We all think we know everything about Rome: the Coliseum, the Imperial Fora, its thousand churches, its parks and all its little secrets. Still, even those of us who feel like Rome is their second home, and locals themselves, regularly end up being surprised by just how much the city has to offer, not only regarding its past, but also its present. We went on a day tour, on a mission to discover the contemporary, original face of Rome, letting those people who make it modern and ever-changing win our hearts.

Drop by the barber’s. It looks like just the kind of store where time miraculously stops the moment you step in, but once you walk in, you will realize that this place is actually looking ahead. Genco’s barber shop is hosted in the palazzo della Scimmia, one of Rome’s most ancient palaces, and it was born as the natural evolution of an old barber’s shop: the sign hanging outside the shop is original and it’s been there since the 16th century, it’s even protected by the Italian ministry of Fine Arts! Genco took the expertise of an old barber shop and worked its alchemy, transforming it into a relaxing oasis for contemporary gentlemen. Using extremely high-quality products from all over Europe, they offer finely tailored services to anyone who decides it’s time to treat themselves to a moment of well-being. Fun fact: Eat Pray Love was shot here!

Hardworking hands. Just a few steps away from the palazzo della Scimmia, you will find another historical courtyard which hosts another artisanal boutique, sculpting past, present and future into metal. Dante is the keeper of the Mortet family tradition, who have been chiselling for six generations, producing pieces that made history, such as the pen that the Pope used to sign the Pacem in Terris encyclical letter. Dante’s idea is to spread the knowledge of the art of chiselry among people, and he is doing so with his Mano Artigiana (Artisanal Hand) project, chiselling the hands of famous artists from the film, music and sports industry in metal. It is wonderful to sit in his time-honored workshop and listen to his stories, so intimate and so revealing, just like somebody’s hands can be. This is how you also end up meeting people who dream of a different future, such as Cosima and Stefano D’Inzillo, founders of a brand of the same name, who are working on a project that blends Dante’s talent with the will to create an exclusive product that looks more like a sculpture than a fashion object: a series of brass minaudières, decorated by cheetahs. Holding the hands of celebrities like Scorsese, Tarantino and Anjelica Huston will feel like a true treat.

A night at the museum. This took a a two-year renovation effort, but the results are truly exceptional: the Aleph hotel, whose building used to host a bank, manages to blend the charm of ancient Rome with its more modern face, in an interplay of old and new that can be seen in marble, onyx, prestigious woods and Italian furniture. The hotel often hosts art openings of contemporary artists: right now, it’s hosting a permanent collection featuring many different authors, on every hotel floor. This is an excellent reason to go test the Onyx Bar, named after its spectacular onyx bar, an absolute must see. Your treat here? Their spa, which you will access by walking through the former bank vault. Awesome!

After a day discovering the more hidden, unusual charms of Rome, treat yourself to a classic, in one of the city’s more historical places: Casina Valadier, which is turning 200 this year. Enjoy the chef’s dishes, with the capital’s skyline at your feet… We promise you will be left speechless, and not just because you’ll be busy with food!

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