Rome – The Eternal City


Getting to Rome

There are two Airports; Ciampino (CIA) & Fiumincino (FCO). Simply put, you should fly to the one which best suits your needs in terms of price, and time. Generally, CIA will be much cheaper, as budget airlines such as RyanAir fly to CIA. You can use the ‘Fare finder’ function on RA’s website to toggle to the best price. For reference, I paid £50 for a return flight to CIA from the UK. If you are only staying in Rome for a few nights, there’s no need

Thereafter, you need to get from the airport, to the city centre. The easiest option is a coach, the main company is called Terravision, which can be booked online. Be aware that Rome is a busy city, and the airport/coach queue (just outside the terminal), will be busy..! Have your booked ticket ready and you will be given priority over those who don’t have a ticket.

This coach will drop you off just outside the Termini (Rome central Train station) – See #4 of the below map. From here, you should see the bus station for if you need a bus, the train station if you need the metro, or the line of white taxis for a taxi. ONLY use the white, licensed taxi’s in Rome, if someone approaches you on foot offering a taxi, decline. There may be a small queue for the taxis, but it moves quickly.

Rome map

Staying in Rome

The options are endless. B&B, hotels, hostels etc etc. As the majority of time spent in Rome is walking, I suggest that the location be the key decider in your accommodation choice. The above map shows three different ‘regions’ of Rome, in how I would apportion my days (more on this later). I would say that you need to choose accommodation within these three regions; ideally #2. The lower region of area 2 I would class as central Rome; I would NOT class the Colosseum as central Rome.

For reference, I stayed in a lovely converted apartment, on the edge of areas 2 and 3, for a reasonable rate, here: Castel Sant Angelo Inn.

Beware there is a €2pppn city tax payable to the hotel.

Things to do

You can go to Rome without visiting any attractions, and still have a great time just walking around, drinking coffee, people watching, so don’t set a strict itinerary trying to fit too much in. With almost every turn in Rome is something to look at.

I suggest splitting your days into areas, as you do walk most of it. The map above shows three suggested areas to split your visit. I would suggest area 2 on your first full day as it will help you to get your bearings, and immediately feel the spirit of Rome.

Area 2:

Within this area: Piazza Navona(Free) – A nice place to wander, taking photos of the fountains and spectacular architecture. Grab a drink, and wander around the vendors. Just next to the Piazza is the breathtaking Pantheon(free). When you first see this building, you will be gobsmacked. Just behind the pantheon is a church called Santa Maria Sopra Minerva(free), it may not look anything special, but inside is very impressive. Whilst in this area, I suggest you try out Giolitti’s Gelato; the place where the Pope gets his ice cream, also visited by the man Barrack Obama. 2 minute walk from the Pantheon.

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After a lunch head over to the (busy) Trevi Fountain(free), and over towards the Spanish Steps (free). You are now in the shopping district should this float your boat. If you have time, take a stroll over to Piazza del Popolo for a coffee.

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Area 1:

You really must aportion an entire day for this small area. Either at the start or the end, visit Castel Sant Angelo (€8). Then the main event, is Vatican city! Vatican city is the smallest independant state in the world! It is made up of: St Peters(Pietro) Square (free)- famous stunning round area in front of; St Pietro Basilica – the largest church in the world,  and the Vatican Museums(€20).

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When you walk up to Vatican city, you will first reach St Peter’s Square, with the Basilica in front of you. To get access to the museums, turn immediately to your right, following the crowd. You will then take a left turn to go up the road to the entrance to the museum on your left. IT IS ESSENTIAL that you book your tickets in advance, from the Vatican website. People will be offering you tickets, tours, and ‘skip the line’ entrance. If you have your ticket, make your way PAST the queue of people direct to the entrance, where you will see staff and possibly a small queue for people with tickets, and tours. Feel free to join a tour group if you haven’t purchased tickets.

Once inside the huge museum, check your map and decide where to go. The goal is the Sistine Chapel; the most religious place on Earth, painted by Michaelangelo. This place is incredible, and silent – no photos allowed. You will then be led out of the chapel, and down the famous Vatican staircase, out of the museum.

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Lunch – there are a couple of places around, don’t go to the one nearest to the museums; over priced.

Head back over to St Peter’s square, and join the queue on the left side, for entrance to the basillica. Have a wander round, and you also have the option to climb to the top of the Dome for spectacular views.

Area 3:

Obviously, it’s Colosseum day! Head from Piazza Venezia to see Alter of the Fatherland, down past the Roman Forum, and to the Colosseum. The tip is to visit the Forum first, and buy a combined ticket for the Colosseum and Forum, to avoid queues, and reduce costs.

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Also in this area is St Peter In Chains (free) church, and Sainta Maria Magiorre (free) church.

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Other Tips and Useful reading

As a religious place, it is recomended to have knees and shoulders covered within the attractions – you may be denied access if you’re not appropriately dressed.

Take extremely comfortable supporting footwear – the cobbled streets can be hardwork over the course of a day.

The main, large squares have restaurants, but these will be expensive. Walk 2 minutes out of the square to a smaller, less busy area, and you will find the same quality food/drink at a lower price. The exeption is The Pantheon. Forget the cost, and have a wine/lunch in the square!

The Tripadvisor ‘before you go’ guide is very useful reading.

Beware pickpockets – just use common sense and don’t talk to strangers if you are approached. Locals hate them so make a fuss if you are concerned.

Buy a small guidebook with map. AA or Top 10 books seem good.

Learn some basic phrases.

Do not say Maffia.