Cruising the Med, part I


st peters basilica

Never one to turn down time in the Eternal City, I opted for a few nights of pre-cruise fun in Rome, the point of embarkation for Celebrity Silhouette’s second voyage on the high seas.  Knowing my tendency for post-long-haul moodiness and extreme exhaustion, I had booked myself in one of Rome’s grandest hotels on the outskirts of the city—the Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts—where I could revel in amazing hilltop views of Rome from my hotel room without the pressure of treading the cobblestone streets just hours after landing.


My very necessary 24-hour recovery at the Rome Cavalieri was pure acclimatization indulgence. The hotel’s BMW pickup service whisked me away to my Roman palace directly from the airport. I began the morning with complimentary Mimosas and a smorgasbord of fresh fruits, staples in the Imperial Club (left), the club lounge for those staying in the hotel’s suites or Imperial rooms (think: Ritz-Carlton club level on steroids). I gazed at the Eternal City below from the bedroom balcony, and spent the rest of the day alternating between my “Z’s,” photographing Rome from the hotel’s hilltop vantage point, and pigging out at mealtimes.


Refreshed and ready to take on the world (or at least Rome) on my second day, I hopped on the Cavalieri’s first shuttle bus in the AM, which conveniently drops guests in the heart of town at Piazza Barberini, easy walking distance from Rome’s most renowned sights. This shuttle runs hourly between the hotel and the city-center. Ten minutes after arriving in Barberini, I was standing in front of the gorgeous Trevi Fountain (below), camera in hand, snapping away while quietly eavesdropping on tourists recounting scenes from Three Coins in the Fountain.trevi fountain I wandered for hours on what I like to call a “Piazza crawl” – losing and finding myself in and around Rome’s greatest piazzas (e.g. Navona, Venezia, and Minerva). I eventually ended up in Vatican City at St. Peter’s Basilica, splendidly quiet on a Sunday in late summer, especially since the Vatican museums  (including the Sistine Chapel) remain closed on the “day of the Lord.”


Before sundown I checked into my second hotel, smack in the heart of the city in the shadow of the Spanish Steps – Portrait Suites Rome. This exclusive 14 room microhotel, above Rome’s famed Ferragamo store, bursts with the eclectic personality and refinement of its shoe-making, show-stopping owner, Salvatore Ferragamo.  These fourteen “Portrait Suites” exude understated elegance, but the best part of this hotel isn’t even the superb design-driven rooms. The hotel’s rooftop lounge, exclusive to its discerning guests, is one of Rome’s most inspiring nooks. Absorbing the timeless rapture of Rome’s rooftops and the zenith of the Spanish Steps at sunrise, sunset, and every hour in between, while indulging in Portrait Suite’s fabulous full-scale rooftop honor bar, could easily go down in your personal history as your greatest moments in Rome …


portrait suites 

The private rooftop terrace of Portrait Suites … a divine space with one of the best views in Rome.


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