Rome

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An epic, monumental metropolis, Rome has been in the spotlight for close on 3,000 years. As the showcase centre of the Roman Empire, it was the all-powerful caput mundi (capital of the world). Later, as the Renaissance capital of the Catholic world, its name sent shivers of holy terror through believers and infidels alike. Some 500 years on and its name still exerts a powerful hold. Fortunately, the reality is every bit as enticing as the reputation. With its architectural and artistic treasures, its romantic corners and noisy markets, Rome is a city that knows how to impress.

Orientation

Rome is surprisingly small, especially the centro storico (historic centre), focused on Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. The transport hub is Roma Termini (sometimescalled Stazione Termini), the city’s main train station. City buses leave from Piazzadei Cinquecento, just in front, and metrolines A and B run from under the station.

Emergency

Police station (Questura; Tel 06 468 61; Via San Vitale 15)

Internet Access

Splashnet (Via Varese 33; per hr €1.50; h8.30am-11pm) Also has a laundry and left-luggage storage (€2 perbag per day).Telephone Center International (Via Volturno 52; perhr €2; h7am-midnight) Also good rates on internationalcalls.

Medical Services

24-hour Pharmacy (Tel 06 488 00 19; Piazza deiCinquecento 49/50/51)Ospedale Bambino Gesù (Tel 06 685 92 351; Piazzadi Sant’Onofrio 4) For paediatric assistance.Ospedale Santo Spirito (Tel 06 6 83 51; Lungoteverein Sassia 1)

Tourist Information

Centro Servizi Pellegrini e Turisti (Tel 06 698 81662; St Peter’s Sq; h8.30am-4.15pm Mon-Sat) TheVatican tourist office.Enjoy Rome (Tel 06 445 68 90; www.enjoyrome.com;Via Marghera 8a; h8.30am-7pm Mon-Fri, to 2pm Sat) Aprivate tourist office with a free hotel-reservation service.

The Comune di Roma runs a multilingualtourist infoline (Tel 820 59 127; h9am-7pm) andinformation points across the city:

Castel Sant’Angelo (Tel 06 688 09 707; Piazza Pia;h9.30am-7pm)

Fiumicino airport (Terminal C, International Arrivals;h9am-7pm)

Imperial Forums Visitor Centre (Tel 06 699 24 307;Via dei Fori Imperiali; h9.30am-6.30pm)

Piazza delle Cinque Lune (Tel 06 688 09 240;h9.30am-7pm) Near Piazza Navona.

Piazza Sonnino (Tel 06 583 33 457; h9.30am-7pm)In Trastevere.Santa Maria Maggiore (Tel 06 474 09 55; Viadell’Olmata; h9.30am-7pm) Near the basilica.

Stazione Termini (Tel 06 478 25 194; h8am-9pm) Inthe hall parallel to platform 24.

Via Marco Minghetti (Tel 06 678 29 88; h9.30am-7pm) Near the Trevi Fountain.Via Nazionale (Tel 06 478 24 525; h9.30am-7pm)

If you plan to blitz the sights, consider the Roma Pass (€20; valid for three days), which gives free admission to two museums or sites, free public transport and discounts on entry to other sites. It’s available at all participating sites and tourist information points.

Note that EU citizens aged between 18 and 25, and students from countries with reciprocal arrangements, usually qualify for a discount at galleries and museums. In all cases you’ll need proof of your age, ideally a passport or ID card.

Colosseum

Rome’s iconic monument is a thrilling site. The 50,000-seater Colosseum (Tel 06 399 67 700; admission incl Palatine Hill €11; h9am-1hr before sunset; mColosseo) was ancient Rome’s most feared arena and is today one of Italy’s top tourist attractions. Queues are inevitable but you can usually avoid them by buying your ticket at the nearby Palatine Hill. Alternatively, join a walking tour (€9 on top of ticket price) and use the shorter ticket line.

Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum was started by Emperor Vespasian in AD 72 and finished by his son Titus in AD 80. It was clad in travertine and covered by a huge canvas awning, held aloft by 240 masts. Inside, tiered seating encircled the sand-covered arena, itself built over underground chambers where animals were caged. Games generally involved gladiators fighting wild animals or each other.

To the west of the Colosseum, the Arco di Costantino was built to celebrate Constantine’s victory over Maxentius at the battle of Milvian Bridge in AD 312.

Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

Rome’s most famous ruins are what’s left of the Roman Forum (Tel 06 399 67 700; admission free; h9am-1hr before sunset Mon-Sat; mColosseo), the social, political and commercial hub of the Roman Republic.

As you enter at Largo Romolo e Remo, ahead to your left is the Tempio di Antonino e Faustina, built by the senate in AD 141 and transformed into a church in the 8th century. To your right, the Basilica Aemilia, built in 179 BC, was 100m long with a twostorey porticoed facade lined with shops. At the end of the short path, Via Sacra traverses the Forum from northwest to southeast. Opposite the basilica stands the Tempio di Giulio Cesare erected by Augustus in 29 BC on the site where Caesar’s body had been burned.

Head right up Via Sacra and you reach the Curia, once the meeting place of the Roman senate and later converted into a church. In front of the Curia is the Lapis Niger, a large piece of black marble that purportedly covered Romulus’ grave.

At the end of Via Sacra, the Arco di Settimo Severo was erected in AD 203 to honour Emperor Septimus Severus and celebrate victory over the Parthians. It is considered one of Italy’s major triumphal arches. Nearby, the Millarium Aureum marked the centre of ancient Rome.

Southwest of the arch, eight granite columns are all that remain of the Tempio di Saturno, one of ancient Rome’s most important temples. To the southeast, the Piazza del Foro, the Forum’s main market and meeting place, is marked by the 7th-century Colonna di Foca (Column of Phocus). To your right are the foundations of the Basilica Giulia, a law court built by Julius Caesar in 55 BC. At the end of the basilica is the Tempio di Castore e Polluce, built in 489 BC in honour of the Heavenly Twins, Castor and Pollux. It is easily recognisable by its three remaining columns. Southeast of the temple, and closed to the public, is the Chiesa di Santa Maria Antiqua, the Forum’s oldest Christian church.

Back towards Via Sacra, the Casa delle Vestali was home to the virgins employed to keep the sacred flame alight in the adjoining Tempio di Vesta.

Continuing up Via Sacra, you pass the vast Basilica di Costantino, also known as the Basilica di Massenzio, en route to the Arco di Tito, built in AD 81 to celebrate the victories of the emperors Titus and Vespasian against Jerusalem.

From here, you can climb the Palatine (Tel 06 399 67 700; entrances Via di San Gregorio 30 or Piazza Santa Maria Nova 53; admission incl Colosseum €11; h9am-1hr before sunset; mColosseo). Ancient Rome’s poshest neighbourhood, this is where Romulus is said to have founded the city in 753 BC.

Most of the Palatine is covered by the ruins of Emperor Domitian’s vast 1st-century complex. Divided into the Domus Flavia (imperial palace), Domus Augustana (the emperor’s private residence) and a stadio (stadium), it served as the main imperial residence for 300 years.

Among the best-preserved buildings on the Palatine is the frescoed Casa di Livia, home to Augustus’ wife Livia, and the Tempio della Magna Mater, built in 204 BC.

Vatican City

The world’s smallest sovereign state, the Vatican is the jealous guardian of one of the world’s greatest artistic and architectural patrimonies.

Covering just 0.44 sq km, the Vatican is all that’s left of the Papal States. For more than a thousand years, the Papal States encompassed Rome and much of central Italy, but after Italian unification in 1861 the pope was forced to give up his territorial possessions. Relations between Italy and the landless papacy remained strained until 1929 when Mussolini and Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty and formally established the Vatican State.

St Peter’s Basilica & Square

Italy’s biggest, richest, and most spectacular church, St Peter’s Basilica (Tel 06 698 85 518; St Peter’s Sq; admission free; h7am-7pm Apr-Sep, to 6.30pm Oct-Mar; mOttaviano-SanPietro) towers over the grandiose St Peter’s Sq. Built over the spot where St Peter was buried, the first basilica was consecrated by Constantine in the 4th century. In 1503, Bramante designed a new basilica, which took more than 150 years to complete. Michelangelo took over the project in 1547, designing the grand dome, which soars 120m above the altar. The cavernous 187m-long interior contains numerous treasures, including two of Italy’s most celebrated masterpieces: Michelangelo’s Pietà, the only work to carry his signature; and Bernini’s 29m baldachin over the high altar.

Dress rules and security are stringently enforced at the basilica – no shorts, miniskirts or sleeveless tops.

Entrance to the dome (h8am-6pm Apr-Sep, to 5pm Oct-Mar) is to the right as you climb the stairs to the basilica’s atrium. Make the climb on foot (€5) or by lift (€7).

St Peter’s Sq was designed by Bernini and laid out in the 17th century. The vast piazza is bound by two semicircular colonnades, each comprising four rows of Doric columns, and in its centre stands an obelisk brought to Rome by Caligula from Heliopolis (in ancient Egypt).

Each Wednesday at 11am, the pope addresses his flock at the Vatican (in July and August in Castel Gandolfo near Rome). For free tickets, contact the Prefettura della Casa Pontificia (Tel 06 698 84 857; fax 06 698 85 863; h9am- 1pm), through the bronze doors under the colonnade to the right of St Peter’s.

Vatican Museums

Boasting one of the world’s great art collections, the Vatican Museums (adult/concession €14/8, free last Sun of month; h8.30am-4pm Mon-Sat, to 12.30pm last Sun of month; mOttaviano-San-Pietro) are housed in the Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano. Every inch of this vast 5.5-hectare complex is crammed with art, and you’ll need several hours just for the highlights. There are four colour-coded itineraries, each of which finishes at the Sistine Chapel, so if you want you can walk straight there, although bear in mind that you can’t backtrack once you’re there. Audioguides are available for €6.

Home to some spectacular classical statuary, the Museo Pio-Clementino is to the left of the entrance complex. Highlights include the Apollo Belvedere and the 1stcentury Laocoön, both in the Cortile Ottagono. Further on, the 175m-long Galleria delle Carte Geografiche (Map Gallery) features 40 huge topographical maps. Beyond these, the magnificent Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms) were once Pope Julius II’s private apartments, and were decorated by Raphael from 1508 onwards. Of the resulting frescoes, La Scuola d’Atene (The School of Athens) in the Stanza della Segnatura is considered one of his great masterpieces.

The climax to any visit to the Vatican Museums is the Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina). The chapel was originally built in 1484 for Pope Sixtus IV, after whom it is named, but it was Julius II who commissioned Michelangelo to decorate it in 1508. Over the next four years, the artist painted the remarkable Genesis (Creation; 1508–12) on the barrel-vaulted ceiling. Twenty-two years later he returned at the behest of Pope Clement VII to paint the Giudizio Universale (Last Judgement; 1534–41) on the end wall.

The other walls of the chapel were painted by artists including Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio and Signorelli.

Piazza del Campidoglio & Musei Capitolini

The lowest of Rome’s seven hills, the Campidoglio (Capitoline) was the spiritual heart of the Roman Republic. At its summit were the city’s two most important temples: one dedicated to Juno Moneta and another to Jupiter Capitolinus, where Brutus is said to have hidden after assassinating Caesar. In the 16th century Michelangelo redesigned Piazza del Campidoglio to face St Peter’s Basilica. The square, accessible by the Cordonata staircase, is bordered by Palazzo Nuovo to the left, Palazzo dei Conservatori on the right, and straight ahead Palazzo Senatorio, seat of city government since 1143. In the centre, the bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius is a copy; the original is in Palazzo Nuovo.

Together, Palazzo Nuovo and Palazzo dei Conservatori house the Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museums; Tel 06 96 74 00; adult/concession €6.50/4.50; h9am-8pm Tue-Sun; mPiazza Venezia), the world’s oldest public museums, dating to 1471.

Pantheon

A striking 2000-year-old temple, now church, the Pantheon (Tel 06 683 00 230; Piazza della Rotonda; admission free; h8.30am-7.30pm Mon-Sat, 9am- 6pm Sun, 9am-1pm holidays; mLargo di Torre Argentina) is the best-preserved of ancient Rome’s great monuments. In its current form it dates to around AD 120 when the Emperor Hadrian built over Marcus Agrippa’s original 27 BC temple. The dome, considered the Romans’ most important architectural achievement, was the largest dome in the world until the 15th century and is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built. Inside, you’ll find the tombs of Raphael and kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I.

Piazza Navona

A few blocks west of the Pantheon, Piazza Navona (mCorso del Rinascimento) is Rome’s great baroque centrepiece. Built over the ruins of the 1st-century Stadio di Domiziano (Domitian’s Stadium), it is focused on Bernini’s 1651 masterpiece, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). For 300 years the piazza was home to Rome’s main market and still today it attracts a colourful crowd of street artists, locals, tourists and pigeons.

Campo de’ Fiori

Dubbed ‘il Campo’, Campo de’ Fiori (mCorso Vittorio Emanuele II), is a major focus of Roman life: by day it hosts a noisy market, and at night it becomes a vast open-air pub. For centuries it was the site of public executions, and it was here that the philosophising monk Giordano Bruno (the hooded figure in Ettore Ferrari’s sinister statue) was burned at the stake in 1600. The twin fountains are granite baths taken from the Terme di Caracalla (Baths of Caracalla; Tel 06 39 96 77 00; Via delle Terme di Caracalla 52; admission €6; h9am- 1hr before sunset Tue-Sun, to 2pm Mon; mCirco Massimo), whose vast ruins are an awe-inspiring sight. The 10-hectare baths’ complex was inaugurated in AD 217 and included richly decorated pools, gymnasiums, libraries, shops and gardens.

Villa Borghese

Once the estate of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, this park, known as Villa Borghese (mPorta Pinciana), is a good spot for a breath of fresh air. Bike hire is available at various points, typically costing about €4 per hour. There are also several museums, including the fabulous Museo e Galleria Borghese (Tel 06 3 28 10; http://www.galleriaborghese.it/; Piazzale del Museo Borghese; adult/concession €8.50/5.50, plus obligatory booking fee €2; h8.30am-7.30pm Tue-Sun; mVia Pinciana). With works by Caravaggio, Bernini, Botticelli and Raphael, this is arguably Rome’s finest art gallery.

In the north of the park, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna (Tel 06 32 29 81; Viale delle Belle Arti 131; admission €6.50; h8.30am-7.30pm Tue- Sun; mViale delle Belle Arti) has an interesting collection of 19th- and 20th-century paintings. Nearby, the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia (Tel 06 320 05 62; Piazzale di Villa Giulia; admission €4; h8.30am-7.30pm Tue-Sun; mViale delle Belle Arti) displays Italy’s finest Etruscan collection.

Trevi Fountain

Immortalised by Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita, the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi; Piazza di Trevi; mBarberini) was designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732 and depicts Neptune’s chariot being led by Tritons, with sea horses representing the moods of the sea. The custom is to throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain, thus ensuring your return to Rome. On an average day about €3000 is chucked away.

Piazza di Spagna & Spanish Steps

A hang-out for both flirting adolescents and footsore tourists, Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti) have been a magnet for foreigners since the 18th century. Built with a legacy from the French in 1725, but named after the Spanish embassy to the Holy See, the steps were constructed to link the piazza with the well-heeled folks living above it.

To the right as you face the steps is the Keats-Shelley House (Tel 06 678 42 35; Piazza di Spagna 8; h9am-1pm & 3-6pm Mon-Fri, 11am-2pm & 3-6pm Sat; mSpagna), where the poet Keats spent the last three months of his life. At the foot of the steps, the sinking boat fountain, the 1627 Barcaccia, is believed to be by Pietro Bernini, father of the more famous Gian Lorenzo. Opposite, Via dei Condotti is Rome’s poshest shopping strip.

Piazza del Popolo & Around

One of Rome’s landmark squares, Piazza del Popolo (mFlaminio) was laid out in 1538 at the point of convergence of three roads – Via di Ripetta, Via del Corso and Via del Babuino – known as Il Tridente. Guarding the piazza’s southern approach are the twin 17th-century churches Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Chiesa di Santa Maria in Montesanto. On the other side of the square, the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Popolo (Piazza del Popolo 12; h7am-noon & 4-7pm Mon-Sat, 8am-1.30pm & 4.30- 7.30pm Sun; mFlaminio) houses two magnificent Caravaggio paintings: the Conversione di San Paolo (Conversion of St Paul) and the Crocifissione di San Pietro (Crucifixion of St Peter). Rising above the square is the Pincio Hill.

South of the piazza on Via di Ripetta, the Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Peace; Tel 06 671 03 887; admission €6.50; h9am-7pm Tue-Sun; mFlaminio) is considered one of the most important works of ancient Roman sculpture. Today it’s controversially housed in a white, glass pavilion designed by US architect Richard Meier.

Museo Nazionale Romano

Spread over five sites, the Museo Nazionale Romano (National Roman Museum) houses Rome’s vast collection of classical art and statuary. A combined ticket covering each of the sites costs €7 and is valid for three days.

Lovers of ancient sculpture should make a beeline for Palazzo Altemps (Tel 06 683 37 59; Piazza Sant’Apollinare 44; h9am-7.45pm Tue-Sun; mCorso del Rinascimento), a lovely 15th-century palazzo which holds the best of the museum’s classical sculpture.

Up near Termini, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme (Tel 06 399 67 700; Largo di Villa Peretti 1; h9am-7.45pm Tue-Sun; mTermini) features yet more sculpture, although the highlights are the amazing frescoes and wall paintings on the 2nd floor.

Nearby, the Terme di Diocleziano (Baths of Diocletian; Tel 06 488 05 30; Viale Enrico de Nicola 79; h9am-7.45pm Tue-Sun; mTermini) are a sight in themselves. Built at the turn of the 3rd century, they were Rome’s largest baths complex, covering 13 hectares and capable of accommodating 3000 people. Nowadays, they are home to a large selection of archaeological artefacts, sarcophagi and terracotta objects.

Trastevere

The happening neighbourhood in central Rome, Trastevere is an old working-class area made good. It’s a beautiful area at any time of the day, but it really comes into its own after dark when crowds of highspirited revellers descend on its medieval, bar-strewn streets.

Don’t miss the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere (Tel 06 581 48 02; Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere; h 7.30am-12.30pm & 3.30-7.30pm; mViale di Trastevere) in the lovely piazza of the same name, believed to be the oldest Roman church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. On the other side of the neighbourhood, the Basilica di Santa Cecilia in Trastevere (Tel 06 589 92 89; Piazza di Santa Cecilia; admission basilica/fresco free/€2; hbasilica 9am-12.30pm & 4-6.30pm, fresco 10.15am-noon Mon-Sat, 11.15am-12.15pm Sun; mViale di Trastevere) harbours fragments of a spectacular 13th-century fresco.

Appia Antica & the Catacombs

Known to the ancients as the regina viarum (queen of roads), Via Appia Antica (Appian Way) was started in 312 BC and finished in Brindisi in 190 BC. It was here that Spartacus and 6000 of his slave rebels were crucified in 71 BC and it’s here that you’ll find Rome’s most celebrated catacombs.

The easiest way to get here is to take metro line A to Colli Albani, then bus 660. It’s traffic-free on Sundays if you want to walk or cycle it. For information on bike hire or to join a guided tour, head to the Appia Antica Regional Park Information Point (Tel 06 513 53 16; http://www.parcoappiaantica.it/it/index.asp; Via Appia Antica 58-60; h9.30am-5.30pm summer, to 4.30pm winter; mVia Appia Antica).

Rome’s extensive network of catacombs were built as communal burial grounds. A Roman law banned burials within the city walls and persecution left the early Christians little choice but to dig. And dig they did – carving some 300km of tunnels. You can visit the Catacombs of San Callisto (Tel 06 446 56 10; Via Appia Antica 110; adult/concession €5/3; h9am-noon & 2-5pm Thu-Tue, to 5.30pm Jun- Sep, closed Feb; mVia Appia Antica), Rome’s largest, most famous and busiest catacombs, and, a short walk away, the Catacombs of San Sebastiano (Tel 06 785 03 50; Via Appia Antica 136; adult/concession €5/3; h9am-noon & 2-5pm Mon- Sat, to 5.30pm Jun-Sep, closed mid-Nov–mid-Dec; mVia Appia Antica).

Churches

One of Rome’s four patriarchal basilicas, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Tel 06 48 31 95; Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore; h7am-7pm, to 6pm winter; mPiazza Santa Maria Maggiore) was built by Pope Liberius in AD 352 on the sight of a miraculous snowfall. In its current form, it combines a 14th-century Romanesque belfry, an 18th-century facade, a largely baroque interior, and some stunning 5thcentury mosaics.

Similarly impressive is the great white Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Tel 06 698 86 433; Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano 4; h7am-7pm, to 6pm winter; mSan Giovanni). Consecrated in 324 AD, this was the first Christian basilica to be built in Rome and, until the late 14th century, was the pope’s principal residence.

Just off Via Cavour, the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli (Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli; h8am-12.30pm & 3-7pm; mCavour) is home to Michelangelo’s magnificent Moses, as well as the chains worn by St Peter before his crucifixion.

The Basilica di San Clemente (Tel 06 774 00 21; Via di San Giovanni in Laterano; h9am-12.30pm & 3.30-6.30pm; mColosseo), east of the Colosseum, is a very multilayered affair. The 12th-century church at street level was built over a 4th-century church that was, in turn, built over a 1st-century Roman house with a temple dedicated to the pagan god Mithras.

Considered one of the finest medieval churches in Rome, the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin (Tel 06 678 14 19; Piazza della Bocca della Verità 18; h9am-1pm & 2.30-6pm; mVia dei Cerchi) is most famous for the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) in its portico. Legend has it that if you put your right hand into the stone mouth and tell a lie, it will bite your hand off.

Facing onto Piazza della Repubblica, the hulking Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Piazza della Repubblica; h7am-6.30pm Mon-Sat, to 7.30pm Sun; mRepubblica) occupies the central hall of Diocletian’s enormous baths complex. Its most interesting feature is the double meridian in the transept.

The best places to eat are in the centro storico and Trastevere, but there are also excellent choices in San Lorenzo and Testaccio. The Termini area is best avoided although you’ll find some decent takeaways, particularly around Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.

Quick Eats & Self-Catering

Foragers will have their hands full in Rome’s produce markets, which generally operate from 7am to 1.30pm. They include: Campo de’ Fiori; the Nuovo Mercato Esquilino, near Piazza Vittorio Emanuele; Piazza San Cosimato in Trastevere; and Piazza Testaccio.

Supermarkets are thin on the ground, but you’ll find a Conad (h6am-midnight) at Termini station, and a Di per Di (Via del Governo Vecchio 119; h8am-9pm) near Piazza Navona.

For quick eats, head to Frontoni (Viale di Trastevere 52-56) or Forno la Renella (Via del Moro 15-16), both in Trastevere. On Campo de’ Fiori, Forno di Campo de’ Fiori (Campo de’ Fiori 22) is famous for its pizza bianca (white pizza).

Ice Cream

Arguably Rome’s best gelateria (ice-cream shop), San Crispino (Via della Panetteria 42) serves tubs of natural, seasonal flavours such as crema with honey. Near the Vatican Museums, Old Bridge (Viale dei Bastioni di Michelangelo 5) is perfect for a postmuseum pick-me-up, while Tre Scalini (Piazza Navona 30) is famous for its €10 tartufo nero (black truffle).

Restaurants, Trattorias & Pizzerias

City Centre

Pizzeria da Baffetto (Tel 06 686 16 17; Via del Governo Vecchio 114; pizzas €8; h6.30pm-1am) For the fullon Roman pizza experience get down to this local institution. Meals are loud, chaotic and fast, but the thin-crust pizza’s good and the vibe is fun. There’s now a Baffetto 2 (Tel 06 682 10 807; Piazza del Teatro di Pompeo 18; closed Tuesday) near Campo de’ Fiori.

Gusto (Tel 06 322 62 73; Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9; pizzas €8) A lunchtime favourite with office workers, this big 90s-style warehouse operation serves everything from thick-crust pizza to cheese platters, salads and overpriced fusion food. At lunch the €9 salad buffet is a good bet.

Da Tonino (Tel 06 687 70 02; Via del Governo Vecchio 18; meals €18; hMon-Sat) This low-key neighbourhood trattoria sits among the bohemian boutiques on Via del Governo Vecchio. It’s old school so don’t expect frills, just filling Roman cooking served fast and served cheap.

Maccheroni (Tel 06 683 07 895; Piazza delle Coppelle 44; meals €35) Popular with locals and tourists alike, this is the archetypal centro storico trattoria. It’s boisterous, busy and fancy free with a classic Roman menu and an attractive setting near the Pantheon.

Trastevre, Testaccio & the Vatican

Pizzeria Remo (Tel 06 574 62 70; Piazza Santa Maria Liberatice 44; pizzas €6) One of Rome’s most popular pizzerias, this rowdy Testaccio spot is a favourite with Saturday-nighters. Queues are the norm but the large, thin-crust pizzas and delicious bruschetta make the chaos bearable.

Pizzeria Ivo (Tel 06 581 70 82; Via di San Francesco a Ripa 158; pizzas €6; hWed-Mon) A perennially popular Trastevere pizzeria, Ivo fits the bill. With the TV on in the corner and waiters skilfully manoeuvring plates over the noisy hordes, diners chow down on classic thincrust pizzas.

Volpetti Più (Tel 06 574 43 06; Via A Volta 8; meals €10-15) A sumptuous tavola calda (a ‘hot table’ where pre-prepared pasta, meats and vegies are served canteen-style), this is one of the few places in town where you can sit down and eat well for less than €15. Choose from pizza, pasta, soup, meat, vegetables and fried nibbles.

Dino e Tony (Tel 06 397 33 284; meals €25; hMon- Sat) Something of a rarity, Dino e Tony is an authentic trattoria in the Vatican area. Famous for its amatriciana (a spicy pasta sauce made with tomatoes, pancetta and pecorino cheese), it serves a monumental antipasto, which might well see you through to dessert.

Le Mani in Pasta (Tel 06 581 60 17; Via dei Genovesi 37; meals €32; hTue-Sun) This tasty Trastevere osteria (neighbourhood inn) specialises in pasta and grilled mains. Try fettucine con ricotta e pancetta (ribbon pasta with ricotta cheese and bacon) followed by grilled scampi.

Around Roma Termini

Ristofer (Via Marsala 13; meals €7.50) Huge helpingsfor hungry workers. Rome’s railway workers’canteen serves the cheapest full meals in Rome and although the food is hardlycordon bleu, it does the job.

Kisso (Tel 06 478 24 677; Via Firenze 30; meals €12-35; hMon-Sat) An affordable and popularJapanese restaurant just off Via Nazionale.Sushi and sashimi range from €13.50 to€48, making the €12 lunchtime menu theobvious choice.

Beehive (Tel 06 447 04 553; Via Marghera 8; meals€20) In the hostel of the same name, thissmall organic cafe serves delicious vegetarianfood. The menu changes daily but staplesinclude fresh homemade pasta, quiches,veggie burgers and couscous.

Vecchia Roma (Tel 06 446 71 43; Via Ferruccio 12;meals €20; hMon-Sat) Good, filling food atreasonable prices is what you get at thisbrick-vaulted trattoria near Piazza VittorioEmanuele. The buffet antipasto sets you offwell, whetting the appetite for classic pastasand traditional main courses.