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 Top 10 Features of Experience Rome
The endlessly varied palette that brings Rome's features to life makes it one of Europe's most resplendent cities-and here to reveal it all is Fodor's Rome. Just like the city it covers, this guide is new in many ways. The first all-color Europe edition in our Gold Guide series, it is now packed with photos that vividly capture the city's passegiata walks at sunset, its gilded churches, and terra-cotta-hued palaces. In addition, a bevy of new features captures the whole scenic festa Italiano. "Roamin' Holiday" is Fodor's first step-by-step chapter, immersing the reader through the varied ambiences of three especially evocative stretches of the city. We've also added a revamped dining chapter to provide a sampling of Rome's culinary flavors through detailed portraits of the neighborhood restaurant scene. Also none are spectacular photo features, ranging from Rome's age of emperors to the Campo de' Fiori, a piazza where the pulsing aorta of today's Rome beats 24/7 nonstop. The Eternal City is, in fact, now outdazzling its Italian rivals with a newly unleashed vitality. Gone are the days of Old World Rome ways: slow pace, antique-flair, and everything mini. Romans are changing gears and starting. to live life in the fast lane. Mega-shopping malls, eye-popping modernistic structures, fusion food, and even gas-guzzling SUVS have made their way to the ancient home of the popes. Though resistance is bound to come with change, Romans seem to be embracing these tumultuous changes with open arms. Arriverderci, Three Coins in the Fountain-the Eternal City is busy leapfrogging into the 21st century

TODAY'S ROME ...
... is not the Roma your mother knew
Home to nearly 3 million residents and a gazillion tourists, Rome is virtually busting at the seams. For decades, the city was all about its centro storico, where a chunk of the city's most fabled museums, monuments, and cultural relics have stood for centuries. Replete with postcard landmarks, Baroque palaces, and hyper luxury hotels, the "Disneyfication" of the historic center is well under way.
As there was no room to grow upward, Rome has had to stretch outward. To relieve pressure in the city center, city officials have focused on building a "new" Rome beyond the historic quarter. In the process, old, economically weaker, satellite districts have been revitalized. Former working-class neighborhoods-San Lorenzo to the north, Ostiense and Testaccio to the south-have become trendy. This "other" Rome is now studded with buildings designed by superstar architects and neighborhoods that are shabby-chic, alternative, and full of flair.

.. is creating new "It" neighborhoods
The leader among Rome's "It" nabes is San Lorenzo, set just a stone's throw away from the Termini train station. Rome's new "Left Bank" district is filled with students and a young bohemian crowd thanks to its close proximity to the La Sapienza University. In fact, if you don't know what you're looking for, you could easily get lost in this maze of dark narrow streets, many now lined with underground caffes, bars, hip restaurants, and locales with live-music venues. The leading scene-arenas include Formula 1 (Via degli Equi 13), for top pizzas; Da Franco ar Vicoletto (Via dei Falisci 1/b), just around the corner, for fish lovers; and Arancia Blu (Via dei Latini 55), which draws the green crowds thanks to its vegetarian menus. The likes of bands such as the Cure, U2, and Pearl jam have been known to play at I Giardini di Adone (Via dei Reti 38/A). Or throw down your best moves at Balic (Via degli Aurunci 35), where the vibe is ethno-chic disco-pub.

... is going multi-culti
Spend a day in Rome's Esquilino neighborhood and you'll see just how multicultural the Eternal City is becoming. Once famous for its spice market at Piazza Vittorio, the area neighborhood has fast become a multiethnic stomping ground. In fact, finding a true Roman restaurant or a local shopkeeper is hard to come by in this area, now that Chinese, Indian African, and Middle Eastern restaurants have moved in (a typical example: the Syrian restaurant, Zenobia, perched on Piazza Dante, even includes a weekend belly-dancing show). Homegrown and locally produced, the Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio is a perfect picture of the neighborhood's growing ethnic population. Made up of 16 musicians from Brasil, Senegal, Tunisia, Cuba, Argentina, Hungary, Ecuador, and Italy, the troupe was founded in 2002 and got its start in the ramshackle district just steps away from Rome's Termini train station.

... IS GOING HOLLYWOOD
A physicist with a secret symbol branded on his dead body. An antimatter bomb meant to incinerate the Vatican. A 400year-old secret society unleashing scientific terrorists against the Catholic church. Take these elements, then add in Gian Lorenzo Bernini's greatest sculptures, Rome's historic settings, and a climax that features everything but the Starship Enterprise, and you have Angels & Demons, the page turner that is Dan Brown's prequel to his smash novel, The Do Vinci Code. Hollywood arrived in April 2008 to film the big production. Director Ron Howard probably called out for "Lights.. . camera ... and lots of violent action!" For when four cardinals (candidates to be the new pope) wind up missing and murdered at a papal enclave, it is up to Tom Hanks and Naomi Watts to track down the trail of the illuminati, the secret society  founded by Galileo, Bernini, and others to bolster science against the 17th-century Inquisition. The "Path of Illumination" that they follow through Rome leads to four Altars of Science: Raphael's Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo (Earth); the "West Ponente" disk in St. Peter's Square (Air); Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Theresa in Santa Maria delta Vittoria (Fire); and Bernini's Piazza Navona fountain (Water). Along the way, they decipher mysterious ambigrams, uncover corpses in St Peter's, and unlock the Illuminates lair (in Castel Sant'Angelo, no less). Many of the sights in the book and film are now included on popular "Angels & Demons" walking tours. No matter that critics have faulted Brown for factual errors, beyond-imptausible twists, fabricated history, gratuitous violence, and James Bond-like shenanigans-any project that can bring Bernini's greatest masterpieces to the world's movie multiplexes gets our vote.

ROME TODAY
... is breaking old ground
In the fall of 2007, archaeologists unearthed an important discovery dating back to the birth of Rome. A domed cavern with lustrous mosaics, which experts believe to be the sacred sanctuary of the Lupercal dedicated to Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome, was discovered underneath the House of Augustus near the Palatine Hill. Legend has it that Romulus and Remus, sons of the god Mars, were abandoned by the Tiber river and later discovered in a nearby cave by a female wolf who nursed them. City officials plan to make the site open to the public once restoration is finished in 2009

... is looking a lot like Epcot
At least if you headed to Rome's brand-new and cutting-edge convention center, the Nuova Fiera di Roma. Its space-age archways and atrium make it look like it would fit right in at Walt Disney World's Epcot. The new exposition center is located just minutes from Rome's Fiumicino Airport, conveniently connected by railway, and replaces the original Fiera di Roma located in EUR. The new facility boasts 22 pavilions covering more than 300,000 square meters of land-a prominent contender on the European-Expo scene for business tourism, conferences, and conventions.

... is shopping-till-you-drop
Three maxi-shopping complexes were opened in the span of two years in and around Rome. The first to open was Centro Commerciale Leonardo, with some 200 stores, conveniently located near Rome's Fiumicino Airport and connected by train to and from the city center. Originally conceived to be the granddaddy of malls in Italy, Roma Est opened its doors in March 2007 with 200 individual outlets and a mega-movie complex. In July 2007, that mall was trumped by the giant shopping playground, Porta di Roma, where shoppers can choose from 250 stores, and even that's not the full picture. By 2008, when the rest of the mall is slated for completion, a bowling alley, multiplex movie theater, two indoor swimming pools, and a fitness facility will have been added. On the rooftop level, shoppers will be able to blow off steam on one of four tennis courts, two mini-soccer fields, and a covered swimming pool, plus two rooftop restaurants.

... is in love with amore
Many a Roman lothario feels the need to prove the everlasting quality of his love. One of the ways favored recently was inspired by scenes from the 2007 movie version of the popular Italian book, Ho Voglia Di Te (1 Really Want You). In this scenario, Riccardo Scarmarcio, Italy's leading teen heartthrob plays an impassioned lover who literally chains his sweetheart to a lamppost on the Ponte Milvio bridge-which spans the Tiberthen dramatically throws the key into the river. So many couples began flocking to the Tiber-spanning bridge to reenact the scene that one of the lampposts collapsed some months after the movie's release. To cope with the craze, city officials installed 24 heart-shaped columns on the bridge, with chains strong enough to withstand the hundreds of locks. A Web site (www.lucchettipontemilvio.com) was also created for die-hard romantics who wish to create a virtual lovelock.

... is more commuter-friendly
Plans are underway to build Rome's third subway line, or "Line C." Slated for completion in 2015, the new line will cover key parts of the historic city center, including Piazza Venezia and Largo Argentina. City officials also approved construction of an extension of the B-line from the Metro's Piazza Bologna station, adding four more stops, with completion for 2010. Relief is also in store for commuters traveling aboveground: ATAC, Rome's public bus transportation company, has added GPS monitors to help track distances and waiting times, with the new tracking devices already in place at major bus stops throughout the city.

... is going green
In efforts to further promote an "environmentally friendly" way of living, the city of Rome teamed up with the Ministry for the Environment and installed seven new stations where cars, scooters, and bicycles that run on electricity can recharge their batteries. There are now a total of 11 recharging stations across the city including those closest to the historic city center: Piazza Mastai (Trastevere), Via Appia Nuova (San Giovanni), Piazza Cola di Rienzo (St. Peter's), and Viale Europa (EUR). Currently, there is no fee for recharging your vehicles (though the city plans to implement a 40-euro-cent fee for use in the future).

... IS BREAKING NEW GROUND
Eternal Rome is in the middle of a building boom, one kick-started by the Vatican's 2000 Jubilee celebrations and backed by Rome's can-do mayor, Walter Veltroni.
Vogulsh new landmarks, like the Parco delta Musica, a set of three armaditlolike music halls designed by modernist Renzo Piano, garnered magazine covers; the slaughterhouse-turned-contemporary art museum of MACRO al Mattatoio earned headlines; and minimalist masterpieces like Richard Meieis Jubilee Church may yet prove to be as enduring and image-defining as were Michelangelo's Palazzo Senatorio or Bernini's St. Peter's Square.
When it comes to transforming an old working-class district into a scene-arena, "starchitects" and their new iconic buildings often lead the way. New case in point: Rem Koolhaas recently won the competition to revamp Ostiense's Mercati Generali food market.
Before long this moldering landmark will be transformed Into Rome's "Covent Garden."
Magliana is now the site of a now model residential complex rising up near Rome's airport and designed by Richard Rogers, architect of Paris's Beaubourg Centre and New York City's Hearst Tower.
Among the newest projects is the Casa delta Ballo (House of Dance). After the successful openings of the Casa del Cinema (2004, Villa Borghese) and the Casa del Jazz (2005, EUR), city officials have decided to back this €1,000,000 project, which will have a dance hall, library, and exhibition space spread out over 4,000 square meters in the Prenestina-Palmiro Togliatti area (Southeast Rome)-construction is slated for 2009.

ROME PLANNER
Don't Miss the Metro
Fortunately for tourists, many of Rome's main attractions are concentrated in the centro storico (historic center) and can be covered on foot. Some sights that lie nearer the border of this quarter can be reached via the Metro Line A, nicknamed the linea turistica (tourist line) and include: the Spanish Steps (Spagna stop), the Trevi Fountain (Barberini stop), St. Peter's Square (Ottaviano stop), and the Vatican Museums (CiproMusei Vaticani stop), to name a few.
Tickets for the bus and metro can be purchased for €1 at any tabacchi (tobacco shop) and at most newsstands. These tickets are good for approximately 75 minutes on buses, or a single metro ride. Day passes can be purchased for €4, and weekly passes, which allow unlimited use of both buses and the metro, for €16.
For a better explanation of the metro routes, pick up a free map from one of the tourist Information booths scattered around the city, Tech-savvy tourists can navigate their way around Rome by accessing the web site of the ATAC (home's public transportation system), ® www.atac.roma.it.

Making the Most of Your Time (and Money)
Roma, non baste una vita ("Rome, a lifetime is not enough"): this famous saying should be stamped on the passport of every first-time visitor to the Eternal City. On the other hand, it's a warning: Rome is so packed with sights that it is impossible to take them all in; it's easy to run yourself ragged trying to check off the items on your "Santa Claus" list.
At the some time, the saying is a celebration of the city's abundance. There's so much here, you're bound to make discoveries you hadn't anticipated. To conquer Rome, strike a balance between visits to major sights and leisurely neighborhood strolls.
In the first category, the Vatican and the remains of ancient Rome loom the largest. Both require at least half a day; a good strategy is to devote your first morning to one and your second to the other. Leave the afternoons for exploring the neighborhoods that comprise "Baroque Rome" and the shopping district around the Spanish Steps and Via Condotti. If you have more days at your disposal, continue with the same approach. Among the sights, Galleria Borghese and the church of San Clemente are particularly worthwhile, and the neighborhoods of Trastevere and the Ghetto make for great roaming.
Since there's a lot of ground to cover in Rome, it's wise
to plan your busy sightseeing schedule with possible savings in mind, and purchasing the Roma Pass (m: www. rornapass.if) allows you to do just that. The 3-day pass costs €20 and is good for unlimited use of buses, trams, and the metro. It includes free admission to two of over 40 participating museums or archaeological sites, including ilte Colosseum (and bumps you to the head of the long line there, to boot)), the Ara Pacis museum, the Musei CapitoIlnl, and Gcdloila Borghese, plus discounted tickets to many other museums.
The Romct Puss ccat be purchased at tourist information booths across Iho ally, nt Thrmlnl Station, or at Terminal C of the International Arrivals section of Fiumicino Airport.

How's the Weather?
Spring and fall are the best times to visit, with mild temperatures and many sunny days; the famous Roman sunsets are also at their best. Summers are often sweltering. In July and August, come if you like, but learn to do as the Romans do-get up and out early, seek refuge from the afternoon heat, resume activities in early evening, and stay up late to enjoy the nighttime breeze. Come August, many shops and restaurants close as locals head out for vacation. Remember that air- conditioning is still a relatively rare phenomenon in this city. Roman winters are relatively mild, with persistent rainy spells.

Hop-On, Hop-Off

Rome has its own "hop-on, hop-off" sightseeing buses. The Trambus Open Roma 110 bus leaves with 10-minute frequencies from Piazza dei Cinquecento (at the main Termini railway station), with a two-hour loop including the Quirinale, the Colosseum, Piazza Navona, St. Peter's, the Trevi Fountain, and Via Veneto. Tickets are €16 (kids 6-12, €7). A variant is the Archeobus, which departs every 20 minutes from the Piazza dei Cinquecento and heads on out to the Via Appia Antica, including stops at the Colosseum, Baths of Caracalla, and the Catacombs. Tickets are €13 (kids 6-12, €6). The web site for both is ® www.trambu-sopen.com.

Roman Hours

Virtually the entire city shuts down on Sundays, officially a day of rest in Italy, while museums, pastry shops, and most restaurants are closed Mondays. However, most stores in the centro storico area remain open. Shop hours generally run from 10 AM to 1 Pm , then reopen around 4 until /:30 or 8 PM. On Mondays, shops usually don't open until around 3 or 4 PM. Pharmacies tend to have the some hours of operation as stores unless they advertise orario notturno (night hours). As for churches, most open at 8 or 9 in the morning, close from noon to 3 or 4, then reopen until 6:30 or 7. The notable except is St. Peter's, which has continuous hours from 7 AM to 7 PM (6 in the fail and winter). The Vatican Museums are open on Monday but closed on Sunday, except for the last Sunday of the month (free entry).

ROME LIKE A LOCAL
"When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Though it may be a bit cliche, this advice is not to be taken lightly. Romans certainly know how to live life to the fullest, indulging in the simplest pleasures and doing so with style. So put yourself in their shoes (Fendi preferably); try being Roman for a day and you'll learn how la vita a bella!

II Mercato
The city definitely comes to life at its local mercato all'aperto-or open-air market. Not only can the freshest fruits and vegetables be found at these markets, often at half-price, but you can watch vendors in the process of transforming the sale of fresh produce into something close to an art. The best mercati is the Campo de' Fiori (Piazza Campo de' Fiori), Rome's oldest food market, situated just south of Rome's Renaissance/Baroque quarter and the Piazza Farnese. Too wide to be called picturesque, the market is nevertheless a favorite photo-op, due to the ombrelloni (canvas umbrella) food stands. You have to look hard to find the interesting regional foodstuffs, such as Colle Romani strawberries or chestnuts. Other top food markets are the Mercato Trionfale (on Via Andrea Doria in Prati, north of the Vatican) and Nuovo Mercato Esquilino (on Via Filippo Turati), which is strongly influenced by the multi-culti makeup of the district. Open-air markets typically run Monday through Saturday from 8 AM until 2 PM, with Saturday being the busiest shopping day.
For non-foodies, there are plenty of other street markets scattered about Rome that specialize in clothing, fashion accessories, and every imaginable kind and variety of knickknack. The two largest are the one on Via Sannio in the San Giovanni district (Mon.-Sat.), which deals mostly in new and used clothing and accessories, and the Porta Portese market in Trastevere (Sunday only), offering everything from antiques, bric-a-brac, clothing and souvenirs, including finds from your neighbor's trash or treasure. Make sure to ask for a piccolo sconto-a small discount.

 

La Piazza

For Italians young and old, la piazza serves as a punto d'incontro-a meeting place-for dinner plans, drinks, peoplewatching, catching up with friends and, as Romans would say, exchanging due chiacchere (two words). Some of the most popular piazzas in Rome: Piazza di Spagna is not just a postcard-perfect moment for tourists, but is also a favored spot among adolescent Italian boys looking to meet American girls. By day, Piazza Campo de' Fiori is famous for its fresh food and flower market; by night, the piazza turns into a popular hangout for Romans and foreigners lured by its pubs, street caffes, and occasional street performers and magicians. Over the last few years, Campo de' Fiori has even been dubbed "the American college campus of Rome," as pubs in the area now cater to American students by advertising two-for-one drink specials and such. The main attractions of the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere are the grand bell tower and marvelous mosaics of its namesake church-a picture-perfect background for some pretty trattorias.

L'Apertivo

Borrowed from i Milanesi, the trend of l'aperitivo has become moda in Rome. Similar to the concept of happy hour sans the two-for-one drinks, l'aperitivo is a time to meet up with friends and colleagues after work or on weekends-definitely an event at which to see and be seen. Aperitivo hours are usually from 7-9 PM, with Sunday being the most popular day. Depending on where you go, the price of a drink often includes an all-youcan-eat appetizer buffet of finger foods, sandwiches, and pasta salads. Some aperitivo hot spots on the trendissimo list are ('rudo (Via degli Specchi); Societe Lutece (Piazza Monte Vecchio), and Salotto 42 (Piazza di Pietra) in the centro storico; and Friends Cafe (Piazza Trilussa) and I;reni and Frizioni (Via del Politeama) in the Trastevere area.

II Caffe

If there's something Romans certainly can't live without, it's their cup of Java. Il cafe , or espresso, is perhaps the most Important part of the day, and there are no shortage of bars in the Eternal City to help satisfy that caffeine craving. A breakfast caffe or cappuccino is typically enjoyed at the counter while debating last night's soccer game or some aspect of local politics. Another espresso or 11iff macchiato (coffee with a dash of milk) is enjoyed after lunch, and again after dinner, especially when dining out. Thinking about ordering that cappuccino? Depends on what time it is. Italians consider it taboo to order one after 11 AAI. During the summer months, Romans think a caffe shakerato (freshly made espresso shaken briskly with sugar and ice, to form a froth when poured), or a 1 4/tI freddo (iced espresso). Rome's best caffe? Some say the Tazza D'Oro (Via degli Orfani), not far from the Pantheon; others, II Caffe Sant'Eustachio (Piazza di Sant’Eustachio). If you like a dollop of chic along with your caffeine, head to Bar della pace (Via della Pace 3), set on one of the most fashionable piazzas in Rome (but don't forget that outdoor tables sometimes treble the price).

II Gelato
A national obsession, this Italian version of ice cream is tastier, less creamy, and traditionally made with only the freshest ingredients. Though many bars and stands purvey it, the best gelatos are found only at gelaterias. Small cones cost anywhere from €1,20-€2,50. Most places allow you up to three flavors (even on a small cone) and portions are usually quite generous. Typical flavors are nocciola (hazelnut), pistachio, chocolate, and anything fruity. Or hunt down the latest and greatest flavors, such as the sweet-with-a-kick cioccolato con peperoncino (chocolate with hot pepper) at Millenium (Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie 2/a, near the Vatican Museums). Quality varies: a good sign is a long line at the counter, and two of the longest are at Old Bridge (Via Bastioni di Michelangelo 5, near St. Peter's Square) and Giolitti (Via degli Uffici del Vicario 40, by the Pantheon).

La Passeggiata
A favorite Roman pastime is the passeggiata (literally, the promenade). In the late afternoon and early evening, especially on weekends, couples, families, and packs of teenagers stroll Rome's main streets and piazzas. It's a ritual of exchanged news and gossip, windowshopping, flirting, and gelato-eating that adds up to a uniquely Italian experience. You may feel more like an observer than a participant, until you realize that observing is what la passeggiata is all about. Rome's top promenade is up or down the Corso, with a finale in the Piazza di Spagna shopping district.

BEATING THE EURO
It's easy to avoid the scam artists and pickpockets, but finding good value is a little trickier. We asked travelers on-Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (www.fodors.com) to reveal some of their insider know-how. Their reponse? When in Rome, spend like a Roman! Fodorites know that if you live like a local, you'll save like a local as well, and perhaps have a richer traveling experience to boot.
1. "If you aren't hungry and don't want pasta, skip to secondo-the "second course." Rarely do Italians eat a primo e setondo when they go out." -glittergirl
2. "Bars always have two different prices: If you have your coffee at the counter it's cheaper than when a waiter serves it at a table (servizio al tavolo)." -quokka
3. "For the art lover on a budget: Most of l1w nit I saw in Rome is free. Where else ion you see countless Caravaggios, two Michelangelos, and even more Berninis for the cost of the wear and tear on the soles of your shoes?" –amyb
4. "Instead of taking the Leonardo express from Fiumicino to Termini, take the FRI to whichever station is most convenient for you. The FRI departs every l5 minutes (instead of every 30 minutes for the Express), costs only €5 (instead of € 9.50 for the express), and avoides the hullabaloo of Termini.
5. “The boat trips down the Tiber, from the bridge by Castel Sant'Angelo to Isola Teberina is only €1 (a great way to get from St. Peter's to Trastevere or the Forum).” --annhig
6. "One way to save on the expense of guided tours is to register online at sound Guides (http://www.sound-guides.com/) and download the various free self-guided tours to your Ipod or MP3 player." -monicapileggi
7. "I eat at working folks places, like the "Goose," near the Vatican. Dinner (three courses) runs €20 with wine; if you leave hungry it's your own fault." -JoanneH
8. "Visit wine fill-up shops in Italy; get table wine from the cask for 2-3 euros a liter. In Rome we would get them filled at the Testaccio market ... I will usually ask at the local bar where I go for my coffee." -susanna
9. "Go off-season-March or November have better air prices and also accommodations, particularly if you stay in apartments, which you can rent for much less off-season (and plan some meals in-house-make the noon meal your biggest of the day, then have a small dinner in the apartment)." -bobthenavigator
10. "Invest in the bus schedule/map-at any place they sell tickets. Cost is €4. It gives you all the routes, how long between buses, hours they run, where you hop on/ off to transfer etc." -JoanneH
11. "The smaller restaurants in Trastevere also offer better value for money than, say, the ones in the alleys near the Spanish Steps or any of the other "tourist" areas in central Rome. "-friendindelhi
12. "Order your coffee or drinks from the bar before you sit down. Take your coffee, whatever, with you to the table, then return the cup or glass afterwards. That way you'll be charged the much cheaper Al banco price that the locals pay." –WiseOwl

ROMANTIC ROME

Ah yes, romance is certainly contagious in Rome. It seems to lurk behind every street corner, park bench, and monument. In the Eternal City, there's no shortage of public displays of affection, or places to steal both that first and ultimo bacio.
Start your romantic rendezvous through Rome with a horse-drawn carriage ride that begins at the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna) and continues through the streets of the centro storico. Make a stop for some aphrodisiac treats, such as the decadent, mouthwatering chocolates made by Moriondo e Gariglio (Via Pie di Marmo 21), off the central Corso near Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.
When you're through, ask the driver to drop you off at the famous Villa Borghese park. Whether it's a picnic in the park, a cruise on the lake, a cozy hot-air balloon ride, or just a hand-in-hand stroll up to the Pincio-the park's terrace that boasts the city's most breathtaking views-you will find amore everywhere.
If the hopelessly romantic can spare the time, a trip up to Tivoli's Villa D'Este (a half hour outside Rome via bus) is definitely worth it. Its seductive garden and endless array of fountains (about 500 of them) is the perfect setting to put you in the mood for love and it won't be long before you hear Frank Sinatra warble "Three Coins in the Fountain" in your head.
That's your cue to return to Rome and make a beeline for the luminous Trevi Fountain, even more enchanting at night than in the daytime. Make sure you and that special someone throw a coin into the fountain, for good luck. For your wish to come true, you must toss the coin over your shoulder with your back to the
fountain, left hand over right shoulder (or vice versa). Legend has it that those who do so are guaranteed a return trip back to Rome.
A great way to lift the curtain on a night of romance is a serenaded dinner cruise along the Tiber, where dessert includes views of some of Rome's jewels by night: Castel Sant'Angelo, St. Peter's, and the Janiculum (Gianicolo) hill. See www.battellidiroma.it for more details.
If you prefer to stay on terra firma, at sundown head to the Hotel Hassler and its rooftop garden-restaurant, Imago, perched just over the Spanish Steps, for unforgettable views of the city's greatest landmarks, best viewed through a glass of prosecco. Dinner here may set you back a lot of euros, but you may get to rub shoulders with celebs and VIPs at this exclusive locale, whose past visitors included Princess Diana and Hollywood diva Audrey Hepburn.
For an after-dinner stroll, head to north Rome and wander over to the illuminated Ponte Milvio bridge, known as "Lovers Lane" in Roman circles. Inspired by a scene in a recent hit Italian movie,
Ho Voglia Di Te (I Really Want You), prove your eternal love to your inamorata by padlocking him or her to one of the bridge's chains-the city specifically erected 24 columns with chains here so that lovers can do just that.
A Web site (www.lucchettipontemilvio.com) was also created for die-hard romantics who wish to create a "virtual" lovelock. Remember that part of the charm is throwing the key into the river!