Who can forget the classic scenes from Roman Holiday of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn zipping through the city’s winding streets on a vintage Vespa? The Italian capital is ideal for exploring on two wheels, and there’s nothing more fun than soaking up the sights and sounds from the back of a scooter. Boutique travel company Scooteroma offers Vespa tours to satisfy all interests, from ancient history and food to street art and cinema.
Teatro di Marcello, an open-air theatre that dates all the way back to the 1st century, resembles a miniature Colosseum. The iconic site hosts classical and contemporary concerts throughout the year within the vaults of its ancient arcades, which make for an evocative backdrop on starlit autumn evenings. Tickets include a guided walk through the archaeological site before the show.
Rome excels at rooftop dining, and there’s no better place to sample the city’s culinary marvels than on the private garden terrace of Marchesa Violante Guerrieri Gonzaga (or Vio for short). Join the chef on a stroll through Campo de’ Fiori’s famous market to pick up seasonal ingredients, before learning how to prepare classic Italian dishes in her stately home. You’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labour on the rooftop terrace, while admiring 360-degree views of the city skyline.vioscooking.com
Located a short train ride east of Rome, the historic town of Tivoli merits a visit for its bucolic charm and noteworthy UNESCO World Heritage sites. Begin your tour at Villa Adriana, where you’ll find the ruins of Emperor Hadrian’s 2nd-century suburban Roman villa, before heading to the 16th-century Villa d’Este, which is famed for its remarkable Renaissance garden filled with numerous fountains, waterfalls and basins.
Learn about Lazio’s longstanding wine traditions during a visit to the nearby town of Frascati. The town produces some of the region’s most famous white wines, which are made with fragrant Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes. Savour the Frascati Superiore DOCG and sweet Cannellino di Frascati DOCG dessert wine during a vineyard tour of the family-owned Minardi Frascati Winery.
One of the most alluring aspects about a trip to Rome is the opportunity to step back in time. Take a leisurely bike ride along the ancient cobblestones of Appia Antica (Appian Way), the oldest road in the Eternal City and the source of the adage “all roads lead to Rome”. This historic road enabled trade to flourish throughout the Roman Empire and today takes travellers past Christian catacombs, churches and archaeological ruins.
Although most people flock to Rome for its ancient history, the modern capital has also cultivated a thriving street art scene over the last decade. The gritty Quadraro district in south-eastern Rome has become a focal point for this creative movement. Here, you’ll find the Museo di Urban Art di Roma, a community project comprising several large murals that adorn the neighbourhood’s residential buildings and public spaces.
Ancient Rome comes alive each evening during the immersive light shows held at the Forum of Augustus and the Forum of Caesar in the heart of the city. Special effects are projected right onto the ruins, while the educational narrative (available in eight languages) recreates what daily life was like during the Roman Empire.
The Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo only recently opened to the public, offering a fascinating glimpse into the pontiff’s power and prowess. Catch a train from the Vatican City railway station each Saturday morning to reach the palace, where you can embark on a guided walk through the Pontifical Villas and their gorgeous manicured gardens.
This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine