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Rome: Hangin' out in the hottest 'hood' in the Eternal City

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Remember “the layered look” worn by Diane Keaton in Woody Allen's 1977 movie, Annie Hall? Well, it's all the rage in Rome this winter. “To fit in,” savvy execs of Rome's four Bettoja Hotels advise tourists, “bring leggings, tapered jackets, oversized sweaters and the like.”

Women's accessories such as big chain necklaces, pendants, cuff bracelets, large bags, felt hats “and of course the scharpe (scarf)” are musts for street wear, the execs say.

They offer this tip to tourists looking for non-touristy spots to hang out in: Check out Rome's Monti District, just up the hill from the Coliseum and the Forum. National Geographics' Intelligent Travel magazine calls the Monti the hottest “hood” in town.

Once the apres-games turf of gladiators, hookers and politicians, the Monti is where it's at for today's hip Romans, whether for sidewalk chats, great dining or action in the bars. (The shops have yummy cookies there, too.)

Do you like quaint, old-world plazas? If so, they'll have a tough time tearing you away from a place that could be the poster child for ancient plazas, the Fontana di Piazza della Madonna dei Monti in the heart of the district.

Among other biggies for sightseeing are the Santa Maria Maggiore (one of the city's four great papal basilicas) on the east side of the Monti, and San Pietro in Vincoli (the home of Michelangelo's famous statue of Moses).

The Monti is a short walk from the Bettoja hotels: the Hotel Mediterraneo, the Massimo D'Azeglio, the Atlantico and the Nord Nuova Rome. Travelers who have questions about Rome or need a few more tips about the city are invited to post queries on Bettoja's Facebook page.

The upscale Bettojas are the oldest and among the largest of the family-owned hotel groups in Italy.

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