Tourist Info, Rome
These three sites should be visited on the same day as they're in the same area and covered by one ticket price. To avoid the frustratingly long lines at the Colosseum, buy your combo ticket at the Palatine Hill ticket office (probably the shortest line) on Via di S. Gregorio 30. You can then choose to visit the sites in any order you wish. As many visitors only want to see the Colosseum, having a ticket in hand will allow you, after a brief security check, to skip the long ticket queue and go to the shorter one (to the left of the long line). Quicker entry is also an option with the Roma Pass or Archaeological Card.
Your ticket is good for two days but PLEASE NOTE: the Palatine and Forum are considered ONE SITE even though they are separate so you cannot split your visits to these two; they must both be done on the SAME DAY. It is possible, however, to do these two on one day and the Colosseum on the next (or vice versa) if you wish to explore the 3 sites over two days.
If wanting to know what you're looking at, you'll need to either sign up for a tour or bring a good guidebook as you don't receive any info with your ticket, and there's no signage explaining what a particular ruin is or why it's significant. Audioguides are also available for rent.
Bring water and sunscreen, and wear the most sturdy, comfortable shoes you own as you'll be covering a lot of uneven ground and climbing steps. We did the Palatine first then the Forums followed by the Colosseum as the latter afforded a little shade during the hottest part of the afternoon.
Finish up the day by limping up the street to my favorite little outdoor bar in Parco Colle Oppio for a sit-down and an adult beverage.
See the website for hours, ticket and tour prices, and other good stuff to know:
well walking around Rome and enjoying its wonderful history and architecture is one thing, but how about when you need that suntan lotion for the sun heat protection? or the headaches or the creams for aching feet, nothing better than the friendly neighborhood pharmacy.
We had one near us at Viale XXI Aprile 31 corner with via Nardini Giuseppe in the Nomentana district at Farmacia Mancini.
Fondest memory: you mingle with the local practice your best Italian and get a look at local life as better than any tourist , great.a
Rome is certainly located in the south of Europe close to the Mediterranean Sea but that does not mean that the temperature is all the year above 20°C and that the sun shines every day.
In February this year there was snow in Rome and this month of April was till now the coldest within the last 30 years. Morning temperature of 6 - 8 °C, maximum in the afternoon of about 15°C as long as it would not rain what made the temperature drop to 12°C !
I have often been in Rome in the winter and it was fine because the weather was rather dry. Now in April we had to revisit museums and churches because of the rain.
My photo shows a heavy shower approaching the Vittoriano. A second photo shows the soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier covered by their poncho protecting them partly from the rain.
If you want to know what weather to expect in Rome or Italy there is a good site on www.ilmeteo.it in several languages and good forecasts for the next 3 days and rather good for the next 7 days.
When in Rome its important to appreciate the Piazza. It doesn't sound so exciting, a square of restaurants and a bunch of people but it is quite a sight. the Piazza in the hustle and bustle where socializing, bartering, eating and enjoying happens.
Fondest memory: My favorite memory is of the time my family and I were lost trying to find the Pantheon and we cam upon the Piazza Navona. The contrast between the sidestreets closed in by tall building set very close together and the big open square is amazing. Piazza Navona is a beautiful big square where artists sell their original paintings, travelers enjoy a gelato or glass of wine and beautiful fountains flow freely.
Prebook the Vatican Museum on Friday Evening, Vatican under the stars. There are no queues, not too many visitors and the light is very special. The Sixtine Chappel was not crowded and, as it was at the end of the museum visit, open long after 22.00h.
Also buy a Roma Pass on line and pick it up at the airport (Fiumucino, Terminal 3). When we where there, it was quiet. In the city and in the Statione Termini I noticed long queues. The Roma Pass has a special entrance at the Colloseum (very, very long queues, which is strange, because it was designed with 80 entrances and exits).
We booked the Galeria Borghese two days before we wanted to visit, but this was in June. On Saturday, it was said, there where still tickets for Tuesday (not for all times).
It was great fun to explore Rome by e(lectrical) bike on Sunday, I made a reservation on http://www.ebike-rent.it/en .
Fondest memory: Biking on the Via del Fiori Imperiali, down hill from the Colloseo.
Another great service available to U.S. military personnel past & present:
AIRPORT SHUTTLE SERVICE INFORMATION
Rome USO help you with a low cost personal transportation service that is less expensive than city taxi cabs! Our partner airport shuttles are clean, comfortable and air conditioned. Credit cards are accepted and there is no extra for charge for baggage. Whether you are flying in or out of the Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) Airport or Ciampino Airport, our shuttles provide door-to-door service from the airport right to your hotel or the USO Rome Center.
Sedan (up to 3 people) - €50.00 euro
Van (up to 5 people) - €60.00 euro
Mini-bus (up to 7 people) - €70.00 euro
Civitavecchia Port Pick-Up
Sedan (up to 3 people) - €140.00 euro
Van (up to 5 people ) - € 160.00 euro
Mini-bus (up to 7 people) - € 170.00 euro
You can book one-way or round-trip transportation with the USO Rome Center by calling us at 011/39-06-39727419 or sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the information listed below.
In order for us to finalize your booking, please provide us with the following information:
· Airport you are arriving at – Fiumicino (FCO) or Cimapino (CIA)
· Airline Company & Flight Number
· Country and city of Origin
· Hotel Name & Address
· Number of People and Bags/size/strollers/carseats
· Credit card Number
· Mobile phone Number
Prices may change if you require more than one stop and are based on one-way from hotel to airport or vice-versa. Please check the cost before booking.
Please take note that the service is provided by a private shuttle Company, which is checked and contracted by the USO.
I visit here from time to time - have used their PC/internet in the past when mine went down. Just a great staff on hand to welcome and serve all U.S. military-related personnel - past & present. As a lifetime member of the U.S. Navy League, I was able to access this best source of info in Rome.
Here is their description:
The USO Rome Center is located in the heart of the capital city of Italy. Conveniently located near the Vatican, our center's goal is to make Rome one of the most memorable and positive experiences of our patrons’ military service by offering a "Home while in Rome." Our center offers a wide range of FREE services including: area information, guidebooks, maps, Internet cafe w/ Skype, American canteen, comfortable TV lounge, luggage storage and the cleanest bathrooms in Rome. Want a Roman Holiday? Let the USO do the planning for you. Book one of our all inclusive vacation packages, which includes hotel, tours and meals! Check out our tours page for more information. And even if you are visiting only for a few days, we offer discounted prices on all hotels and tours booked through the USO Rome Center!
USO Rome Center
Via Vespasiano, 44
Roma - 00193 (Vatican Area)
GPS Coordinates: N 41° 54.43' EO 12° 27.498'
Hours of Operation:
FORGET THE TRAVELING AGENCY IF YOU ARE WITH ONE.
First of, I would definitely suggest buying a small book on Rome because it really is a completely different experience when, apart from the visual treat, you actually know what you are seeing. There is so much history in every little stone found in this city that... it just makes more sense to be at least a little bit informed.
Second, if time is limited, as it usually is, then a rough plan is needed. Setting the "priorities", the must see places. For some it might be tossing a coin in Fontana di Trevi, for others seeing the Vatican Museum, and then for others eating a pizza. Doesn't matter what your priorities are, just make sure you have some.
There is no way you can do and see everything during an average (a week or so) visit.
Third. Take your time and enjoy EVERY STEP you make there! Take it all in. There is no point in running around, spending ten seconds at each sight just for the sake of taking the picture.
Ok, now, before you start the 'leg-torture' kick it off with an Italian breakfast - at any bar order a nice cup of cappuccino and cornetto (tasty pastry). The cafes on Piazza di S. Eustachio are the right place for this. Or, Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina.
Now you're ready!
Fondest memory: the coffee. Italy is coffee paradise. No matter which bar you go to, fancy or dodgy, posh-looking or just a bar by the road or one in termini station, the coffee will inevitably be great. If you're not into strong coffee (not many stomachs can take it), then go for the cappuccino.
For those curious about the Roma Pass (as I was), we did find it to be an excellent value for the money. Just be sure to make the Colossium one of your first two (and thus free) sights. The Roma pass allows you to bypass the line and walk right in. Otherwise the regular line to buy tickets is quite long.
Combining this with free entry to Castel Sant'Angelo and unlimited use of the metro (our hotel was only a block from the train station, so we used it quite frequently), we definitely got our money's worth.
In Praise of Rick Steves
I've come to the conclusion that Rick Steves, as annoying as he can be, gets a bad rap. Since I hadn't been to Rome in a while I bought his Rome book to help with the practicalities. And it did in spades. Among the tidbits gleamed, all of which were good advice:
1. Get the Roma Pass at a smaller museum and use the two free admissions that come with it for the more expensive sites such as Forum/Colosseum. We bought it at Massimo Palazzo and used it there and at the Forum etc...
2. At the Borghese start upstairs to avoid the early Bernini crowds. Then visit the Berninis while everyone else goes upstairs.
3. His Vatican advice was spot on. Not just which rooms to visit on a one morning sojourn, BUT sharing the "secret" of the group exit door from the Sistine Chapel that allows you to go directly to St Peters without going all the way back through the museum and then walking around. There was a guard at the bottom of the stairs, but he was less than concerned. Rick DOES warn not to take the audio tour as it must be returned at the museum entrance and that sometimes the door is closed and/or policed. Given mr mc's hip and the amount of hard marble floors in the museum, this escape hatch was a godsend.
So thank you Rick Steves.
We DID buy a Roma Pass and were very pleased. We used it for the new National Museum near Termini [where we bought it] and for the Forum/Colosseum, then for buses and metro for the 3 days we had it. For the convenience, particularly if you buy it at a less busy venue, it is worth it even if you don't break even.
I had made reservations for The Borghese and the Vatican Museums online and, except for the mayhem at the Borghese in the ticket area it worked well. Our friend had made our dinner reservation at Agate et Romeo. Otherwise we just ate in the smaller restaurants in our 'hood or at cafes along our daily route. You CAN go wrong in Italy, but a simple pizza or pasta is more than likely to be delightful.
Hotel, Restaurant, Tour Agency
A few tips about Rome
Rome is not a joke. With more than 2000 years of history there is A LOT to see. It will definitely be a challenging trip – hills, steps, ruins, cobblestones will guarantee you exercise that your personal trainer never dreamt about. But it is WORTH IT! It’s like sightseeing Paris, New York, Istanbul and Buenos Aires in one city. From the historical point of view, Rome is like a big “mamma” of these cities, a goddess who gave birth to Western civilization!
A trip to Rome will definitely be unforgettable and by saying that I mean that Rome can be magnificent, exciting and even sensual, but at the same time it can be frustrating, tiring and stressful. There are thousands of bad restaurants, taxi drivers who want to fleece you, and, of course, far too much to see and do in just one visit.
As for the RESTAURANTS I recommend you slip off the main roads and avoid the places that cater exclusively to tourists: I know that eating in front of the Pantheon is visually tempting, but you’ll find much better food and prices just around the corner outside the piazza. Most of the best places are on small streets so walk a few blocks, take a few turns and sniff out something good. One of the great places for a pizza is called La Gatta Mangiona, which requires taking a tram (nr 8) or a taxi and for a more posh choice I recommend Il Antico Arco at the top of the Gianicolo Hill. (One important thing: in Rome you should always check the bill and make sure that you are actually paying for what you ordered and not contributing to the waiter’s new scooter!)
In a city like Rome you shouldn’t miss a good guided TOUR. But because there are so many choices and the prices are not the world’s lowest, you want to make sure that your money will be well spent. The best guide will not only give you reliable information and lead you through the meander of Rome and the Vatican, but also convey the excitement, provide insights, and advise you on what the city has to offer depending on your needs. There are a lot of good tour companies (and also a few bad ones). I recommend the one I used on my second Rome trip, Rome Illuminated Tours. There was no way we could be bored for one second during the tour and our native English-speaking guide was a real treasure full of useful tips and information.
The last important thing is a HOTEL. I am not a backpacker, but I also don’t like to spend the fortune on hotels. But the magic of the city is downtown and it’s worth the extra money to stay right in the middle of things. Try Teatro Pace 33 near Piazza Navona or Il Palazzetto at the top of the Spanish Steps. Hotel Paba is a good budget option near the Colosseum. If you want a posh retreat, look up Hotel Cavalieri which, although far away from the center, has one of the best restaurants in Italy, La Pergola.
I hope that my tips help you prepare a better trip. I could write a few more pages, but I don’t think that there is space for it! Buon viaggio!
All national museums (Museo Nazionale Al Temps, Palazzo Massimo, etc) and monuments (Forums, Coliseo, Terme, Castel St Angelo, etc.) and all museums belonging to the city of Rome (Musei in Commune, e.g. Capitolini, Mercati di Traiano, etc.) are free for EU citizens 65 yr old.
Borghese and Barberini are private; reduced price 2 €
For details see tips on "things to do".
This is supposed to be part of the "Warning or Danger" tips, but I am fully at fault here. Could it be the pint of beer I had before the virtual tour or the weariness after 3 weeks of non-stop sightseeing and masticating? Or both?
But that is jumping ahead of the story. On my 21st day in Italy - my last day - I decided to take it easy while I kill time before my flight. I thought a virtual travel of Roman history at the Time Elevator 3-D cinema would be a fitting finish to a wonderful trip. At 12 euros it wasn't cheap, and it was all worth it - IF only I seated myself in the right section, i.e. English section. By the time the movie started, I realized it was in German and I couldn't move anymore since I was strapped to my seat and it was simulated theater - I'd be thrown off I get off!
Moral of the experience: never watch a simulated movie tipsy, not even from a pint of beer!
Website link: Time Elevator
If it's your first time in Rome, you might want to consider getting the Roma Pass card, an all-in-one tourist card that entitles you to free entrance to the first two museums/sites visited and discounted tickets to the remaining sites/museums, and a 3-day pass on the city's bus and subway system. At 20 euros (at the time of my visit in November 2008), it is definitely worth it.
Obviously, basic economic logic dictates that you first use the pass for the two most expensive museums/sites and these would be the Colosseum (11 euros for single non-EU citizen tickets) and the Capitoline Museums (8 euros). At the time of my visit, Roma pass was valid for 22 sites and museums. Unfortunately, the Vatican Museums is not of them.