My City: Rome with Photographer Enrico Costantini

“Rome is unlike anywhere else in the world,” says photographer Enrico Costantini. “It’s quite special the way in which ancient history blends seamlessly with modern life and contemporary culture.” Based in the city’s buzzy Monti district, steps from the Forum, he would know. Born in Venice, Enrico originally moved to Rome to study interior design. After graduating, he started working in photography, with shoots introducing him to the worlds of design, fashion and hospitality. Recent years have seen him branch out into the travel space at large—and featured prominently in publications like Architectural Digest, Elle Decor and Vogue, as well as in Assouline’s photo-heavy tomes Villeggiatura: Italian Summer Vacation and Lake Como Idyll. (His photos have also earned him a large following on Instagram.) “I would say my photography is very simple in a way, because I like to capture reality.” Enrico’s take on reality, however, has a certain (perhaps Italian?) flair for the dramatic, and his deft manipulation of light and shadow frequently draws comparisons to Caravaggio. “I’m always honored by that comparison.”

These days, work (and play) sees Enrico traveling the world: Dubai, Yemen, Mauretania and the Seychelles are on his list for the next few months. But in between, he always finds time to return to Rome. “Monti feels like a city within a city,” he says of his neighborhood. “It’s very close to the Colosseum but still has the tiny shops and small galleries.”

Below, he shares his tips for the Eternal City.

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Morning Ritual

“In Italy, especially in Rome… you wake up, you go to the bar and you get an espresso and a cornetto—which is either plain or with pistachio or chocolate or cream, the most popular one. So basically you just stand on the bar and then go. That's the way people would do breakfast in Rome.” His pick: Bar La Licata

Where to Eat

A true Italian, Enrico is a pasta lover. “I have to be honest. I really like carbonara and cacio e pepe,” he says. Here are several restaurants he loves (for carbonara, cacio e pepe and more):

Sciuè Sciuè Cucina: For simple, high-quality Italian cuisine with changing daily menus in a contemporary setting.

Da Valentino: “This is an iconic trattoria with very traditional vibes and local dishes.”

Sichuan: When he needs a break from Italian, Enrico heads here. “It’s popular because it’s spicy. There’s peppers everywhere. I get the sweet, spicy tofu. The restaurant is easygoing and this is where Chinese people who live in Rome go.”

Where to Drink

Drink Kong: Currently number 21 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, this jet-black bar with neon lights serves Japan-inspired cocktails. “The atmosphere is very dark, and it’s very cool—very busy. You definitely need to book ahead to get a table here.”

Sacripante Art Gallery: Inside a former convent, this art gallery showcases under-the-radar contemporary Italian artists in the front, and has a vibey cocktail bar and in the back. “It's very cozy, intimate. During the week it’s usually quiet, but on the weekends it's a bit more of a lounge, when it’s good to go there late-night and be around a lot of people.”

Ai Tre Scalini: A favored stop for wines since the 1880s.

Ex Galleria: “It’s very nice to sit outside here and it’s always quite busy.”

Suburra 1930: A two-story restaurant with an excellent, rotating list of cocktails.

Monti Moda: Two Clothing Stores He Loves

Superodra: For new Italian and international clothing designers, as well as some home goods.

Pifebo: For vintage clothing. “It’s very popular, with very reasonable prices and a very nice selection.”

The Gelato Stops

A traditionalist when it comes to gelato, Enrico always goes for pistachio or stracciatella. His favorite shops: S.M.Maggiore and Giolitti (“It’s iconic and everyone goes there, but it’s a really good place.”)

Museum Must

Palazzo Colonna: The Colonna family still lives there—somewhere up in the palace—which is really cool, and they’re super nice. You can only visit Saturday mornings, so it’s special to see, and the place itself is incredible. Of course now with Instagram and TikTok everything is becoming super popular, but this is still under the radar. I know a lot of people—Italian people, too—who don’t even know about this place. It’s beautiful.”

How to Photograph Rome (or Anywhere) Like a Pro

“Go very early in the morning, when the city’s still sleeping. You only have a few people that are jogging. So you can go around and get fresh air and have the best lighting to photograph. Either that or sunset time. The golden hour is very nice as well.”

Evening Ritual: La Passeggiata

“At night, after dinner, people go out and just walk with their partner or their friends. It’s called la passeggiata, and it’s actually something we do. You’re just walking, but going nowhere—just walking and looking around. Especially if you live in a neighborhood like Monti or in the city center, it’s really nice to just be able to go out and enjoy the open air. There’s usually live music on the street and it’s very charming. And Rome has good weather all year round, so even in the wintertime you can enjoy the outdoors.”

One destination that even an aimless passeggiata in Monti often ends at: Piazza della Madonna. “Especially on weekends, everybody gathers around the main square in Monti, getting drinks from the bars around it to sit there and chit chat.”

Published onOctober 24, 2023

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