Capital of the ancient longest world’s empire, Rome is a huge city and an UNESCO World Heritage Site, history and modern are well combined. The city offers an unbeatable range of sightseeing, monuments, churches and basilicas, ancient ruins, statues, fountains as well as opportunities for amusement and fun, with fashion streets, restaurant and pubs.
Getting in the city
– From Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino airport
An inexpensive choice from Fiumicino is to take the bus (COTRAL) to EUR Magliana (stops directly at the metro station, which belongs to line B) and then take the Metro. It’s the cheapest way to get to the centre (€2.50 bus + €1 metro). The sign on this bus reads “Fiumicino-Porto-Magliana”
Terravision is probably the easiest connection between Fiumicino airport and Rome city center, but the journey takes 55 minutes. You can either book online (€4 one way) or buy the tickets there (€5 one way). It departs near Terminal 3 of the airport and arrives in Termini station
– From Ciampino
Ciampino International Airport is located to the southeast of the capital, this is the city’s low-cost airline airport, serving Easyjet, Ryanair and Wizzair flights, among others.
This small airport is closer to the city center than Fiumicino but has no direct train connection. This is a relatively small airport and it closes overnight. You will be locked out of the airport until it opens again for the first check-in around 4:30 or 5AM.
From Ciampino airport, you can take the bus from the stop located outside the terminal building to Metro Line A Anagnina station (ticket: €1.20). A metro ticket to central Rome costs another €1,50. This bus stops also at Ciampino local train station (price is also 1,20€); from there there is a train (app. 3 connections per hour) to Rome Termini station (ticket: €1,50). The buses operate roughly every hour or 30 minutes during the Italian work day (8-12 and 16-20), and you should count on at least 45 minutes travel time for either route. The Metro can get very crowded. Timetable booklets are available in some information booths. It’s not possible to walk the 4 km distance to the local train station as there are no footpath on the way.
More info on wikitravel’s page
Eating and food
Rome is full of good restaurants, many in attractive settings, particularly when you sit outside in the evening. Some of the best places to eat are in the most unpromising locations while well-situated restaurants can often be a tourist trap, as well as restaurants in guidebooks.
Local typical meals are:
Carciofi alla romana – Artichokes, Roman style
Puntarelle – Chicory salad
Bucatini all’Amatriciana – A pasta dish
Spaghetti (or Rigatoni) alla Carbonara – A sauce made with egg and pancetta (bacon)
Abbacchio a “scottadito” – lamb chops
Scaloppine alla romana – Veal sautéed with fresh baby artichokes
Coda alla vaccinara – Oxtail stew
Panino – Italian Sandwich
Trippa alla romana – Tripe, Offal is a roman tradition
A good tip is to go where Italians live and eat. On the top of Monte Verde hill there are some trattorias and Osterias with authentic Italian cuisine at an affordable price. Rome also has many beautiful spots to eat, so buying some delicacies to make up a picnic can be a great experience.
Most pizza restaurants serve it only in the evening. Roman pizzas tend to be very thin crusted. Avoid the tourist areas where you’ll often pay double the going rate just to get a badly reheated frozen pizza.
Pizza al Taglio is pizza with a thicker crust, cooked in a large pan. This is served by the piece, usually to take away, and is a good cheap way to get something to fill you up.
Italians love coffee, is a part of their culture, going to a bar to drink an ‘espresso’, Note that only tourists drink coffee sitting at the bar tables, while Italians would consume it directly at the bar, having a brief conversation with the barman and other customers.
House wines are almost always drinkable and inexpensive. Most trattorias would not be caught dead serving poor wine. You may often find a bottle of wine on the table for you. Believe it or not: this bottle will be less expensive than a glass would be in the US or UK, possibly only €4 or €5. This does not always apply to those places that look really tourist-trap-like!
Most Romans drink water with their meals.
Water is free at designated water fountains, called “nasone” (big nose). Some of these date back to ancient times, and the water is still very good. It’s fresh spring water coming from the famous underground springs of Rome and is safe to drink. If you carry an empty bottle, fill it up for the rest of the day. Look for the drinking fountain with constant running water, plug the bottom hole, and cool water will shoot up from a smaller hole on top of the tap. Don’t put your lips round the hole at the bottom, as stray dogs tend to like to get a drink.
Pre-dinner drinks (aperitivi) accompanied with small appetizers (antipasti) are very popular with Romans: 1) chic yuppies in their 20s-30s crowd the area around Piazza delle Coppelle (behind the Parliament) and Piazza di Pietra (near the Chamber of Commerce); 2) younger generations sprawl around the square and streets of Campo de’ Fiori; 3) everyone sits to drink in the narrow streets behind the Pantheon (Piazza Pasquino and Via del Governo Vecchio).
Clubbing & Night Life
Given a heart for exploration, Testaccio is the place to wander for after-dinner partying on the weekends. Head down there around 11PM (take metro Line B and get off at Piramide station) and listen for music. There are usually loads of people simply walking through the streets or looking for parking. Be brave, walk in, meet some wonderful Romans. This area is best in the winter. In the summer, the dancing moves to Ostia and Fregene, 45 minutes by car from Rome, at the seaside. Many clubs in Rome close in the summer months.
To the east of Termini Station, and near the first University of Rome “La Sapienza”, is the San Lorenzo district, where you will find many pubs and clubs where university students and young Romans in their twenties spend their nights. On Saturday night the streets are crowded with people moving from one pub to another.
Nearby in Campo dei fiori there are several crowded pubs.
On the other side of the River Tiber (Tevere) is Trastevere district where there are many places to eat and drink. This is also a good place where to enjoy a walk in crowded streets at night. In summer time on Isola Tiberina, the island in the Tiber, temporary bar are built and there are all sorts of things to do.
A pint of beer in pubs usually costs around €6, entrance in discos around €20 with first drink included. Drinks in discos cost around €10.
Note: As from the beginning of January 2011 Rome’s city council now levies an accommodation tax. This is €2 per night per person for campsites up to three-star hotels and €3 a night for four- and five-star hotels. This fee is supposed to be for the restoration of Rome’s crumbling ruins. Apparently it can only be paid in cash.
The area to the southwest of Termini railway station has numerous large hotels; these are used in particular by groups and coach parties. On the other side of the station are many smaller, fairly inexpensive, hotels that are popular with individual travelers. Perhaps the best choice for a first-time visitor is to stay right downtown, (such as near the Pantheon). Most attractions are walking distance from there, and you will save much transportation time and leave more for enjoying the city. Hotels in the downtown area are costly, but a good apartment is a decent alternative, especially for couples and if you don’t mind cooking yourself from time to time: it will save even more of your budget.
Offering of short term apartment rentals is enormous. Many apartments can be booked directly through the owner, but most owners make arrangements via rental agencies, both large and small.
There are at least three campsites near Rome
Since Rome is incredibly popular as a tourist destination, a great deal of pickpocketing and bag or purse snatching takes place, especially in crowded locations, and pickpocketers in Rome can get pretty crafty. A 2010 study found that Rome was second only to Barcelona for pickpocketing of tourists.
When taking a taxi, be sure to remember license number written on the card door. In seconds, people have had a taxi bill risen by €10 or even more. When giving money to taxi driver, be careful.
Read ALL signs before changing money. Often times places set up just for currency exchange will add as much as a 20% service fee on all money being traded. The shops near the Vatican have especially high service fees, whereas places near the Trevi Fountain will be more reasonable.
- Especially if you have a rail pass, making Pompeii a day trip, while it is a very full day, is very doable. To reach Pompeii from Rome will take about 3 hours.
- Explore the Etruscan sites of Cerveteri, Tarquinia and Vulci.
- Head to Frascati, one of the historic hill towns to the South East of Rome known as the Castelli Romani. This town has been a popular destination for centuries away from the hustle and bustle of the capital, and this is still true today. Famous worldwide for its white wine, Frascati is a relaxed hill town with a slower pace of life. Just 21km from Rome, Frascati is accessible by bus or train. Trains run from Roma Termini approximately every hour, take about 30 minutes, and cost around €2. Also in the Castelli is Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Pope. The town overlooks Lake Albano, a popular weekend trip for Romans in the summer. Also accessible by bus and train but there are several interesting towns and villages in the Castelli so hiring a car for the day would be well-rewarded.
- Head to Ostia Antica, the ancient harbor and military colony of Rome. It is accessible by tube every 30 minutes from Stazione Piramide (near the Piramid). It is a monumental area a bit like the Roman Forum. But in Ostia Antica you can get an impression how a Roman city really looked. The entry price has skyrocketed to €8.50 [as of Oct 2012].
- Consider a day trip to Tivoli to see the Villa d’Este with its famous and glorious fountains. Check out the Emperor Hadrian’s Villa while you are out there. Hourly trains from Tiburtina; fewer on Sundays.
- Understand the Second World War in Italy by visiting the Anzio beachhead area and Monte Cassino.
- Discover the papal city of Viterbo, well-known medieval and thermal destination (about 1 and half hours from Rome)
- Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, is the point of arrival and departure of hundreds of ships, cruises, and ferries travelling all around the Mediterranean. From here it is possible to reach Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Spain, France, some other small islands, and even north Africa. A good transportation system links the port to the Eternal City, e.g., see “Get in” “By train” above.
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