Rome: a business travel guide

By Patrick Browne for Business Life magazine

Main image by Matt Richardson

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agosto 2016

It may be best known for its historical wonders, but the Eternal City is now embracing the future as a thriving startup hub.

Informazioni principali

Rome might not have the same reputation for fostering innovative entrepreneurs as other European capitals, yet in spite of its high rents and notoriously bad public transport, it is quickly becoming one of the Mediterranean's hottest startup hubs. Its rise reflects national trends. In 2013, Italy's national business registry listed just 307 startups; today there are more than 4,500 — ten per cent of which are located in the Eternal City.

It's not for nothing that Italians are famous for fashion… Italians go out of their way to look smart even when dressed casually

Rome has more than 20 universities hosting some 300,000 students, meaning it is home to a huge pool of talented, international graduates. And with Italy's unemployment rate sitting at 39.3 per cent, many are taking matters into their own hands and founding startups.

Discover our cheapest Club fares to Rome >

  • Breakfast at Panella © @mr.trend

    Coffee or cocktails

    Whether you’re in the mood for a full continental or just an espresso, Panella serves up one of the best breakfasts in the city.

    Scopra Roma
  • Lunchtime at Ai Tre Scallini © @anxioustraveler

    When in Rome

    Savour traditional Italian classics at the laid-back trattoria, Ai Tre Scallini.

    Explore Rome
  • The well-stocked bar at Open Baladin Roma © @charleneyeap

    Creative craft beer

    Relax and enjoy one of the 100s of craft beers and ales from across the world at Open Baladin Roma.

    Book a break to Rome

The last few years have seen a proliferation of coworking spaces across the city, which have become fertile breeding grounds for young entrepreneurs eager to share their expertise. This has been accompanied by a rise in venture capital groups keen to invest in ideas with potential, and a number of influential startup incubators and accelerators are now based in Rome.

At a grassroots level, local associations and meetups are helping the community thrive, with hackathons, fairs, workshops and social events. The government is doing its bit, too. In 2013, it passed a 'startup act', which slashed red tape for fledgling enterprises and offered generous incentives, such as tax credits, for investors.

There have already been many success stories — especially in sectors where Italy is already a world leader, such as food, fashion and furniture. Bologna-based Italian fashion startup Yoox recently became Italy's first and only 'unicorn' — a startup valued at more than $1bn — and by the end of the year, the country is expected to have two more: telematics startup Octo, and Translated, a startup offering linguistic services and translation. Both are from Rome.

While comparisons to Silicon Valley might be premature, Rome is offering innovators more than just la dolce vita.

Business etiquette

Italian culture is relationship orientated, so attempts will be made to build rapport before settling down to business. This is usually done by making small talk over coffee before a meeting. The importance of relationships also means that being introduced to a new contact by a mutual acquaintance will help you get ahead. And it's not for nothing that Italians are famous for fashion. Even though informal attire in the startup world is common, Italians go out of their way to look smart even when dressed casually.

  • Entrance at Aldrovandi Villa Borghese

    Make an entrance

    Housed in a beautiful 19th-century ivory villa, the Aldrovandi Villa Borghese hotel is a quiet retreat in the middle of the city.

Food & Shopping

The city is home to some of Italy's finest pasta dishes, such as cacio e pepe — spaghetti with a pecorino cheese and black pepper sauce — and spaghetti alla matriciana, a sauce made from cured pork cheek and rich tomato passata. Pizza in Rome is normally baked in large rectangular trays and sold by the slice. Mixing and matching flavours is encouraged.

Best Business Breakfast: Panella.

Looking for artisanal bread, pastries and an extra special secret cappuccino? This is the place for breakfast lovers. (Via Merulana 54;

Best Power Lunch: Ai Tre Scallini.

This traditional trattoria has tasty dishes, excellent service and a relaxed atmosphere. (Via Panisperna, 251; aitrescalini)

Best Slap-Up Dinner: Open Baladin Roma.

Trendy bar offering freshly made burgers and artisanal beers. (Via degli Specchi, 6;


If you're looking to splash the cash on some iconic Italian brands, head down to Piazza di Spagna where the biggest names of Italian fashion have boutiques. Limited budget? Then join the throngs on the city's main drag — Via del Corso - where all the major high-street names can be found. If independent shops and vintage stores are more your thing, head over to Monti — the city's Bohemian quarter.


Inn at the Roman Forum

A unique hotel, boasting its own Roman ruins and a secret rooftop garden, overlooking the Colosseum and Roman Forum.

Book a stay at Inn at the Roman Forum >

  • Terrace views at the Inn at the Roman Forum

    Evening shadows

    The Inn at the Roman Forum hotel is just a stone’s throw from the city’s most iconic ruins, including the Colosseum.

  • Living and lounging space at Palazzo Montemertini

    Elegante e alla moda

    With 82 well-appointed rooms and a restaurant with views of the Servian Wall, Palazzo Montemartini is ideal for business or leisure.

    Prenota un soggiorno
  • The Eternal City Suite at the Gran Melia Rome

    Forty winks

    A stay at the Gran Melia Rome hotel ensures all your needs are catered for, from a pillow menu to iPod docking stations in every room.

Palazzo Montemartini

A luxury hotel next to the city's central station, Termini, complete with a spa and swimming pool.

Book a stay at Palazzo Montemartini >

Aldrovandi Villa Borghese

A five-star hotel with a swimming pool in the relaxing setting of Villa Borghese ¬– a large park in the centre of the city.

Book a stay at Aldrovandi Villa Borghese >

Gran Melia Rome

This stylish design hotel is located on the Tiber River and has plenty of dining options and a house chef with two Michelin stars.

Book a stay at Gran Melia Rome >

Sapeva che...?

1. The word 'palace' derives from Rome's 'Palatine Hill', where Roman emperor Augustus built his lavish home in the 1st century BC.

2. Wishers hoping to one day return to Rome toss some €3,000 into the Trevi Fountain each day. Every evening, the coins are removed and donated to a local charity.

3. The world's first ever 'shopping centre', containing 150 shops over two floors, was opened in Rome by the Emperor Trajan in 110 AD.

4. Rome did not become Italy's capital until 1871. Turin was the first capital of the newly proclaimed Republic of Italy between 1861 and 1865, followed by Florence.

5. The 43.4m diameter dome of the Pantheon — completed in 128 AD — is still the world's largest reinforced concrete dome. It is even larger than the dome of St Peter's Basilica, which has a diameter of 41.47m.

Your tips

We asked our LinkedIn followers for their Rome tips.

"Have an aperitif and dinner in Trastevere." – Nicola Sartor

"The Ara Pacis of emperor Augustus is as close to the times of Marc Antony and Cleopatra as it gets." – Dr Britta A. Moeser

"There are two types of pizza: Napoletana, with thick crust, and Romana, with thin crust. There are some good pizzerie between Piazza Navona and Via del Governo Vecchio." ¬– Giuseppe Sesta

"The best way to see all of the amazing architecture is to walk around. Comfy shoes are a must." – Charlotte Taylor

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Come muoversi

Taxis from Fiumicino airport to anywhere in the city centre cost a fixed price of €40. The airport is connected to Termini (the main station) by a train, The Leonardo Express, which departs every 30 minutes and costs €11, and by Terravision buses, which depart every 20 minutes and cost €4.