Writer Catharine Nicol | October 23, 2014

Full of the gastronomic and passionate promise of Italy but with a frenetic urban pace, hair-raising traffic, incredible shopping and crazy crowds, Rome is also the home of impossibly glamorous and gorgeous Romans. Park yourself on a pavement table, anywhere, drink coffee and fall in love again and again as you watch the world prance, rush and scoot by.


With all the food and wine on the itinerary, peeling yourself out of the gorgeously luxurious bed at the Hotel de Russie for an early morning run is a tough ask. But it pays back big time. After all, how else are you going to do justice to their al fresco breakfast?

Plus the Villa Borghese Gardens are right next to the hotel, so there’s no excuse. Formerly a vineyard, they were developed into English-style gardens in the early 19th century, which sounds like sacrilege, especially when you know that the Villa Borghese Pinciana was renowned as a party villa. Surely alcohol comes before aesthetics? But today the 148 stunning acres of tree-lined avenues, water features and squares that surround the numerous museums and art galleries are the place to lift the spirits, energise the body and catch a glimpse of fellow Romans recovering from late nights in exactly the same way.

I let my pulse return to mere caffeinated levels as I go into raptures over Le Jardin de Russie Restaurant’s ice cream-filled brioches, ricotta cheese and cherry jam cake, poached eggs on just-made bread and more, while sipping an eye-wateringly strong cappuccino. In summer, breakfast becomes a meal to stretch out as long as possible, served in their Secret Garden under the morning sun in the company of Rome’s, and the world’s, most well-heeled and glam fashionistas. The hotel’s inspiring architecture shields me from the onslaught of Rome’s exciting chaos. But I remind myself that’s what I’m here for – time to face this surreal world.

Exploring this city is like shuttling back and forth in time...