La dolce vita spoils you in the Eternal City

The Life: If you are lucky enough to score a business trip to Rome, make sure the schedules for your meetings, expos and conferences are in step with the city's unique tempo.

The Colosseum at night. Guylain Doyle / Lonely Planet
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If you are lucky enough to score a business trip to Rome, make sure the schedules for your meetings, expos and conferences are in step with the city's unique tempo.

Q&A:Rome is a vast city of labyrinthine streets in the centre and sprawling suburbs on the outskirts.

What's the best way to get around? The metro is your safest bet to avoid rip-offs and detours, and remember, all trains go to Termini station eventually. Taxi drivers are notorious for taking circuitous routes to rip off tourists, unless you tell them you are going to a church. Ripping off a churchgoer is considered bad luck.

I've only got one day off. What should I see? The city is divided into distinct neighbourhoods, each one named after its principal characteristics. Centro Storico for cobbled streets, cafes and shops, Vatican City for the obvious religious artwork and architecture, Capitoline for classical architecture. If you can take in only one site see Michelangelo's fresco on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Rome is famous for opera, which venue should I go to? Tourist opera is a huge racket in Rome. Teams of hucksters charge hapless travellers a small fortune for "front-row" seats at seemingly world-class performances. The only venue where you can be sure the fat lady is really going to sing is the Teatro dell'Opera Di Roma.

Don't plan to be working between 10am and 11am, for this is when Romans leave their offices and wander the cobbled back streets to a favourite cafe for a ruminative cappuccino and perhaps a cornetto or two. Necci, on the Via Fanfulla da Lodi, is a favourite Bohemian haunt worthy of a bit part in a Fellini flick and a seasoned gathering place for artists, writers and film industry types.

If you must head back to The Sheraton, the Casino dell'Aurora Pallavicini, or one of the city's other world-class conference centres, don't spend more than an hour as lunch starts at noon, and should be quite time-consuming.

Rome is one of the few remaining cities on earth - and I am sure all the others are also in Italy - where it is actually difficult to find a fast-food joint. Italians just don't see the point in rushing a meal.

For the full antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni alla Romanaexperience, a visit to Checchino dal 1887 is a must. This ancient cathedral of the carnivore is just a grunt away from the city's biggest slaughterhouse and offers animal parts few people know exist.

Rigatoni alla Pajata - homemade pasta with some unmentionable bits of a milk-fed veal calf - is their signature.

By the time you have finished your post-prandial espresso there really is little point in going back to the final meetings of the afternoon.

After all, you ought to at least try to take in some of the world's most impressive classical architecture and renaissance art before you leave.

But be warned, there are phenomenal queues at every one of the city's famed architectural sites and art venues from the Colosseum to the Vatican. It is well worth paying the €20 (Dh105) per person extra or so each venue offers as an upgrade to skip to the front of the line.

A few hours of gallery hopping should work up the appetite once more for a little sustenance to prepare for the end-of-day conference call with HQ.

Top 5: Top 5 things to see in Rome.

1 Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica.

2 Trevi Fountain.

3 Colloseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon.

4 Spanish Steps and Spanish Square.

5 Browse the Campo dei Fiori Markets.

After a sherbet at Bar 900 at the top of the Spanish Steps head down to Da Gino in Vicolo Rossini for a true family-style repast.

The Quote: "A great city, whose image dwells in the memory of man, is the type of some great idea." Benjamin Disraeli