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What to do in Rome on an unlimited budget

Forget what you think you should see in Rome — the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, or even the Sistine Chapel. The city has much more to offer than the overcrowded attractions that draw the usual hordes of tourists, according to Uri Harash, founder of the Rome-based Perfetto Traveler who designs not-so-touristy itineraries around town for royalty, heads of state, and other VIPs.

Below, he shares his ideal day in the Eternal City. A chauffeur-driven Mercedes is included throughout.

A Ferrari tour of Lake Nemi — $3,000

Set off in a Ferrari for a panoramic tour of Lake Nemi, a thirty minute drive south and a spot where locals head to for weekend getaways. After a quick stop for photos, continue onto the town of Castel Gandolfo for a leisurely lunch and wine pairing at Antico Ristorante Pagnanelli. Your four-course meal begins with figs with shrimp tartare and decadent hand-rolled gnocchi blanketed in shaved black truffles. A pristine John Dory fillet with zucchini flowers and cherry tomatoes is the main entree, and for dessert, creamy and fluffy lemon meringue pie. To drink, go for the red blend Vigna del Vassallo from Colle Picchioni winery nearby.

An art tour of a private Roman palazzo — $2,500

“So many art treasures in the city are behind closed doors, but I can get you access to the residence of a noble family to see their museum-worthy collection,” said Harash. An art historian will accompany you to the grand home located in the center of town. Though Renaissance-era paintings from masters such as Paolo Veronese hang throughout the entertaining areas, the main salon is the star with its shining marble, 16th and 17th century furniture, and more than a dozen works of art.

Visit the private atelier of fashion designer Giada Curti — $2,200

ROME ITALY – JANUARY 30: Designer Giada Curti walks during the Giada Curti fashion show as a part of AltaRoma 2015 at Hotel St Regis on January 30, 2015 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)

Any trip to Rome in incomplete without experiencing Italian high fashion says Harash. He can arrange for you to meet Giada Curti, one of the country’s leading fashion designers, in her atelier near the Spanish Steps. After an introduction to her artistry, enjoy a 30-minute runway show just for you of her feminine and free flowing cocktail and evening wear.

Art restoration in Trastevere — $1,300

ROME, LAZIO, ITALY – 2013/11/01: View of the Trastevere area architecture. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

It doesn’t get more insider-y than spending time in Trastevere, known as Rome’s colorful artists’ quarter. Join a restoration expert, who has worked on paintings by Raphael and Caravaggio, in her studio for a workshop on her craft. You’ll learn different restoration techniques used through the ages and get insight on how to distinguish originals from copies.

Dinner at Assunta Madre — $500

Harash says that if he had one last supper in Rome, he’d want it to be at Assunta Madre for unparalleled seafood that’s caught and delivered fresh daily. Sit in the exposed brick dining room, and savor dishes such as sweet red prawns, whole roasted sea bass with olive leaf and lemon and lobster noodles with pecorino cheese.

Party at Art Caffe — $500

ROME, ITALY – NOVEMBER 21: A general view of the Galleria Borghese museum on November 21, 2011 in Rome, Italy. The Galleria Borghese houses a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculptures and antiquities, begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V, it is located in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

The grand finale of your Roman dolce vita day is drinks at the ultra-hip Art Caffe situated in the historic Villa Borghese. Here, you can sip Krug rose while you mingle with stylish locals and dance to the latest hits.

 

Over-budget extras:

A Portrait by a Famous Roman Artist: $10,000 and Up

Classic masterpieces aside, Rome’s contemporary art scene has taken off, and it’s possible to get a portrait of you painted by one of the hottest stars of the moment. Choose your favorite artist from a roster of names, and spend a half-day working with him or her to get a museum-worthy work of you.

A Piece of Handmade Diamond Jewelry or Cuff Links by a Micro-Mosaic Artist: $10,000 and Up

An incredibly labor intensive technique, making micro mosaic jewelry requires using a tweezer to assemble hundreds of tiny pieces of precious gems or glass into an image or pattern. “We get the best quality diamonds, and you get to work with the designer to create your dream piece,” says Harash.