By Ferdi Burger on 15 January 2014

Ah Rome, the eternal city. Italy's much-loved capital continues to enchant millions of visitors every year with its ancient architecture, its vibrant culture and pure romance. It's no wonder that Rome appears on many people's bucket lists, it offers so many attractions and landmarks.

However, when you've only got a short time in which to enjoy the city's delights, it's difficult to differentiate the 'must-see' activities from the 'don't-bothers'. With that in mind, here are a few tips for your first trip to Rome:

Must-see

One of the greatest things about Rome is that so much of it can be covered on foot. You can't go to Italy and not see the Colosseum. This huge amphitheatre, though now dilapidated, still retains its imposing stature and will render most visitors temporarily silent. Go early - it opens at 8:30am - to avoid the queues. From there, it's less than half an hour's walk to the Pantheon, a temple dating back to 126 AD.

Eight minutes' walk away is the iconic Trevi Fountain, where you have to throw a coin over your shoulder and make a wish. Then you'll only be ten minutes away from the famous Spanish Steps, where you can sit and do a bit of people-watching while taking in all of Rome's splendour.

If you're getting peckish, do as the Romans do and find somewhere off the beaten track for some authentic cuisine off the beaten track, like Café Barberini in Via Mormorata for fresh pastries or Ristorante Antica Taverna in Via Monte Giordano for its truffle dished, just take your phrase book.

Don't bother

If you fancy doing a bit of shopping after seeing the sights, then don't head for Via del Corso. This is a crowded street teaming with tacky tourist tat - and probably a few pickpockets, too. Porta Portese market can also be left off your list, it's not much more than a jumble sale. There are far better areas to try, such as Piazza di Spagna, if you have the designer budget.

Be careful about buying anything in any of the cafés, shops, bars and restaurants close to the Vatican or Piazza Navona; the prices have been hiked right up to catch out holiday-makers. Avoid any thing that looks like it's been geared specifically for tourists if you don't want to pay €5 for a bottle of water.

The Italians are famed for their gelato, but not all gelatarie are the same and nor is their attitude towards ravenous tourists. The products sold by street vendors vary in quality and you may be charged an extortionate amount. Ask the price before you buy or head for a proper gelateria, like Il Gelato di Claudio Torce in Viale Aventino 59 or Old Bridge Gelataria near the Vatican.

Rome is a beautiful city, even more so if you know where and what to avoid. Visit the sights but use your common sense, that way your visit should be unforgettable for all the right reasons.


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