Travel like an aristocrat, jumping from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, when you’re behind the wheel of one of Italy’s most iconic sports cars, a $250,000 V10 Lamborghini Gallardo. Rent that, or one of four Ferraris or Porsches, by the day or the week from Palazzo Manfredi (from $1,100; palazzomanfredi.com), a boutique hotel near the Colosseum. (General manager Bruno Papaleo offers gratis driving tutorials to guests, provided they’re at least 30 years old and possess a valid license.) To ease into Italy’s chaotic car culture, head twenty miles east of Rome to peaceful Tivoli, where the magnificent Italian Renaissance gardens of the sixteenth-century Villa D’Este (from $10; Piazza Trento; villadestetivoli.info) await. After listening to a concerto on the estate’s recently repaired Baroque organ fountain, settle in under the wisteria-covered terrace of Ristorante Sibilla (Via Della Sibilla 50; ristorantesibilla.com) for a $60 prix fixe lunch including the primi, like burrata ravioli. Another day, seek out contemporary architecture in northern Rome’s Flaminio neighborhood, recently revitalized thanks to the Zaha Hadid–designed contemporary-art center Maxxi ($14 admission; Via Guido Reni 4A; fondazionemaxxi.it) and Renzo Piano’s multifunctional arts complex, the Auditorium Parco della Musica (Viale Pietro de Coubertin 30; auditorium.com). Or drive north to sample oyster, celery, habanero, and other savory gelati at Claudio Torcè’s ten-month-old Il Gelato Bistrò (Circ. Ne Trionfale 11/13; 39-06-3972-5949). Use Palazzo Manfredi as a base (from $520) or crash at the year-old, 116-room Gran Meliá Rome (from $450; melia.com), right on the banks of the Tiber River and five minutes from the Vatican.
The thrill-o-meter: Modestly madcap.