All roads lead to Rome . . .

THE enthralling city of Rome is like a magnet for me. I always feel like a visit to Europe is not quite complete without a few days in the Italian capital.

I'm not sure if it's the history, architecture, coffee, art, fashion or those handsome Roman men, but Rome keeps beckoning me back.

My first visit was in my early 20s and I've been back numerous times. I still love to visit Trevi fountain to throw in a coin because that means I'll be coming back. One of my favourite Roman past times is sitting in one of the many piazza sipping coffee or vino, depending on the time of day, just watching the world pass by. Heaven is strolling along Via del Corso swinging my shopping bags, however the same can't be said for my long suffering husband.

Without even trying you'll come across ancient masterpieces as you stroll around the old historic centre. There are sculptures by Michelangelo, paintings by Caravaggio, frescoes by Raphael and fountains by Bernini.

In Rome art is not locked away from view it's all around you.

A trip to Rome is as much about lapping up the lifestyle as it is gorging on art and historic sights. There is no better way of getting into the local spirit of things than by eating and drinking well. Food and wine are central to Roman social life and the hundreds of pizzerias, trattorias, restaurants and gelataria that crowd the city centre do as much business catering to locals as to tourists and out-of-towners. Do as the Romans do; there's nothing more Roman than enjoying a tasty wood-fired pizza in a packed pizzeria or dining al fresco at a glorious piazza.

But there's more to Rome than history, fine art and great food. Rome is Italy's capital and largest city, while history reverberates all around, modern life is lived to the full.

Rome's political and religious heartbeat and the twin presence of government and church dominate the city. Many city-centre palazzi house government offices while over in the Vatican the dome of St Peter's Basilica serves to remind everyone of the Pope's presence.

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