Several years past its third millennium mark, the warmest of European capitals is more captivating than ever. Rome’s dramatic physique, from her majestic antiquities to her sinuous baroque curves, has been thrown into even higher relief by a modern trend that has made its presence felt in a major way: in hotels, restaurants, and shops that have adopted a more current, international aesthetic. Traditionalists needn’t worry, however—Rome is still very much enamored of her past, and you can find old-school establishments all over town if you know where to look. While the Colosseum and the Vatican still loom large in the skyline and identity of Rome, you’ll discover the true soul of the city away from the big sights—in neighborhood coffee bars and trattorias, and from riders of Vespas exchanging boisterous greetings while passing on cobblestone backstreets. For a city this stylish and accomplished, Rome’s remarkable accessibility, even for first-time or short-term visitors, is her most generous asset.
Weekday mornings mixing with salt-of-the-earth Romani dei Roma at Testaccio’s covered produce market.
Walking around the base of Monte Testaccio—an eye- popping slice of rural life right in the city, where goats graze above clubs that blast techno by night. (It’s also an archaeological site of an ancient Roman amphora dump.)
Exploring the “new” Monti (formerly ancient Rome’s red-light district) by browsing cutting-edge fashion boutiques on Via Leonina or getting your hair blown out at fab salon Contesta Rock on Via degli Zingari.