Rome is both delicious and affordable when it comes to dining out. While many in the world claim to love Italian food, one can't really compare ordinary pizza and pasta to the wonderful dishes in the nation's capital. Traditionally-prepared Italian food is strong in flavour, meagre in ingredients and richer and higher in calories than global imitations.
The typical meal is accompanied by a bruschetta ammazzavampiri (garlic canapé) and grated cheeses. Not surprisingly, pastas and pizzas are in abundance, the local varieties of which are not to be missed. Red meat and seafood dishes in the international tradition are also on offer but are more expensive and come in less generous servings.
There are three main types of restaurant in Rome: an osteria is an informal gathering-spot, serving basic spaghetti meals and some wine; trattorie are more languid, bistro-style affairs, offering large meals in a homely setting; and ristorante offer the more fancy and lavish silver spoon and wine-list dining experience. All three can be found in the popular districts of Centro Storico, along Via Cavour and around Stazione Termini. The Borgo district near the Vatican offers some of the cheapest dining options in Rome.
Breakfasts in Rome, as in most of Italy, are minimal, and people rarely leave the house for their first meal of the day. The main event is lunch, which sees restaurants open between 1pm and 3pm. Indeed, most locals enjoy their lunch breaks in three courses.
Rome, only too aware of its popularity with international tourists and investors, is an expensive shopping destination; but some deals can be found on trinkets like crafts, leather goods and glasswork. To find these bargains, look to the markets of central Rome, which generally operate Monday to Saturday from 7am to 1pm. On Sundays, the popular Porta Portese flea market operates from the Trastevere district.
Another budget shopping option popular in Rome is second-hand book and clothing shopping, with an abundance of stores located throughout the city. Antique shopping is also pervasive but could prove expensive for those who aren't sure of what they're doing.
If you have the means, Rome has an assortment of boutique stores with brands like Prada, Valentino, Gucci and Fendi all represented in the Piazza di Spagna. The Piazza San Silvestro exhibits Rome's best jewellers, such as Bulgari and Martinelli, among others. In addition to an assortment of clothing department stores, in Via del Corso one can find the flagship stores for Ferrari and Swarovski, with exquisite crystal-wrought crafts.
In true Italian style, the nightlife in Rome is laid-back. People like to sit at cafes or restaurants, taking their time with lots of food, wine and coffee. Campo dei Fiori, the Piazza Navona area and Trastevere are some of the best places for bars and cafés, while the Testaccio and Ostiense districts are better for nightclubs.
There are many wine bars and cafes near Campo de' Fiori, Piazza Navona and Via della Pace. Cafes in Trastevere attract visitors to see Piazza di Santa Maria's fountain and 12th-century church lit up at night, as well as occasional guitar performances.
There are always spectacular nightclubs for real party animals in Rome, but some of them do close during August. When the clubs close for summer, there are numerous outdoor venues around town and near Ostia; outdoor festivities on Via di Monte Testaccio in Testaccio take centre stage and include food stalls and markets.
The Teatro dell'Opera is home to the Rome Opera Ballet and opera is performed at the Baths of Caracalla's open-air ruins in July and August. Rock bands often perform at Stadio Flaminio and the Palazzo dello Sport.