Travel & Tourism Tips

st peters square romeRome is a timeless city, built by the hands of rulers that sought to conquer the world. Today the city itself serves as a living museum and a favorite destination for pilgrims and tourists. History and modernity meet in the streets of the city where Vespa’s zip by sidewalk bistros and nightclubs, built upon the ground where gladiators and centurions once tread.

The famed Spanish Steps offer a taste of the Baroque, and the Sistine Chapel preserves the splendor of the Renaissance. The Roman Forum bears witness to the early history of Christianity, and the Colosseum and the Pantheon recall the golden age of the empire that was Rome.

The city has seen the rise and fall of gods and empires, but among the ruins, Rome has endured and flourished, and today it is a modern city that builds upon the foundation of its history instead of burying it.

Getting There & Around

How To Get There

Leonardo da Vinci Airport FiumicinoLeonardo da Vinci Airport (Fiumicino) is Rome’s main international hub. Ciampino is the secondary airport, handling domestic and a few international flights. Almost all major international airports have flights to Rome. Departure tax is included with airfare to and from Italy.

Trains to cities in Europe and Italy leave from the Termini station near the Forum.

Buses take passengers from bus stops around the city, running routes around the Lazio region. Buses from the Stazione Tiburtina handle trips to places within Italy. For other parts of Europe, Euroline is the main bus line.

Autostrada del Sole is the main thoroughfare that links Rome to the north and south of Italy, with a circular route around the city.

How To Get Around

Leonardo express
Leonardo Express

While the city’s public transport system may not have a stellar reputation, it should cover the needs of most travelers. The network consists of trams, buses and the underground metro – all of which service the central area as well as most tourist destinations. Getting around Rome using public transportation is inexpensive, especially when compared to other major European cities.

ATAC handles the city’s public transportation network, and a ticket is valid whatever mode of travel you choose within the system.

The tickets need to be purchased ahead of time, and if you are planning to use single tickets it makes sense to buy several to last you during your stay. Stations have ticket vending machines but it’s more reliable to buy tickets from bars and newsstands instead.

Once you board the transport you should have your ticket stamped or risk paying a fine if an inspector makes his rounds. If your ride doesn’t have a working validating machine, you can write the time and date on your ticket with a pen. Take note that there are two shapes of a ticket so you’ll notice that the validation machines come in pairs to handle either one.

Stazione Termini is the main train station and there are two lines: Metro Linea A and B, which cross at Termini. Bus stops are found outside the station and you can get a ride to most destinations in the city. Have a public transport map of Rome with you when traveling; free maps are available at ATAC’s main office near Termini Station.

Don’t depend too much on timetables as traffic has a way of undoing the posted schedules. The last metro leaves at 11:30 pm, except on Saturday nights when the last trip is at 12:30. Buses are available until midnight, with a limited night bus service taking over afterward (these buses are marked with a picture of an owl). Bus stops are generally easy to decipher; stops are listed in the order of travel.

Taxis available for hire will have the light on their tops turned on and will usually stop if you hail them. Taxi ranks are found outside many main destinations.

Main Attractions

Capitoline Hill

 

Capitoline HillThis was the ancient city’s original capital and today it still functions as the seat of the local government. The area contains the Piazza del Campidoglia by Michelangelo, a tribute to the glory of Renaissance town planning.

Three palaces surround the piazza: the twin palaces of the Palazzo Nuovo and the Palazzo dei Senatori, and the Palazzo dei Conservatori.

The acclaimed Musei Capitolini which displays the world’s largest collection of classical statues is found in Palazzo Nuovo. Famous statues in the exhibit include the Dying Gaul and the Satyr, the Spinario, and the Capitoline Wolf with Romulus and Remus.

Paths along the hill offer spectacular views of the Forum and Colosseum.

Roman Forum (Foro Romano)

Roman Forum (Foro Romano)The Foro Romano is where ancient Romans conducted most of their commercial, religious and political activities. Found in the valley between Palantine and Capitoline, the Forum’s main road is Via Sacra, which cuts across the original civic center and the old market square.

Many relics and remnants of the old Republic are found in the area. One of the most well-preserved structures is the Arch of Septimus Severus which was built to honor the Roman victory over the Parthinians. Also notable is the original atrium of the House of the Vestal Virgins.

Other significant structures include the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Arch of Titus which commemorates Titus’ destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. A staircase to the right of the arch takes visitors up the Palantine hill, through terraces that lead up to the Farnese gardens. At the end of the path is a scenic spot that reveals a panoramic view over the Foro Romano.

Address: Via dei Fori Imperiali

The Colosseum

The ColosseumThe spirit of ancient Rome is captured by this enduring edifice that used to be the venue of gladiator battles.

The architecture is characterized by Ionic, Corinthian and Doric columns, while a network of corridors, cells, elevators, and ramps are located underground, allowing the quick transport of animals into the arena.

Over the years the Colosseum has lost much of its original grandeur due to earthquakes and looting that have left only a skeleton of the former structure.

Address: Piazza del Colosseo

Transport: B line metro to Colosseo station; bus 60, 75, 85, 87, 175, 810 or 850; electric minibus 117; tram 3 or 8.

The Pantheon

The PantheonThe regal architecture of the Pantheon is among the world’s most classic designs. Dedicated to the gods by Hadrian in 120, it features a flawlessly symmetrical floating dome placed upon stout columns crafted from marble.

A single source of light emanates from the central oculus which served as a time-measuring device when used in tandem with an ancient sundial. Besides the hours, it could also indicate solstices and equinoxes. The transeptal chamber to the south contains the Carafa Chapel, as well as the remains of Fra Angelico which are housed in a tomb under the left side of the altar.

Address: Piazza Della Rotonda

The Spanish Steps & Piazza di Spagna

The Spanish Steps & Piazza di SpagnaBuilt in 1725, these elegant steps form a curve from the Piazza di Spagna to the pastel-colored Santa Trinita dei Monti Church of neoclassical design. Via Condotti, a Mecca for shoppers, is along the way from the Spanish steps to Via del Corso. Pink azaleas adorn the steps in spring. The foot of the steps leads to Benini’s Barcaccia fountain, while to the right is the modest design of the Keats-Shelley Memorial House.

Transport: Take Metro Linea A to the Spagna stop; bus 60 and 492 to Piazza Barberini or 117 to Piazza di Spagna.

Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)

Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)The compact design of the Piazza di Trevi is captured in this fountain which was commissioned by Pope Clement XII. It features statues that depict Agrippa, Abundance, Salubrity, the Virgin, and Neptune lead by two tritons.

Toss a coin into the fabled fountain and ensure yourself a trip back to Rome someday.

Transport: Take the bus to Piazza San Silvestro.

Vatican City

Vatican CityThe Vatican City is a unique entity – an independent state of the Roman Catholic church, as well as one of the richest countries in the world. The Vatican’s population is doubled by residents from Rome that come into the city to work every day.

The enclave’s history has been marked by scandals and conspiracies but the splendor of its sights and attractions remain untouched. These include extensive art collections, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Library.

The Pilgrim Tourist Information Office is located at P San Pietro

St Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)

St Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)Located above St. Peter’s tomb is the famous Basilica which takes his name. The opulent design of the interior features renowned works of art such as the Pieta by Michelangelo (which is protected behind bullet-proof glass since 1972 when it was the target of an attack).

A bronze statue of St. Peter by Arnolfo da Cambio stands prominently in the center aisle, while above the papal altar is the Throne of St. Peter done by Bernini.

Climbing the steps near the St. Longinus’s statue reveals the Vatican Grottoes which houses the papal tombs. Below the grottoes is the famed Necropolis where the tomb of St. Peter is located. Visitors are not normally allowed inside unless they have been granted permission in advance.

Address: Piazza San Pietro

Website: http://www.christusrex.org

Transport: Metro Ottaviano or bus to Piazza del Risorgimento.

The Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums

Sistine ChapelThe ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is well known for being the masterpiece of Michelangelo, while the side walls are adorned with frescoes created by noted artists such as Botticelli, Roselli, Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio, Della Gatta and Signorelli.

Michelangelo’s painting dominates the altar wall, with the floating image of Jesus Christ surrounded by the saints and Mary.

Some of the world’s greatest art collections are found in the Vatican Museums. Taking up over six kilometers, the galleries include the Etruscan Museum, the awe-inspiring Raphael rooms and the Pio-Clementino Museum that showcases the biggest collection of Classical sculptures in the world.

Address: Viale Vaticano

Websitehttp://www.vatican.va

Transport: Metro to Musei Vaticani or Ottaviano station; tram 19 or bus 32, 81 or 98 to Piazza del Risorgimento.

Tours Around Rome

The surrounding areas of Rome offer the visitor a deeper insight into the cultural nuances of the city. From making wine to archaeology, as well as various examples of art. All it takes is making a little room in your itinerary to allow you enough time to explore beyond the gates of the city while using a hotel in or near Rome as the base of your travels.

There are various points of interest concentrated in major areas close to the city, each locale rewarding the traveler with knowledge and adventure.

Ostia Antica
Ostia Antica was founded in the 4th century B.C.

Tivoli
Tivoli (about 20 km from Rome), which was used by the Romans as a holiday resort in ancient times too, is famous for its magnificent villas.

Frascati
Lying amongst the Colli Albani and Colli Tuscolani hills, there is an area that groups together about 15 villages and towns full of history, which make up the area known as the “Castelli Romani”

Important Visitor Information

Crossing roads

It can be hazardous to be a pedestrian in Rome, particularly if you let your guard down while crossing the street. Pedestrian lanes will flash a sign of a green man which means that you may cross, however, cars may still have the right of way when turning into the road to be on the lookout for those. White stripes on the pavement indicate places to cross when no lights are installed.

Normally you will have the right of way, being a pedestrian, but to be safe you should cross only if you are certain that any oncoming drivers have spotted you in advance.

General Safety

While Rome is a safe city by anyone’s standards, it pays to use common-sense precautions as you would in any other city. Keep your valuables where you can see them and be wary of pickpockets and snatchers when moving through a crowded area or when using public transportation.

Money

Acquaint yourself with the currency and always make sure you are being handed the correct amount of change. Ask for a detailed bill when dining in restaurants if you are unsure about what you are being charged for. When making small purchases, expect the cashier to balk if you hand over a note of €50 or larger–the euro is still something relatively new in Italy and merchants generally prefer not to have to give your change in coins if they can help it.

ATMs are found in all over the city center; normally these are indicated as “Bancomats”. Most of these will work, and there is usually an option to switch the menu to English. If you have any doubts, you should check first with your bank to make sure you can make withdrawals. 4-digit PINs are commonly accepted without trouble, but 6-digit PINs may be problematic depending on the machine and the bank. Also, keep in mind that many stores and restaurants do not accept credit cards.

Women

Harassment is occasionally reported, particularly on crowded public buses; female travelers are advised to stay alert to discourage any potential incidents. A strategically-angled elbow or a sudden swing from a shoulder bag can help send a clear message when necessary. Italian men will generally cease their flirtations if they feel these are unwelcome. Tourist traps are invariably the hunting grounds of con men. Simply ignore them; they usually back off if they realize they aren’t dealing with a drunk tourist looking for love.

Tap water

Water from the tap is considered safe for drinking but bottled water is available almost anywhere. “Acqua Non-Potabile” indicates that the water source is not drinkable. Dairy products are safe and milk is normally pasteurized. Seafood, meat, poultry and local produce are generally safe for consumption.

Useful Links & Resources

Italian State Tourist Office
http://www.enit.it

Rome Tourist Board
http://www.romaturismo.com/

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