The Instagram Guide to Rome, Italy

Beyond the tourist sites, experience Rome through la dolce vita—extraordinary food, art, and beauty.

rome italy
(Image credit: Alamy)

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When most Americans think of Rome, they think of popular landmarks like the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain. However, a true taste of Roma cannot be captured at tourist attractions, but in the daily beauty of the Italian capital city. Walk down nearly any Roman street and you’ll find ancient structures with Latin inscriptions next to modern buildings and sidewalks bustling with locals running errands or enjoying a leisurely day delighting in the city. From drinking morning cappuccinos to exploring the Villa Borghese gardens, here are some of the best ways to experience la dolce vita—the sweet life—in Rome.

Eat at Brunello Bar and Restaurant

Brunello Bar and Restaurant features innovative takes on classic Roman dishes, set in a trendy atmosphere with dramatic lighting and decor. Try the classic Cacio e Pepe pasta with Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper. For dessert, don’t miss the chef’s modern take on tiramisu!

Stroll Through Rome’s "Central Park"

The Villa Borghese gardens are home to nearly 200 acres of tranquil grounds and a grand art museum filled with renowned Bernini sculptures. Within the 17th century villa, the artwork shines as it did long ago when commissioned by the Borghese family—Rome’s most notable art patrons.   

Sleep Like a Queen

With a prestigious location on Via Veneto, one of Rome’s most storied streets, Hotel Baglioni Regina offers accommodations fit for Italian nobility. Rooms are adorned with silk tapestries, chandeliers, and all of the trappings of Italian splendor. From the hotel, you’ll be close to some of Rome’s best shopping as well as the Spanish Steps, where locals meet and mingle before a night out on the town. 

Explore Rome in a Vintage Fiat 500

Zip down the narrow back streets of Rome in a small vintage Fiat 500 to discover the city’s hidden gems and see the famous attractions from a new perspective. Learn more about how to rent one. 

Dine in a Secret Garden

Casina Valadier, a hidden restaurant tucked behind a private gate, is one of Rome’s best-kept secrets. From the third floor, find stunning views of Rome, including Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. 

Unwind in a Modern Version of the Roman Baths

Just outside of the city, the Cavalieri Grand Spa Club is a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle of Rome. Surrounded by 15 acres of park, the spa itself is an oasis inspired by the ancient Roman baths. Try the La Prairie Caviar Instant Lift facial treatment complete with a cranial massage and Swiss products. 

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Michelle Stansbury is a San Diego-based freelance writer who writes about travel, food, cannabis, and relationships. Misuse of the word "literally" drives her figuratively insane.