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Rome City Breaks

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Is there anything better than a Roman holiday?

I mean what have the Romans ever done for us? Apart from the aqueducts? Well, they have indeed provided one of Europe's most famous 'monument' cities. Rome is a history student's dream; but it's also the perfect place for shorts breaks or romantic breaks in Europe.

Rome is (one of) the city of love. With the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain and the ability to zoom around the city on a scooter. With the marvellous parks everywhere, the Vatican Museums, the Catacombs and more, Rome is overrun with visual treasures the like of nowhere else. Together it gives all the other weekend breaks in Europe a run for their money.

A visit to Rome is an exercise in cramming in as much as possible - because you simply can't see and do all the things you really should in Rome! The best idea is to map out your wish list and then make choices based on geography. So, for example, see St Peter's Basilica and St Peter's Square in the morning and spend the afternoon in the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel.

Spend the next day exploring the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and the various temples that make up the area. Rest awhile in any plaza then spend some money in a gellateria. Is there a finer way to spend a day? No, we thought not.

Whatever you do, you will leave Rome with a promise to come back. Truly, one of the great world cities!

Eating out in Rome - cheap, expensive and everything in between

The golden rule for Rome is avoid the tourist areas at all costs if you want to avoid, well, all costs. There are plenty of good options for great food in Rome - but you have to delve into the back alleys and walk a few streets off the beaten track. Watch for - and ask about - hidden service charges, cover charges and so on in the tourist areas.

The budget options - not far from the Trevi lies a little restaurant called Al Picchio. The address is 40, Via del Lavatore, and the food is basic Italian fare like bruschetta and risottos at a bargain price. At 32 Via Degli Scipioni is La Caravella which does a slightly more upmarket version.

Mid-price options - there are plenty of mid-range choices in Rome. Da Augusto on Piazza de' Renzi 15 serves a great line in roast chicken and potatoes/roast lamb style of fare and the prices are reasonable. Just off the Campo de' Fiori, Ditirambo is a relaxed, friendly place with typical Italian food at a good price. They serve platters of meats and cheeses, homemade breads and the like.

Splurge - located in Rome’s ancient Jewish Ghetto, Piperno is a classic wood-panelled, formal restaurant with professional waiters and fresh produce. The pasta is made fresh in house daily.

What to wear, when to go

Rome has a typically warm Mediterranean coast climate. The summers are hot with August often tipping 30C. January gets as low as 12-15 and the spring and autumn are very pleasant. It's generally warm from May through October so your travel window is very broad. Rain is most often seen during the winter months.

Rome is a movie set

There's just so much to see and do in Rome it's hard to know where to begin. Perhaps choose your pleasures - art galleries, old monuments, food, or the Vatican. Others simply love just roaming the streets, taking in the random sights and sounds they come across. Be warned! You'll need your walking shoes if you take this route.

The Coliseum - the clash of gladiators and the dust of chariot races seems to have barely settled in this place as you wander the hallowed turf and unleash your inner gladiator. This vast arena dates back some 2000 years. Walk back in time as you clamber through the Coliseum and let your imagination do the talking.

The Pantheon - close to the Coliseum is the Pantheon, an ornate and suitably old temple. The imposing pillars and the stonework seems rather simple which just adds to the grandeur. The dome atop the Pantheon is Rome's largest free-standing vault and a triumph of architecture for the time.

Villa Borghese - once a private estate, Borghese is now a marvellous park whose grounds encompass some four outstanding museums. The Museo e Galleria Borghese is Rome's finest art gallery. (And that's saying something.) It contains hundreds of works including Caravaggio, Botticelli and Raphael.

Castel Sant'Angelo - the castle looks like a fort because it was adapted into one from its origins as a mausoleum. Today it's a grand museum housing sculpture, art and weapons. The view across Rome from the stairs is glorious.

St Peter's - the square and the Basilica are stand out attractions in a city with dozens of standouts. The columns are designed to guide the faithful on their journey to the Cathedral and they most certainly do. One of the best public spaces in Europe, St Peter's Square leads to the Basilica which is one of the finest churches you will ever see.

The must see - is the Sistine Chapel. More than 4 million visitors a year can't be wrong. Originally built in 1484, Michelangelo didn't start the ceiling of the chapel until 1508. The famous ceiling took him four years and twenty-two years later he returned at the behest of Pope Clement VII to paint the far wall.

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