Woody Allen's latest film, To Rome With Love, opened last week. And in typical Woody fashion, this romp features an ensemble cast (Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni, Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig, and Penélope Cruz) whose mishaps, misdeeds, and misunderstandings play out against the backdrop of Italy's iconic capital. Allen is famous for using the spirit of a location as another character in the plot. So, inspired by the twists and turns his characters take in the Eternal City, we give you an Allen-worthy itinerary complete with style picks to really step into To Rome With Love.
Ah, young love. Young, secret, adulterous love. The stunning grounds and secret ponds of the Villa Borghese are the backdrop for the angst of Ellen Page's character Monica and her very in love(and already taken) Jack. There's nowhere better in Rome to take a new flame, than the gardens of the Villa Borghese, and if you can tear your eyes away from each other for a moment, you'll have plenty of art to keep you otherwise enthralled.
What to See: This early 17th century palace was originally built to house fine works of art and natural specimens. Though it fell into disrepair, the Villa Borghese has been restored in many places and boasts a charming park with amphitheater, lake, zoo, and garden. One of its most stunning attractions is the Galleria Borghese, which houses sculptures and paintings dating back to the original owner, Cardinal Scipione, a nephew of Pope Paul V. See Bernini's David, Rubens' The Deposition and Caravaggio's David with the Head of Goliath.
Where to Eat: On Via Borgognona sits Nino, a budget-friendly eatery serving Roman and Tuscan dishes like papardelle and warm crostini. A favorite of celebrities and the international elite, Nino is the spot to take your new love if you're looking to impress with glitterati sightings.
Where to Stay: Get away from the bustle of Rome in the tiny Margutta 54's luxury suites. Four suites tucked away in a courtyard off Via Margutta are private enough for even the most secretive of couples.
What to Wear: Try loose, flowing linens and flowery prints this summer. Go for a sweet and pretty look in a printed skirt like this cotton and silk Enchanted Petals skirt by Nic and Zoe, available at Nordstrom.com
Piazza del Popolo
Alessandra Mastronardi plays Milly, a newlywed on her honeymoon with her affable, if nervous (er, Allen-like?), husband. Milly gets lost in the city looking for the salon and ends up at the bustling Piazza del Popolo. She is surprised and delighted (and torn) when a famous Italian actor makes her a rather indecent proposal.
What to See: Rome, indeed Italy in general, is known for some of the most brilliant ancient, Medieval and Renaissance art in the world. The Piazza del Popolo houses something new – MAXXI â€“ Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo. Opened in 2010, the museum houses temporary art, architecture, and film exhibits from contemporary artists like Michelangelo Pistoletto and permanent exhibits from the likes of Andy Warhol. For those who prefer something a little more,well, venerable, three churches adorn the piazza: the 15th century Santa Maria del Popolo, from which the piazza takes its name, and the twin churches Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli.
Where to Eat: Eat like a movie star at Il Convivio, where three brothers have elevated Italian cooking to that of haute cuisine. Traditional Italian meals are made over, while raw seafood plates also shine.
Where to Stay: Angling for your own celeb sighting in Rome? Up your chances at the Hotel de Russie on Via del Babuino, one of Fodor's 100 for 2011. This luxurious getaway, located in a 19th century building, features a terraced garden, luxe spa, and restaurant—perfect for some star gazing.
What to Wear: Be camera- ready in a flattering dress like this vibrant Moschino Cheap and Chic with a classic silhouette, just like Milly. Available at Net-a-Porter.com.
Villa dei Quintili
In an earnest, if misguided, attempt at helping Monica find love with another, Jack sets her up with a swarthy Italian, and as the three explore the ruins at Villa dei Quintili, Jack and John (Alec Baldwin) discuss his green-hued envy.
What to See: Discover Rome as it was two thousand years ago at the archeological site at Villa dei Quintili on the Via Appia Nuova. The ruins at Villa dei Quintili feature quarters for the owners and the servants, two thermal chambers, and stunning views. Open Tuesday through Sunday 9:00am – 7:30pm; admission is around $7.50/ticket and gets you not only into the Villa dei Quintili, but also the Baths of Caracalla and the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella.
Where to Eat: Villa dei Quintili is outside Rome's center, so dining options are more limited. We suggest making your repast in the city before or after taking the short trip to the ruins. To help you reflect on your time at the Villa, try Vecchia Roma ("Old Rome"), an aptly named spot in Piazza Campitelli that offers fantastic outdoor dining. Seafood is the star here in traditional preparations.
Where to Stay: The small but comfortable Relais Le Clarisse, is set in a former cloister. The accommodations are soulful and classic, and the staff makes you feel right at home. Enjoy a Mediterranean courtyard and garden while you unwind after a day of exploration.
What to Wear: Channel ancient Rome with this chic Sam Edelman Georgina Sandal, which goes from day-in-the-ruins to night-on-the-town with ease. Available at Nordstrom.com.
Photo credits: Laghetto Villa Borghese, Jesse Eisenberg as Jack and Ellen Page as Monica, by Philippe Antonello (c) Gravier Productions, Inc., Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics; Alessandra Mastronardi as Milly, Photo by Philippe Antonello (c) Gravier Productions, Inc., Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics; Jesse Eisenberg as Jack andAlec Baldwin as John, Photo by Philippe Antonello (c) Gravier Productions, Inc., Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics