Energetic and sprawling, brimming with culture and piled high with layers of history: Rome is a beguiling, vivacious and ever-changing creature. Good guidance is essential: it’s easy to be waylaid by the big-ticket sites, myriad trattorias and cobblestoned shopping streets. No matter how well you think you know the Eternal City, this guide will give you a fresh perspective. After all, it has reimagined and reinvented itself for millennia so there’s always something new to see.

Need to know

Get to grips with the basics

  1. Here’s a tip: Tipping is not mandatory but if you’d like to reward top service then one or two euros per person is the norm. The coperto fee is the cost of sitting down: to avoid this, stand at the bar.
  2. Open-and-shut-eye: The retail day tends to start at 09.00 and finish at 19.30, although plenty of shops shutter up for riposo (siesta), which usually falls between 13.30 and 15.30.
  3. Roamin’ around: Referred to as the City of Seven Hills, Rome’s pavements can be steep, slippery and choked with tourists so it’s often best to get to grips with public transport.
  4. Counter culture: Cappuccino is strictly a breakfast beverage as far as the locals are concerned. Only tourists sit down at cafés to drink and will pay heartily for the privilege
  5. North versus south: There is a deeply felt distinction between Roma Nord (northern Rome) and Roma Sud (southern Rome). Those who live north of Parioli consider themselves more sophisticated than their southern neighbours, while Roma Sud citizens are proud of their humble ori

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Hotels

Hospitality at its finest

  1. G-Rough, Parione

    Smooth operation

    All 10 rooms across the five floors are suites. Handy 1950s-inspired kitchenettes and cheerful Smeg mini-fridges give many of them a decidedly unstuffy, apartment-like feel.

  2. Hotel de Russie, Campo Marzio

    Glamorous garden

    A grand total of 122 sumptuous rooms wrap around the hotel’s best draw: a steeply terraced, meticulously pruned garden.

  3. The Corner Townhouse, San Saba

    It’s the business

    The 11 rooms are simple, spacious for the price and come with televisions, as well as rain showers in the marble bathrooms.

Vocabulary

Local lingo

  1. Anvedi!: How surprising!
  2. Buongiorno: Hello
  3. Grazie mille: Thank you very much
  4. Mi scusi: Excuse me
  5. Daje: Hurry up/come on!

Food and drink

Smart bites and top stops

  1. Osteria dell’Arco, Salario

    Regional strong suits

    Owner and sommelier Nicoletta Baiani guides punters through a list of 150 Italian wines and chef Cristina Iemmi’s menu honours filled-pasta recipes from her native Emilia Romagna region.

  2. Armando al Pantheon, Sant’Eustachio

    Welcome exception

    This restaurant has maintained consistently high standards over the years. The room is decorated to make diners feel welcome, as they would in a traditional Roman home, with wood-panel walls, warm hues and soft lighting.

  3. Marzapane, Trieste

    New twists on old favourites

    Since opening in 2013 this handsome restaurant has refreshed Rome’s trattoria-heavy scene. An experimental but grounded approach runs through the whole menu.

  4. Sciascia Caffè dal 1919, Prati

    Old-school elegance

    Take your time over your cappuccino or head to the backroom bar where you can sling back an espresso like a regular. Should anyone ask if you’d like a shot of melted dark chocolate in your coffee, the correct response is “Yes, please.”

  5. Il Goccetto, Ponte

    Lot of bottle

    This homely wine bar on Campo de’ Fiori is some 30 years old and resembles a local deli in a cellar rather than your typical watering hole; its atmosphere of old-world charm makes for a welcoming stop after dinner. Il Goccetto’s wine list covers more than 800 options, hailing from all over Italy (as well as France).

Retail

Shop talk

  1. Bocache & Salvucci, Ludovisi

    Shoemaking feat

    This collaboration between master cobblers Gian Luca Bocache and Roberto Salvucci has resulted in a dazzling cache of shoes in numerous shapes, styles and colours.

  2. Lol, Monti

    Bright and breezy

    With its chic and cheerful selection, Lol puts smiles on the faces of those looking for smart womenswear in Rome. The shop is spread across two spaces: casualwear from knitwear to silk dresses in one and more formal attire next door.

  3. Strategic Business Unit, Parione

    Trendsetting fashion

    Four rooms filled with 19th-century wooden shelves, cabinets and cast-iron columns that showcase everything from sportswear to tailored suits. Shirts, jackets, hats, jumpers and T-shirts all share a functional, minimalist aesthetic but it is the jeans that are the star attraction here.

  4. Nora P, Monti

    Interior-design expertise

    Its somewhat erratic opening hours may give it a mysterious aura but this eccentric Monti shop is a haven for design lovers. Danish furniture sits next to jewellery, secondhand books and custom-made bookshelves and kitchen storage systems.

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