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Here we are, finally in Rome and now I know why they call it the eternal city. I am not sure why I have been waiting for so long before visiting. Honestly I have been here before, however I have never stayed for so long but most of all I have never looked at it with such a deep affection and sentimental involvement.
And it’s now difficult to explain the overwhelming feeling you get while walking among the ancient roman buildings.
It is more than an open air museum, it’s real, or it feels so.
I actually feel embarrassed to write a post about Rome.
I mean how can you sum up the cradle of western culture in just one post? Impossible, right? At the same time, with a travel blog in progress I would feel like I am not doing a proper job, were I to completely ignore such a trip and avoid writing about it. What I will try to do instead is to share my experience through my pictures and the tools I used to find my way around historical buildings, restaurants, events, with the crucial help of my local friends who proudly offered me tips on special places.
As I walked around the magnificence of the ruins brought to light and the art work that our ancestor were able to think and create I cannot avoid thinking about how infinite are the human possibilities and how far our intelligence can reach. On the contrary when I see the rubbish and dirt all around spoiling that beauty and deteriorating such an amazing cultural heritage I can only think on how stupid and irrespecutful humankind has become and I wonder what all these years of discovering and understanding have served for. Therefore I beg you, thoughtful and respectful reader, not to mimic what you are seeing but be the one who teach by example, instead, as I do. This is the only way we can change the world, doing our bit, despite of what the others do. But anyway thats another issue! I just like to highlight the importance of keeping the grounds you step clean, wherever you are, how effort does it cost to keep your waste with you and drop it to the next available bin? NOTHING and you have helped to keep your world clean.End of the sermon! 🙂 (My apologies for the RANT but it was due.)
Therefore I will make it quick and offer you a list of sources, tips, sites that will help you to organize your trip to Rome, be it for 1 day or 10.
WHAT TO SEE IN ROME
THE PLACES I LOVED VISITING
It would be impossible for me to list all the places worth visiting in Rome and even more to explain the complex and intricate history behind them. I wished I had this kind of knowledge. Therefore what I did is to list all the places I have seen and wanted to see and didn’t make it and illustrate them with pictures beside a link to competent sites for further information.
If you wish to check it out and follow my itinerary you can click here and see my BEST PICTURES of a week spent in Rome.
HOW TO MOVE AROUND
UNDERGROUND (TUBE) AND BUSSES – Although some stations look a little shabby and old, the service is quite good and helps you to hop around the city attraction when you are too tired to walk. I usually use it at the end of the day when I am truly exhausted and I start dreaming of my bed, but during the day I just walk around from one place to another, you never know what you can bump into along the way. The city is literally an open air museum, every inch of it.
WHERE TO BUY TICKETS – Tickets are available at every underground stations either with automatic machines or at a ticket counter. in the TABACCHERIA shops or bar that has a black and white T sign outside. (that’s an Italian thing, no worries 🙂 or the newspaper stands that you will see at every street corner of the city. WARNING– If you are at the machines just be careful if you are approached by a kind lady or gentlemen offering some help. They are not underground agents, just beggars who are trying to make their living. Once you have your ticket they will ask you for tips.
TICKET COST: 1.5 Euro and last 1h 40″ you can use it one time only in the underground and all the times you want on the tram or busses (which I prefer since you can look out in the meantime. They are just a little slower due to traffic). You can purchase a day pass or multiple day pass which gives you an unlimited usage for the number of days you get.
USEFUL APPS- Nowadays it is easy to move around and know where you are going through many different apps.
- GOOGLE MAP – My favourite, because once you pick one distance it will offer you also the public busses options with the different itineraries, bus numbers and underground lines.
- MUOVERSI A ROMA This is in Italian but understandable and very user friendly and. You need to insert where you are going from and to and it will give you all the available busses, tram and it will give you real time timing and locations.
ENJOY car share rental – I find it a very useful car rental system where through an application you find a care close to your location, book it,use it and drop it off wherever you need to go. It cost 0.25€ per minute with a one time 10 € administrative fees . Click on this link to download the app and read the instructions.
In any case I would suggest you to just walk as much as you can to admire the beauties of eternal city 🙂
WHERE TO STAY IN ROME
There are a million accommodations in Rome as you know and a variety of prices according to quality and most of all locations.
I have stayed at 95spezie a lovely guest house in the neighbourhood od San Giovanni and I had the best time ever. It is actually a private house turned in a BB, it’s really cozy with a warm family atmosphere ideal to live the city like a local. The owner is always there and he’s very knowledgeable on the city and always willing to interact with the guests and offer tips on where to go see and eat.
If you wish to have more central and luxury accommodation there is plenty of choice. I loved the one in Campo dei Fiori, in fact called Hotel Campo de’ Fiori, it’s a small and cute property with a green facade covered with beautiful green Ivy.
If you wish to have a luxury vacation in the historical centre of the eternal city here is my choice for you:
Situated in the outskirts of the beautiful garden of Villa Borghese the hotels combines the charm of the tradition with he elegance of the modern architecture and comfort all signed by the Leading Hotels of the World brand. This is where I would stay for a special occasion.
NH is always a guarantee of class and comfort. This property is located in an historical palace close to the beautiful church of Santa Maria Maggiore and to many other historical places, including Roma termini station, Piazza Barberini, and many restaurants and shopping areas. The hotel counts with every facility and a beautiful roof top terrace.
If you love small hotels , this would be your perfect choice. Signed by The Small Leading Hotels of the World, the elegant and modern boutique hotel is located at only 500 mt from Piazza di Spagna and all the most important luxury clothing brands of via Condotti and Via Vittorio Veneto.
The list would continue, but I have selected a number of 5 stars hotels in the historical centre of the Eternal city and you will find it clicking on this link.
Food and eating habits are part of one culture and in Italy it also characterize the identity of on city, let alone if it is the capital. In the same way when you travel you love to try the local specialities. Many people say that Italians speak about food all the time and it might be a certain or not, but for sure the culinary experience is an important element of who we are. We have a tradition with food and every region has its own speciality to show off, Rome is not less. Of course the variety of restaurant is countless and I honestly say I didn’t try one .. I know… I was too busy photographing. But what I want to suggest here is great areas where I would have enjoyed hanging out for dinner.
AVOCADO BAR – I believe it is the first avocado bar in Italy or at least in Rome – it certainly offers a healthy choice of avocado base foody options, but I was disappointed because there was no sitting space. It’s a take away only and located Via della Madonna dei Monti, 103 (Monti)Opening times Open Tues-Sun, 11.30am-3pm; 6.30pm-11pm (Closed Mondays) The choices of combinations where great.
BAR SANT EUSTACCHIO – Coffee shop famed for its home-roast beans, blended with water from an ancient aqueduct. It is one of the most famous coffe’ in Rome for its old tradition and you will see it yourself for being to crowded.
GELATERIA – There have been attempts to list the best gelato shops in Rome. To me anywhere that says PRODUZIONE PROPRIA or GELATO ARTIGIANALE is a guarantee of the great product. There is a saying that is as many Gelaterie as Churches in Rome. I am not sure whether it is true or not but for sure it will be easy to find one and whatever it is, you won’t be disappointed.
VIA DEL PIGNETO – This is a quaint and newly revamped neighborhood located at 10 minutes walking distance from us. It’s a pleasant place to have an evening stroll while looking for the perfect restaurant. And you have quite a big range of choice, from vegan to typical roman cuisine offering fish or meat, pasta or pizza, wine bars and so forth. Also, it seems that here you have one of the best pizza in Rome at “Ciak si mangia” (thin and crunchy Roman pizza)
TESTACCIO – it’s a very interesting neighborhood which, like via del Pigneto, has a history of renovations over the past 20 years. Before 2000 it was the place of the housing project which were then sold and privatized which made the popular neighbor what it is right now, vibrant and interesting, safe to walk around. In fact it is full of lovely bars and restaurants in via di Monte Testaccio, but one, in particular, blew my mind here in the picture below. The place is called ANGELINA; it is located in an old butcher house which has been refurbished and finely decorated. The food is local and delicious.
For further reading: At the time of the Roman Empire this area was a river port ( PORTO FLUVIALE), used for the shipping of food and different goods contained in huge amphorae. The broken amphorae were left in a specific place that is now called monte Testaccio which is an artificial mountains made of sedimented pieces of terra-cotta. You can read here the full history.
CAMPO DEI FIORI – It’s a very peculiar square in the heart of the historical center. In the morning is full of fruit and vegetables market stands and in the late afternoon, it transforms in a quaint cool spot for dinner and aperitif. The bars and restaurants surrounding the square layout their tables and chairs for the tourist to enjoy the cozy atmosphere, a few flower vendors bring some colors and the music plays from random artists performing in the middle of the open space. Right close to there is also worth mentioning Piazza Farnese where Palazzo Farnese dominates the scene with its beauty, one of the most beautiful Renaissance palaces of Rome was started in 1514 by Antonio Sangallo, continued by Michelangelo and completed by Giacomo della Porta. (sources Tourismo Roma)
VIA DEI CORONARI I discovered this quaint narrow road because I was walking from Piazza Navona to Castel Sant’Angelo, one of my favorite spots to take pictures at night. It used to be known as the street of antiques and very frequented by many antique lovers in search of that rare piece of furniture or book.
Now since that market has diminished significantly, the area has naturally turned into a fancy lane full of little wine bars and cozy restaurants.
My favorites are the ones around piazza dei Coronari, especially in the summer sunset, it’s so refreshing to sit at the outdoor tables and sip your glass of wine while resting from your daily marathon around the city. (see picture above)
I realised that deciding where to go and what to see in Rome can be a little overwhelming especially if you have little time available and many interests. My suggestion is to check out what’s on and plan in advance and yet leaving some spare time for resting or wandering around or in case something pleasantly unexpected should come up. I will leave you here with some links to the (English) sites that I found useful for my planning.
ROME ACTUALLY – A great blog from a fellow blogger and journalist. Here you will find everything you need to know about Rome.
The most important tourist attractions are bookable on line so that you can avoid wasting time on the line and save it for other visit or resting in one of the cute little cafe’ you will find. Here some links -(click on the names to get redirected to the booking sites).
VATICAN MUSEUMS Here you can purchase your entrance ticket with or without a guide at a specific time. The pre-booking has a cost of 4 Euro but to me, it would be totally worth it.
VATICAN STATE – This is the official site of the Vatican state, for sure full of great interesting information.
ROMA PASS Here you can purchase a card for 48 or 72 hours it includes unlimited transportations and a certain number of museums, but before purchasing it make sure to verify what museums or places are involved in the initiative. It might be that what you want to see is not among those.
TICKETSROME on this site you can book different museums and places with or without guides. It looks quite interesting and useful
HISTORY OF ROME– if you are passionate about history, this site is what you need to have an intense brief on the ancient Rome and Roman Empire
Zonzo FOX application – it’s a new app useful for different Italian cities Rome included, it gives you suggested itineraries and a little briefing on what you are seeing.
ROME USEFUL RANDOM INFORMATION
CURRENCY: EURO – in Italy we accept credit cards but for small expenses, you should have some cash with you, and also if you go shopping in the markets
CLIMATE IN ROME – Rome I have to say has a very fortunate climate, with four seasons, the summer in July and August is hot but bearable ( with some exceptions, like this year, when the heat was above any imagination) Winter is normally mild with temperatures between 10 to 15 ºC Spring and Autumn are normally the period of times with the best climate but…. see below.
BEST TIME TO VISIT ROME- Normally Spring and Autumn are considered the best season to visit because of the best climate, with mild temperature. However for this reason ROME is packed full and always about to explode. Therefore my suggestion is to pick another season like full summer and winter and enjoy the relative tranquillity of the city, almost empty museums where you can find relief either from the heat or the cold, depending on what you need.
WATER– Tap water is generally drinkable and not bad. The city is full of water fountains, not the ones like Fontana di Trevi or in Piazza di Spagna, (where I would like to remind you it is not allowed to swim in) but the small ones, where you can easily drink from. So you can refill your water to carry with you during your walks.
MARKETS – there are many interesting markets, where you can browse for fun stuff. The most popular is PORTA PORTESE on Sundays until 2 pm. Just be careful with your bags. Thieves have become quite smart.
IF YOU ARE A CAT LOVER you should visit:
1)the cat Sanctuary in Largo Argentina a beautiful square where you can admire roman ruins and at the same time visit the Cat Sanctuary located just beside it. A group of volunteers are taking care of a colony of more than 100 cats.
2) ROMEOW – a Cat bistrot located just outside the neighbourhood of Porta Portese located in VIA OSTIENSE, you can pay a visit when you visit the area including the GIARDINO DEGLI ARANCI, on the Aventino hill. You can go to the bistrot for an early dinner and then head to the garden to admire one of the most amazing sunset I have ever seen.
I am sure I am missing something out since when you know a place you tend to take everything for granted, therefore if you have any question or suggestion please do not hesitate to ask. For now ENJOY ROME!!
RENTING A CAR IN ITALY
I always suggest to rent a car and drive around because you have the freedom to visit in your own terms, without having the pressure of the tight schedules that groups normally have. I love to drive around a place and find new corners to discover, for as long as I want.
You certainly won’t need a car in Rome where the traffic is just unbearable. However you will love to drive around Italy, the Roman hills and up north towards Tuscany.
I would suggest you rent a car to explore remote places, where local buses don’t go.