Rome, Italy: Visitors Guide
By Ross Williams, Contributing Editor
The “Eternal City” that is Rome is the much cherished capital city of Italy. This ancient city is steeped in a rich history that has left a lasting impression on its modern day population as well as the rest of the world. Despite the history which saw the city ravaged by the neighboring Barbarians and the downfall of the Roman Empire, many great monuments remain that serve as a reminder to the greatness of ancient Rome.
There is something about this magnificent city that just endears people to it. Here contemporary modern life effortlessly intertwines with Rome’s outstanding history. The Romans certainly make the most of this backdrop and make great efforts to play on the cities past reputation, which is what most visitors want to see anyway. The people of Rome enjoyed a very much laid back lifestyle and you will quickly be sucked into their cool and stylish, yet sophisticated way of doing things.
There are two main airports that serve international flights in Rome. The first is Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino International Airport, which is the main airport here. It is a large modern airport with good transport links to the heart of Rome. Most of the major airlines have routes that serve this airport including American Airlines, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific among many others.
The second of the main airports is called Ciampino International Airport and serves mainly low cost airlines such as Rynair and Easyjet. Ciampino airport is located towards the southeast of Rome and is actually closer to the center than the larger international airport. However unlike Fiumicino airport there are no direct train connections available from Ciampino.
If you are flying into the Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino International Airport you will have the option of two train lines to complete your journey into Rome. The Leonardo Express train cost €14 for a one-way ticket and leaves the airport destined for Roma Termini (Rome’s central station) every 30 minutes. The second option for the train is the Metropolitan train service, which is a cheaper option but it does not serve the termini. The train journey cost €8 and you will have to change at either the Ostiense Station to take the Line B metro, or at Trastevere Station to take the tram. Whether you choose to take the metro or the tram you will need to pay an extra €1.50.
If there are a few of you, or your budget can accommodate it, you may find it more convenient to take a taxi at a cost of roughly €48.
You can get around the center of Rome quite easily on foot, so you will rarely need to consider the other options. Walking is the best way to enjoy the atmosphere, take in the sites, and get a real feel for the Roman way of life. While it is relatively safe on the pavement, however, you will need to take care when crossing the rather chaotic Roman roads. There are crosswalks to be found at various points, and the cars will usually stop once you start walking. Keep an eye out for the moped riders however, as they often weave through the gaps in traffic and may not realize that the traffic has stopped to let you cross.
If walking doesn’t appeal then you may consider hiring a Segway. These are a fast and convenient option for getting around the city. Unlike hiring a car, bicycle, or moped you will not need to tackle the chaotic traffic. On a Segway you will still be considered as a pedestrian so you can stick to the pavement. Hiring of a Segway will set you back €25 to €50 per hour.
For stays of more than 3 days you should consider purchasing a Roma Pass. With this pass, which costs €30, you will be able to take advantage of the public transport system as well as get free admission to the first two museums that you visit. There are also a host of other advantages to purchasing this card such as getting discounts to other top attractions in Rome.
Where to Stay
As one of the most visited destinations on the planet, Rome is suitably prepared with a good range of accommodation. With that said, Rome is one of the more expensive cities in Europe to stay in and to find decent accommodation you will have to be prepared to dig deep into your holiday budget. Smart travelers may be able to sniff out a deal or two by checking out travel sites like www.travelaureate.com, however if they are flexible, patient, and not too fussy.
Dorm room type accommodation such as the Allessandro Hostels, in the Modern Center, costs from around €15 per night. For something more upscale, a room in the mid-range Hotel Santa Maria comes starts at around €160 per night. If you have the funds and want something a little more luxurious then the Residenza Frattina offers clean, quiet, and comfortable rooms along with attentive staff at a cost of between €300 and €500. Some of the ruins near the Roman Forum have been converted into comfortable hotels with modern amenities. You might want to try these.
What to see and do
There is no shortage of things to do in Rome, from lounging around in outdoor seating areas of cafés sipping espresso and watching Roman life, to marveling at the magnificent Coliseum you will certainly find yourself trying to pack a lot into your trip. As well as the obvious must-sees when in Rome such as the Coliseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon there are lots of other hidden gems here.
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