Insider tips for your stay in Rome
Date: 2014-02-25 13:31:28
Author: Samuel Heenan
Here is an insider's guide to your trip to Rome with some interesting things to do, eat like a local, places to take the best pictures and some sweets to die for! So lets have a look and offer some guidance for your trip to the Italian Capital.
Where to stay
The city has a number of neighbourhoods to choose from. Rome itself is quite small in comparison to other major european cities such as London or Paris so you have lots of choice which will allow you to be walking distance from many of the major sites. You can choose from the Central station area Rome Termini which mainly has a wide range of bnbs, budget hotels and hostels. Right next to the station its accomodating to have all the transport links to the airports and the metro lines and is approx a 30 minute walk into the city centre.
Some of the city centre areas such as the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and the Spanish steps you are right in the heart of the city and also a great spot for shopping with Via Del Corso and Via Condotti close by. As its the Ancient city area you wont find great big modern hotels due to the age of the buildings. But you will find many smaller establishments with character.
If budget is not a problem you can try the St Regis Grand Hotel near piazza della repubblica or Hotel de Russie near Piazza del popolo. Otherwise Via Veneto probably the most exclusive area of hotels concentrated on one street situated between Piazza Barberini and Villa Borghese. This street boasts many large 4-5 star hotels whith great views of the city from the terraces. Here you will find some of the large names in the hotel business too such as the Jumeirah, Marriot, Grand Hotel and Boscolo Palace.
Please be aware when booking your accomodation in Rome that many of the establishments do not have elevators due to the age of the buildings, so those of you who dont like to do stairs make sure you check the facilities before reserving.
Getting around in Rome is not always easy as the city has only 2 metro lines with the 3rd a work in progress. This is due to the amount of archeological excavations found once the tunneling begins. Such is the history hidden underground is becomes a case of where the digging will do the least damage. However the metro system is very efficient with regular trains every few minutes. The tickets can be bough inside the metro stations or in mant tobacco and coffee shops.
Different kinds of tickets are available:
Underground trains run from 5:30pm to 11:30pm Sunday to Thursday and from 5:30am to 1:30am on Fridays and Saturdays.
The bus system in Rome is run by Atac and there are many lines running from 5:30am to midnight and afterwards the night buses running less regular. The city is very congested with traffic so sometimes you can get caught in some heavy traffic. The buses can also become very crowded and hot in the summertime. Be aware as in many major cities that pickpockets are active. So on both the metro and the buses keep a close eye on your wallets and purses.
The Taxi's in Rome can be convenient too depending on where you are going. To and from the major airport Fiumicino to the city centre the local white taxi's have a set fee of 48€ and from Ciampino the set fee is 30€. The private NCC services will usually charge more. In the city centre you can flag a taxi down or usually find them parked up in the major piazza's. At the busy stands such as Termini avoid taking a cab if its a short journey and walkable as there have been many reports of tourists being over charged.
The starting fees for taking a cab from a piazza's or street are:
€2,80 from 7 am to 10 pm on weekdays
Below you have the metro map and some of the major bus routes:
Italy a country famous worldwide for its cuisine and in the Capital you will find restaurants practically on every corner. You will find various types when searching for a place to eat "ristorante" and also "trattoria's" and "osteria's" which are supposed to be eateries less formal than the classic restaurant but be aware that this doesnt mean the prices will be cheaper. When going out for a meal the locals will start with an Antipasto which is a starter and could be some bruschetta and some slices of salami, hams and cheeses or a fish based starter. Then you would traditionally move on to a primo or pasta based dish, then secondo which would be your meat / fish along with contorno a side dish as in Italy your main/secondo will not include the side dish. Then if you still have space a dessert and finish off with a coffee (expresso) or liquor to digest. You dont need to order the whole list of dishes and it all depends on your preference or apetite. Some like to take the starter and move straight onto the main meal. Italians usually go for dinner between 8 and 10pm.
If you are wishing to try some local Roman pasta's you can try Bucatini all'amatriciana made with a thick spaghetti which has a hole running through middle and a tomato sauce made with guanciale (cured pork jowl) or Spaghetti alla carbonara a more well known recipe with spaghetti, pancetta, eggs and some peconrino cheese. Some other local cuisines include Tripe, Oxtail, abbacchio which is a baby lamb, roman artichokes or Puntarelle which is a Chicory Salad also made with anchovies.
The Italian Capital in the evening time is full of life and you can always find a party on any day of the week. If you like to relax and take in the scenery with a spot of people watching Piazza Navona is full of bars on this huge square with 3 beautiful fountains, otherwise accross the road at Campo De Fiori another piazza which is usually favoured by the locals and the younger crowd is crammed full of people most days of the week with a variety of bars and eateries and many locals just hanging out in the square.
Another nice area just over the river Tevere is Trastevere which is an neighbourhood of windy narrow streets filled with bars and restaurants. Many of the Bars here offer live music at the weekends. There is even a nice little place popular with the locals called "Cioccolato e vino" which is a bookstore which sells shots of various types of liquor out of edible chocolate glasses, at the weekends there is a usually a line of people waiting to be served but definately worth a look.
One of the most nightclub / disco areas is Testaccio which is situated close to the Metro stop for Piramide. These clubs are frequented by locals and tourists with a nice mix in search for good music, famous DJs and dancing. Most of the night clubs are situated in Via di Monte Testaccio. Many of them are organized as restaurants, after-dinner bars and dancing–disco–clubs. Some will have strict dress codes ie collar and shoes where as others are more relaxed. If you are in a large group maybe worth to call in advance to make the guest list and they especially do not favour large male groups just showing up looking to enter. Entrance usually starts from 10 Euros and can include a drink with cocktails costing from 10 Euros too.
Tipping in Rome and Italy is not compulsory, the bill will include the service charge so dont feel obliged to tip. The best rule to obay is to tip if you feel the service is good and still a few euros per person on a meal is satisfactory.
Taking a coffee
If you didnt know the Italians take their coffee seriously and a typical italian will make a visit to the bar on numerous times during the day. As a tourist some things to know are that if you take a coffee stood at the bar you will pay a lot less that if you take the coffee sat down as the majority of the bars have a table charge and be aware facing the major sights you will pay a premium.
On ordering its not that simple as if you ask for a normal coffee you will be served an expresso. If you are looking for a longer coffee less strong you should be asking for a Caffè Americano, the morning time obviously a nice Cappuccino and in the summer you can try the delicious Crema di Caffè.
For Coffee lovers you can try Caffè Greco one of the oldest coffee shops in Rome on the famous Via dei Condotti or Sant'Eustachio Il Caffè located in the heart of Rome, in front of the Senato della Repubblica palace, it is just a few steps away from Piazza Navona and the Pantheon and started business in 1938.
Gelato is the Italian word for Ice cream. A favourite Italian pastime in the evening is to take an evening stroll with a Gelato in hand. Rome has over 2500 Gelaterie so there is plenty of choice and not only that once you are inside you will be amazed by the amount of different flavours that are available. Apart from the traditional gusto's you will find a whole variety such as Fico (Fig), Cocco (Coconut), zuppa inglese (english soup or trifle flavour ), cannella (cinnamon) and Viagra flavour which needs no translation using African herbs to act as an aphrodisiac.
Be aware that some of the Gelato shops dont offer fresh produce but rather a mix. To sample from some of the most famous and freshly made gelato you can try Giolitti which is based between Piazza Navona and Via Del Corso otherwise Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi one of the oldest Gelateria's in Italy founded in 1880 close by to Termini statiom. For some interesting new flavours Fatamorgana which now has a few shops throughout the city, apart from the classics you will find ingredients such as pear and gorgonzola cheese mixed together!
For those of you who dont know Tiramisu its a delicious Italian sponge cake dessert made with mascarpone which actually translates as "lift me up" and it definately does the trick. The traditional Tiramisu is made with coffee but now you can find it in many flavours strawberry, pistacchio, nutella and banana. The one outstanding place to try the Tiramisu is from Pompi where you will see the place full of locals. The original Pompi is located close to San Giovanni at the Metro A stop of Re di Roma and now they have opened a new shop right in the city centre near Piazza Di Spagna.
Although pizza comes from Naples you cannot walk down the street without finding a Pizzeria of some sort. You will find many Pizza al Taglio shops which sell pizza by the slice and charge by slice or by weight. Great for lunch or a quick snack. If you are looking for a full round Pizza you are best waiting until the evening time as the best Pizza's are made with "Forna a Legna" wood burning ovens and you wont find these in the afternoon as they dont start firing up their ovens until around 6 or 7pm. Another thing to note is that Roman pizza is different from the traditional pizza orginating from Naples in that it is served with a thin crust base.
For a traditional Roman Pizza you can try Pizzeria Ai Marmi (Panattoni) on Viale di trastevere. The prices are ok with a pizza starting from about 7 Euros but you will find the place packed on most nights of the week and especially on weekends. The tables are very close together but has a very traditional feel to the place.
Museums (Opening Closing)
Something to remember when making your visit is that the museums in Rome are closed on Mondays apart from the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums which will be open as usual apart from religious or national holidays that occur on a monday. To see a full listing of opening and closing times for these you can visit the link Colosseum schedule for 2014 or for the Vatican Schedule in 2014.
Rome is the home of some of the great fashion houses and expensive tastes but many of the cities monuments will not cost you anything to gain some culture. You can visit the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, spanish steps, Il vittoriano, the arch of constantine and inside the Basilica of St Peter's many more which are there free of charge.
Another bonus of Rome is that you will find many water fountains throughout the city in which are drinkable and is especially welcome in the height of the summer to top up your bottle.
On the last sunday of each months the Vatican Museums are open and are free, but be prepared to go early and expect huge crowds.
If you are looking for some nice romantic panoramic view of the city or to take some spectaculr photo's then you are in luck as Rome has quite a few. Probably the highest point would be from Gianicolo where there is a large viewing balcony of the whole city. You can spend some time trying to spot some of the famous monuments. To take a nice shot of the St Peter's you can make your way up to Villa Borghese above Piazza del popolo where you will find Pincio and if you are there fur sunset you will see something quite spectacular. Or why not make your way upto the Cupola of St Peter's there are 551 stairs but the first half can be reached with an elevator and once on top you get a birds eye view of the city and also the Vatican Gardens.
At the top of the Aventine hill there is the keyhole on the gate to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta in which you will see through the hole a path with bushes giving you the perfect view of St Peter's dome and also up at Aventine hill are the Orange gardens with views of the city and where you will find less tourists than at Pincio and Gianicolo.
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