Karen Swan's top ten Rome sights

Kate Swan shares her must visit locations in the glamorous city of Rome, the setting of her latest novel The Rome Affair.

Karen Swan shares her must-visit locations in the glamorous city of Rome, the setting of her novel The Rome Affair.

Top five must-see sights in Rome

The Pantheon - A must visit at any time of year, but especially magical at Christmas - wait for it to rain or snow and then dash in to see it falling through the oculus. Or if you go at Easter, they scatter rose petals through it.

Pantheon Rome at sunset

Trastevere - South of Vatican City and on the West Bank of the Tibor river, this is a great area to spend an afternoon mooching, wandering, people watching and sipping coffee.

Trastevere square Rome

Villa Borghese - Well worth a visit for the gardens as well as the artworks.

Villa Borghese gardens Rome

La Citta dell'Acqua on Vicolo del Puttarello - The little cinema around the corner of the Trevi Fountain is also the entrance to ancient ruins still standing beneath the streets.

Trevi Fountain Rome

The Colosseum - Take a dawn or night tour of the iconic Colosseum, depending upon whether you are lark or owl.

Rome Colloseum at sunset

Top five shops to visit in Rome

Any Intimissimo boutique – as well as lovely smalls, they do the most wonderful swimwear.

Cinzia Vestiti Usati on Via del Governo Vecchio, 45 - for all things vintage.

Bulgari on Via Condotti – even if only to press your nose to the glass.

Ginger Sapori e Salute – buzzing restaurant on Via Borgognona, delicious juices, gorgeous décor, beautiful people.

Antica Pesa on Via Garibaldi – the San Lorenzo of Rome; exquisite courtyard hidden around the back.

The Rome Affair

by Karen Swan

Book cover for The Rome Affair

1974 and Elena Damiani lives a gilded life. Born to wealth and a noted beauty, no door is closed to her, no man can resist her. At twenty-six, she is already onto her third husband when she meets her love match. But he is the one man she can never have, and all the beauty and money in the world can't change it.

2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza - famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.

Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena's life.