Cheap flights to Rome

The eternal city of Rome, constructed of ruins and in whose name the Caesars sought to claim the world, opens for the visitor like a living museum. The centuries peel back with each new vista in this great city of gladiators, lunatic drivers and sumptuous pasta dishes. Vespas, nippy little Fiats and red sports cars speed past trendy sidewalk bistros and nightclubs, revealing the Rome of Fellini's La Dolce Vita; while the chillingly stark facades of the Stadio Olimpico complex remind visitors of Mussolini's attempts to reinvent the architecture of the Caesars.

For a taste of the Baroque, visitors need only climb the famous Spanish Steps, walk through the Piazza Navona or toss a coin into the beautiful Trevi Fountain. Renaissance splendour is perhaps best revealed in the Pope's residence, the Vatican Palace, or in Michelangelo's efforts on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. From early Christian Basilicas to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Pantheon, the sequence of history trails back to the height of the Roman Empire.

It may sound like a city of contrasts, but Rome's timeless magic lies in its ability to blend the old with the new. Empires have risen and fallen, old gods have been replaced with new ones, but Rome remains.

Getting around

The historic centre of Rome is compact and manageable on foot, and most of it is closed to normal traffic. Driving in Rome is an experience to be avoided, so if arriving by car it's best to park it and use public transport to get around. The network of buses, trams, metro and trains covers the whole city from 5.30am to midnight (the metro until 11.30pm), and night buses take over until about

Nightlife

The nightlife in Rome is laid-back, in true Italian style. People like to sit at cafés or restaurants taking their time with lots of food, wine and coffee. Campo dei Fiori, the Piazza Navona area and Trastevere are some of the best places for bars and cafés, while the Testaccio and Ostiense districts are better for nightclubs. Roma C'è and TrovaRoma (free with La Repubblica newspaper) have information on nightlife in Rome.

There are many wine bars and cafés near Campo de' Fiori, Piazza Navona and Via della Pace. Bar del Fico is good for cocktails and Zest at Es Hotel has a lovely poolside bar. The Vineria, in Campo de' Fiori, is very trendy and often frequented by movie stars. Freni & Frizioni in Trastevere was a former car workshop, its name translates to Brakes and Clutches. Cafés in Trastevere attract visitors to see Piazza di Santa Maria's fountain and 12th-century church lit up at night, as well as occasional guitar performances.

Party with the rich and famous at Gilda, close to Piazza di Spagna, or watch paid dancers at Alien on Via Velletri. In Ostiense, hear some great DJs at Goa, or visit Classico Village for good Italian pop, rock and jazz concerts. There are also various ristodiscos, where both eating and dancing are enjoyed. When the clubs close for summer, there are numerous outdoor venues around town and near Ostia; outdoor festivities on Via di Monte Testaccio, in Testaccio, take centre stage and include food stalls and markets.

The Teatro dell'Opera is home to the Rome Opera Ballet and opera is performed at the Baths of Caracalla's open-air ruins in July and August. Rock bands often perform at Stadio Flaminio and the Palazzo dello Sport.

Shopping

Rome, only too aware of its popularity with international tourists and investors, is an expensive shopping destination; however, some deals can be found on trinkets like crafts, leather goods and glasswork. To find these bargains, look to the markets of central Rome, which operate Monday to Saturday from 7am to 1pm. On Sundays, the popular Porta Portese flea market operates from the Trastevere district. 

Another budget shopping option popular in Rome is second-hand book and clothing shopping, with an abundance of stores located throughout the city. Antique shopping is also pervasive but could prove expensive for those who aren't sure of what they're doing!

If you have the means, Rome has an assortment of boutique stores, with brands like Prada, Valentino, Gucci and Fendi all represented in the Piazza di Spagna. The Piazza San Silvestro exhibits Rome's best jewellers, such as Bulgari and Martinelli, among others. In Via del Corso one can find, in addition to an assortment of clothing department stores, the flagship stores for Ferrari (which is worth a look if nothing else) and Swarovski, with exquisite crystal-wrought crafts.

Sightseeing

They say 'when in Rome, do as the Romans do', but in a city filled with more than two millennia of history, there's much to do and even more to see. Among Rome's more renowned historic attractions are the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon. The Vatican, seat of the Roman Catholic Church, lies within Rome's borders and alongside is the Sistine Chapel with its famously painted ceiling. Once the seat of the mightiest empire in existence, the culture of Rome has shaped the face of art, architecture, law, warfare, literature and language in the Western world today; in fact, some refer to Rome as the 'cradle of Western civilisation'.

Most of the historic sites are within walking distance of one another, and it is advisable to walk and take in the city's architecture while the frantic road traffic passes you by. Otherwise, a taxi or bus is the recommended means of travel. A bustling metropolis, Rome is constantly abuzz with tourists and locals; however, in the late summer, around August, a short holiday window sees locals heading out of the city and providing a little congestive relief.

Kids Attractions

Rome has been an enticing, romantic holiday destination for decades, drawing art- and history-lovers from all over the world. This may seem more appealing to adults, but Rome also has a barrage of culture and entertainment to offer children.

A holiday with kids in Rome is made fun and easy by the vast amount of parks, theatres and entertainment centres; while a multitude of galleries and museums bring beautiful images and legendary characters to life. Historical sites, such as the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, are also great for kids to explore.

If the weather turns bad, there are indoor entertainments like puppet shows and Looney's Indoor Entertainment Centre, a great place for kids to hang out, featuring costumed characters and entertaining shows, as well as fun play areas. There are many theatres throughout Rome staging excellent puppet shows (in English) that will keep the kids amused. Well-known venues include the Pulcinella Puppet Theatre, an open-air theatre on Gianicolo Hill; and the Teatro delle Marionette degli Accettella, on Via Genocchi.

Most of the attractions in this beautiful, ancient city can be enjoyed year-round. However, the best time to take children on holiday to Rome is during the spring (April and May), when comfortably warm temperatures and blue skies make for perfect sightseeing adventures.

Dining

Rome is delicious and affordable when it comes to dining out, and while everyone in the world may claim to 'love' Italian food, you cannot really compare 'ordinary' pizza and pasta to the wonderful dishes you can sample in the nation's capital. Italian food prepared in the Italian tradition is strong on flavour, meagre in ingredients, and richer and higher in calories than the global imitations.

The typical meal is accompanied by a bruschetta ammazzavampiri(garlic canapé) and grated cheeses. Not surprisingly, pastas and pizzas are provided in abundance, the local varieties of which are not to be missed. Red meat and seafood dishes in the international tradition are also on offer but are more expensive and come in less generous servings.

There are three main types of restaurant in Rome: an osteriais an informal gathering-spot, serving basic spaghetti meals and some wine; t rattorieare more languid, bistro-style affairs, offering large meals in a homely setting; and ristoranteoffer the more fancy and lavish silver spoon and wine-list dining experience. All three can be found in the popular districts of Centro Storico, along Via Cavour and around Stazione Termini. The Borgo district near the Vatican offers the cheapest dining options in Rome.

Breakfasts in Rome, as in most of Italy, are minimal, and people rarely leave the house for their first meal of the day. The main event is lunch, which sees restaurants open between 1pm and 3pm - most locals enjoy their lunch breaks in three courses!

Climate

Rome enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot, dry summers. January is the coldest month in Rome, and July and August the warmest. The weather in Rome during summer (June to August) can be uncomfortably hot, with temperatures often exceeding 95°F (35°C) at midday, and Romans tend to close up their businesses during August to take holidays in cooler spots. Winter (December to February) is mild, with the average temperature in December hovering around 55°F (13°C). Heavy snowfall is rare in Rome but almost every winter there are light snow flurries in the city. Rain showers are possible any time of year but the drizzle is seldom very disruptive to visitors.

The best time to travel to Rome is in the springtime, between March and May, when skies are blue and the weather warm. Autumn is also considered peak tourist season as the months of September and October are very pleasant in Rome. Summer can be a bit too hot for sightseeing, and winter a bit chilly, but ultimately the attractions of the city can be enjoyed in any season.