By: Vincent Ventura
If you want to experience Rome, take to the streets. In the time-honored tradition of the passegiata, Romans stroll across the city for an evening walk, wandering past ancient history, sometimes with a scoop of gelato. The Italian Capital is certainly a series of contradictions: loud on Via del Corso yet impossibly quiet on the residential streets of the Aventine; decorated in Baroque art in the Trevi Fountain but covered in world-renown street art in Garbatella. There is no doubt Rome has a lot to offer from delicious architecture to culinary masterpieces. After a plate of carbonara and marveling in the golden glow of the Tiber River by night, you will only begin to realize why Rome is the la cittàeterna.
- Fare la bella figura
- La dolce far niente
- Sunday Closed
- Dressing for the Season
- Free Water
- Football: Lazio v. A.S. Roma
- Transportation Strikes
- Rome is accessible by two airports, Fiumicinoto the west, and Ciampinoto the east. Each airport is about 30 minutes from the main part of the city. The larger Fiumicino airport accepts international, transatlantic, transcontinental, and domestic flights while the smaller Ciampino receives primarily domestic and European flights.
- Transportation to Fiumicino: Either you can take a train directly into town (via Termini Station and the Leonardo Express Train) or take one of the many bus services offered to Termini Station. You can buy tickets either on the bus itself, at one of the kiosks at the airport, or online. The train is quicker and more expensive (around 15€) and more of a guarantee while the bus is cheaper (6-8€)
- Transportation to Ciampino: There is no direct train line, so the bus services are the probably the best option
- Note: Taxis are also options for both airports but they tend to be expensive considering the distance between the airport and the city
- Termini Station: Rome’s largest train station and the central hub of all of the city’s major transportation. Here you can access trains, buses, the Rome metro, and taxis.
- Metro: Rome’s metro consists of only two lines- Line A and Line B. There is one transfer point at Termini Station. The Metro opens at 5:30am and closes by 11:30pm on weekdays, 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. The fabled Line C has been under construction for over ten years but the builders keep running into a uniquely Roman problem-every time construction continues, they keep finding more ruins and artifacts. Here are some useful stops worth noting on both lines:
- Line A: Ottaviano-the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, Barberini- Trevi Fountain, Termini
- Line B: Colosseum, Termini
- Bus: Although Rome has a bus system, I wouldn’t recommend it to any traveler wanting to get somewhere in a hurry. The buses are sporadic, late, and often times show up in excess. By excess, I mean that you will be waiting for over an hour for a bus, and two buses with the same number, going the same direction, will show up at the same exact time. I know, it doesn’t make sense but it happens.
- Tram: Although a network of cable cars exists, it’s only useful if you are exploring San Giovanni or traveling to Trastevere from South Rome. Otherwise, it’s not really an efficient means of getting around.
- Train: Besides Termini station, there are several other train stations in Rome including Roma Ostiense, Roma Trastevere, and Roma Tiburtina. Depending on where you are traveling, some of these other train stations may be a better option depending on whether you are traveling locally, domestically, or internationally.
- When traveling with Trenitalia (Italy’s major train company), be sure to validate your ticket. You can do this at the train station by using one of the machines (which kind of look like soap dispensers). Slide your ticket in and slide to the left. You know it’s validated when the machine beeps. Be sure to do this, otherwise you will have to pay a fine!
- Italo high-speed lines are offering serious competition to Trenitalia. If you are traveling to one of their limited destinations, the tickets are typically cheaper, and get you to your destination quicker!
- Taxi: The go-to mode of transportation if you need to get from Point A to Point B, traffic permitting. No experience in Rome is complete without an adventure behind the wheel of an Italian car.
Rome’s Most Popular Sites
- The Colosseum & The Roman Forum: Once the epicenter of Ancient Roman entertainment, the Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheater has witnessed a tremendous amount of glory and bloodshed, both gladiators and Christian martyrs alike. Adjacent to the Roman Forum, the seat of government and center of civil life, the Colosseum and the Forum provided the city with entertainment and order. Today, these two sites are easily some of the most popular attractions in Rome and a must-visit for any first-time traveler!
- When visiting, be forewarned it is only possible to buy a pricey, joint ticket to visit both the Colosseum and the Forum. The good news is that the ticket lasts two days, so you can split the two attractions if you want to.
- Buy your ticket at the Roman Forum entrance to avoid the lines queuing in front of the Colosseum
- If you explore the Forum, it also may be useful to book a tour, bring a guidebook, or invest in an audio guide. While the Colosseum functions like a museum, the Forum will lose its charm and just seem like a bunch of ruins.
- The Vatican: Seat of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, and countless masterpieces by Michelangelo, the Vatican is Rome’s other must-see site next to the Colosseum and Forum. Built on the spot where St. Peter was supposedly crucified, the Vatican offers a set of divine experiences for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Depending on your interest, there is a variety of ways to explore the world’s smallest nation:
- St. Peter’s Basilica: the main attraction and the world’s largest church. Admission is free, though you will still need to pass through metal detectors to enter. You can access this through the columns in St. Peter’s square, to the right if you are facing the basilica. You will typically see a line queuing.
- The Museums & the Sistine Chapel: the Vatican museums host one of the world’s largest collections of secular art from Ancient Egypt to the Renaissance. They are overwhelming even after visiting several times. Although there is a charged admission price, this is the only way to enter the Sistine Chapel, where popes are elected and Michelangelo painted his famous Last Judgment. The museums exit directly into St. Peter’s basilica.
- The Dome: it is possible to climb the cupolaor dome with an extra ticket. Although it’s not my favorite view of Rome, you are able to get a birds-eye view of the basilica from the inside. Warning: this is not for those who are afraid of heights or claustrophobic.
- See the Pope:
- The Pantheon: An ancient Roman temple in the heart of historical center, the Pantheon is a beautiful testament to Rome’s ancient past.With a perfectly circular oculus built into the elaborate stone architecture, the Pantheon also serves as the resting place for the Victor Emmauel II, the first king of united Italy, and Raphael, the famous artist. From time to time, the Church uses this space for mass and during the Feast of Pentecost, drops rose petals from the oculus to represent the coming of the Holy Spirit according to Christian tradition. Closes at sundown.
- The Trevi Fountain: Lorenzo Bernini’s epic masterpiece, celebrating the arrival of water in Rome. Because of its iconic status, crowds constantly swarm the Trevi Fountain. Either go early in the morning or late at night to truly be able to relish this work of art. Otherwise, you will be fending off crowds
- Piazza Navona: Built on the remnants of a Roman circus, during the day Piazza Navona hosts many art vendors and street performers. The true showstopper here is the Fountain of the Four Rivers, sculpted by Lorenzo Bernini (you might know his other work, the Trevi Fountain) in the height of the Baroque period. Be sure to walk around the 360 degrees to find sculpted treasures etched in the white marble. Stop by after dinner to see the fountain omit a beautiful iridescent glow.
- TheVittoriano: a physical representation of Italy’s unification, the Altar of the Patriarchy is dedicated to the first king of unified Italy. Locals have nicknamed it the “birthday cake” and “the typewriter” because of the building’s appearance. The monument is also home to Rome’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a museum dedicated to Italian history, and a ticketed observation deck.
- The Spanish Steps: Charming romantics for centuries, the Spanish Steps used to host the Spain’s embassy to the Vatican. Today, it is one of the best people watching spots in Rome, especially at night when crowds of people gather. Climb the stairs to witness my favorite panoramic of Rome, in front of the Borghese gardens, and see the Rome skyline complete with the Vittoriano, the Vatican, and Forum.
- Campo de Fiori: Another one of Rome’s famous piazzas, this one renown for its religious persecutions in the Enlightenment and its market selling fresh produce and trinkets. Avoid at night unless you want to join the circus of American students wanting to play college-drinking games.
- Piazza del Popolo: One of the original entrances to city. Sit at the obelisk in the center and absorb the atmosphere, and two identical churches. During the summer months, live events are held here.
*the rest of this guide is currently under construction! Stay tuned*
Vincent’s Underground Rome
- Villa Domus
- Keyhole and Orange Gardens
- Villa Pamphili
- St. Ignazio del Loyola
- Santa Maria
- Appian Way
- Aquaduct Park
- Piazza Argentina
- San Clemente
- La Boca della Verità
- Cappuchin Monk Crypt
- St. Paul beyond the Walls
The Neighborhood Guide
- Centro Storico
- Jewish Ghetto
- Spanish Steps/ Quirnale
- San Giovanni
- Testaccio / Garbatella
Essential Things to Eat
- Caccio e Pepe
- Tripa alla Romana
- Street Food
Alfedo e Ada
Via del Governo Vecchio
Via del Gazometro
Come il latte
Gelateria del Teatro
Rome in the Movies
Eat Pray Love
The Lizzie McGuire Movie
La Dolce Vita
To Rome with Love
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