- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2003

Rome has a pleasant climate nearly year-round, but spring and early fall are especially nice. April in Rome is what April in Paris wishes it could be.

Accommodations: Of the top-of-the-line hotels, we prefer the Hassler because of its location and fine restaurant. In the more moderate category, try any of the five well-located, family-owned-and-operated Bettoja Hotels, such as the Mediterraneo Hotel. For information, call 800/783-6904 or 800/448-8355 or book online at www.bettojahotels.it.

Food: One has to be extraordinarily unlucky to get a bad meal anywhere in Italy. Our favorite place to dine in Rome is Il Drappo, a small, hard-to-find Sardinian restaurant not far from Piazza Navona near the Tiber.

Safety: Rome is generally a safe destination. As in all major European cities, though, tourists here need to be ever alert for pickpockets. Beware of young children — many of them are highly skilled pickpockets.

Language: Most places tourists visit in Rome have English-speaking staffs. Italians generally are warm and friendly and will try to convince you that you are a brilliant linguist if you take the time to master a few simple Italian phrases.

Guidebooks: There are lots of good guides to Rome, but none can match the one from Eyewitness Travel Guides. It’s compact yet comprehensive, beautifully illustrated, well-organized and a joy to use.

Travel tip: Unless you happen to be a Roman scholar, it makes little sense to wander around the Roman Forum unguided. As you enter, rent a tape-recorded tour. It will greatly enhance your experience.

For more information on traveling to Rome, contact the Italian Government Tourist Office in New York at 212/245-4822.

Fred and Karen Eckert

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