When the Rome Film Festival opens this week (13 Oct) the spotlight will shine on the Eternal City. Hollywood stars like George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson have all graced the red carpet and the Italian capital will once again be awash with A-listers.
From ancient monuments to top class restaurants and cutting edge fashion, Rome is a city of dazzling contrasts, where glitz and glamour sit side-by-side with history and culture, making it a perfect destination for a weekend away – and maybe a bit of star-spotting. It’s certainly not hard to see why it provided such an inspiring backdrop for Frederico Fellini's La Dolce Vita or for Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn's classic romantic comedy.
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The Colosseum is one of the many wonders at the heart of Rome's rich history
Just a two-and-a-half hour flight from London, and with a warm, sunny climate practically all year round – not to mention plenty of delicious pizza, pasta and wine - it ticks all the boxes. With the Vatican and the Colosseum at the heart of Rome's rich history, there is plenty to see and do. But if you don’t want to spend all your time sight-seeing, find a hotel with a pool and make time to relax too.
Certainly that’s what Hollywood’s finest do when they head to Rome, inevitably setting up camp at the Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria resort without doubt the city’s most impressive hotel. Leonardo di Caprio is said to have spent six months living in the £8,000-a-night penthouse suite while filming Gangs of New York in the city, while it’s also said to be a favourite destination for Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Celine Dion, Julia Roberts and John Travolta, as well as royalty and heads of state.
Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria resort sits in 15-acres of private gardens on a Monte Mario hill
The luxury hotel sits in 15-acres of private gardens on a Monte Mario hill overlooking the twinkling lights and church domes of the Eternal City – a perfect vantage point from which to enjoy all the delights of Rome, as well as some rest and relaxation.
There are three outdoor swimming pools, a Roman bath-style indoor pool and spa, state-of-the-art gym and two tennis courts, as well as terrace and pool bars. The L’Uliveto restaurant serves Mediterranean dishes al fresco, as well as an international buffet breakfast featuring everything from American pancakes to Asian noodles. On the top floor is La Pergola, Rome’s only three Michelin starred restaurant, run by top chef Heinz Beck.
There are three outdoor swimming pools, including a Roman bath-style indoor pool and spa
The Cavalieri boasts the world’s largest hotel-based art collection, its foyer, corridors and suites adorned with paintings, tapestries and sculptures by the likes of 18th century Italian artist Tiepolo. Andy Warhol originals grace the bedroom of the penthouse suite, which boasts a rooftop hot tub and private wine cellar, while Napoleon’s own antique desk takes pride of place in the Napoleon Suite and several of Rudolf Nuryev’s ballet costumes are framed outside the lifts.
The Cavalieri boasts the world’s largest hotel-based art collection
For those who like to live life in the fast lane, there is even the chance to hire Ferraris, Lamborghinis or Aston Martins, while the hotel’s Very Important Pet (VIP) service keeps the most pampered pooch happy with a doggy menu, spa and personal training .
For those on more modest budgets, the king-size rooms provide plenty of luxury, with private balconies, electric shutters and sound-proof doors, while an upgrade to the Imperial Floor gives access to the Imperial lounge with its complementary bar, finger-food buffet and 7th floor balcony.
The king-size rooms provide plenty of luxury, with private balconies, electric shutters and sound-proof doors
While it’s hard to tear yourself away from the hotel, there are plenty of must-dos in Rome. Top of the list is the Vatican, the residence of popes since 1377.
Some 30,000 visitors pass through the gates of the Vatican City every day to marvel at its museums filled with priceless artefacts and works of art, walk through St Peter’s Basilica, the largest Christian church in the world and see Michelangelo’s famous frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A guided tour, whilst more expensive than buying your own ticket, will save a lot of queuing time.
Another highlight is the Colosseum, the immense amphitheatre built in the first century AD to accommodate some 80,000 spectators and most famous for the battles which saw Gladiators fight to the death against each other and an array of wild animals. Walking around this incredible piece of history is awe-inspiring, instantly transporting you back in time while the hustle and bustle of modern Rome - with its street artists, restaurants and traffic – carries on just metres away.
Some 30,000 visitors pass through the gates of the Vatican City every day to marvel at its museums
A short walk away, the Forums provide another incredibly well-preserved flashback to ancient Rome. The footprint of the original market place, business and political district lies largely intact and some of its buildings – temples, arches and columns - are still standing.
The roof of the nearby Monument of Victor Emmanuell 11 (2nd), which honours the first king of Italy, is a great vantage point from which to see ancient and modern Rome in all its glory.
While it’s hard to tear yourself away from the hotel, there are plenty of must-dos in Rome
Walk to Trevi Square to see the Trevi Fountain, which marks the end of the three-road junction leading to Acqua Virgine, one of the aqueducts which once served as a water source for ancient Rome. Meanwhile the Spanish Steps leading to the Piazza Trinita and its basilica is a favourite with artists seeking inspiration and couples looking for a romantic spot to pause for thought and perhaps enjoy one of Italy’s delicious gelatos – another experience not to be missed. After all, when in Rome …
• A deluxe room with residential view at the Rome Cavalieri starts from Euro 265. For reservations and enquiries, please visit www.romecavalieri.com