Rome saw an estimated 7.3 million international visitors in 2017. It's not surprising, considering that the city is one of the most popular in the world thanks to world-class museums and its incredibly famous historical landmarks. But the result often comes at a price that includes jam-pack streets, sub-par restaurants, and expensive tourists shops. So how do you get an authentic feel while visiting Rome? Consider a different neighborhood.
For a trip to Rome feels truly relaxed and authentic, consider staying in the Parioli District in the city’s north end. Situated above the scenic and well-manicured Park Villa Borghese, the Parioli District is a well-heeled neighborhood known for its excellent restaurants and nightlife. You’re never too far away from the action, because here, the city’s top attractions are easily accessible via buses and trams: the Trevi Fountain is zippy 9-minute city bus ride, while the Vatican is just 17 minutes on the street tram. Here’s how to get the most value in your stay outside of the overrun streets of Rome.
Where to Stay
Parco Dei Principi Grand Hotel & Spa
A true gem among the many dated hotels we’ve seen in Rome, Parco Dei Principi Grand Hotel & Spa is a five-star property that delivers incredible value with its resort-like amenities and plush rooms. Rates start as low as $196 per night in the slower months (January-March, September-October) and average out to around $250-$300 during the high season. Plush beds, ornate marble bathrooms, robes, and fine Etro bath amenities are among the many highlights. Parco Dei Principi delivers an equally five-star breakfast with dozens of fresh pastries, a variety of granola, eggs, and much more—it's one of the most grand continental breakfasts we’ve ever seen included in a nightly rate. The palm-fringed pool deck feels more akin to that of a far-flung island resort than a hotel in central Rome. Unwinding after a day of pounding the pavement has never been this resplendent. And don’t pass up the chance to explore the spa and fitness center (included with stay), among the most beautiful and spacious we’ve ever seen in a hotel that doesn’t call itself a resort. A giant underground pool borders a playground of waterbeds and water jets, while a large steam room, sauna, and relaxation room provide a true escape from the buzz of the city. The value is remarkable with the hotel’s amenities, the free deluxe breakfast, and the pool and spa facilities; no other hotel in Rome offers as much for as reasonable of a price.
Where to Eat
Budget travelers rejoice at the affordable and delicious My BagS Italian cafe, just off the west end of Villa Borghese. Locals and tourists crowd the counter come lunch time for fresh and filling sandwiches that start at 4 euros (about $5USD). Pick up a few baguettes and salads before heading into the park for a relaxing midday picnic. Via Giambattista Vico 16 - 18, 00196 Rome, Italy
Pro Loco Pinciano
This bustling deli and restaurant is a go-to for relaxed and affordable meals. Pro Loco Pinciano puts a refreshing spin on Italian classics that promotes local underdogs of produce and meats—favoring small farms over mass-producing conglomerates. Seasonally inspired pastas and pizzas are topped with generous portions of fresh meats and cheeses. For the best of the lot, try the Cacio e Pepe and the rosemary focaccia bread. Pizzas start at 7 euros (about $8USD), and pastas at 10 euros (about $12USD). Via Bergamo, 18, 00198 Roma, Italy
What to Do
The Parioli district is best experienced by sampling its food and perusing the quiet, tree-lined streets and architecture of the well-to-do. Don’t miss the enchanted arch and fairy-tale atmosphere of Quartiere Coppedè, or the majestic estate that houses the Galleria Borghese, which features an impressive collection of Borghese paintings and sculptures. For the most relaxing and affordable day in the city, get your steps in the district’s two top-rate parks, Villa Borghese and Villa Ada.