Tag - Rome

No sleep till Benidorm!
European sweet charm: Yummy desserts from Rome to Paris
Purple 10: Most photographed places in the world
The real story on the best destinations 2014
Purple Tips: Planning Your Honeymoon
Purple Tips: What NOT to do in Italy
Book now – Half term holidays
Purple Tips: Best Honeymoon Destinations
Foodie Corner: Where to find the best gelato Rome
Purple 10: The Best Museums and Galleries Rome

No sleep till Benidorm!


Vacations are a matter of where you go, who you go with and of course what you plan on doing. From families, to couples and singles, holiday goals might vary widely and since choosing a destination often is the beginning of a trip, we wondered which places are more relevant to the World Sleep Day. Does your preferred destination set you in the mood for long naps by the beach, or staying up all night partying? Should you go Ibiza or Santorini? In order to figure out, we compared some of our favourite destinations and rated them on our dedicated sleep-o-meter.

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Our Purple Foodie buff explores the world-class sweet treats in a flavorful journey from ancient Rome to classy Paris!

Savory cornerstones of Italian Bliss

There are many reasons why you’ve been captivated by this city: It’s snacking alleys, enchanting piazzas, glorious ancient history, unbeatable style, but, come one, between us, we know why you could fell in love with Rome! These luscious goodies are torturing and torturing sweetly your mind…Is there any excuse not to be captivated with a flavorful tiramisu, a crispy creamy cannoli, a cornetti along with a tasty cappuccino, a fluffy millefoglie cake or a delicious frozen treat as the Italian gelato? Of course not!

Our ”Purple Wanderers”  have put together a list of  dazzling treats…The ”Eternal City” is calling you and it’s time for you to answer!


Pana Cotta: Holy Grail of Italian Creamy Puddings


Place: Ristorante alla Rampa

This amazing lightly sweetened cream can truly blown your mind away! In Rome, every Ristorante serves the ”Italian Holy Grail”,  the creamy lady ”panna cotta”! Drizzled by everything from blueberries to fresh strawberries, raspberries or caramel sauce, it will be your perfect friend for a memorable experience after your dinner…


Tiramissu: Keep Calm and Espresso yourself

Place: Bar Pompi

Visit the famous ”Bar Pompi” and you’ll see why its the best in Rome! Some espresso layers with soaked ”lady fingers”- little sponge cakes looking like a cookie – and creamy mascarpone, you will be swooning with joy by its unique taste! Spoil yourself trying one of these amazing non-classic flavors of tiramissu such as strawberry, pistachio, banana and Nutella!


Cannoli: The crispy Sicilian

Italian Sicilian Cannoli

Crispy yummilicious!


Place: Ciuri Ciuri

Piped with ricotta cheese, this combination of light sweetness and crispy feeling , its unbeatable! This one sounds to you a bit ”decadent”? If, yes, grab a bite from a smaller version, a lovely cannolini!


Cornetti: Wake-up calling from the ”Vienna-style” pastry




Place: Barberini
As walking in Barberini’s cafe, you’ll be charmed in a flash by this savory work of art. Buttery and so ”wacky”, the cornetti it’s the perfect buddy for your morning cappuccino!

Purple Tip: Frankly, you should try the cornetti con crema!


Millefoglie: The creamy Italian 


Mille-feuille a la Italia

Italian can do it too!


Place: Cavaletti
You’ve already taste this touthsome cream-layered dessert in reams of versions around the world, but, surely, Italy, has been gifted at making pastry miracles so delightful! The millefoglie here will bowl you over!


Gelato: The frosty Italian miracle

Frosty Italian Treats - Gelato

Italian Gelato rocks!


Place: Gelateria I Caruso
We have shared with you the sweet tooth treasures in Rome, honestly, if we don’t tell you about Gelateria I Caruso, this mini guide would be imperfect! You can’t leave from Rome without seeing live the master gelato maker…Grab some scoops and don’t forget to spice it up with the famed zabaglione (marsala-famous sweet wine made in Sicily).

Purple Tip: Definitely give a try to pistachio & fiordipanna flavor



Délicieux treasures

Paris will always be a gastronomic destination full of surprises! There are so many sweet delicacies that you’ll not guess which one mesmerized you! Its truly hard to resist on those unbeatable pastries, delightful chocolate truffles, lovable macaroons, heavenly mini lemon pies or the splendid mouth-jolt eclairs! We have to remind you what Oscar Wilde wrote once about the world of desserts: “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it” and we are utterly agreeable to it! So, sit back and get a load of our mouthwatering list, let’s explore the Parisian delights to die for!


Viennoiseries: Epicure Honoree on our breakfast

French Croissant for breakfast

Mini Chocolate Croissant


Place: Le Moulin de la Vierge, Blanquet Claude



Who wouldn’t be fond of these amazing cute pastries, known as ‘‘viennoiseries” such as the chocolate croissant or the favored ”crème de la crème”, ideal to hang out with our morning espresso! Heading to Le Moulin de la Vierge or to Blanquet Claude, both, claim to be the finest paths to our Parisian goodies!

Purple Tip: Pierre Hermé or as the Parisian call it ”The Picasso of pastry” is the top-notch place to start tasting the sweet side of life!


Cannelés: Little flavorful thieves




Place: Baillardran & Eric Kayser



A sweet tooth in Bordeaux region is surely a must and we assure you that these little custardie cakes will be quite ”deleterious”, so tempting! Canneles are small with spongy custard centre and a caramelised crust, agreeing with everything from your breakfast to dinner, coffee to champagne!


Mille-feuille: Oldie Grand Napoleon



Place: La Pâtisserie des Rêves (“The Bakery of Dreams”)



The well-known creamy treasure has captivated our taste buds from the 17th century! Mille-feuille, also known as the ”Napoleon”, translates to a ”sea” of crispy layers, which have been folded many times. A gooey Puff pastry and a lovely creamy filling  glazed with fondant/icing will dazzle your palate, leaving you absolutely speechless! It’s ideal to go with a summer brunch or a romantic elegant dinner!


Lemon tart/pie: A sunny gentle Princess



Place: L’heure Gourande Cafe & Au Thé Gourmand Tea-House



Don’t you dare to leave the ”City of Lights” without tasting a savoring slice of a lemon pie! With silky meringue or sweetened lemon curd is a Paleo twist in the classic version of the Parisian dessert.


Macaroon: Colorful Liliputian Goodies




Place: Pierre Herme



We’ve been hooked by these babyish round delicacies, a rainbow-gaudy dessert, which is emblematic for the French pastry art.
Pierre Herme is famed for its delicious picture-perfect macaroons known for their unusual flavors! What not to love: rose, macha marron -reminding us mont blanc flavor-, chocolat, mogador -which is passionfruit milk choc-, cafe & montebello -which combines raspberry with pistachio ganache-, just irresistible!


Eclair:  Mr McDreamy’s Charm



Place: Traditional bakeries such as La Pâtisserie de l’Eglise, Le Moulin de la Vierge, La Pâtisserie des Rêves & L’Éclair de Génie

We came across with the latest pastry ”Queen” in Paris and that’s the ”wordéclair” (meaning lightning). Why they’ve translated it like that? Because this yummy French delicacy can be eaten in a ”flash of light”! The most revolutionary place to taste the French bonbon is at L’Éclair de Génie! Adam, the owner, features sweet masterpieces of art, a visual standout like never before! They transformed this classic dessert into a modern canvas with a high-end quality! Clingy high-gloss finishes with pop-art colors adorned with well-known digital images from famous paintings like ”Mona Lisa”, ”The Creation of Adam” or ”The Vitruvian Man”. The flavors ara enlivened with offbeat ingredients like fresh strawberries, salted caramel, popcorn
and much more!


+Must Visit in Paris:

Angelina, where Coco Chanel ate once, try this scandal amazing Mont Blanc

Ladurée, taste all these incredible desserts appeared on ‘’Marie Antoinette’’

Glacier Berthillon for a caramel-ginger gelato


Purple 10: Most photographed places in the world

Next time you’re away on holidays and decide to whip out your camera to snap some pics of the area’s most famous attractions like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, or the Empire State Building in New York, remember you’re not alone. Sightsmap is a heatmap that charts the most photographed tourist attractions around the world. The images are collated by how ‘hot’ they are, based on the number of people sharing them via Google’s Panoramio. Here’s the top 10 of the world’s most photographed places in the world, with a few that might surprise you. Which one is your favourite?

1. Guggenheim Museum, New York

The Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum via @ Chris Eason

2. The Spanish Steps, Rome

Pictures taken in May 2010 @ Rome, IT.   Near Spanish Steps (or on it)Spanish Steps via @ Raul

3. Park Guell, Barcelona

Park Guell Barcelona from Purple Travel
4. Moulin Rouge, Paris

Moulin RougeMoulin Rouge via @ Xavi

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The real story on the best destinations 2014

It’s official, Trip Advisor the world renowned travel site has awarded a host of awards for best destinations 2014. The annual Traveller’s Choice Awards includes the vast city of Istanbul in Turkey which tops the poll, with Rome, London and Beijing following close behind. Each city or place earned its review through the reviews and opinions of visitors the site. “If you’re looking for trip inspiration, look no further than the Travelers’ Choice Destinations,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “Our global travelers are the tastemakers for uncovering the best places to visit around the world.” The awards in its 6th year picks out 500 of the absolute best places to visit in the world.

Best destination collage Square 640But what are these places really like? I’ve asked some of the Purple Travel family to share their thoughts on the top destinations 2014. Some they loved and some… well, you’ll see for yourself. We’d love to hear what you think, good or bad about the official list!

1. Istanbul, Turkey Fantastic city full of sights and culture. The people are so friendly and eager to help. This place has it all. – Gary
I think the best of the best way to taste the Turkish food, and experience the Turkish mentality, is to eat this giant hot dog with fish and cabbage at the Bosphorus coast on the Asian part of Istanbul. There are cooks on floating boats, preparing the grilled fish, that are then placed on these huge bagel and stuffed that with cabbage, fried potatoes and mustard. You cannot imagine! Also don’t miss the old guy outside the Blue Mosque who sells bagels and gives you for free La vache qui rit portion! – Soso
2. Rome, Italy What can someone say about Rome, about the Italians, their food and their language? I think my best moments in Rome were when we were walking around from the Piazza di Spagna, to the Colosseum, and the Fontana di Trevi. Suggested hotels-the newly built Caravel hotel (just two stops by bus from Piazza di Spagna) with nice big rooms and a lovely receptionist and Hotel Trevi, with its traditional style in the very centre of the city!!! loved them both, love Rome! – Soso
3. London, England Massive dump, ok for day trips but get out before it chews you up. – Gary

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Purple Tips: Planning Your Honeymoon

Perhaps one of the best parts of planning your wedding is deciding what type of honeymoon you would like! Planning a wedding can be an extremely stressful – not to mention costly – experience, and it is not in anyone’s interests (least of all yours) for you to turn into a ‘Bridezilla’ or ‘Groomzilla’ before the big day! You should make the most of all the available resources to you. There are some fantastic online guides and wedding site directories which are designed to aid with all things wedding, and are a great place start.

It is wonderful to think that the honeymoon will provide a safe haven for the two of you to escape to once all the hustle and bustle of the big day itself is over.

You may already have a fixed idea of what type of honeymoon you would like – but if you are still a little in the dark, or you simply haven’t started considering it yet – here are some tips to get you started. Before you know it you will be jetting off to the holiday of a lifetime, and the first holiday together of your married life.

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Purple Tips: What NOT to do in Italy

The Italians love being helpful. Even if you are only asking for street directions, you’ll end up listening to all possible options, which one the locals would take and precisely why. In the end, one thing is for sure, you’ll be changing your initial destination as their suggestion will always be better than yours! Well, what can you do… passionate, strong-minded and original, Italians are like this! After all that’s why they’re so much fun. But be careful! There are certain things you’d better be conscious about when visiting Italy!

Here’s a list of DON’Ts that’ll guarantee you a great holiday in Italy this year.


Image via @ scattomatto56

1. Don’t visit the Vatican City in a revealing outfit, as you’ll be shown the way out! Cover up shoulders and remember to be respectful.

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Book now – Half term holidays

Extend your summer or get in early for half term. The kids are back to school and a new (school) year is starting. Why not have something to look forward to, like an autumn tan, a spring in your step and a good injection of vitamin D in some of our favourite half term holiday picks. We take a look at where is hot during half term and what makes a great choice for children of all ages. If you fancy water slide parks, history lessons or just plain, old sandcastles and paddling in the sea, find out where to go with our best value destinations for half term holidays.

Half term holidays from Purple Travel

Where to spend your half term holidays

1. The Canaries – With an abundance of beaches, scuba diving, family bike rides and fantastic weather, cheap half term holidays in the Canaries are an obvious choice. Why not spend long, lazy days working on a winter tan on a black sandy beach in Tenerife, hike up the side of a volcano in Gran Canaria, or take a glass bottomed boat tour in Playa del Ingles? There is something to suit every type of family in the Canaries. Stay at Barcelo Lanzarote in Costa Teguise which offers adult and children’s swimming pools, playgrounds, kids club, giant monopoly and water slides as well as a spa for mum and dad.
2. Algarve – The Southern area of Portugal is still warm in October and there is plenty for children of all ages to keep busy with. Albufeira is a good family friendly hub, with plenty of child friendly restaurants, a sandy golden beach and nearby water parks. Stay at the Monica Isabel Beach Club in Albufeira, where you’ll find a great welcome, great rooms and great value.
3. Crete – The southern Aegean is ideal in October. Prices have dropped, but temperatures are still high and Crete is a perennial choice for family friendly holidays. Stay at the Knossos Beach Bungalows and Suites, right on a sandy beach, with lots of loungers, umbrellas and children’s activities available.
4. Marrakech – is an exciting, exotic holiday choice all year, but especially good around October. It’s still warm and at only three hours flying time, it’s not too far to get somewhere very exotic. Children and adults can enjoy hiking in the Atlas Mountains, visiting the colourful souks or exploring the Kasbahs. Stay at the Aqua Fun Club – All Inclusive. This 5* accommodation has extensive spa facilities as well as water slides, adult and children only pools, a rafting river and children’s aqua tower.
5. Rome – If you want to get some learning in during the half term break, why not choose a city break in Rome. The weather should still be ok, in the early 20s and you and your children can enjoy seeing the Colosseum and some gladiators up close, head for the Time Elevator Roma (a high tech history lesson made with some very special effects) spark imaginations at the Explora children’s museum and munch on pasta and pizza. Stay at the RSH Spanish Steps Apartments, centrally located near the Trevi Fountain and with plenty of space for all the family after long days exploring the city.
6. Florida – has over 1,000 miles of sandy beaches, is the home of theme parks and has some of the best shopping in the world. Then of course there is Disney World to think of. Meet Mickey Mouse, see the fireworks and parades and generally have the time of your life and a half term holiday you’ll never forget. Stay at the Disney Area Superior Homes for a home away from home experience in Orlando and all the amenities you want within easy reach of the World Disney World Resort.

Tell us your choices for the best half term holidays and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Kate Power is community manager for Purple Travel.

Purple Tips: Best Honeymoon Destinations

Cyprus SunsetBuzzing nightlife Pick Cyprus. The birthplace of the Goddess of Love Aphrodite is pretty much bubbling with romance.  There are idyllic sandy beaches, trails where the goddess herself is said to have walked, charming wine-making villages and a relaxed atmosphere that’s made for hand in hand walks in the sunshine. By evening, Paphos is a lively town with a mix of traditional tavernas, lively bars and clubs where you can dance all night if you feel like it. The luxury 5* Elysium Cyprus has every aspect of your honeymoon covered, from stunning views, massages to its great location right on the beach. Cyprus sunset image via @ Mrs Logic

Monkey in GambiaWildlife just a few short hours from the UK, Gambia is the obvious choice for enjoying a lively first few days of honeymoon packages. You can top up your tan in tropical sunshine, relax in sumptuous facilities, explore safari and try to catch the big 5 or meet some of the friendliest people in the world at the Smiling Coast.  The 5* Kairaba Beach Hotel is a comfortable choice. Right on the famous Kololi beach and standing in beautiful flower filled gardens, it’s a real home away from home. The only way you’ll notice the difference is by catching sight of the vervet monkeys and wild birds that live in the trees. Monkeys in Gambia image via @ kevinzim

RomeOn a budget if you’re going for budget, why not take a long weekend in a beautiful European city. Purple Travel can get great deals on flights to several capitals but Rome has to be one of our favourites. The modern 4* Hotel American Palace is right in the heart of the action, with a nearby metro that will take you to sights like the Trevi Fountain or Colosseum. There’s even a beach about 30 minutes away by convenient public transport.  As beautiful as it is by day, it’s even more spectacular by night, as the cosy corners are lit by candlelit, vino is opened and couples take evening strolls under moonlight. Rome is a great choice for a budget conscious honeymoon this year. Image of Rome by @ Moyen_Brenn

CubaAbsolute luxury The Sandals Royal Hicaco 5* in Varadero, Cuba, is on 23 acres, in lush greenery and offers lots of choice for couples on their first days of married life. There are three types of suites to choose from and the properties are decorated in a cute 1920s style. Although home to some of the finest beaches on earth, the Caribbean Island is practically made for honeymooners looking to discover its rich culture and heritage. Nights should be spent learning tango, knocking back rum cocktails and learning how to roll your own cigars, in between sunbathing sessions in one of the best honeymoon destinations ever. Image of Cuba by @ darkroomillusions

Blue dome of SantoriniThe ultimate in romance Island hopping in Greece is obviously the top choice for island hopping. With a big boost on drawing visitors, it’s never been better value to head to head to the beautiful Greek islands. We think the Cyclades is a good idea, with Santorini offering azure sparkling waters, and dramatic evenings watching the sunset from the caldera. The Astro Palace 5* Hotel is an elegant and traditional accommodation, with a peaceful atmosphere, but just a few minutes from the island’s main city Fira. The nearby island of Naxos is an absolute gem and not that well known outside of Greece, so you can lay out on unspoilt, empty beaches before tottering to a nearby taverna for lunch. Finish up in Mykonos for a few days of the high life before jetting back home. The Mykonos Grand should be enough luxury for you and your new other half. Image of Santorini by @ Navin75

Algarve Beach

On the beach Portugal is a big hit with bride and grooms both as a wedding destination and has kick ass honeymoon packages. There are tonnes of flights and the Algarve and Faro in particular are easy to get to. Plus it’s got something for everyone, from golf course, (but c’mon guys!) romantic secluded villages, lively towns and spectacular hotels. The 4* Riu Palace Algarve is right on the beach, one of the most beautiful in the Algarve and has pools, Jacuzzi, hammam and spa on site to make you feel totally relaxed. The on site restaurants or local eateries are great for sampling the absolutely delicious Portuguese cuisine, while its access to picture perfect beaches is hard to beat. Image of Algarve Beach by @ Dan Taylor

Call Purple Travel now for the best honeymoon destinations this year on 0207 993 9228.

Foodie Corner: Where to find the best gelato Rome

This is not simply going for ice cream, this is gelato. It’s a much richer and smoother treat that the ice lollies we’ve all had as children. It’s made by churning, it’s not whipped and the richness brings out the flavour for an intense ice creamy experience.

Oh, and it’s not just available in any old shop; you have to make a trip especially to a gelateria. It’s nice to go in the evening (but of course any time of day suits us!) Take a passeggiata stroll, choose your flavours and let your taste buds thank us later.


Get licked with our 7 picks for the best gelato Rome

Della Palma, Via della Maddalena 19, 00186 Rome

With flavours you might not even know existed, Della Palma is a firm favourite amongst tourists and locals alike. It’s not just serving delicious gelato in a magnificent setting, but is an absolute feast for the eyes too.

San Crispino, via della Panetteria, 42, 00187 Rome

San Crispino’s delicious gelato incorporates diverse flavours like whiskey and meringue. So popular, it’s actually spawned its own franchise around the city, so this one won’t be hard to find.

Giolitti, Via Uffici del Vicario 40, 00186 Rome

If politicians in Italy stop for ice cream, this must be where they do it. A stone’s throw from the famous Pantheon, it’s practically next door to the chambers of the Italian parliament. Proudly open 365 days a year until 1.30 in the morning, you’ll be able to visit whenever you’re next in Rome.

Gelateria I Caruso, Via Collina 13/15

This might be Rome’s best kept gelato secret! You’ll likely find a queue trailing right out the door, even early in the morning when suited business men and women flock for the pistachio flavour, which gets rave reviews. It even had a visit from Michelle Obama when she took her daughters out for ice cream during the G8 summit.

Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi, Via Principe Eugenio, 65, 00185 Rome

Claiming the title of the oldest gelateria in Italy, the traditional shop first opened its doors in 1880. It’s well worth a visit for the great prices and generous portions. The ice cream is made in the traditional way and the memorabilia on the walls tell a great story as you wait your turn being served the best gelato Rome.

Al Settimo Gelo, Via Vodice 21a, 00195 Rome

This is usually included in lists of best gelato in Rome and it’s easy to see why. The staff are friendly, they roast and grind their own nuts and other ingredients on site and it’s all organic. You’ll find the usual flavours like strawberry and caramel, but we think the chocolate mixed with hot peppers is the one to go for.

Fatmorgana, Via Lago di Lesina 9/11, 00199 Rome

These gelatos pack a punch with their flavours. Not only have they perfected the traditional chocolate or vanilla ones, but makers at Fatmorgana go the extra mile with pear and gorgonzola cheese, or celery and lime gelatos.

So, when in Rome…

Gelato image via @ Fortes

Purple 10: The Best Museums and Galleries Rome

If you’re off on a city break to Rome, don’t spend the time ‘fiddling while Rome burns’, instead discover the art beat of the capital. In this of the ten best museums and galleries in Rome, you’ll journey from a Renaissance palace to Mussolini’s cinema studio…. Enjoy the best museums and galleries Rome from Purple Travel.

The Borghese Gallery

The original sculptures and paintings in the Borghese Gallery date back to Cardinal Scipione’s collection, the son of Ortensia Borghese , Paolo V’s sister. Cardinal Scipion was drawn to any works of ancient, Renaissance and contemporary art which might re-evoke a ‘golden age’. In the Borghese, you will find a whole array of antique sculpture and painting, housed a grand villa, whose architectural features are to be attributed above all to Flaminio Ponzio, an extraordinary architect in whom the Pope and the cardinal placed absolute trust.

Macro: Museo d’Arte Contemporanea

Nestled among 19th-century apartment blocks, the Macro is the newer and bigger of two spaces that combine to make up Rome’s municipal contemporary art museum (the other is in Testaccio). The main part of the museum was created by the French architect, Odile Decq from a disused Peroni beer plant. Providing a home for the postmodern painter and collagist Mario Schifano, Macro aims to be a more daring and controversial version of Maxxi (the National Museum of Art from the 21st Century). Take the toilets for example, which have mirrored walls and translucent plastic sinks that flash different neon colours as you use them.

Palazzo Altemps

Palazzo Altemps

Palazzo Altemps is a Renaissance palace opened as a museum in 1997. It remains one of the capital’s best-kept secrets, with a beguiling collection of classical sculptures. They include the Ludovisi Ares, a Roman copy of a 4th-century BCE Greek original, and the Ludovisi Gaul, part of the same group. But for sheer technical genius,  visitors should see the 3rd-century sarcophagus, carved from a single block of stone, showing the Romans fighting the Ostrogoths – it is known as the Grande Ludovisi.

CineCittà Studios

Cinecittà Studios was founded by Mussolini and due to this, the studio and set complex was bombed by the Allies in the Second World War. However in the ‘50s, the Studios became highly famous when they were used to make a series of costly classical epics, including Ben-Hur and Cleopatra. The 40-hectare site, which is claimed to be continental Europe’s largest film and TV production facility, was also where Federico Fellini shot most of his films.


The church of illusions was built between 1626 and 1650 and dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola. The trompe l’oeil ceiling mural by Andrea Pozzo  uses foreshortening to create a realistic vision of the founder of the Society of Jesus soaring towards paradise to be welcomed by Christ. A disk in the floor marks the ideal spot from which to experience the illusion.

Auditorium Parco della Musica

The Auditorium was designed by architect, Renzo Piano, who called his building a “factory of culture”. Its three concert halls, which stage all manner of productions, hold between 700 and 2,800 people. There is also the Cavea, an open-air theatre reminiscent of a classical amphitheatre, an art gallery and an archaeological museum within the building.

Santa Maria in Trastevere

The Basilica of Our Lady is one of Rome’s oldest churches, dating back to around 340 AD. It is thought to been the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary. In the nave are two rows of columns – 22 in all – that were taken from ancient Roman sites. Embellished with six mosaic panels of scenes from the life of Mary and a gilded octagonal ceiling painting by the Baroque master Domenichino,  the basilica is extraordinarily decadent.

Museo Nazionale dell’Alto Medioevo

This less visited museum displays finely decorated weapons, intricate tapestries and stunning earrings and necklaces. Other exhibits include an ancient metal dog chain and an entire hall, taken from an aristocratic villa in Ostia, adorned with designs created using a technique known as opus sectile in which coloured marble is cut and inlaid.

Ostia Antica

Visitors to Rome who try packing in a trip to Pompeii often leave disappointed by the neglect and disorganisation they find there. Ostia Antica, less than 30km from Rome and reachable by train, offers an altogether more civilised (and arguably more instructive) experience. This, after all, was the port city of the capital of Europe’s greatest empire. Scattered among the umbrella pines that now dot the site are a splendid amphitheatre which is still used for concerts, and the remains of schools, baths, temples and latrines, as well as Europe’s oldest synagogue. Ostia Antica also boasts some unusually well-preserved mosaics and frescoes.

Lorcan O'Neill Gallery

Galleria Lorcan O’Neill

Set in a Trastevere backstreet, Galleria Lorcan adds a touch of hip to an otherwise classical scene. O’Neill, has used his Britart connections to put on exhibitions by Tracey Emin, Sam Taylor-Wood and Rachel Whiteread. He has also shown venerable non-Brits including Anselm Kiefer and provided a space for talented young Italians like Luigi Ontani and Pietro Ruffo.

You should read… Purple 10 film inspired travel

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