Rome is a busy city that one often thinks of in terms of its historic and culinary values to the traveler. But can it also be romantic? The answer depends almost entirely on what you consider to be “romantic,” but assuming you go in for the same things sold by Hallmark cards, then yes – there are plenty of romantic things to do in Rome.
Rome’s Trevi Fountain may be one of its most touristy attractions, but it was also made famous by films like Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” and the quintessentially romantic “Roman Holiday.” The area around the fountain is no less crowded at night, but the fountain itself is lit up and the atmosphere slightly more romantic. Oh, and even more romantic? Some say that throwing two coins over your shoulder into the fountain will bring a new romance, and that three coins will mean a marriage proposal.
Picnic at the Villa Borghese
If the weather is cooperative, make a pit-stop at one of Rome’s outdoor food markets to pick up picnic supplies and then head for the expansive park at the Villa Borghese. It’s popular with Romans, too, who take advantage of its beautiful gardens to soak up the sun and nibble on the goodies they’ve brought for lunch. Want to work off some of that rich Roman fare? In the park you can also rent bikes for a pedal around the gardens after lunch.
Cocktails on a Rooftop Bar
There are several hotels with rooftop bars in the historic center of Rome, any of which would make for an excellent spot to watch the sunset before meandering off to dinner (and no, you don’t need to be staying in that hotel to hang out at the bar). Bars worth seeking out include the garden restaurant and bar atop the Hotel Mediterraneo on Via Cavour, the Terrace Posh Bar on the Exedra Roma hotel on Piazza della Repubblica, the garden restaurant at the Hotel Hassler near the Spanish Steps, and the Zest Bar on the Radisson Blu near Rome’s Termini Station.
Mouth of Truth
Another memorable scene from the film “Roman Holiday” involved Gregory Peck tricking Audrey Hepburn into thinking the Mouth of Truth had cut off his hand. The setting of the Mouth of Truth itself isn’t exactly going to make hearts flutter, but romantics who have seen that classic film will no doubt smile when they turn the corner and see the iconic face beckoning. Go ahead, put your hand inside and try to tell a lie.
Tour Rome by Vespa
For those of you who feel confident driving a scooter through Rome’s traffic, there’s nothing quite like renting a Vespa (and two helmets) and zipping through the historic center with your sweetheart behind you. A less-romantic version of this is to take a Vespa tour of Rome, where you let the pros (AKA the Romans) do the driving and you get to relax a bit and actually look around.
Pick the Right Neighborhood for an Evening Passeggiata
After dinner, live like the Romans do and go for an evening walk – called a “passeggiata” – with a cone of gelato in hand. Some parts of the city are better suited to this than others, especially from a romantic standpoint. The cobblestoned streets of the Trastevere and Monti neighborhoods make them good candidates for a passeggiata, as do the streets around the Pantheon. They’re popular, so you won’t have them to yourself, but chances are good that if you’re in love you’ll be in your own little world anyway.