Rome's city centre is divided into 22 rioni (wards) surrounded by 32 quartieri (districts). Below are some of the most interesting:

Ward of REGOLA (Campo de' Fiori)
This is a lively square in central Rome that starts each morning as a market place and ends as a popular drinking spot; during the mornings from Monday through Saturday, there is a (rather expensive, not to mention touristified) fruit and vegetable market.

By early afternoon, the stalls are pulled down and from then on, it's a fantastic place to get a drink and sit in the sun. The cheapest drinks are sold as "takeaway" where you can enjoy your beer while standing in the square. However, it's not too expensive to get a wonderful seat at Vinearia and enjoy the people-watching and the street performers from a comfortable spot. This place is very crowded on weekend evenings and a lot of foreigners gather there - above all young exchange students. Be careful because somebody can have a bit too much alcohol and glasses (now only plastic) may fly!

Ward of PARIONE (Piazza Navona)

Wind through a maze of streets to the north to reach piazza Navona, a wide open space that used to hold chariot races in ancient Roman times; while it is very touristy, it is a Baroque masterpiece with fountains designed by Bernini well worth seeing. There are several restaurants to choose from, however, locals encourage tourists looking for "real" Italian food to look elsewhere. Here you will also find a slew of caricature artists along with the usual array of vendors and souvenir stands geared towards tourists. 

Renovation work on the spectacular Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in the centre has now been completed. 

Ward of TRASTEVERE
A really lovely part of Rome, which is across the river from Campo de' Fiori; its centre is the piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere and there are narrow cobbled streets, ivy covered buildings, and plenty of bars and restaurants going from there. There are a few beautiful churches, including Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Cecilia.  It is very crowded on the weekends, so don't try to reach it by car! It will save your feet a lot of trouble to take the # 8 tram from the Roma Trastevere train station (trains from Fiumicino airport stop there every 30 minutes) or from across the river in central Rome. Guidebooks usually describe it as one of the city's most local districts but unfortunately, this is no longer the case - if you're looking for authenticity, look elsewhere.

Ward of BORGO (Via della Conciliazione; Vatican City)

Borgo is the closest ward to the Vatican. Despite its historical, cultural and artistical importance, big chunks of it were razed in the 1930s in order to build the grandiose via della Conciliazione. What remains today of the district is located in the area between the Tiber river, via di Porta Cavalleggeri, Vatican City, Castel Sant'Angelo and piazza del Risorgimento.

Generally speaking - the further you get from St. Peter's, the less touristy the ward becomes; however, not only is it impossible to escape completely the touristy hustle-and-bustle but the district is nowadays among the least authentic.

Ward of PRATI (Vatican)

Prati - with its wide streets, tree-lined boulevards and leafy squares - differs greatly from the rest of the city centre; like the Esquilino, it was built immediately after the annexation of Rome (1870) in order to house the civil servants of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. Despite it being very close to St. Peter's, the city planners designed its layout in such a way to make impossible for anybody to see the basilica's dome (the Kingdom of Italy and the Pope had bad - if non-existent - diplomatic relations at the time). This district is well-served by the A line of the Metro (with the "Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani" and "Lepanto" stops), by various bus lines and by the #19 tram route.

Also, the Vatican Museums are located nearby.

This neighbourhood offers a great deal of b&bs and hotels, with varying categories and prices; the main boulevard is via Cola di Rienzo, which is also one of the city's most prominent shopping areas. If you're looking for good food, Castroni and Franchi are the places to go, while two of Rome's finest gelaterie are located here: Gelarmony (on via Marcantonio Colonna) and the Gelateria dei Gracchi. If, on the other hand, all you're looking for is clothing, the COIN department store - with the several fashion boutiques located along the boulevard - is what you need.

Wards of ESQUILINO and CASTRO PRETORIO (Termini)
The area around the main train station may seem seedy to a visitor and has mainly tourist hotels and bad tourist food. For a more authentic Roman experience, avoid eating near the station if possible.  It is inevitable that you will be approached by guides selling various tourist bus services; do not be intimidated into choosing the first offer.  Some of the bus tours only go to a few of the key sites, while others are quite comprehensive and give you a good introduction to Rome's layout and how to get around it.  Even if you can't take in all the sights during the bus tour, you can walk around without getting lost!

Form Termini train station it is easy to reach other spots of Rome where most of the sightseeing locations are: both Metro lines (A and B) have a stop below the station, and a huge bus terminus is located right in front of it.

Wards of CELIO, RIPA, SAN SABA

The most southern wards in the centre of Rome (beside Testaccio) have many things in common besides of being traditionally inhabited by well-off classes: lots of green areas, low urbanization, diffused calmness, existence of interesting ancient monuments, especially churches. However, they are usually overlooked by average tourists who swarm other neighbourhoods even without wondering if in Rome there is something else worth visiting. Ripa, more known as Aventino because it occupies the Aventine Hill area, is moderately attended by tourists who want to look inside the Keyhole in Piazza Cavalieri di Malta, but would deserve a more accurate visit.

Ward of TESTACCIO

Testaccio is (or, better, was) Rome's traditional working-class district; nowadays there are lots of popular night clubs and discos. It's still popular but less than in the '70s-'80s. Testaccio is also a very good place for traditional food, but don't tell everybody - it won't last long!

OSTIENSE district (and area of GARBATELLA)

Ostiense is a very large district located between the southern Aurelian Walls and the EUR. It was a working-class district in the middle of the 20th century; nowadays it has become fairly fashionable too. In its boundaries the area called Garbatella is remarkable: it was built in the first half of the 20th century as working-class neighbourhood, when popular houses didn't mean high-rises but small buildings grouped around common courtyards and vegetable gardens. Garbatella has its own metro station and is still lived by authentic Romans. Its village atmosphere and its absolute lack of touristyness make it very interesting.

Other highlights of the district are the Museum Centrale Montemartini, a former power station newly converted into archaeological museum, and the sumptuous basilica St. Paul Outside the Walls.

EUROPA district (formerly known as the EUR)

The EUR is a suburban residential area and a business district. The heart of the district was built in the late '30s, at Mussolini's request, for the World Fair of 1942 (Esposizione Universale di Roma, hence the acronym) which never took place; the area was completed in the '50s and today, the neighbourhood serves as Rome's financial district. The EUR is very different from what one sees in the historic center of Rome: there are no ancient Roman ruins or quaint spots in this area and the streets are wide and modern; it's a well-balanced area with concrete and glass highrises surrounded by wide green areas and trees. You will find both buildings and villa-type constructions in separate places.

The Palalottomatica is a popular venue for concerts and other events (it can also serve as a stadium); also, there's an artificial lake in the EUR that the Romans call laghetto (pronounced: la-ge-to) meaning "little lake" - it is surrounded by a Japanese garden / park that can be pleasant to walk through and there are some places to eat and have ice cream around the lake. Avoid the lake on weekends if you are lookng for peace and quiet; the place will be packed with families and kids. EUR is also where Rome's theme park was based. The theme park in question, called "LUNEUR", was nothing compared to most theme parks like Disney due to its small size and limited type and number of attractions (it closed in 2008).

The neighbourhood also hosts some interesting (and surprisingly quiet) museums: the Museo della Civiltà Romana (Museum of the Roman Civilisation, has lots of casts of ancient sculptures and a famous plastic of Imperial Rome), the Museo Etnografico L. Pigorini (this ethnographic museum hosts a most interesting collection of African artefacts from Italy's former colonies and other objects from the various peoples of Oceania) and the Museo delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, showcasing folkoristic dresses and various tools from the regions of Italy. Other popular landmarks in the area are the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (also known as the "Square Colosseum") and the imposing St. Peter and Paul's basilica.

The EUR is connected to the city by both Metro (line B, stops: "Eur Fermi", "Eur Palasport") and bus transportation; the former is the fastest and easiest way to get to and from it. There is presently a lot of construction going on: an aquarium and Massimiliano Fuksas' "Nuvola" ("Cloud"). Works take place during the week, with huge bulldozers - that might spoil your peace and quiet!

If you are a tourist who wants to be as close as possible to the major sight-seeing areas, this would not be the best location to stay while visiting Rome; in this case, it would be etter to spend a couple dollars more but be as near to the center as possible; while staying in the city center you will save on transportation since you will be able to move among most of the sight-seeing locations by foot as the majority of them is close to each other. However - If you think that Rome is not only about seeing places, but is also about living them and strolling around like a Roman, then the EUR is one of the places to be. 

After WW2, the name of the district was changed to "Europa" but locals still refer to it as the EUR.

OSTIA district

Contrary to popular belief, Ostia is not a separate town but one of Rome's many districts; it is easily reachable via the Roma-Lido light suburban railway and the ruins of Ostia antica are located nearby. Locals like to flock to its beaches in summer.

Safety in the neighbourhoods

Safety is not a big issue when talking of violent crime but in all central neighbourhoods, particularly near Termini, beware of pickpockets and scammers. Use your common sense as you would in any other big touristy town, paying attention to your surroundings on public transport and in crowded areas.