Perched atop the Pincian Hill in Rome’s Campo Marzio district, Casina Valadier provides panoramic views of Rome that are nothing short of stunning. Found within the Villa Borghese, the Casina Valadier vista takes in the verdant expanse of the gardens before moving to the city’s rooftops, with St Peter’s Basilica in the distance. And the fine food and drink found in its cafe, bar and restaurant make the walk up the hill more than worth it.
First, take the Caffè del Pincio. This is the place for a reinvigorating espresso and a slice of cake or a light lunch. Meanwhile the appropriately named restaurant, Vista, serves dish after dish of contemporary Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, and is particularly popular for dinner. Here, you can start the evening with courgette flowers stuffed with buffalo ricotta and courgettes, vegetarian niçoise and quail eggs, then move onto spaghetti with mullet botargo and raw tuna, and a superlative rack of lamb with tapenade, all before rounding off the meal with a scoop of homemade gelato. And it’s all plated so beautifully, it’s hard to decide whether you want to look out the windows at the view as the sun sets, or at your dinner.
For a pre- or post-dinner cocktail, Casina Valadier also has a relaxing, atmospheric bar. Then again, what else would you expect from somewhere called the Chill Bar? Its raison d’être is pretty much right there in the name. There’s a whole host of wine, Champagne and beer on hand, but the cocktails are the main event. The Casina Valadier signatures are well worth a try (“La Petite Mort”, made with gin, fresh grapefruit and lemon juice, honey, absinthe and orange bitters, is a good place to start), and there are a couple of innovations that have to be drunk to be believed. We’re talking concoctions like “Le Grand Rouge”, a magical mixture of Grey Goose Lavender Vodka, Benedictine Liqueur, Lillet Rouge, Campari, lime juice and pink grapefruit marmalade; it’s grand indeed.