Tourists view the tomb of artist Raphael at the Pantheon in Rome

Tourists view the tomb of artist Raphael at the Pantheon in Rome (Chris Helgren, Reuters)

ROME (Reuters) - In Rome one can still indulge in la dolce vita without breaking the bank, even in times of austerity.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help you skip the crowds, dip into daring ice-cream (anyone for pecorino cheese flavor?) and of course, spend evenings in the piazzas watching the world go by, just as the Romans do.


5 p.m. - Rome's 2,000 year old Pantheon is the perfect place to start. Originally built as a temple to the gods in ancient Roman times, it is one of the city's oldest and best-preserved landmarks and still used as a church.

6 p.m. - Look no further than the cafes in the square, where you can admire the Pantheon's glorious facade over an aperitivo.

For a pick-me-up after a long journey, tucked up a side-street, Tazza d'Oro is one of many establishments claiming to serve the best coffee in Rome and you can buy beans there too.

7:30 p.m. - Dinner. You should make it your mission to avoid the ever-expanding number of tourist traps in the city's historic sites and the area around the Pantheon is no exception.

Make your way through bustling Piazza Navona, stopping to admire Bernini's dramatic Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, to La Montecarlo on Vicolo Savelli 13, where simple but delicious Roman food is still served at a reasonable price.

For those counting the pennies, Il Forno Roscioli on Via dei Giubbonari 21 is deservedly one of the most celebrated "pizza al taglio" spots in town.

Alternatively, pick up one of Aristocampo's famous panini con porchetta at Campo de' Fiori and sit on the empty flower market stalls and watch the evening unfold.

Some of the capital's best nightlife is here -- just be prepared for an early start in the morning!


9 a.m. - A true Roman might insist on a lie-in, but with much to see head out early for Cafe de Paris on fancy Via Veneto, where Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" was filmed.

With tragedy worthy of the director, two years ago it was shut down after falling into Mafia hands and police revealed it had become a front to launder money. It now sells wine and other produce grown on lands confiscated from the mob.

10 a.m. - With a taste for Rome's darker heart, curiosity draws you to the crypt beneath the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, described as 'one of the most horrifying images in all of Christendom'.

No one seems to agree on how many thousands lie here, but its chambers, walls and ceilings are plastered with their bones in ghoulish patterns.

11 p.m. - Phew. Find solace among Bernini's marble sculptures, paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Rubens and many more at the Galleria Borghese set in a glorious park overlooking the city.

Housing more than its fair share of masterpieces, gallery visits are arranged in slots and should be booked well in advance at or

1 p.m. - Stroll across Villa Borghese to 'il Pincio' terrace for a view of Rome, then follow the steps down to Piazza del Popolo where the Santa Maria del Popolo church holds more works by Caravaggio, Raphael and others.