Virtual Vacation: Things to Do in Rome Remotely

Photo Courtesy: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Even if I’m no fan of airport security, long cramped flights and airline meals, I do miss traveling. And while nonessential travel remains not the most responsible or safest idea, there’s no argument against virtual traveling.

So pack your mental suitcase, grab your most stylish stilettos — sadly, there won’t be much walking on cobblestones — and join me on a Roman visit from the comfort of home. It’s the next best thing to actually strolling the city at dusk and ending up in front of a lit Fontana di Trevi while devouring gelato.

Start Your Day the Roman Way

A cappuccino and a cornetto — the softer and less buttery Italian version of a croissant — would be the ideal way to start your day like a Roman. You can try to make the perfect cappuccino at home, foam and all. And even dabble in some serious baking with this cornetto recipe.

Photo Courtesy: @anticofornoroscioli/Instagram

Of course, you could always get some more ideas for the perfect breakfast or snack while browsing through Antico Forno Roscioli’s mouth-watering Instagram feed. I wouldn’t mind a bite of pizza e mortazza — a sandwich-like concoction made of white pizza, mortadella and a generous helping of olive oil. Sadly, Roscioli only delivers in the Roman metropolitan area, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to replicate their food.

If you’re feeling more like a hearty meal, take a look at some of the dishes from Roman restaurants Antico Arco, Pianostrada or the trendy food court Mercato Centrale. Then, after all that food voyeurism, you might be brave enough to cook one of Rome’s most traditional dishes: cacio e pepe. All you need is spaghetti, olive oil, black pepper and pecorino cheese.

Take in the Views

Tourist attractions are always better on a full stomach, even if all the visiting is done virtually. Head to Google Earth for some unobstructed views of Foro Romano, Campidoglio, the Colosseum or the impressive Piazza San Pietro in Vatican City.

Photo Courtesy: Patricia Puentes

Granted, you won’t be able to stick your hand inside of Bocca della Verità and take a picture that way, but you also won’t have to suffer the lines and throngs of tourists.

And once you’re done sightseeing you can start exploring some places a little bit closer. Catch a glimpse of what the Baths of Caracalla looked like when they were first completed in 216 CE with this virtual tour, which unfortunately is not in its entirety online.

Lose yourself in Musei Capitolini’s YouTube channel. It doesn’t have that many videos and hasn’t been updated for a while, but it sure offers some marble sculptures to admire. And, while you’re on YouTube, head to Opera di Roma. You’ll be able to enjoy Italian choreographer Simone Valastro’s current contemporary ballet Pandora.

Movies and TV Shows About Rome Might Transport You There As Well

Since we’re in Rome, let’s revisit the classics. Film classics, that is, starting with 1953’s Roman Holiday. Gregory Peck makes for an excellent guide on top of his Vespa and he doesn’t miss a single spot. There’s even time for a gelato atop the steps at Piazza di Spagna.

Photo Courtesy: Paramount Pictures

Let’s continue with the 1960’s La Dolce Vita for a very sensuous late-night bath at Fontana di Trevi with Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg. And you can learn how to make an entrance and how not to park a car in Piazza Navona with the 1999’s The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Then there’s TV. You could revisit HBO’s 2005 two-season show Rome about Ancient Rome’s ascension to an empire. But while very engrossing, the show was mainly shot on the Roman Cinecittà sound stages. For more of an on-location feel of Roman streets, opt for the second season of Killing Eve. The season’s finale features the very recognizable Via Giulia and the surrounding narrow streets around the Regola neighborhood. There’s also a secret rendezvous on Via di Sant’Onofrio.

Killing Eve even gets away from the city and takes you to Villa Hadriana, a residential complex built for Roman Emperor Hadrian between 118 and 138 EC. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a mere 30-minute drive from the center of Rome, but you can check it out virtually here.

Moda Romana

And let’s finish in style, with a little bit of Roman fashion. Head to Strategic Business Unit for some men’s shirts, slim-fit chinos and leather boots. The fashion label is based in Rome and tries to offer a modern classic wardrobe where pieces complete one another, as opposed to a seasonal look.

Photo Courtesy: @strategicbusinessunit/Instagram

Browse some of the vintage garments from Rechicle, at the very hip neighborhood of Prati. Also in Prati, is the men’s handmade shoes brand Velasca, you can check out their entire collection here. Or check their recommendations on what to put on for a weekend in Rome.

Finish your virtual window shopping tour with the casual collection of the Roman brand Empresa; the garments are designed and hand-made in Italy. For more of a luxury Roman name (most Italian haute couture is based in Milan), browse Fendi’s collection.

You can take off your stilettos now. But, what’s best, you can take this opportunity to research and plan your future in-person trip to the Eternal City.