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Italy Today - Rome

Be warned - the longer you stay in Rome, the more you find there is to see and do.

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There is an enormous number of hotels in Rome, running the full gamut of price ranges. Many hotels cluster around the Piazza di Spagna and the nearby Via Veneto, an area with the most exclusive shops, the museums of the Villa Borghese, and many restaurants. (Be warned: Although most of this area is incredibly chic, the Via Veneto during late night hours has become a bit sleazy.) Far fewer can be found in the historic heart of Rome, around the Pantheon and the Piazza Navona, though new hotels have opened recently in this most picturesque area that also happens to include some of the best restaurants and trattorias. All of these areas are linked by good public transport and taxis, and most are even within walking distance of each other. If you can't find a room in any of these hotels, try the Vatican or neighboring Prati district, where there are a number of good hotels, and where a walk across the Tiber can bring you into the center of things. For apartment rentals, check the biweekly publications Wanted in Rome and Metropolitan, found at newsstands and bookstores.
Reservations are a must at any time of year, since Rome's tourist season spills over into early spring and late fall, and religious holidays, with their attendant pilgr, fill in the gaps. Only late November/early December, as well as February, are somewhat off-season. In the summer, you'll probably find air-conditioning essential, if not for the heat, then for the noise. Although most of these hotels are in areas with restricted traffic, the voices of those dining outside, or even the sudden blast of a moped, can keep you awake.
Dining in Rome is not usually ranked as high as in the culinary capitals of Milan, Bologna, or Florence, but that ranking, of course, doesn't mean you won't dine well. The most sophisticated food often ranges beyond the regional, finding inspiration not just from Tuscany and Emilia, but from France and Japan as well. Roman cuisine is abundantly available in elegant restaurants where the aroma of braised basil permeates delicate veal, in trattoria where coda di vaccinara prevails along with gnocchi al ragu. Roman summer brings Roman relief, too, with the city's tantalizing gelaterias, and its cafés serving refreshing granite, or ice drinks.
Romans tend to dine late, between 1 and 3 PM for lunch, after 9 PM for dinner. The trattorias get lively earlier and even the best restaurants begin serving dinner by 8 or 8:30 PM. The city, fortunately, has many inexpensive trattorias and pizzerias, because most of its restaurants cluster in the moderately expensive to expensive range. (Remember you can usually lower the price category by making frugal selections, except at the best restaurants.) As in all Italian cities, Sundays and August can be difficult times for dining out. If you find yourself stuck, the old ghetto has numerous restaurants open on Sundays as does Trastevere, which is your best bet in August, too.

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