Rome

Facts, travel tips and tourist information.

Index:

Airports
Trains
Transportation
Strikes
Where to stay?
Restaurants
Tipping
Drinking water
Sights
Banks and money
ID
Shopping
Receipts & Control
Pickpockets
Faked goods
Literature & Links

Inhabitants: about 3 million
Region: Lazio
Area code: 06

Airports

Rome has two airports: Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) and Ciampino (mostly charter and low cost airlines).

Trains leave from Fiumicino every half hour from 05:30 to 23 to Rome's main central, Termini. With the Leonardo Express it is a 35 minutes trip. In May 2013 the price was 14 . See SlowTravel or TrenItalia for more detailed information. There are also buses. From Ciampino buses leave regularly for Rome.

Trains

Termini is Rome's main railway station. Detailed instructions on how to purchase tickets can be found at SlowTravel. The different kinds of tickets and trains are also described here.

Timetables and routes can be found at TrenItalia. Don't search several months ahead - the database will probably be empty. Select a closer date instead and pick the same day of the week to get results.

Transportation

Going by bus or metro are good and cheap ways to get around in a city, where feet get sore very easily. You can buy tickets from machines or kiosks ("Tabacchi"). Remember to validate the ticket once you are on the bus, or before if you go by metro/train. controls are frequent and fines are high.

You can also buy a pass for 24 hours ("BIG" 4 ), 3 days (11 ) or a week ("CIS" 16 ), which must be validated when you enter the first time. Metros and buses are often crowded so watch out for pickpockets!

One can change and go as long as the ticket is valid. See SlowTravel for more detailed information or go to the bus company's website. They change the layout from time to time, but somewhere you can read (English/Italian) about the different types of tickets.

Driving in Rome requires nerves of steel, but even that will not help you to find a place to park. One of my pastimes in Rome is to count illegally parked cars and estimate how much I could earn in commission handing out fines. However the authorities seem to look the other way. If they didn't the Romans would be ruined and the city would grind to a halt. In Italy things (like parking somewhere) can be forbidden, but to be taken seriously it must be "very forbidden".

Strikes

Strikes can be a nuisance to the traveller, but fortunately most strikes are announced in advance, so you have a chance to plan around the problem. Search for "strikes Rome" or try this official website. It has a calendar (Calendario Scioperi Nazionali) with coming strikes (the page is in Italian).

Where to Stay?

Of course it is nice to stay in the centre if you want to see the sights of Rome, but most of the cheap(er) hotels and accommodation are in the district around the main station Termini or further out. One of several places to look is Rome Hotels.

It is quite a walk from Termini if you want to go to the centre on sore feet, but it is easy to go by bus or metro. Being "central" is more a matter of time than geography. And if you want to go somewhere else, Termini is the ideal starting point if you can cope with the crowds.

Restaurants and Eating Out in Rome

There are lots of good restaurants in Rome, and you are rarely disappointed. However I have never been tempted by the restaurants close to Termini - they look too much like tourist traps where they don't count on you returning anyway. There are lots of guidebooks and sites on the web, if you want advice. Family run places are usually good and fairly cheap. The best advice everywhere is to find out where the locals eat.

Usually you must pay a cover charge ("coperto"), so add to 1 to the price on the menu. If the place is popular it is a good idea (sometimes mandatory) to make a reservation.

If you want an impression of the restaurants in your neighbourhood, www.menudiroma.com is a good website. You can search 'geographically' (Zona), on type of cuisine (Cucina) and price level (Prezzi). The restaurants are not reviewed, but there are short presentations. It is in Italian, but try none the less - you will be surprised by how much you understand!

Tipping

Normally tips are included at restaurants, but it is not unusual to pay a round figure or leave some coins as thanks for good service (if it was good!).

Drinking Water

Rome has excellent drinking water from the mountains.

Sights

There are so many that I will not list them here. Buy or borrow a book or search the web! A good place to start is Lonely Planet or my Roman links pages 2003 and 2005.

Banks and Money

The banks opening hours are usually 08:30-13:30 and 15:30-19:30 Monday to Friday. Remember your passport if you want to draw cash in the bank. There are lots of ATMs that accept the usual credit cards like MasterCard, Visa and Diners Club.

ID

EU citizens must carry valid identification when in Italy - for instance an identity card. Non EU citizens must carry a passport. Personally I don't like to carry my passport around (pickpockets etc.). Instead I hope a photocopy and driver's license will suffice.

Shopping

Shopaholics must love Rome. There are markets and luxury shops galore. I don't shop a lot, on the contrary, but we always bring two things back home: parmesan cheese and porcini mushrooms.

Italy is home to the parmesan cheese, and you can buy matured (2-3 years) cheese at a reasonable price. Dried porcini mushrooms are used a lot in Italian food. They have a really intense flavour and can give many dishes an extra twist and are much cheaper than in Denmark. A bag with a 100 grammes, which is quite much, will typically cost you 10-14 euro. The ideal low weight souvenir for air travel.

Receipts and Control

In Italy you must get a receipt whenever you buy something. Sometimes the tax authorities check customers, and if they don't have a receipt, the shop owner will be fined for tax evasion. If you don't get a receipt, you can be pretty sure it is tax evasion.

In public transport like buses and trains ticket controls are frequent. If you don't have a valid ticket you will be fined.

I have heard about ticket scams. If you are quite sure your ticket is valid then ask to see some ID and write down the name etc. You can refuse to pay here and now (the law does not demand that you carry money), and if the person in question begins to bargain and reduce the amount, you can be pretty certain it is a scam. Don't be fooled by a uniform and official looks.

Pickpockets

Like in every big city one must be aware of pickpockets in Rome. Their preferred hunting grounds are buses, trains or any place with many people. Use common sense, be alert and don't bring more money than you can spare!

Faked goods

In Italy's tourist spots international brands are often offered at bargain prices: bags, watches, sunglasses etc.

Don't buy faked goods! It is considered equally bad as buying stolen goods, and if you are caught, the fine can be very high. In 2006 there was a story in the Danish newspapers about a Danish tourist who was fined 10.000 for buying a pair of faked sunglasses.

Literature and Links

There are tonnes of books about Rome and its history. More unusual are the detective stories by Steven Saylor taking place in ancient Rome and Italy.

And then of course you can read my travelogues:

We have visited Rome several times since then, but those travelogues are in Danish only.


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Updated 9th February 2014