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Rome Travel Guide

© Drew Dies
The best places to go in Rome.

Rome's residents have been refining the way they live their lives for millennia, and it shows. The Eternal City's grand
architecture, winding streets and majestic plazas almost require an unhurried pace; the mild climate encourages people to linger; the cafés are designed for people watching; the meals are made to be savored.

Globalization has made an impact on Rome, but the city's style is still intact. The common American scene of female office workers striding to work in tennis shoes or hurried workers hailing cabs while gulping down paper cups of coffee are absent in the Italian capital. Most businesses still close for a few hours for lunch, and the streets still empty for vacation every August.

This mellow approach to daily life has made Rome one of the world's top tourist attractions for years. But what does it mean for an executive whose packed to-do list does not necessarily include gazing out over the Imperial Roman Forum for a while after lunch? According to the experts, the best advice is the simplest: Do as the Romans do.

In Rome, it almost never pays to be in a hurry," says Marco Gubitosi, president of the Rome offices of the American Chamber of Commerce. "Rome is even different than other parts of Italy. In Milan, for example, an hour-long meeting will last an hour, and it'll be mostly about business. But in Rome, it might last longer, and the first 20 or 30 minutes might be completely unrelated to the reason the meeting was called."

Vincenzo Racana, president of the American International Club of Rome, agrees. "I think that before people get to the point, they want to know you as an individual," he says. "Before discussing business, it's important for them to know if they like you and if you are a person of character." An Italian citizen who grew up in the United States, Racana adds that asking for an introduction before arranging for the meeting can help that process: "A good question to ask is whether someone in your network knows someone who knows someone who can introduce you. That can make a big difference."

Contrary to popular belief, though, this does not necessarily mean that Rome is less efficient-only that it is efficient in a different way. It's more natural to wait longer than in other countries before taking action. But things do get done.

If Rome and the surrounding area formed their own country, its gross domestic product would be roughly equivalent to New Zealand's. Italy's stock exchange and the bulk of its bank and insurance companies are based in Milan, but Rome is the seat of the Italian government and the home to nearly a third of the stock market's blue-chip companies. Industrial powers based in Rome include the country's dominant telephone company (Telecom Italia), its largest utility (Enel), its oldest broadcaster (RAI), almost all of its film industry (based at the Cinecittá Studios) and its flagship air carrier (Alitalia).

Practical advice from those who work with such companies includes being flexible with timing, and perhaps planning ahead more than you might in other cities. "I always tell business travelers to pick a hotel based on the part of the city where they'll be doing most of their business, because moving around the city can be timeconsuming," suggests Mirella Lunetta, director of 30th Century Fox, a Rome-based VIP tour agency. "If moving around a lot is inevitable, then hire a private car and driver, because that saves a lot of time compared to finding taxis."

Racana suggests spacing out appointments. "I try to avoid scheduling back-to-back meetings, because it can be tough to know when one will start or end," he says.

Marco Elser, a senior partner at AdviCorp, a Roman investment firm, suggests arriving in Rome with a different attitude than you would in other cities. "What is the point of working in Rome if you don't want to have unique Roman experiences?" he asks. "Because of the way the city works, it's important to have some inside knowledge or local contacts who can lead the way. Otherwise, you could end up at a hotel that could be anywhere, and at the same restaurants and activities that schoolkids visit."

ERIC LYMAN, a writer based in Rome, contributes feature stories, investigative articles and analysis related to Italy, Europe and beyond.

Where to Stay

Portrait Suites

Via Bocca di Leone 23
+39 06 693 80742

This small, modern luxury hotel is linked to the Salvatore Ferragamo fashion house and located just off Rome's most famous shopping street. The well-appointed rooms reflect their haute-couture pedigree.

Villa Spalletti Trivelli

Via Piacenza 4
+39 06 489 07934

A noble family's historic villa with picture-perfect gardens in the city center, this building was converted in 2007 into a small luxury hotel that elegantly blends history and culture with modern technology.

Hotel De Russie

Via del Babuino 9
+39 06 328 881

Just steps from the stunning Piazza del Popolo, one of Rome's finest larger hotels is an oasis from the bustling streets, with impeccable service, indulgent facilities and a lush private garden.

Where to Eat

Open Colonna

Scalinata di Via Milano 9
+39 06 478 22641

Recently transferred from his longtime location in the countryside east of Rome, acclaimed chef Antonello Colonna has imported his delicate and innovative cuisine to an airy, glass-enclosed spot atop the historic Palazzo delle Esposizioni.

Ristorante Dal Bolognese

Piazza del Popolo 1
+39 06 361 1426

Specializing in haute cuisine from Emilia-Romagna, this city institution is sometimes criticized for uneven (and typically Roman) service, but its faithful presentations of classics have earned it generations of success.


St. Regis Grand Hotel
Via Vittorio E. Orlando 3
+39 06 470 92736

The elegant and intimate setting of Vivendo, within one of Rome's best-known hotels, is ideal for the restaurant's creative interpretations of traditional Italian cuisine.

Free Time

Bascilica Di San Clemente

Via Labicana 95
+39 06 774 0021

Anyone interested in Catholic history will be wowed by San Clemente. The current structure is a Middle Ages basilica with an 18th-century façade; underneath are the walkable ruins of two prior churches, one from the fourth century and one from the first.

Doria Pamphilj Gallery

Via del Corso 305
+39 06 679 7323

The quantity of important works of art in Rome can be overwhelming. That's where smaller and carefully selected collections, such as this one, owned and operated by the noble Doria Pamphilj family, come in. It has been amassed over the past 400 years and includes a number of stunning Renaissance works. After-hours private tours are available by appointment.

Rooftop Bar at the Hotel Raphaël

Largo Febo 2
+39 06 682 831

Rome has many rooftop bars, but none can match the view, the ambience and the service here. Hotel Raphaël is strategically located between picturesque Piazza Navona and the Vatican.

Market Place