When bold-faced names like Oprah, Penelope Cruz, and Ben Stiller head to Rome, the first person they call is Simone Amorico. The 37-year-old is a partner at Access Italy, a Rome-based travel company that plans exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime experiences for A-list guests and other well-heeled clients.
Simone’s father Angelo Amorico started Access Italy 20 years
The demand might have something to do with Access Italy's, well, access. They offer an experience that virtually no one else in the city can: a private, after-hours tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. Below, Simone tells us how to do Rome like a local—plus details about Access Italy's signature once-in-a-lifetime Vatican tour.
Coffee Shop: Casa & Bottega
"It used to be an antique shop and they turned it into a nice cozy bar where they make amazing espresso, cappuccino, and pastries. It’s very local. There’s a school nearby so it’s a place where all the moms hang out after they drop off the kids. It’s inexpensive and gives you the local experience."
Best Pizza: Da Francesco
"They make the best Roman-style thin crust pizza in different flavors than a regular Italian pizzeria—things like buffalo mozzarella with porcini mushrooms and truffles, or buffalo mozzarella with white truffles."
Authentic Roman Restaurant: Taverna Trilussa
"Located in the oldest neighborhood in Rome, the restaurant is one of very few where they still serve the pasta in traditional pans, rather than plates. It’s Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s favorite spot when they come into town—their tennis rackets are hanging on the wall there. You’ll want to order their Ravioli Mimosa. it’s a delicious creamy pink sauce but they won’t give out the recipe…even to me, and I know the owner!"
Insanely Delicious Gelato: Gelateria del Teatro
"It’s right below an ancient theater that is now closed. The gelato is made from 100% natural ingredients – only milk, eggs, and hazelnut or pistachio. I always order the hazelnut, which comes from the Piedmont region."
Best Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience: After-Hours Vatican Tour
"My father started doing them 15 years ago. These days it can be really hard to get in because the lines are so long and there are so many people, but we take our clients after it closes at 6pm—just us with a private tour guide and one of the Vatican guards. You enter the Vatican museum when it’s empty, and finish in the Sistine
Cost: 6,000 euros for up to 6 people.
Best Cocktail with a View: Zuma Roma
"An amazing rooftop that’s right downtown in the Fendi Building. It has great views and the cocktails are amazing."
Great Hotel for Families: Hotel de Russie
"It's right below the Borghese Garden, which is like the Central Park of Rome. You can walk anywhere downtown from there, so it’s in the best location. Plus, there are lots of activities to do with the kids. You can rent bikes, go on a
Favorite Hotel Bar: Le Jardin de Russie
"It’s in a great courtyard right below the Borghese gardens. They make the best martinis."
Romantic Hotel for Couples: Hotel Eden
"The best views of Rome. It had been closed for two years of
renovations, and it just re-opened."
Best Shop for a Souvenir: Flanella Grigia
"They do amazing custom-made shirts. It’s a must for men."
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.