To be able to orientate yourself in Rome you should keep in mind that Rome evolves in a star-like shape from the historic centre towards the suburbia, following the major Consular roads existing from ancient Roman times. Once you are beyond the centre most neighbourhoods can be found referring to these streets, which have maintained their names for 200 years (Via Aurelia, Tiburtina, Pontina etc.). All these roads intersect with the G.R.A. (“Grande Raccordo Anulare”), the highway ring road around the city, which has an approximate distance of 15 km from the Centre and delimits the extension of the city limits in most areas.
Despite its population of nearly 4 million inhabitants, Rome doesn't seem like a metropolis but more a mix of small-town neighbourhoods with their own spirit. In fact, true Romans are always linked to the area they grew up in and it is not rare to encounter a more or less hilarious rivalry between inhabitants of different districts. In the past, people who lived in Trastevere considered themselves superior to downtown Romans and nowadays old aristocracy from Piazza Navona compete with upper class industrial and public official families in the Parioli or in Prati. Therefore, despite the traffic, noise and general chaos contrasting the historic grandeur, Rome is a city with a down to earth flair that some would say is provincial. Please note, a permit (for residents) is required to drive you car in specified central areas of the city.
Apartment Living in Rome Centre
To live in the centre of Rome, generally means living in an apartment, since houses with gardens are not more than approximately 10% of the total availability and tend to be found in the suburbs. In the North of Rome (Cassia Giustiniana, Olgiata, etc.) or in the South, toward the seashore (in the Appia Antica, Tre Pini, AXA, and Casal Palocco areas) you will need a car to commute downtown.