Rome/Florence: Top Attractions

Arena of Dreams: Rome's Coliseum  (Digital Stock)

Villa San Michele (Florence)
This handsome, former 15th-century monastery in the outskirts of Florence gazes out across to the city center towards the Il Duomo. The rooms range from "standard" (high-raftered with four-posters in cherry or walnut) to a lavish range of suites dotted around the grounds. The magnificent San Michele restaurant is highly regarded, as is the cooking school, where wannabe cooks create and eat with the big-name Italian chefs who teach here.

Villa La Massa (Florence)
Beside the banks of the Arno River and just south of Florence lies this Medici-era mansion, offering lavish comfort in rooms complete with heraldic tapestries and ancient marble fittings. The restaurant's food from chef Andrea Quagliarella is first-rate, as is the accompanying wine list, obviously strong on Tuscan wines. A new spa opens in 2005.

Teatro de Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Florence)
In a city renowned for its many cultural firsts-including the first opera and the first piano—this teatro could be seen as the city's cultural motherlode: opera, theatre, dance, and music recitals are all held here. Works range from familiar classics to more avant-garde programs. A pantheon of internationally regarded composers and performers continue to appear.
Teatro de Maggio Musicale Fiorentino: +,

Shopping on Via dei Tornabuoni and Via Maggio (Florence)
Florence's elite shopping district houses top-name Italian and international boutiques—imagine an architecturally exquisite Fifth Avenue. They line both sides of the handsome Via dei Tornabuoni and are clustered along the Via della Vigna Nuova and its surrounding streets. Here you'll find the likes of Armani and Ferragamo, and at 73 Via dei Tornabuoni, Gucci's flagship store. The Via Maggio is a fertile hunting ground for exclusive antiques.
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St. Regis Grand (Rome)
It's no wonder the world's royal, political, and business elite stay at the St. Regis Grand when in town: From the dazzling lobby onwards, its dimensions and décor are so palatial they make Versailles look like a poor stab at ostentation and grandeur. The "English butler-style" service is world class, and the Vivendo restaurant is a sure contender for best in the city. The location can't be beat either—it's a stone's throw from Trevi Fountain.

La Terrazza dell'Eden (Rome)
Enjoy cocktails in the bar at this high-end hotel with unrivalled views over Rome, then decant yourself to the restaurant for top-class Mediterranean food from the Eden's kitchen. It's headed by master chef Adriano Cavagnini, whose gourmet menu offers a noble exposition of his talents.

Auditorium Parco della Musica (Rome)
Visit the Auditorium Parco della Musica simply to see architect Renzo Piano's extraordinary creations. The huge lead-clad buildings house Europe's largest concert hall. The beauty continues inside the American cherrywood-lined auditoriums, where a strong classical music concert program runs throughout the year.
Auditorium Parco della Musica: +39.06.802.411,

Teatro dell'Opera (Rome)
Also known as the Teatro Costanzi, Rome's leading theater is an attractive opera house that stages extravagant productions and the occasional ballet. The Teatro dell'Opera has its own excellent orchestra and ballet company. The season runs from December to June, after which performances move to the ancient Baths of Caracalla (early July to early August).
Teatro dell'Opera: +39.06.4816.0255,

Via Borgognona and Via Condotti (Rome)
Shop on both Via Condotti, Rome's equivalent to Madison Avenue, and Via Borgogna, where you'll find small-scale, boutique places with Baroque and Renaissance store fronts. The true shoppers along here range from the rich to the absurdly rich; everybody else is just window shoppers. Even if your wallet won't stretch wide enough, these streets are great spots for people and style watching.
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Published: 26 Apr 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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