Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Romance in Rome


Few places in Europe offer so many ways to rekindle the spark of love as the Eternal City. From timeless Roman plazas to magnificent art and exquisite dining, it won’t take too much effort to find some serious romance in Rome. You’ll be in good company too, as this city seems to have a contagious case of public displays of affection.

Rome is the perfect weekend getaway for lovers, as you can pack loads of activity into each day. The city’s airports provide excellent connections all across the UK and Europe, making it quick and easy to hit the ground running. If you’ve never done it, a great way to warm up in Rome is with a horse-and-carriage ride through the charming streets of the Centro Storico (historical centre). It begins at Piazza di Spagna and offers a dozen opportunities to pause for handmade chocolates and colourful flowers. Just be sure to avoid the rush hours.

If the weather is nice, choose one of the city’s relaxing parks to escape the bustle of Rome’s streets. Villa Borghese Park is one of the most popular, featuring a quiet lake with boat rides and plenty of shady paths for strolling. Grab a bottle of wine and a few snacks from the local shops and enjoy an afternoon picnic in the grass. Afterwards, head to the park’s terrace, known as the Pincio, for some truly stunning and romantic views over Rome, especially around sunset when nature becomes the artist in residence.

There are almost too many attractions in Rome, so it’s best to take the time before you arrive to plan out your route. The Trevi Fountain may be the city’s most popular tourist attraction, but it’s still worth a visit if your sweetheart is in tow. Toss two coins into the legendary fountain to ensure your romance in Rome lingers on or three coins if you hope to get married.

Eating is undeniably one of the highlights of any visit to Rome and you’ll have a bewildering choice of cosy caf├ęs to work with. While you’re wandering around the city during the day, keep on the lookout for one of the many hidden neighbourhood piazzas. Here, you’ll likely discover a local trattoria or two oozing quaint Roman charm. These wonderful little places have no trouble with diners lingering for three hours over their meal.

Night time opens up a whole other world of Rome, where softly-lit buildings and warm evening air conspire to set the mood like few other things can. Head to Piazza di Campidoglio and admire the handiwork of Michelangelo before climbing the steps of the Cordonata for one of Rome’s most enchanting city vistas.

Another memorable evening activity is a dinner cruise on the Tiber River, where serenading musicians and a parade of stunning monuments like St Peter’s and the Castle Sant’Angelo provide a backdrop to a romantic meal that could only happen in a place like Rome.

There are several great areas of Rome to stroll around after dark. In the north of the city, the Ponte Milvio Bridge is a popular haunt for lovers. Add your padlock to the bridge’s old chains to prove your eternal love to your partner. Rome does have the potential for pickpockets and petty thieves at night, however, so try to stay around other groups of people.

After all is said and done, it’s great to retire at the end of the day in one of the city’s charming historic hotels. There are dozens to choose from, in all budgets and locations. Pick a neighbourhood to serve as your base so you can walk nearly everywhere. Hubs like Piazza del Popolo are perfect for classy 1920s Art Deco hotels which are guaranteed to keep the vibe alive as you tuck under the covers.