Romantic getaways in Rome: a city made for two
Paris may have earned the title city of love, but Rome more than holds its own where romance is concerned. Just look to the world of cinema for proof, whether the classic romantic comedy Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, or the more recent To Rome with Love by Woody Allen. The monuments and ruins in The Eternal City (a nickname more than deserved, given Rome is the birthplace of Western civilisation) are a charming backdrop for a romantic getaway with the one you love.
At some point, we’ve all seen or made romantic gestures which originate in Rome, such as attaching a padlock with lovers’ names to a bridge, or aimlessly walking hand in hand along the banks of a river. Let Rome embrace you and enjoy a city truly made for two.
Here’s our top pick of things to do in Rome with your beloved.
Romantic restaurants in Rome
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but this saying rings just as true for women, especially when in Italy. Our first suggestion for your romantic trip is a cosy candlelit dinner. Here are two of the best places:
- Ristorante Caprera Roma (Piazza Caprera, 5): Located in the upmarket neighbourhood of Trieste in the north of the city, next to the Villa Borghese (note this down for later), this restaurant will have you seated among columns and friezes. The square wrought-iron tables, large windows and parquet floor add a Parisian touch. It’s popular with the locals and is open all day, serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. The menu used to draw on traditional Neapolitan cuisine but over time has adapted to new tastes. Among the delicious dishes on offer are classics like courgette carpaccio along with dishes with a modern twist, such as the carbonara burger.
- Osteria del Sostegno (Via delle Colonnelle, 5): ‘Il Sostegno’ is a small and intimate restaurant inside an ancient building in the Parione district, close to the Pantheon. The stone walls, paved black floor and tables with floral centrepieces come together to create a really special atmosphere. The restaurant opens every day excluding Sunday and Monday nights. Choose from a charming terrace, an intimate dining room or a more spacious dining hall. The menu specialises in the cuisine of the Lazio region, specifically Roman cuisine. For particularly romantic options, consider the ‘insalata di carciofi, avocado, parmigiano e noci‘ (salad of artichoke, avocado, parmesan and walnuts) and the ‘tagliolini con trufa negra’ (tagliolini with black truffle).
Romantic places in Rome
Much of Rome’s charm stems from its seemingly infinite supply of beautiful old buildings. You’ll encounter villas the length and breadth of the city, each with its own particular name. These huge gardens with luxurious buildings were a source of dispute among the cardinals, popes, kings and noblemen of old. Villa Pamphili, Villa Celimontana, Villa Gordiani… The list is endless, but two stand out:
- Villa Borghese Pinciana houses the famous Borghese Gallery including masterpieces by Titian, Raphael and Caravaggio. It’s the third largest public park in Rome, and you’ll find it in the heart of the Monti district. The heart-shaped green space has cafes, temples, fountains and a lake where you can hire boats. There’s even a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
The other villa really worth a visit is known colloquially as the Orange Garden. It lies atop Aventine Hill (one of Rome’s seven hills) and has some of the best views of the city, with the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in the background. The park inspired the Oscar-winning Italian film The Great Beauty, and a sunset stroll here is guaranteed to set hearts aflutter.
Another of Rome’s most romantic places is Vía Margutta. The street has long been associated with artisans and artists and its bohemian vibe was the setting for William Wyler’s 1953 classic Roman Holiday. The love story that plays out between Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck starts at number 51.
For a trip further back in time, head to the Clivus Scauri, an ancient Roman road that originally ran across Caelian Hill from the Circus Maximus to the Colosseum. As you climb one of Rome’s seven hills, you’ll pass beneath the buttresses of the Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo while soaking up the charmingly tumbledown surroundings. Nature may have reclaimed many of Rome’s ruins, but here, the wild vines seem to have signed a truce with what remains. After walking by what’s left of ancient Roman homes and the Temple of Claudius, you’ll reach the top of Caelian Hill and the ancient gate called the Porta Caelimontana.
Romance beyond Rome
If the hustle and bustle of Rome becomes too much, you can always look for romance beyond the centre of the capital. Try Aqueduct Park, a rustic space which is part of the Appia Antica Regional Park and just 8 km from the centre of the city. The Aqua Felix and Aqua Claudia aqueducts cut through what is essentially still pasture land (don’t be surprised if you see crops and grazing sheep). It’s also a favourite spot for pre-wedding photos. If you feel like a romantic cycle trip you can hire bikes and pedal to the historic Cinecittà film studios.
The ancient Roman city of Ostia Antica may not be as famous as Pompei, Tivoli or Florence, but it knows how to do romance just as well and is only 30 km west of Rome. It was once a flourishing commercial port in the golden age of the Roman Republic before a cholera epidemic (and subsequent Barbarian invasions) wiped out the population. The sands from neighbouring beaches have partially buried the ruins that run alongside the ancient Decumanus Maximus (the main east-west-oriented road in a Roman city) while preserving them at the same time. The park also has a museum, and a theatre stages shows in summer.