Lonely Planet’s Rome Encounter, by Cristian Bonetto and recently published in September 2008 ($11.99), is an excellent guide book for those travelers looking for an “abbreviated” travel guide. Packed with loads of sights, hotels, restaurants and other things to do, this guide book breaks Rome down into smaller, manageable “sections” to make touring and seeing the Eternal City more approachable. The book is laid out in simple sections so if only certain parts of Rome interest you, then you only need consult those chapters. But Bonetto, through his excellent writing, certainly urges that you explore as much of Rome as you can.
My take is that this guidebook works better for the traveler who intends to spend a short time in Rome (3-4 days) or a traveler who has visited Rome in the past and no longer needs to sections on history, art and culture. However, I found the book to be very useful even for its size and would find it also useful for longer stays. It could easily be stored in your backpocket or in your backpack without hardly taking up any space at all.
Locations and venues in the book are briefly (yet well) described with an address, phone number (where applicable), web site details (where applicable) and other helpful knowledge and information needed to reach the place in question — your standard fare of tourist information in a succint format.
If you’re looking for a guidebook with more history and descriptions of various sites, you’d probably do better with another guidebook. This guidebook also focuses wholly on Rome so if you’re looking for things to do outside the city in and around Lazio, your best bet would also be to seek out a more expansive guidebook (perhaps Rome’s Lonely Planet City Guide or National Geographic Traveler Guide to Rome).
My only “gripe” with this guide is that it comes with a mediocre map (which tears out and can be carried with you) — but I wouldn’t rely too heavily on it. I found the map to be difficult to read, and it’s also made of paper. Bound to rip and become worn on your trip, and you’d do best to find a map that is laminated and more durable for your trip — Streetwise Rome or Rough Guide Map of Rome.