What Liya Kebede Does When She’s in Rome


“Italian men are so dressy,” says Liya Kebede with a laugh. “A suit, an amazing shoe, and a little handkerchief in their pocket.”

Last March, the Ethiopian supermodel and actress returned to Rome with her family. (She and her brothers spent a year there as children.) For the former WHO goodwill ambassador, whose Lemlem Foundation works to improve maternal health and create artisan employment in Africa, travel offers a chance to observe “how people incorporate fashion into their lives,” she says. Lemlem, Kebede’s casual-chic clothing and home-goods line, recently launched a summer collaboration with the French footwear designer Pierre Hardy. Made from cotton handwoven by Ethiopian artisans, the 12-piece collection features colorful, vacation-ready shoes and bags.

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Opened in 2000, the luxury Hotel de Russie features 86 rooms and 34 coveted suites, a few of which boast private terraces with views of the property’s secluded garden courtyard. “It’s very modern, the rooms are beautiful, and they have amazing Bellinis,” Kebede says.



Kebede touts long-standing institutions like the third generation, family-owned restaurant Dal Bolognese. Situated on the Piazza del Popolo, the elegant eatery
offers traditional northern Italian fare, like decadent tagliatelle Bolognese. For a great cappuccino, she recommends Rome’s oldest coffee bar, the nearby Antico Caffè Greco. “It’s really lovely and old-school—and always full!” she says of the 258-year-old standby, whose patrons included Romantic poets John Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

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A trip to the Eternal City isn’t complete without stopping at the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, and the eighteenth-century Spanish Steps. (They’re all famous for a reason, Kebede says.) Her preferred mode of transportation: a guided tour with Segway Roma. “We had 11 people—a parade of Segways—and we were all acting like kids,” she says. For shopping, the Via del Corso and its side streets mix global brands like Michael Kors, Dolce & Gabbana, and Alberta Ferretti with local favorites, such as the city’s second La Rinascente luxury department store, which opened last fall.



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