Rome Cathedral
Rome (Photo credit: Stokpic)

Rome Travel Guide

QUICK FACTS

  • The capital of Italy and it’s largest city, with 2.8 million inhabitants.
  • Founded in 753 BC, Rome is one of the most famous (and oldest) cities in the world, boasting a 2500-year history.
  • At one point the capital of the Roman Empire, it is considered to be the birthplace of Western civilization.
  • Home to St. Peter’s Basilica, the city is considered to be the seat of the Papacy.
  • Located in central Italy, on the Tiber river, Rome was initially built on seven hills.
  • Nicknames: The Eternal City, the City of Seven Hills, Caput Mundi.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Currency: Euro (EUR).
  • Spoken languages: predominantly Italian (English spoken among foreigners).
  • Best time to visit: from March to November. Summers can get excessively hot.
  • Arriving via airport: the Fiumicino Airport is located 26 km from the city. You can take the Leonardo da Vinci Express, a train that runs between the airport terminals and the city center (rides are 11 EUR for a single journey, and take 30 minutes). Shuttle buses are also available – rides are 9 EUR one way, and 15 EUR for a return trip. Taxi to the center will cost ~40 EUR.

WHERE TO STAY

Hotels get more expensive the closer you are to the old city center. Unless you want to be very close to the main sights, you can save money by finding accommodation outside the center. The Termini area is great for affordable accommodation. The areas around the Vatican City, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, and Campo di Fiori are also good choices.

GETTING AROUND

  • The public transport includes subway, buses and trams. The system is well organized and can get you anywhere in the city. A ticket valid for 100 minutes is 1.5 Euro, (6 Euros for a day pass, 16 Euros for a 3-day pass). 
  • Rome has several tourist bus lines that offer connections between the main attractions. Tickets start at 15 Euros, which includes unlimited use of the bus lines for an entire day.
  • A convenient way to explore Rome is with the Roma Pass card, which gives you unlimited transportation within the city for 3 days. The card can be bought at museums and tourist information points for 30 Euros. The card also offers free entrance to the first two museums or sights visited, as well as a number of other discounts.
  • If you need a taxi in Rome, the best way is to get one at a taxi stand or order one in advance (taxi company phone numbers: 06 0609, 06 3570, 06 4994, 06 6645, 06 5551, 06 8822). The meter starts at 2.80 EUR (4.00 EUR on Sundays/holidays, or 5.80 EUR after 10 PM).
  • Driving in Rome is hectic, so be careful when crossing roads. It is not advisable to rent a car in the city, as you will lose a lot of time in traffic.

ROME NIGHTLIFE

  • Drinking age is 18, no official last call (some clubs are open all night).
  • Hip/local scene: the areas around Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Campo de Fiori, Trastevere, Testaccio, and Ostience are packed with bars and cafes.
  • Trendy scene: Bars, cafés, and pubs on Piazza Navona.
  • College crowd: Sloppy Sam’s and Drunken Ship at Campo de Fiori, as well as the pubs on San Lorenzo (where the main University is located).

UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT

  • Warning: You can easily stay for two weeks in Rome and still have no time to visit all the sights. Most landmarks are over 2000 years old – Rome is living history. Many attractions have been declared UNESCO world heritage sites.
  • Do not leave Rome without touring the Vatican, with its amazing cultural and historic wonders: The Sistine Chapel, the works of Leonardo da Vinci, the St. Peter Basilica, the San Pietro Square, and the Treasury (along with many others).
  • Stand in awe at the Roman Colosseum, infamous site of the ancient gladiator games.
  • Explore the Pantheon, the infamous temple built for the ancient Roman Gods.
  • Some of the most interesting sights come in the form of historical ruins, scattered all over the city. Of particular note are the Forums and Catacombs of Rome.
  • Rome is famous for its churches and all the artistic treasures that lie within. The best picks include include: St. Peter Cathedral, Santa Maria del Popolo, and Santa Maria Maggiore.
  • Don’t forget the palaces, gardens, and fountains! High on the list of any Rome explorer are: the Fontana di Trevi, Palazzo Borghese, Villa Giulia, Palazzo Farnese, Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori, and Piazza del Popolo.
  • Note: many museums have a special day when the entrance is free, so check their websites for information.

INTERESTING WALKS

  • Take a stroll around the Vatican, and discover all the treasures that lie within this tiny state.
  • An overload of history: start at Piazza del Popolo on the via del Corso, continue up to the Coliseum, then on to the Pantheon. Proceed to the Piazza della Minerva (behind the Pantheon). Walk around the square and head to Piazza Navonna – enjoy what is arguably the city’s top baroque space. The area also contains some antique shops and expensive boutiques.
  • Take a long walk via dei Fori Imperiali (see the treasures of the Forums). Complete the day with a walk inside the Roman Catacombs.
  • Walk to the Spanish steps and head to Villa Borghese. Stroll through the sprawling Borghese Park surrounding the Villa while admiring the Roman Sculptures and fountains.
  • A night walk from the Trevi Fountain to the Vatican can be a magical experience. The Trevi Fountain is crowded with tourists during the day – go at night to get a good look at its baroque sculptures. Walk through the winding streets of the city to the Roman Parliament, and continue on to San Pietro, magnificently illuminated under the night sky.

LOCAL WISDOM

  • Avoid visiting Rome in the hot summer months, as the heat can get extreme. In August, many locals leave the city for the mountains or the sea.
  • Italian love tips! Unless specified, leave a 10% tip to restaurant/wait staff and taxi drivers.
  • Where to find good cheap eats: the area around Testaccio has several cheap restaurants. Pizzeria Roma in Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice is considered the best Pizzeria in Rome, and traditional pizza in this 75 year old Pizzeria will cost approximately EUR 7.50. La Nuovo Cantinetta trattoria, located in the Garbatella quarter, offers classic dishes at EUR 6.00. Piazza San Callisto in Trastevere serves the biggest and reasonably priced pizza in Rome. Sfizio Pizza in Via Giovanni Giolitti, close to the Termini Station, is another great option (dishes cost between 5 and 10 Euros).
  • When in Rome…you have to try the traditional and local food cuisine, which can be had at a good price. Do not leave without tasting the pasta recipes, the pizza, bruschetta, tavole, ice cream (gelato) and at least a glass of Italian wine.
  • Dangerous areas: avoid the area around Termini train station and be careful of pick-pockets at bus or subway stations. Avoid bus lines 64 and 40, as well as the Catacombs on weekends.

RECOMMENDED ROME GUIDE BOOKS

Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days


SEE ALSO:
Rome Travel Guide was last modified: September 25th, 2016 by Nick
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