Valentine’s Day may be long over, but everyone knows that romance in Rome is a daily occurrence — unbridled displays of affection on every corner with backdrops of marvelous monuments and spectacular color. Yes, it’s easy to find amazing amore in the Eternal City, but the perfect romantic weekend requires a little strategy and a few advance reservations.
Drop the bags at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel de Russie, a Rocco Forte Hotel, the ideal home base because of its easy location to all corners of the historic center; its private garden with outdoor and indoor bar; top-notch concierge who can do anything; and of course, its gorgeous, plush rooms. (Tip: request a unit on the top floors, especially if you want to face the courtyard.)
Friday evening in Rome is the only night that must be planned, and done just as soon as you’ve booked your flights. Make sure to score a Friday evening Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel visit. From 7 p.m., you’ll walk through resplendently decorated and uncrowded halls and galleries, almost as if you were the Pope’s personal friends.
The private party continues up the nearby Monte Mario hill at Four-Star Rome Cavalieri where you’ve booked one of the most coveted tables at rooftop restaurant La Pergola. A meal here calls for reservations made well in advance, but chef Heinz Beck’s creative temperament and infallible tasting menu (and we don’t know where to start on the show-stopping view of a glittering Rome unfolding at your feet) are more than worth it.
Saturday morning is reserved for Hotel de Russie room service. After a pampering meal, it’s time to get out. The Trastevere neighborhood has a bit of magic on its mind — not to mention on the walls of Villa Farnesina, a 16th-century love nest with beautiful frescoes by Raphael Sanzio. After gazing up at the marriage of Cupid and Pysche, take a leisurely walk to Ponte Sant’ Angelo, the angel-draped bridge that leads to Renaissance stronghold Castel Sant’Angelo. Head to the top for two beautiful views of Vatican City and Rome facing east, and make sure to say hello to the winged resident.
After a few snaps there, head back to the hotel for a bit of relaxation. You’ve booked an afternoon at the De Russie Spa, a wellness zone with a saltwater hydropool Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, plus an enviable menu of treatments. If that’s not enough, your aromatic couple’s ritual (a chroma-therapy message with aromatic oils and hot stones) should do the trick.
When down time comes to an end, get up and ready to eat like a true Roman. The tiny L’Arcangelo, in the city’s Prati corner, is a living room-styled restaurant with a sophisticated, low-key atmosphere. You will fall in love with the gnocchi all’amatriciana and vitello alla romana, menta e pecorino (veal with mint and pecorino cheese).
Once you put your fork down, head in the direction of Campo de’ Fiori to the Jerry Thomas Project, an ersatz Jazz Age time piece that consistently ranks as one of the top 50 bars in the world. Stay late so, by the time you walk to the Trevi Fountain, no one will be around to obstruct your sensual selfie-taking.
On Sunday morning, sleep in before taking a garden seat for the hotel’s breakfast buffet. Walk off the calories in nearby Villa Borghese, Rome’s green expanse for children of all ages — you’ll find bike and roller blade rentals, lakes, cafés and a carousel.
For a pick-me-up with a view, Café del Pincio, the charming coffee bar in the neo-classical Casina Valadier restaurant, has a sweeping, western-facing vista of the city.
Before you go, make one last stop at the Terrace of the Quadrigas, the rooftop of the Vittoriano, the monumental white building in the epicenter of the city. With a literal bird’s-eye view of contemporary Rome and the Ancient City, this moment makes for an unforgettable conclusion to your passionate weekend.