TRENDING IN ROME
October 11, 2015
I’ve just finished the 2015 edition of Travel Trade Italia, the number 1 trade show in Italy for catching the latest trends, making new contacts, and checking the quality of current suppliers. TTI flies select buyers from around the world to Rimini, Italy for this event and it is a privilege to be part of the group.
Here are some quick notes on ROME as I ride the train up to Asolo for two nights at a boutique property there, including an entire day spent with the owner of the hotel getting the “insider’s view” of her region.
I listened to a lot of hotel presentations and I have two new hotel options in Rome. One is an all-suite boutique hotel right by the Spanish Steps with fabulous, wildly unique rooms. Not huge, but unique. One bathtub is in a giant red slipper, just like Dorothy’s. Clients like this place so much that they play musical rooms just to be able to try a new experience each day. Location, location, location, plus trendy rooms and great service. Hard to find as there’s no signage so you have to hand the address to your cab driver. The second is a converted monastery located in the lively neighborhood of Trastevere. I will recommend this gorgeous oasis of calm to those on their second, third etc trip to Rome who are ready to venture away from the “safety” (crowds, etc) of the Pantheon area and would like some peace and quiet at night. Trastevere is a great area and a plus is that this hotel’s panoramic rooftop hotel looks onto the Janiculum Hill. It’s also is a short walk to the stunning Santa Maria in Trastevere Church (which, if you haven’t seen it, is a must; oldest part dates to the 4th century). Have read some complaints regarding service and room “upgrades” that aren’t really so (i.e., you get a larger room but the configuration is funky) so I’m going to try this place next time I’m over and I’ll let you know.
[PEACEFUL] VISIT TO THE SISTINE CHAPEL
My biggest complaint this year from travelers in Rome has been the crowds at the Sistine Chapel. Apparently it’s like being carried through on a “wave” of people no matter what time of day you go. So I’ve found an organization that gets a small number of clients admitted through a side door around 3pm in the afternoon. They only take up to 15 at the time and their guide has been rated “the best private guide in Rome”. He gives clients the “behind the scenes” tour of the Vatican Museums, followed by a visit to the Sistine Chapel AFTER the official closing at 5:30. Imagine seeing Michelangelo’s wonders with only a few fellow admirers! Love this idea! For those on a more limited budget, but still with a desire to see the Sistine in a more peaceful way, consider the “Vatican breakfast tour”. You’ll meet at the museum entrance around 7am, enter before the crowds, have time for a coffee and croissant at the Vatican bar, and then be the first group of the day to enter the Sistine. After adequate time for a visit, your private guide will show you through the highlights of the rest of the Vatican. There will be crowds by the time you’re done, but not as many as touring the traditional way.
Another recommendation in Rome is the “Rome Underground” visit. There are so many wonders found a few meters under our feet in the Eternal City! Many are entered through unassuming doors that you’d never notice were you not with a knowledgeable guide. I am definitely going to visit Domitian’s Stadium under Piazza Navona next time I’m in town. Opened just last year, the Stadio di Domiziano is the only brick stadium they’ve found from the imperial days. And it’s right under Piazza Navona!There are also some cool events like opera serenades being held in the Stadio di Domiziano. You can Google that one, but some of the others can only be found through companies like Adagio Travel, which keeps a steady finger on the pulse of Italy!
Next week: exploring a new region: Le Marche.