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Miscellaneous: You are ready to head to Rome – you’ve confirmed the hotel, got the e-tickets for the flight, and ensured the dog is in the kennel. But wait! Have you forgotten something? Other than the obvious logistical details of the trip, it is worth spending time reading up on this city and the amazing things you will see BEFORE you ever leave home. If you try to do it all while in Rome (besides fighting your jet lag) – you will miss a good bit. Spend a month or more reading about the history of the city, the types of architecture you will see, and the various artists and art within the city. You will appreciate what you are seeing so much more and maybe will be able to impress your family and friends with your new-found expertise!
While you can get a free map at your hotel, take some time to look over the maps online – you can easily create your own Google map with your trip highlights on it. I did this and it allowed me to realistically plan each day out so I wasn’t cramming too much in only to be disappointed. You can get directions from one place to another – while I didn’t use these directions once in Rome, the initial prep stage allowed me to see how far it would take to walk from one place to another. And I was surprised at how close most things were to each other!
Beside looking through the Virtual Tourist pages on Rome, invest in a good guide book or two. For general planning, we like the Eyewitness books with their colorful pictures. But for in-depth tours and details about the architecture and the art, the must-have guide is The Blue Guide – Rome, which cannot be beat for its information. It contains floorplans for most of the churches as well as tours of the Vatican Museums. We carried this book with us for the entire trip and it paid for itself so many times, especially since many places do not have detailed signage, if any – the Vatican Museum being one of the prime spots with little or no signs.
Audio tours are in many of the top tourist attractions and you can easily spend €5 or more per guide. We found the Rick Steves’ audio tours (and tour maps) on iTunes for FREE. Most of these tours are 30-45 minutes long and give you very good details on where to walk, look, etc. You can start and stop as you wish and the entire family can download them to their own iPods so you don’t have to share earphones to save money (something I saw many people doing with the audio guides rented at the sites). I enjoyed this because it allowed Hubby and I to tour at our own pace. The audio tours are informative and provide just enough historical background for the average non-historian to absorb while providing some fun-facts and humor along the way.
As a history major with an interest in art history, I had done a good bit of study before our trip. One book that I highly recommend (Hubby read it before the trip and got much more out of his visit) is Ross King’s The Pope’s Ceiling, which is the story of how Michelangelo painted the ceiling along with the politics of the time. It is an easy read but has enough technical details that you will come away educated and understanding that ceiling so much better than if you just stand under it and look up unaware of what you are really looking at.
So get your tickets and hotel reservations lined up, then take some time to research this wonderful city before you get here – you’ll be thankful that you took the time to do it and will enjoy it so much more.
Updated Mar 22, 2013
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Good, sturdy walking shoes are a must for this city! The cobblestone streets are uneven and can make for some difficult walking for even the best of walkers. Rome is very much a walking city so you want to be comfortable. Also, if you are touring the museums and churches, you will be on your feet quite a bit. So good solid sturdy shoes that you have broken in before your trip are a definite must pack item. I personally have a great pair of walking shoes that are also waterproof, so if it rains my feet don’t get wet either. Save those heels for other cities or that very special evening!
Updated Mar 22, 2013
Luggage and bags: The streets are mainly cobbled in Rome, and a suitcase with wheels is definately a bonus if you can stand the noise!
I would advise taking the least amount of luggage that you can get away with, it gets tiring trying to navigate the streets dragging a suitcase - trust me I did it and i only had a carry on my husband took the main case!
If you travel into Termini by coach or train watch out for other tourists and be mindful of your own cases. People seem to wander around aimlessly and seem to forget they have a case with them! - my foot took a bashing a couple of times.
HANDBAGS - I would recommend a crossbody handbag. I always travel with one of these. harder to steel but also alot easier as both your hands are free for taking photographs or walking around the sites especially useful inside St. Peters Basilica if you decide to walk up the dome. I would also recommend one with a zip fastner - don't even entertain going with an open top bag no matter how chic you think it might be - too easy for pickpockets!!!
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Sensible, sturdy and comfortable shoes are an absolute must and i cannot stress this enough! The majority of the streets are uneven cobbled streets and heels are just not practical. Also some of the sites are marble and VERY slippy when wet. I went over on my ankle a fair few times (i am quite clumsy though!) and I had flat boots on. Save the heels for the opera or the hotel bar.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: No need to worry about buying these there are plenty of pharmacies where you can buy these kind of things. If you are stuck for luggage space you could always buy these once you arrived in Italy.
Photo Equipment: There are so many wonderful photo opportunities in Rome - make sure you have plenty of memory for your cameras - you will need it!!!
Updated Feb 9, 2013
Miscellaneous: What to pack?
I do not pack lightly. Therefore I may not be the best traveler to ask because it appears as if I bring everything I own!
The following is only speculation. I think because I travel with too much, this may explain why my bag did not arrive in Rome at the same time I did. Because my bag was heavy, it was left behind until a plane with a lighter cargo load departed for Italy.
There was a long line at the Alitalia lost baggage complaint desk. The process for filing a complaint was simple. It was 36 hours later when I was reunited with my clothes and other belongs.
With that in mind, it is a good idea to pack extra personal items in your carry-on bag. Some travelers take only a carry-on bag. If this works for you, it may be best. I could not feel comfortable with such a limited selection of clothes.
I would always recommend packing comfortable shoes. Wherever you travel, overseas or domestically, the best way to see any city is on foot. In Rome, especially Centro Storico (the historical center of an Italian city), the street pavement is made up of granite brick (always mistaken for cobble stone). The streets and sidewalks are uneven and can be rough on the feet, ankles and legs.
Updated Jul 23, 2012
Miscellaneous: Here are my guide books that provided me details about a geographic location, tourist attractions, or most interesting itineraries in Rome.
Rome and Vatican. Casa Editrice Plurigfaf – Italia, 1996, 126 pages.
Around the World. Italy. Second edition. Publisher "Around the World", 2005, 520 pages, 150cities, 370 churches and cathedrals, 120 museums, 29maps, 200 illustrations.
Italy. Le Petit Fute. Michel Strogoff & Ass., City-Guides, Country-Guides, Paris-Luxemburg-Moscow. 1999, 206 pages
Written Jun 30, 2012
Miscellaneous: Mapeasy's Guide to Rome is a great thing to have in your kit during a stay in Rome. It is printed on waterproof and almost indestructible paper. It is detailed and accurate. There is a ton of information on it.
It is designed to be traveler friendly and easy to use.
It such a waste of time looking for a map in a place like Rome when it is so easy to buy one at your local bookstore. So make the most of your time in Rome and arrive ready to go.
I do not work for the company or benefit in any way from this post.
Written Oct 19, 2011
Miscellaneous: Although things tend to cool off at night, if you're an American and used to air conditioning, you may find that it is well worth your while to bring a small battery-powered fan with you, or to purchase a slightly larger fan which has the appropriate plug for Italian current. I brought two of the former and we never did get around to buying the latter -- but we certainly would have been much more comfortable had we done so, and at minimal cost.
Written Jun 2, 2011
Luggage and bags: You can use a backpack or a wheeled luggage if you want, but you should never keep your money or highly valuable items in it because there are frequent cases of pickpockets and bag snatcher. Wheeled luggages, although are quite convenient in Rome, are noisy and difficult to drag along the cobblestone streets of other Italian cities. A lot of hostels do not have elevators. Please also note that buses in most cities are rather small and almost always crowded, so it is better to travel light and not let your luggage be a burden.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Depending on the season. However, it is always nice to dress well and polite, as some cathedrals will not let those who wear shorts or sleeveless shirts in. Wear shoes suitable for walking. The hundreds-year-old pavements are not good for high heels.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Just the usual travel stuff. I'd add something like wet tissues, too because public bathrooms in Italy do not provide toilet rolls.
Photo Equipment: The usual stuff. When you're in a beautiful city like Rome, you can take hundreds of pictures. From my experience, it would be better to use several memory cards than to put all your photos in one. Once my memory card went error and I ended up losing all the pictures from my trip. Also keep your expensive camera in a safe place.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: If you are visiting Rome in summer, sunglasses, a hat and sunblock are necessary. If you're on budget, always carry a plastic water bottle because there are public spots where you can refill your water for free, or else you will have to spend over 3 Euro for overpriced mineral water.
Updated Apr 7, 2011
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Bring your most comfortable shoes (walking and dress) with you. You do a lot of walking in Rome and new shoes will most likely cripple you.
Miscellaneous: I took my old faithful worn in leather ankle length boots with me to walk around Rome and other cities throughout europe--best thing I ever did and my feet thanked me--I took a pair of black leather dress pumps with a low heel for evenings--they went with everything.
I never would pack new shoes to take on a holiday,remember if you are travelling long distances or do a lot of walking then your feet swell.
Thin soles are a no-no but then again those gel pads you can get will cushion your feet and work well.
True and tested shoes are the answer.
Written Jul 28, 2010
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Many streets are cobblestone (San Pietrini) if you're wearing heels they may get stuck. A wedge or flat soled shoe is easier to walk in.
Miscellaneous: For any low wattage items you can just use an adapter. Get them cheaper at https://www.voltage-converter-transformers.com/plugadapters.html
I use them for my cell phone and laptop. Don't use these for curling irons (you'll burn your hair) or heating items.
Written Mar 31, 2010
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