La Dolce Vita: Rome Travel Diary

May 15, 2019
La Dolce Vita 60s Lifestyle In Rome

As soon as the platinum blonde Anita Ekberg stepped off of the plane and into the glitter of Rome’s paparazzi, she was taken by the city into a world of music, food and late night parties. It was there, in the city’s back streets, that she became enamoured with a kitten, found herself dancing on table tops and waded through the Trevi Fountain like it’s completely normal and not an arrestable offence at all.

This was the world of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. But La Dolce Vita is more than just a ’60s movie and it’s also not just a fancy name of the local one-star-rated Italian restaurant. It’s a lifestyle- a ‘sweet life’ full of glamour, indulgence, socialising and more indulgence. Naturally, everyone in the ’60s wanted to be a part of ‘la dolce vita’. And when I found myself in the Eternal city, I had to throw myself a little la dolce vita too.

1. The City

La Dolce Vita 60s Lifestyle In Rome

In central Rome, I met an American tourist on the bus who told me she only had four hours in London but she wanted to see all the sights. I told her it was impossible but she was determined. For her, seeing the sights was a priority. And it’s certainly true for a lot of people, including the stars of these old romance movies set in Rome.

Taking inspiration from these movies, I wrote down a list of the places I wanted to see. I wanted to find out if I was a liar by sticking my hand in a stranger’s mouth as Audrey Hepburn did in Roman Holiday. I wanted to feel the spray of the Trevi Fountain like Anita in La Dolce Vita without getting arrested (although I did get whistled for climbing the sides). I wanted to stop and eat on the Spanish Steps and of course, bask in the shadow of the Colosseum. I wanted to see them all by Vespa too, but I couldn’t find Gregory Peck. Or enough money to rent one.

As a first-timer, the sights were a priority for me too. And I think I got carried away and almost visited them all on the first day. Which is why I’m wearing the same summer dress in a lot of my photos. I promise I didn’t pack just one.

2. The Romance

La Dolce Vita 60s Lifestyle In Rome

There on top of the Terrazza Gianicolo Roma, we watched the sun shine on the city for the last time that day. He turned me around and kissed me, like the way they do in the movies, only his phone was on a self-timer, balanced on a bin while nearby tourists were staring with amused expressions.

I love to find the city’s sweet spot- the best view from up high even though I have a fear of heights. It’s worth it for that silver screen B-roll, opening credits kind of magic. And my favourite time of day to witness that magic is during sunset when the sky goes a pale pink and purple.

Luckily, Rome is littered with rooftop bars that beg you to have a look. But I also found some great views in all sorts of hidden spots. My absolute favourite, Terazza Gianicolo Roma is tucked up on a hill. Here, you can look down upon Rome without someone shoving a selfie stick in your face.

Other cute little spots that had great views included the orange gardens of Giardino Degli Aranci and the panoramic views of Castel Sant’angelo. Because I’m addicted to views, I also journeyed to the small town of Frescati to see Rome from afar.

3. The Culture

top Things To Do In rome
Top Things To Do In rome

Although my scrawny arms were no match for rolling dough, learning how to make pasta was one of the best experiences I had in Rome. Especially because it was paired with a wine tasting.

Rome offers pizza making, painting and pottery classes. I chose this pasta making class in the restaurant of Tinello 28. Our chef was a friendly Roman local and he knew all the tricks. We threw in Pecorino and Parmigiano cheese with truffle sauce to make one of the best-tasting pasta I have ever eaten. Come Dine With Me, here I am.

4. Indulgence

La Dolce Vita 60s Lifestyle In Rome

In dire need of a bottle of water, I found myself in the brightly lit confines of a Roman corner shop. I was surprised to find that, there, next to the loaves of bread, was fresh hot pizza.

Beyond pizza and pasta, I discovered that there was a lot more Italian food, and more specifically Roman cuisine. I ate everything from the little battered rice balls called Suppli to the sweet sponge of a Tiramisu. Most of the eating occurred with vino in the Taverna Del Seminario.

But my freshly bought little corner shop pizza deserved to be eaten al fresco. I took it to the Villa Borgese Gardens and had a mini Italian picnic surrounded by art and bitey little ants.

5. The Night

La Dolce Vita 60s Lifestyle In Rome
La Dolce Vita 60s Lifestyle In Rome

The biggest ‘dolce vita” moment was when I was watching the sunset behind St Peter’s Basilica, drinking red wine inside the clay-coloured walls of Castel Sant’Angelo. Life felt like it couldn’t get more dolce, especially because someone else paid for my wine.

The bars in Rome were glamorous. And I knew if Ernest Hemmingway lived here, then there would be many bars to visit. Ernest’s favourite haunt was said to be Harry’s Bar which isn’t far from the Villa Borgese Gardens. Harry’s Bar boasts of being the only place that evokes La Dolce Vita with its piano bar and stuck-in-the-past interior. 

Hemingway must have given up his days of eating garden pigeons because Harry’s Bar has prices that only people with art collections could understand. But, you can find a cheaper la dolce vita by buying a glass of vino virtually anywhere in Rome. Most of my glasses cost me around €1-2 which made me a very happy bunny. I’m amazed that I didn’t drink more than I did.

I felt a huge wave of sadness pass over me when it was time to leave the eternal city. And it wasn’t just because wine costs more in England. It was because I wanted a slice of that Italian glamour, the art and the drama.

But since I’ve been back, I’ve realised that I’ve taken a bit of Rome with me. I wasn’t about to order a renaissance statue but I did order a truffle sauce online and shovelled it onto my homemade pasta. I’ve been for indulgent picnics and wine dates with a view. And I’ve sat down and written about it all. But thankfully, I’m not still wearing that summer dress.

60s La Dolce Vita Lifestyle In Rome
La Dolce Vita

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