Brendan Mullane’s Rome

The British designer held positions at Givenchy, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Alexander McQueen before taking the helm of Italian brand Brioni in 2012

Image: Fabio Massimo Aceto

I wake up early on Saturday mornings out of habit. The first thing I do is take a cup of tea onto my terrace overlooking Piazza di Sant’ Andrea della Valle. I live on the top floor of a beautiful building that’s a cross between Bauhaus and Italian fascista, with clean lines and super-high ceilings. I’ll go out around 10am and set off on foot – the only way to see the city. I’ll walk behind the Pantheon and crisscross down the back streets to Ciampini Bistrot, where I’ll people-watch over a slice of tortaletta.

Then I’ll shop a little. I love the Ai Monasteri apothecary and the small underground furniture shop Ar.Con, where I hunt for pieces by Giò Ponti, Arno Jacobsen and Carlo Scarpa. For clothes, Degli Effetti has under-the-radar menswear labels that are the opposite of what I do at Brioni, and Motelsalieri stocks great stuff by cult brands like Comme des Garçons and Attachment. I also love food shopping, and there’s a beautiful old-fashioned butcher where I’ll order fresh prosciutto cut extremely thin.

I’ll head on to Villa Borghese and wander through the park for an hour, taking in the magic of Rome. There are so many entrances that you see it from a different perspective every time. Lunch is at Nino, a trattoria behind the Spanish Steps with great ribollita. From there I’ll cut back through Villa Borghese, this time with a real agenda. I’ll pass by the stables – I have a passion for horses – en route to the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, which I love.

Late afternoon I either head home for a siesta or to a tiny spa called Wonderfool. It’s a bit old-world, with a hammam, a barber’s with beautiful old chairs and an artisanal shop that sells an eclectic mix of gorgeous things in glass cabinets – Cire Trudon candles, Ron Dorff sportswear and Euthymol toothpaste.


Early evening I’ll meet friends for an aperitivo at Hotel Raphaël’s rooftop bar. Not many people know it, but it has an amazing view and great cocktails. Then we’ll walk across the Tiber to the arty Trastevere area and pause for a drink at Freni e Frizioni, a hip bar right on the river.

Dinner is at the very Roman Da Teo. There’s nothing glamorous about it, but that’s why I love it. The service is quite sharp and the exceptional food arrives when it arrives, but they’re very good at keeping you stocked up on wine while you wait. If I feel like a nightcap, I’ll go to a cool bar called Garbo, a tiny place that’s very hard to find. You ring a bell and if the guy who runs it recognises you or you know someone, he’ll let you inside. Or I might get a cab to Lanificio, a three-storey nightclub, restaurant and exhibition space in an old wool mill on three floors, with a garden on the roof. The acoustics are amazing.

I love to sleep with my shutters open, so on Sundays I tend to wake early. I’ll take the paper to the art deco Caffè della Pace, one of the oldest in Rome. Then it’s a contemporary art gallery, either Galleria Lorcan O’Neill Roma in a palazzo with a lovely courtyard or Gavin Brown’s place in a former church; the space is something else. I’ll meet friends for lunch at Ai Tre Scalini, a little bottiglieria with a beautiful hanging garden, and meander home through the back streets via an aperitivo on the garden terrace at Hotel Locarno, which is fashion-y but not too much so.

Back at the apartment I’ll sit with all the windows open and catch up on TV I’ve missed; at the moment, that’s Game of Thrones, Empire and The Fall. Mondays tend to be hectic and this is how I prepare, watching programmes where I don’t have to think, just absorb. It’s like cleaning my brain for the week ahead.


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