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.
Favorite thing: Three days? I was there for 10 and didn't see everything. One day has to be spent at the Vatican. Another day has to be spent in ancient Rome. The Coleseum, Palentine Hill, the Forum, Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon are all well within walking distance of each other. The last day I would just walk around and explore the city there's a lot to see that isn't on any guide book. Especially small piazza and cathedrals in out of the way places. And I would suggest not eating at a restaurant on the main street. There are a lot of small out of the way restaurants in back streets that are absolutely awesome. Have fun.
Favorite thing: If you can make it to Italy over Christmas I must say that Rome is absolutely lovely during this time. The energy is high, the streets are lit up, the people are cheery and it's just beautiful. I couldn't imagine Rome without Christmas.
I think this tip will be very helpful for those traveling for the first time to ROME or any other place. I'll just go straight to the point; if you run out of cash when in Rome, don't go to a Money Exchange bussiness, just go to ANY ATM near to where you are and as lon as your Debit or Credit card has a VISA, MASTERCARD (i cant remember more), you'll be able to get money out of it :).
I learned the hard way... i walked into a Money Exchange and asked for 200 Euros, my debit card was charged with 200E + 32% = 264E, yes that much, when i realized i clould use any ATM it was too late, an ATM will charge you a fraction of an Euro + your bank will charge you less than 2 USdlls (in my case) for the International Transaction, and i was able to take out up to 300E per day.
One more thing, don't forget to call to your Bank to let them know you'll be out of the country because some banks automatically cancel your cards as soon as they see it is been used in another country or far away from the zip code related to the card.
I hope you find this Usefull and Happy travel.
YES, do yourself a favor and buy the Rome Pass 23 Euro. If you will be here for 3 days and plan a day trip, buy the Roma Piu pass 25 Euro (piu means "more") that covers the entire Lazio Region with transportation on CoTral tour bus in addition to the ATAC Rome metro/bus. If you plan a day trip to Ostia or Tivoli, transportation is free.
If you have arranged to tour Rome with me ("Nonna in Roma") I will have your passes for you at Fiumicino.
They do NOT cover transportation to/from Fiumicino on the F1 or the Leonardo Express which is now 12 Euro.
These passes provide entrance to public transportation and two museums + discounts on other museums for 3 days.
If you use the passes for the Galleria Borghese and the Roman Forum/Coloseum (both on one ticket now) as your first two museums, then the pass almost pays for itself.
More detail on my Transportation tip. But please - go to this English website to see all info & check for the most current info as changes are frequent in Rome:
The electrical voltage in Italy is 220 - in the U.S. it is 110 - the plugs are different also. Your PC is easily adaptable and the new universal batter charger has a range from 100 - 240 voltage. Your hair dryer is NOT adaptable. An adapter changes only the plug and permits the device to be connected to the Italian outlet - if the voltage is not correct, the device will burn out. A voltage converter is a large, heavy apparatus that no one should carry with them on their vacation - buy a small portable hair dryer here or know that most hotels supply them. For more detailed info, do review this page:
The sale of bottled water is a thriving business in Rome. Generally, we do not drink the tap water, even though it is, of course, treated. The problem is with antiquated plumbing through which the water passes. The very best drinking water is right at the street fountains that are there for that purpose - not to be confused with the miriad artistic fountains you will see. And, there is a way to drink from them. *
Fill water bottles here - you will be drinking Rome's best quality and safest water - and saving a few Euro a day in the process.*
Here are two photos of the water fountain in the Piazza beside the Pantheon. Signor Nasoni - the Romans call these water faucets that you see throughout the streets of Rome "big nose" - just stop the water flow with a finger and the water will come up through a little hole in top of the faucet. If you drink from the water spigot at the bottom - well, that's where our little doggies drink also.*
If you are simply mailing a post card - do NOT go to the post office as you could spend hours there - buy your stamp at the tabacchi where you buy your metro/bus ticket and mail the card through the red postal boxes you will see along the street. Or, better yet, mail all your postcards when you are at the Vatican - great post office right at St. Peter's Basilica.
PosteItaliane functions as both a bank and a post office as a surprising number of people in Italy pays bills at the post office, despite the endless lines and fights. Most utility companies won't let you send check payments. Credit card payments and bank transfers are possible, but only when agreed well in advance.
You can buy some boxes at the post office, but they haven't thought of selling envelopes yet. If you need them, go to the nearest tabacchi, they usually carry a complete range of postal products.
It’s raining, it’s pouring... the Romans aren’t snoring
So you looked at the weather forecast before your trip to Rome and your heart sank: Those little icons are showing day after day of rain. Well, have no fear. First of all, the rain in Rome stops and starts. It may pour, but not around the clock. When I was there in December, the week before Christmas, it rained quite a bit, but I still managed to roam all over (pun intended…).
Just make sure to have a sturdy umbrella with you that can withstand the wind (or buy a Roman one). We marched around from morning till night, rain or no rain, ducking into churches, museums and Christmas market tents when the going got rough.
You can spend a whole day at the Vatican and never feel a raindrop. In fact, the lines were shorter because of the rain, and we got inside in record time. If it's really pouring, a walk through the underground crypt at St. Peter's, where the dead popes are buried, will keep you dry. On your way, don't forget to look at the interesting raingear of the papal guards - black, bat-like capes.
Another good indoor activity is the Scuderie Quirinale, a museum with changing exhibits near the President's palace. The back windows (floor to ceiling) of this museum offered one of the most incredible views of Rome I saw the whole time I was there. Don’t miss the marching band and change of guard outside the palace that takes place every afternoon at 4 p.m. (not necessarily a rainy day activity, but good fun, nonetheless).
Can you fill a prescription in Rome - YES, you can - at the Vatican Pharmacy. With a few simple steps:
1. Facing St Peter's Basilica from the Piazza - walk right through the columns to Via di Porta Angelica (photo 2) - on the left-hand side of Via di Porta Angelica you will see the VATICAN CITY gate with the Swiss Guard (photo 1)- walk up the SIDEWALK on the right - show the guard your prescription and ask for permission to visit the "farmacia." (far-ma-chee'-a)
2. Once inside Vatican City, walk directly ahead to the PERMISSIONS office ("Ufficio Permessi" photo 3) on the right.
3. Present your ID AND the prescription - U.S. driver's license or passport - you will receive a VISITOR'S BADGE - scan that badge on the exit portal - exit and turn right - walk ahead and make the first right - you will see the Pharmacy cross on the building on the left
4. Once inside the pharmacy - present your prescription to an English speaking pharmicist and they will be happy to help you.
Prices for everything you see there are so much less expensive than the regular Rome pharmacies and/or markets, so take advantage of your presence and purchase whatever you need in the way of sundries, cosmetics, swiss chocolate, etc. Unfortunately, you will not be permitted to purchase goods in the Supermarket across the street as that is only for Vatican City employees.
5. Exit and return to the Permissions Office to turn in your badge and retrieve your ID.
Meeting New People and Seeing New Places
These tips are based on my last 8 weeks of traveling in Europe/Africa:
1. Buy/pre-order as many museum/attraction tickets online as you can.
2. Ask the taxi fare before taking off in a taxi, especially if it’s late at night or coming from an airport.
3. Charge your camera batteries every night.
4. If you have a Eurail pass and need to make reservation make them in Europe. It’s a lot less expensive.
5. If you’re climbing a few hundred steps up a tower, monument, etc. go only a clear, sunny day.
6. Learn at least Hello, Thank you, and Goodbye in the foreign language of the countries you are visiting.
7. Turn your cell phones off inside churches, museums, etc. If it rings and you must take the call, do it outside!
8. If there’s a running commentary (live or recorded), be polite and be quiet.
9. Dress appropriately and be respectful in churches.
10. If you’re traveling with children, don’t let them disrupt others around you. If they cry or throw a tantrum, take them outside.
11. If you have a complaint, do it reasonably without yelling and cursing.
12. Regarding pictures:
a. If there are signs saying “No pictures”, don’t take pictures! There’s a reason for the signs. Do you really, really need that picture of Mona Lisa to prove you’ve seen it?
b. Learn how to use your camera before the trip. If there are signs saying “No flash”, make sure you know how to use the camera without it.
c. If you see a couple or family with one person taking pictures of the other(s), offer to take a picture of both/all of them. Maybe they’ll reciprocate.
13. Check local holidays. Since many museums and stores will be closed, you’ll need to have other plans for the day. (Most stores throughout much of Europe are closed on Sunday.)
14. Don’t try to do too much. Leave some open time to just explore.
15. You’re on vacation so relax and have a good time!
If you havent a guide book or map, this online map will help give an idea of where the main sights are in relation to each other, to help your planning.
Select the sight from the list on the right of the page and it will put it on the map for you. You can zoom in to see the area in more detail if required.
You can get minicards in many locations in Rome or you can print them directly from out facebook page http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=104620366396&ref=ts
With this minicard, you can get free gifts & discounts!!!
Fondest memory: Minicards are handsomely designed full-colour advertising cards of credit card format and so attractive to take along.
A Minicard offers space to show all important information: business description, product information, photograph, address and even a map. It also has room for special offers, which makes Minicards into an advertising medium the response.
If you need to leave your bags somewhere in Rome, Termini train station has a left luggage facility (ritiro bagagli). The opening hours are 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. and it costs 3.80 Euro for the first 5 hours. For 6 hours or more, it costs 60 cents an hour. From the 13th hour, the price goes down to 20 cents an hour. You can leave a maximum of 20 kilos.
Finding the office is not so simple. Termini is a gigantic mall, very airport-like, with a zillion corridors, escalators and departure gates. The left luggage office is tucked way back in the innards of the building and involves quite a bit of walking (and asking for directions). I would use this option only if there were no other solution, as it seemed quite a hassle to me - unless you are traveling by train, of course, and stopping at Termini in any case.
Favorite thing: Most of the churches you will visit in Rome display great artwork in the altar area and on walls, but the light is very low. To really see and appreciate the beauty of the church altar you need to buy light by putting a coin in the box located in front of the altar or just by its side. Buying light is essential especially if you want to be able to see the small chapels that are located inside most churches along the right and the left walls.