With stunning art and monuments everywhere you look, and life-changing meals waiting to be eaten around every corner, Rome is truly a feast for the senses. The city is nirvana for art lovers and history buffs, though if you skipped those classes in college it’s the perfect place to get a crash course in Western civilization. Rome contains as many perfect backdrops for romance as it does churches and ancient ruins. Think: centuries-old piazzas you can amble through at sunset, charming gelaterias filled with tables for two, and the Spanish Steps, one of the landmarks on which Gregory Peck wooed Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. All this means it’s a perfect destination for couples. A city that inspires a lust for life can’t help but enhance your lust for each other.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Flight time: 8 1/2 hours from New York City; 15 hours from LA
When to Go: Rome at its best
Best weather: Although the weather is pleasant all year long, it’s nicest in May, June, September and October, when average highs are in the 70s. July and August are often uncomfortably hot (not to mention unpleasantly crowded with tourists).
Best prices: Late fall and winter are when you’ll find deals (tourist levels pick up around Easter and peak in July and August).
What to Do
See cultural treasures: There’s a staggering wealth of art and architecture in Rome, especially from the classical and Renaissance eras. You’ll find yourself awestruck by the experience of wandering through the Colosseum and the ruins of the Forum, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed when gazing at Michelangelo’s frescoes on the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.
Shop till you drop: The area around the Spanish Steps is filled with enough high-end boutiques to keep intrepid shoppers occupied for days (or until your credit cards protest). You’ll find excellent leather goods, ties, stationery, perfume and the brilliant fashion for which Italy is internationally famous.
Mangia: Food and drink should be a central focus of any trip to Italy. Some of the Roman culinary delights you shouldn’t deprive your palate of: fried artichokes, lamb and all manner of pasta, especially cacio e pepe (with pecorino and black pepper) and amatriciana (with tomatoes, red pepper and unsmoked bacon called guanciale). On the beverage front, punctuate your mornings with small, strong cups of cappuccino (a place called Sant’Eustachio, near the Pantheon, is widely believed to serve the best) and your evenings with, of course, lots of the local vino.