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Great art, ancient history, high fashion, are packed into Rome’s center

By Mark Vanek

Love, romance, and history are all woven into a tapestry that will create an unforgettable vacation in Rome. From tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain or ascending the steep slope of the Spanish Steps, reminders of the ancient past greet you at every turn.

When you land: From Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport (FCO) you have numerous transportation options that will get you safely to the city center. Metro Rail runs every 30 minutes and costs a scant 14 euros. Taking the COTRAL public bus is an hourlong trip to the downtown area, but only costs 5 euros per person. Taxi service? Deduct 50 euros from your travel budget for the 25-minute journey to your hotel. Get details on your options at http://bit.ly/L17EGR.

When in Rome: Just a 10-minute walk from the Roma Termini Station is the centrally located Rome Life Hotel ( www.romelifehotel.com/en). For an affordable and satisfying vacation in Rome, book your accommodations here – only half a mile from the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and other major sites.

The stylish rooms feature all the essential modern amenities, including a private bathroom. With a rooftop terrace providing stunning views of your surroundings, free Internet and air-conditioned rooms, you can’t go wrong here.

Vatican City: No visit to Rome would be complete without an afternoon visit to the official residence of the Pope. Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, you will be awe-struck by the unparalleled artwork of the Renaissance masters. You can spend hours marveling at evocative paintings, inspirational cathedral domes and Michelangelo’s famed sculpture, “The Pieta.”

Keep in mind that the lines there – into the Sistine Chapel, for instance – can be grueling and long. Best option: Book a tour. This will fast-track you through the throngs hoping to see Michelangelo’s fresco, “The Creation of Adam.” Bite the bullet, and be aware that the tour operators quite possibly will pick your party up at your hotel or another convenient location.

Also, don’t miss the photo op of a lifetime: Snap a few frames of the colorful and timeless Swiss Guard.

Shopping: Fashion in Rome sets the pace for the rest of the world. The look is ultra-chic – dark shades, the finest leather shoes and bags and – of course – the trendiest coats. Rome has numerous districts that create a shopaholic’s paradise.

One of the main centers is Via del Governo Vecchio, where you will discover untold fashion bargains, including jewelry. Cluttered with traditional chic boutiques, these shops stay open late and host an antiques fair. There are many art galleries and antique shops nearby.

In the historic district, another major marketplace for antiques is Via del Babuino, a street that’s home to many designer clothing outlets. Alberto di Castro ( www.dicastro.com) is a great place to buy some stunning lithographs.

Fine dining: Try Ristorante Life ( www.ristorantelife.com), located in Via della Vite, one of the most beautiful streets of Rome’s historic center. The restaurant has three quaint dining areas as well as an outdoor terrace, which is open all year for lunch or dinner.

Exceptional hospitality and service is complemented by the casual, fun atmosphere and innovative gourmet Italian cuisine. Masterful chefs prepare culinary delights using only the freshest seasonal ingredients. Even the fish are freshly caught in the Tyrrhenian Sea and chosen with care at a daily auction; the meats are hand-selected from one of Rome’s best butchers. A standout is the tenderloin filet with black truffles from Norcia, Italy.

Vanek lives at Lake Norman: http://flying-standby.blogspot.com.
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