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Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Rome, as Romans do

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By Jessica Donati

ROME, Oct 12 (Reuters) - In Rome one can still indulge in ladolce vita without breaking the bank, even in times ofausterity.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help you skipthe crowds, dip into daring ice-cream (anyone for pecorinocheese flavour?) and of course, spend evenings in the piazzaswatching the world go by, just as the Romans do.

Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday

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

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

10 a.m. - With a taste for Rome's darker heart, curiositydraws you to the crypt beneath the Santa Maria della Concezionedei Cappuccini, described as 'one of the most horrifying imagesin all of Christendom'.

No one seems to agree on how many thousands lie here, butits chambers, walls and ceilings are plastered with their bonesin ghoulish patterns.

11 p.m. - Phew. Find solace among Bernini's marblesculptures, paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Rubens and manymore at the Galleria Borghese set in a glorious park overlookingthe city.

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

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

2 p.m. - With a pressing schedule and by now, probably ahuge appetite, pop into the Matricianella at Via del Leone 4.Choose from 600 wines on their list and traditional Roman dishesthat vary by season.

3:30 p.m. - Head for Piazza Venezia, meandering down theside-streets. Don't miss the displays in Italy's world famousdesigner stores on Via dei Condotti.

5 p.m. - Climb the steps to Michelangelo's piazza delCampidoglio for a spectacular view of the Roman Forum. Dependingon your energy level, you can visit the Capitoline museums (openuntil 8 p.m. ).

8 p.m. - Daring to copy Anita Ekberg's romantic, midnightswim in the Trevi Fountain in La Dolce Vita would lead to policearrest and a hefty fine nowadays, but an evening visit isrecommended after the daytime throng of people has cleared.

9 p.m. - Cobbled alleyways, washing lines and fine food arejust a few of the reasons Romans and visitors alike head forTrastevere in the evening.

In the tranquility of Piazza Sant'Egidio, Trattoria de' gliAmici, which serves some of the best "burrata" (creamymozzarella) in Rome, has the distinguishing feature of being runby a cooperative that provides disabled people the opportunityto work.

For a louder and more Roman experience, head to Pizzeria aiMarmi on Viale Trastevere 53, popular in the capital for itsfried antipasti and thin-crust pizzas prepared on marble slabsin full view of the diners.

Sunday

9 a.m. - Again, an unconventional start. First, its anotherearly start at the weekend and second, you will be heading tochurch.

But St Peter's Basilica is no ordinary church-- it is one ofthe most important sites in the world for Roman Catholics. Theremains of St Peter, one of Jesus Christ's 12 apostles, are saidto lie beneath the basilica and its massive dome was one ofMichelangelo's last projects.

If you have time, a visit to the Vatican museums to see thefrescoed papal apartments, the Sistine Chapel and many otherlegandary works is well worthwhile.

2 p.m - Head to Osteria dell'Angelo on Via G. Bettolo 24 fora last Roman meal, famous for its pasta and fixed price menu.

Skip dessert and cross the road to Fatamorgana where some ofthe capital's wackiest ice-creams are found, from rose topecorino cheese to olives and martini.

4 p.m. - No Roman experience would be complete without astop at the bancarelle (market stalls) that pop up across thecapital. The stalls on Via Giulio Cesare and Via Cola di Rienzosell everything from designer-inspired clothes to house andkitchenware.

7 p.m - There's still time for one last aperitivo, which atPrimo (on Via dei Baullari just off Piazza Navona) comes withunlimited trips to a free buffet of bruschette, mozzarella andother antipasti to keep you going until late. Watch the world goby.

(Reporting by Jessica Donati; Created by Paul Casciato)

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Keywords: TRAVEL ROME