Time Out Shortlist: Rome

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and portable guidebook, check out Time Out’s Shortlist Guide to Rome 2008. This small yet extensive guide will be invaluable to navigating the Eternal City. If you’re looking for something to do, this book is organized by Rome’s zone (zones, neighborhoods), and a detailed and easy to read map begins each section. It’s small enough that it won’t weight you down and might even fit into the back pocket of your jeans.

The first section of the book includes a calendar of important events, festivals, and other happenings. Please take note that this list is not exhaustive — there are tons of other things going on in Rome, but Time Out picks and chooses some of the important ones, provides a web site of the event or other contact information so that you can learn more.

There’s also an itineraries section which provides the tourist with some “directional guidance” — they list only three, but each of these itineraries are manageable and well explained by the guide and will certainly add flavor and substance to your trip.

The bulk of the section contains chapters on Rome’s various zones and neighborhoods. As I mentioned, a map of the area accompanies the start of each section as well as places to eat, things to do, and other important information about the area in question. I’m amazed at how the writers of this guide have managed to pack a lot of information into such a small publication. Also throughout the various sections are small “asides” which contain historical, factual and/or practical information about the city.

The final chapter is a section on essentials – such as finding a hotel, getting around, a list of pertinent resources, and some glossaries (make sure you study the one on the Italian menu – you certainly don’t want to starve while you’re in Rome!), and an index for looking things up quickly.

My only gripe with the book is the flippant writing — sometimes I had trouble telling when the writers were being tongue in cheek, and when they were serious. However, I find that the guide is an excellent resource and tend to ignore most of the extraneous information presented so that I can form my own opinions. Apart from that, I rate this guidebook very highly and plan to use it on my next trip to Rome.

Published every September, the guide has lists of events and cultural happenings that span all the way to December of the next year. For example, this year’s 2008 guide features events and happenings from September 2007 – December 2008.