The locals' guide to...Rome

When in Rome... don't do as the other tourists do. See the sights but then think, eat and party like a Roman. Just don't drive a scooter like one.

Our hot tip - jump the queue with a vatican walking tour

For more ideas on what to do on your Rome trip, check out our
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How do I get away from large tour groups wearing matching caps?

On a Rome city break you'll come across historical sights coming like there's no tomorrow, and this obviously means, legions of tourists. It's worth seeing hotspots such as the Colosseum, the Vatican City and the Spanish Steps, you'll just have to accept that plenty of other people will be looking at them with you. When you're ready to stuff a camera down the throat of anyone on a weekend break to Rome, it's time to escape to Villa Borghese - an ancient landscaped garden situated just north of the Spanish Steps. Return to the main monuments at around 8pm by which time most tour groups will be long gone.

Where do the locals party?

If Rome is sedate then London is a small market town on a stream called the Thames. But until recently the Eternal City's nightlife had a reputation for being a little on the quiet side. Thankfully times are a-changing. Clubbers on holiday in Rome will be pleased to hear that it now regularly plays host to international DJs and up-and-coming bands and in the summer there are plenty of festivals to chose from too. A great place to start is the Testaccio district, which is becoming trendier every year. Akab regularly plays host to new bands, Goa is the place for big name techno DJs and La Maison has a great atmosphere for somewhere so overtly fashion-conscious.

Restaurants without an 'all-you-can-eat tourist buffet'?

You can tell a lot from a name, so if somewhere is offering a menu turistico - which, you've guessed it, means a tourist menu - run like the wind. Traditional osterias serving classic, no-frills Italian food can still be found dotted around the city (look for the checked tablecloths), while the gastronomes among you can chose from a variety of modern designer restaurants and deli-diners. The über-trendy Met is among the best.

The locals' absolutely secret number one tip : If you've got more than a couple of days in Rome take a day trip to the beautiful coastal town of Ostia. Situated just 30km from the city centre at the mouth of the river Tiber, it was once the military and commerical port of Rome. These days Ostia is a favourite hangout for locals looking to unwind away from the hustle and bustle.

A quick guide to where the locals hang out


The beach : Sperlonga has the best beaches in the area. The 90-minute drive is definitely worth it.

The pick-me-up: Espresso, the original and the best. Try Caffè della Pace on Piazza Navona.

The middle-of-the-night snack: Ice cream is the late night snack of choice so head to the nearest Gelateria - there's bound to be one near your Rome hotel.

The gallery: The world famous Borghese Gallery houses works by Raphael, Rubens, Caravaggio and Canova.

The view: Janiculum Hill has spectacular views of the city, and equally beautiful gardens.

The café: Get your caffeine fix at The Art Studio Café on Via Dei Gracchi. It sits alongside a boutique of Italian handicraft products and an arty bookshop, so it's easy to lose yourself for a morning.

The museum: Centrale Montemartini - ancient Roman sculptures displayed in the industrial surroundings of a former power station.

The place for people watching: Many of the city centre squares are packed with people late into the night, and Piazza Navona is perfect for gauging the local vibe.

The place to be seen: The mega-trendy bar-cum-restaurant-cum-nightclub Supperclub is extravagance personified. The beauty of the interior is matched only by the unfeasibly attractive staff.

Why not try? Prestige Colosseum Tour

Can I drink the water?

The eight essential questions you'll need answering

Which local animal is likely to hospitalise me?

The most dangerous species you're likely to encounter on your city break in Rome is the female. Guys, don't even think about trying it on - they're far too cool for you and won't mind letting you know it.

Which native liquor will make me think I am attractive?

As you sit sipping your breakfast time espresso alongside the glamourous natives in one of Rome's city centre bars you may be fooled into thinking you look as sophisticated as they do. You don't.

How can I avoid a beating by the local hard nuts?

Don't point and laugh at their mullets or they'll have you running for your Rome hotel ... For some inexplicable reason they're still very much a la mode in Rome.

Will I get lost?

If you do get disorientated you'll probably discover another set of ancient ruins or historical monument on your travels in Rome, so it's not all bad.

Will I find myself?

If you're an archaeologist, possibly. Otherwise, probably not.

Should I take an umbrella?

You're most likely to get some use of of your brolly between October and February but rain showers are possible any time of year.

What should I order in a restaurant to impress the locals?

Romans pride themselves on their traditional, classic food so coming over all Heston Blumenthal won't generally go down well. Keep it simple with pasta all'arrabbiata (pasta in a tomato sauce with onion and red chili peppers) and you'll usually be rewarded.

Can I drink the water?

There are fountains spurting out delicious water all over the city centre and the tap water is safe too.

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