and artifacts to their countries of origin (in this case, Italy). The museum will host a series of ever-changing exhibitions that are the direct results of current investigations by the Italian government to find treasures that have been lost, taken or damaged by natural or political events, with recovered pieces eventually moving on to their forever homes in-country. (It has been reported that the inaugural exhibition featured hundreds of pieces that were reclaimed from the United States—where they were found in museums, auction-house holdings and private collections.)
Another significant summer opening was the Biblioteca e Museo della Cucina near Palatine Hill, the first museum in Rome dedicated to the history of Italian cuisine. It centers around a collection of rare Italian cookbooks, as well as cooking tools, spanning five centuries, and includes a copy of the first cookbook ever mass-printed (in 1474) and a first edition of the Bible of Italian cuisine, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, published in 1891 by Pellegrino Artusi (New Yorkers may also recognize his influence in the naming of West Village institution L’Artusi).
A major Van Gogh exhibition opened at the Palazzo Bonaparte (the former home of Napoleon’s mother) on through March 26, while “VOGIA DE CARNOVAL,” a multi-sensory celebration of Venice’s intrigue, is on at the Jean Nouvel–designed Rhinoceros Gallery at Fondazione Alda Fendi through April 30 (on the heels of “Picasso Va, Picasso Arriva,” which included a painting that had never been shown in Rome before, on loan from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg).
Contemporary art lovers who missed the exhibition “CRAZY” at Chiostro del Bramante (closed January 8) can catch “INFINITY: Michelangelo Pistoletto” when it opens on March 18—or make a trip to MAXXI, the National Museum of XXI Century Arts, which was designed by Zaha Hadid. Here, guests staying at the Indagare Index–listed Hotel Eden, a Dorchester Collection property, can explore the underground vaults of the museum, which are closed to the public, with art history and conservation experts, on a limited-edition tour. Also at the Hotel Eden is “The Rebel and Rome Trail,” a guided walking tour that traces the revolutionary life, secrets and artistic inspiration of 17th-century painter Caravaggio. And whether you favor chiaroscuro or not, no traveler can leave without paying a visit to the Galleria Borghese—which holds six paintings by Caravaggio, making it the largest gathering of his works in the world.
Related: Just Back from Rome: Favorites in the Eternal City
Insider Spotlight: Soledad Twombly
The designer behind the Indagare-adored fashion, décor and textiles atelier L’Archivio di Monserrato (an obligatory stop on our fashion-focused Insider Journey with Vogue) shares her favorite places in the city right now.
SHOP: “I am lucky to live and work in Via Monserrato, where the shops are filled with high-end and unique pieces. Just to name a few: Master Fabio Salini is a very talented jeweler just across from my store. Also, artist Gilbert Halaby has his painting and sculpture studio nearby, and his boutique of amazing handmade bags. Chez Dede has unique home furnishings, rare objects and books—all curated marvelously. Flower designer Dylan Tripp is one block away, and he makes the best decorations for any event—and he is right next to the contemporary jewelry designer Delfin Delettrez.”
EAT & DRINK: “I like having a bite at the terrace of the Hotel de la Ville or Hotel Locarno. There is a nice bar on Via Giulia called Giulia that offers good cocktails, and right on Via Monserrato is Josephine, a small Champagne and wine bar with exquisite cheeses from all over France.”
BE INSPIRED: “I recently enjoyed Setsuko’s exhibition ‘Into the Trees II’ at Gagosian Rome and the Ludovisi statue collection at the Palazzo Altemps Museum.”
WHY GO NOW: “Rome had a tough lockdown—but in all crises, there is room for creation, and this is what came out in our community of artisans: more unique pieces than you can find anywhere else in the world. And the usual travelers with great taste started arriving again and have spread the word of our little miracles.”
Follow Soledad on Instagram at @soledad.twombly.
Let us design your next trip to Rome: Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to Rome. Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you and help you craft the ideal itinerary.
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This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2022 issue of Indagare Magazine.