Rome was the final destination of our trip around Italy. We were so excited to be back in the big city after leaving tiny Pienza. It was time to return our car and enjoy 2 full days exploring the city. In addition to that I hate driving in Rome because of the heavy traffic and numerous ZTL zones. We tried to pick a hotel in close proximity to the two famous shopping streets in the city Via Condotti and Via del Babuino.
Choosing Casa Montani hotel allowed us to stay in the central location near most of the main attractions including Villa Borghese and Piazza di Spagna also known as the Spanish Steps. Via Condotti was just within a short 10 minute walk away.
Via Condotti Luxury Shopping
Via Condotti is the main shopping artery in Rome that is packed with high class boutiques including Gucci, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton. In 2014 it was ranked number 6 in the top 10 most expensive shopping streets of Europe list.
Via Condotti was well ahead the Oxford Street in London and Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich. Two first places have been awarded to Avenue des Champs-Alysees in Paris and New Bond Street in London. Getting to Via Condotti from our Casa Montani hotel comprised a straight 1 kilometer walk through Via del Corso.
Do you know what Via Condotti and the ancient Knights Hospitaller have in common?
Well, the Hospitallers today have transformed into the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Order’s main headquarters is located on Via Condotti, 68. This building is referred to as Palazzo Malto and is not just owned by the Order but is also excluded from the Italian jurisdiction. This means that it has been granted the diplomatic status similar to foreign embassies.
Casa Montani in Rome
I found Casa Montani hotel on Piazzale Flaminio, 9 using one of the well known online reservation systems.
It ranked really well among other hotels in Rome and had many positive feedbacks from the guests. Well, it appeared to be a very nice hotel. In fact it is an apartment located in the 18th century building. It has been renovated and transformed into a small upscale hotel.
Casa Montani has 5 rooms with high level finishing, comfortable beds and sound proof windows. We stayed at the Junior Suite that had a sitting area adjacent to the bedroom.
Casa Montani doesn’t have a restaurant so the breakfasts are delivered directly to the rooms.
You need to highlight the preferred meal options one day in advance at the concierge desk. The road outside the hotel was a bit busy, but the soundproof windows did a good job at keeping unwanted noise out.
Overall Casa Montani was a good quality and stylish place to stay at a reasonable value for money.
Via del Babuino and Via di Ripetta
There are three streets starting from the northern side of Piazza del Popolo called Via del Babuino, Via del Corso and Via di Ripetta. Looking at the map, you’ll see that these three streets form a trident.
In fact this is a famous area referred to as the Tridente of Rome. It actually includes all the adjacent streets bordered by Via del Babuino and Via di Ripetta on the sides. This area is also full of boutiques and restaurants, but the concentration of super luxury boutiques is much lower than on Via Condotti.
La Locanda di Bacco Restaurant Near Via Veneto
A post about Rome would not be complete without mentioning one of my favorite restaurants in the city. The place is called La Locanda di Bacco located in a much more quiet part of Rome away from Via Condotti and Spanish Steps.
All these central streets are full of strictly touristic eateries with less quality food at much higher prices. In other words you have to know the restaurant you are going to. The part of the city I wanted to tell you about is closer to another super famous street called Via Veneto. It is one of the most expensive streets in Rome.
Many scenes from the famous Federico Fellini’s movie called La Dolce Vita were filmed in the area around Via Veneto. The word Paparazzi actually comes from the name of one of the main movie characters named Paparazzo. Via Veneto is full of expensive restaurants and hotels.
La Laconda di Baco on Via Flavia, 32 is a small restaurant located about 10 minutes away from all these high class restaurants. It took us almost 30 minutes to get there from our Casa Montani hotel. The area around the restaurant is an upscale residential neighborhood with American, French and Armenian Embassies located nearby. La Laconda di Baco is a family owned restaurant that has opened its doors more than 10 years ago. Here you can find great tasting meat, pasta and fish dishes served in true Italian portions at very reasonable prices. Local wine list is quite extensive with a great number of bottles that can fit any budget.
I also want to briefly mention our early morning visit to Vatican City. It was the next day after our exhausting raid of the Via Condotti area boutiques. Despite the fact that we have arrived there before 9:00 in the morning there were already a lot of tourists.
You could see that crowd getting bigger every minute as the large tourist buses kept on bringing more and more people. Overall we have spent about 2 hours in Vatican City due to our busy 2 day schedule.
We really wanted to walk around this country inside the country. We bought Vatican City tickets using the official Vatican museums website. It is a good idea to purchase tickets in advance online so you can skip a really long line to the ticket office.
The standard adult tickets cost 16 Euros. There is also additional 4 Euro fee for the online reservation. You’ll definitely need to reserve at least half a day for the visit to Vatican.
Make sure to arrive there before 9:00 in the morning to reduce the time you’ll spend in various lines inside and outside the museums.
I can tell you that Rome has much more to offer than Via Condotti or Piazza di Trevi. There are numerous attractions in the city that can be talked about over and over again. There is no way a place like Vatican City can be explored in just one visit. Please consider this post as my first introduction to this beautiful city.