Travelling to Rome and visiting the Eternal City can cause a lot of headaches. People try to sell you over-priced tickets, taxi drivers try to rip you off, museums lines might be so long you might think you will never get in. Then when you finally found a nice place to drink a cappuccino or have a nice Italian meal, you can’t believe your eyes when the bill arrives. You might even wonder what made you ever come to this place!
It does not have to be like that. Actually, it should not be like that. Rome is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The people are friendly, the food is amazing and the art is magnificent. However, the small annoyances outlined above can quickly turn an amazing holiday into an ordeal.
Here are over 100 Tips for Traveling to Rome
Tip 1: Comfortable shoes
This is essential! Wear good and comfortable shoes. You are going to walk a lot! Please leave your high heels at home.
Tip 2: Bring a water bottle
Bring a small bottle of water. You will need to drink a lot when the temperature is up. I’ve seen many tourists collapse during the summer, just because they do not hydrate. The hotter it is, the more you should drink. You just need a small bottle, because you can find water fountains with drinkable water throughout the city.
Tip 3: Sunscreen
Always apply sunscreen, if you travel during the summer of course!
Tip 4: Pickpockets
In public transport, please be careful of your belongings. So many times I’ve heard of tourists being robbed of their money and/or passport. Pickpockets know which busses tourists take often. Also, the metro is the same. Invest in some money pouch you can wear under your clothes. Believe me, nothing ruins a nice holiday more than a visit to the Carabinieri police station, or worse, the consulate of your country in order to get a temporary passport.
Tip 5: Coffee
If you are like me and need to drink coffee at regular intervals, it’s important to note that the price of coffee is different whether you stand at the bar or sit down. If you sit down, you can expect table service and the price of the coffee can be substantially higher.
Tip 6: Take away
You can also order your coffee da portare via, which means to take away. You will pay the bar price and will be able to sit down somewhere on a square to drink your coffee.
Tip 7: Coperta
In most restaurants, you have to pay coperta. This is added to your bill. You are paying for your cutlery and bread. It is a stupid Italian tradition, that is slowly disappearing, but many restaurants still charge it. There is nothing you can do about it.
Tip 8: Public transport
If you want to take public transport, you can buy tickets either at metro stops or at the tabacchi stores, where they sell cigarettes. People often ask me if it is worth it to invest in a multi-day pass. I would advise against it. Unless you know the transport system pretty well, you will just take one or two rides a day. Single tickets are cheap.
Water from the tap is drinkable in Italy. It’s doesn’t always taste really good though, so you still might want to invest in a bottle of mineral water. The water from the drinking fountains in the city is much nicer than tap water though. Some romans fill plastic bottles with this water to drink at home.
Tip 10: Dress code
When visiting the Vatican and Saint Peter’s, remember the dress code. They will not let you in if your trousers are higher than your knees or if your shoulders are visible. If it’s hot, take a t-shirt with you in your bag.
Tip 11: Tickets to the Vatican
Book your tickets to the Vatican ahead on the Vatican website. You can find it at www.vatican.va. If you do not book ahead, you are sure to stand a long time in line.
Tip 12: Guided tours
If you want to join a guided tour, make sure to book one beforehand with a well-recommended tour operator. Many tour operators are not very good and will give you an unpleasant guide that has to explain things in many languages.
Tip 13: Galleria Borghese
If you plan on visiting the amazing Galleria Borghese Museum, make sure to book ahead. They only let a few people in at the same time, because it is a small museum. This is the booking website: http://www.tosc.it/tickets.html. If you don’t book ahead, there is almost no chance you will be able to get in.
Tip 14: Rain
When it starts raining, people will magically appear everywhere to sell umbrellas.
Tip 15: Buying tours on the street
Don’t let people on the street sell you tours. They are often too expensive and they don’t provide what is promised. The seller on the street works on a commission and will promise anything for you to sign up.
Tip 16: Free Tour Rome
If you like a guided tour, you can book a cheap one at www.freetourrome.com. Free tours that work only for tips. You have to pay €2,50 per person.
Tip 17: Live Music
If you like live music, check out Sal’s open mic. He runs a successful open mic in Rome for years now at different venues. It’s free and you can even sing or play if you want to.
Tip 18: Roman Food
You have to try some typical Roman food when in Rome. The three most famous Roman pasta dishes are Carbonara, Amatriciana and Putanesca. Another thing that is very common is Pizza al taglio. Everywhere in the city there are small pizza places that sell pizza by weight. You just tell them how much you want and you pay by weight. Try the supplì when you are in a place like this. They are typical Roman rice balls with a bit of mozzarella.
Tip 19: Castelli Romani
If you feel like going out of the city for the day, I can recommend a visit to the Castelli Romani, the mountainous area that lays on a 30m train ride from termini. To reach this area you take a train to either Frascati or Castelgandolfo. The train ticket costs next to nothing (it’s a local train). Frascati is great for food and wine and for the view of Rome. At Castelgandolfo you can see the papal summer palace (from the outside) and you have a beautiful view over the volcanic lake. It is a wonderful place. Google image search it and you will agree with me. From here, you can also walk down to the lake and swim, if the weather is nice. Don’t worry, the volcano has stopped working thousands of years ago.
Tip 20: Book ahead
Make sure to book your tickets to the Vatican museums in advance on the official website of the Vatican. It’s www.vatican.va. The lines to the museums can be much too long in the high season which runs from April until November. It’s not fun spending hours in line and with an online ticket, you can just enter through the special gate for advance bookers. You have to pay a bit more for the tickets, but it is really worth it.
Tip 21: Get in at lunch
If you didn’t book your ticket in advance, I would try to get in at lunch time. Most guidebooks advise you to go early in the morning and that is what most people do, so the lines are really long. At lunch, you might have a better chance to get in quicker.
Tip 22: Cheap lunch
You can have a cheap lunch inside the Vatican Museums. The price is much lower than the restaurants in the area around the Vatican. You can get a full lunch, but they also sell sandwiches and slices of Pizza.
Tip 23: Pictures
You can take pictures anywhere inside the museums, except the Sistine Chapel.
Tip 24: Pickpockets
Beware of pickpockets inside the Museums and especially inside the Sistine Chapel. On normal days it is really busy and everybody is looking up at the ceiling, so some pickpockets take advantage.
Tip 25: Take a guidebook
Make sure to take a guidebook with you. I have written a detailed book about the museums, with descriptions and stories of all the most important and beautiful artworks inside, but of course, there are many more options. Just make sure you come prepared, so you know at least a bit about what you are looking at.
Tip 26: Dress appropriately
This is very important! Make sure to dress appropriately. If you don’t, they will not let you in. This means you should cover your shoulders and knees. There are no exceptions. You have to pass a clothing inspection at the entrance, where on a sunny day you will see many scantily dressed girls and older men in shorts that have not been allowed to go in.
Tip 27: What to see
There are three main things to see here. You can visit the church itself. Inside the church, there are stairs that lead to a lower level. Here you can see the graves of many popes. You can also decide to visit the cupula. Just follow the signs once you passed the clothing inspection. The view from the top is beautiful, but you do have to pay an entrance fee and on some days the lines are very long here too.
Tip 28: Confessions
You can confess in the right transept of the church. You can confess in many languages here. If you want to attend mass, it’s regularly celebrated in the left transept of the church. You will not be able to light any candles, because it damages the many artworks inside the church. For lighting candles, I recommend a visit to Santa Prassede, a small and beautiful church near Santa Maria Maggiore.
Tip 29: Take a guidebook
Make sure to check a guidebook about Saint Peter’s basilica. I have written a complete guidebook for the Vatican, which you can take, where I’ll tell you all about all the beautiful things you can see inside the church. Other options are available too. Just take one or book a tour in advance with one of the recommended tour operators on TripAdvisor.
Tip 30: Toilets
There are toilets in Saint Peter’s Square. They are free. Most people go to the ones that are located on the left side when facing the façade of the church. This is because you exit the church on that side. There are other ones located on the right (northern) side, just under the Papal Apartments. Normally, these ones are much quieter.
Tip 31: Vatican Post
Nex, to the less busy toilets on the north side of Saint Peter’s square, you can also find a Vatican post office here, where you can buy Vatican Stamps.
Tip 32: Send cards from the Vatican
You can decide to use the Vatican postal service to send your cards and letters. You can find a post office on the square, but also inside the Vatican museums. You will have to write you cards here, because you can only post at the Vatican itself. The post boxes outside the Vatican are operated by the Italian state and take only cards and letters with Italians stamps on them. The Vatican post is famous because it works a lot better than the Italian postal service. So take your written cards with you and post them with beautiful Vatican stamps here.
Tip 33: Transport
Many people take the Metro to go to the Vatican. It is the easiest way unless your hotel is close. Rome’s metro system is very straightforward. There are only two lines, The A line and the B line. You will need to get on the A line and get off at metro stop Ottaviano. From here it is a short walk to the Vatican.
Tip 34: Tours
When you get close to the Vatican or when you get out the Metro, many people will approach you, to try to sell tours of the Vatican. Many customers are very unsatisfied with these tours. The promotors will tell you anything to get you to sign up, because they work on a commission. They will often get about 10 euros for each customer they bring in. So when they say a tour leaves right away, don’t believe them. If you want a guided tour to the Vatican, I would get one beforehand on the internet with a company like FreeTourRome.com.
Tip 35: Ice-cream
After you finished touring the Vatican, have an ice-cream at Gelateria Oldbridge, Viale Bastioni di Michelangelo 5. It’s next to the walls of the Vatican. They make their own ice cream in the back. Often you see lines of Italians and tourists outside, waiting to be served. It’s definitely worth the short wait.
Tip 36: Pizza
I always like to get a cheap slice of good pizza at Pizza Rustica ai Gracchi, at 6 Via dei Gracchi. This is a side street of Via Ottaviano, the shopping street that goes from the metro stop to the Vatican. This is not an overpriced touristy pizza place like everywhere else around the Vatican. Just nice slices of pizza. You can’t sit here, but you are close to Piazza del Risorgimento, where you can sit on one of the benches or walls. The Pizza is al taglio here, which is a typical Roman way of selling slices of pizza. You just indicate how much you want and the lady will cut it. The price is determined according to the weight of the slice.
Tip 37: Cheap Coffee
If you like your coffee not overpriced, you can always get your coffee da portare via. You might already know that the prices for sitting down and standing at the bar are different in Italy. It’s often very expensive to sit down to drink coffee at touristy places like around the Vatican, but standing at the bar is cheap. I ask to take away my coffee. They’ll charge standing prices and I’ll just sit at Piazza Risorgimento.
Tip 38: Shopping
If you had enough of all the beautiful art, there is a shopping street going from Piazza di Risorgimento back to the city centre. It’s called Via Cola di Rienzo and you will not see too many tourists on it.
Tip 39: Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is beautiful and one of the highlights of Rome. That is why eating or drinking a coffee on the square can be quite expensive. Always ask for the price beforehand, unless you like to pay 10 euros for one cappuccino.
Tip 40: Campo de’ Fiori
If you like sitting at a nice piazza and drinking a glass of wine or a coffee, I prefer Campo de’ Fiori to Piazza Navona. Navona is very touristy, while Campo is much more Roman. No-one I know in Rome goes for a drink in Piazza Navona. It’s too expensive and too touristy. Everybody prefers Campo de’ Fiore. You will still find a lot of tourists here, but also Romans and expats. Prices are also much more normal here than at Piazza Navona across the street.
Tip 41: Nightlife
If you like going out at night, Campo de’ Fiore is also one of the centres of the city’s nightlife.
Tip 42: Local Artists
A lot of artists sell their artwork on Piazza Navona. It can be a nice place to buy an original souvenir, like a small painting of the city. Check the painting well beforehand, there have been stories of people paying good money for a painting that later turned out to come straight out of a computer printer.
Tip 43: Restaurants
If you are looking for a nice restaurant, I would recommend walking into the little side street on the right side of the big church Sant’Agnese on Piazza Navona. You will find many nice trattorias and restaurants in these little streets. Many of them have the same quality as the restaurants on Piazza Navona but charging half the price.
Tip 44: Bars
In the same streets, you can also find some nice bars where you can have a drink at night, like the curious Jonathan’s Angels, Via della Fossa, 16 or Bar del Fico, Piazza del Fico, 26. When the weather is nice you will find many young Italians here at night, having a glass of wine or a beer.
Tip 45: Night at Piazza Navona
If you visited Piazza Navona during the day, try to visit it also at night. The piazza is lit up beautifully.
Tip 46: The Tiber
Walking along the Tiber is not really nice. On both sides, you have big roads with lots of cars. The big trees next to the river also obscure the buildings on the other side, so the view is not amazing.
Tip 47: Little streets
I love walking through the little streets to the west of Piazza Navona. You’ll find lots of small art galleries here, some antique stores and beautiful little streets. This is the real Rome from the post cards. It can be a bit tricky to navigate, but remember, it is a small area, locked between the river, Piazza Navona and the big street Corso Vittorio Emanuele II to the south.
Tip 48: Via del Governo Vecchio
I also love strolling down Via del Governo Vecchio. It’s filled with nice wine bars, small shops and restaurants. You’ll also find the Irish pub Abbey Theatre in this street if you feel like drinking a Guinness or watching a Sports game. They also host pub quizzes in English regularly.
Tip 49: Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps can be very busy in the tourist season, which runs from April until November. If you have the chance to visit the steps late at night, you will have a much more intimate experience.
Tip 50: Trevi Fountain
I always advise people the same for the Trevi Fountain. In the tourist season, it can be brutally busy. Late at night or really early in the morning, you will have a completely different experience.
Tip 51: View of Rome
At the top of the Spanish Steps, you have a wonderful view of Rome. So even if it is a hot day, I would advise you to climb them to enjoy the view.
Tip 52: Expensive Shopping
The area close to the Spanish Steps is one of the most expensive in Rome. Here you find a lot of designer shops, like Gucci, Valentino, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. It’s fun to walk into some of the shops, even if you don’t plan on buying something. The decoration alone is amazing.
Tip 53: Antico Caffè Greco
I always go drink a coffee at the Antico Caffè Greco in Via Condotti. It is one of the oldest coffee bars in Rome and the espresso is exquisite. Remember that if you stand at the bar, the coffee is quite affordable but if you sit down, you’ll pay more.
Tip 54: Public Toilets
There are public toilets on Piazza di Spagna, the square in front of the Spanish Steps. They are located on the north side of the Piazza.
Tip 55: Subway
There is also a Metro stop on Piazza di Spagna. You can find it if you walk into the little street to the left of the steps when you face them. Here you can find metro line A, which will bring you to the main station Termini, Saint Peter’s or San Giovanni. If you change at Termini, you can also reach the Colosseum really easily.
Tip 56: Lunch
One of my favourite places for lunch is the Pastificio on Via della Croce, a side street of Piazza di Spagna. It is a shop that sells freshly made pasta, but at lunch time they also serve small plastic containers with pasta with a sauce. It’s not the same every day, but a lot of Italians come here to buy lunch and eat their box of pasta on the Piazza. It is really good. Thanks to TripAdvisor, many tourists come here too to buy a cheap and amazing lunch.
Tip 57: Tiramisù
At the same Via della Croce, you can find a small shop called Pompi. Pompi is famous for producing Rome’s best Tiramisù. So go here after you got your box of pasta at the Pastificio and buy Tiramisù al pistacchio, which is probably the best Tiramisù you’ll ever eat.
Tip 58: Shopping
If you like shopping, but the shops at Via Condotti are a bit expensive for you, walk down Via del Corso. This street is one of the main streets of Rome. It starts at Piazza del Popolo and ends at Piazza Venezia. You’ll find a lot of shops here. Some are international brands like Zara, Adidas and H&M, but you’ll also find some more local shops.
Tip 59: Caravaggio
If you are at Piazza del Popolo, make sure to check the Church Santa Maria del Popolo. It’s the church close to the city gates. You’ll find a lot of really famous art in this very small church. The highlights are the paintings by Caravaggio. You can find more information about the church later in this book.
Tip 60: Medical emergency
If you have a small medical urgency, don’t go to the hospital. In the hospitals, they might make you wait for hours and hours for none-life-threatening conditions. There is a small doctor’s post on Via Canova, a side street of Via del Corso. It’s there, especially for tourists. Emergency help is free too.
Tip 61: Visit the Pantheon
When you are around this area, please do not forget to actually go inside the Pantheon. It is such a marvellous building, and it’s completely free to go inside. You cannot see how great it is from the outside. When you are inside and look to the dome on top, remember it was built in 124 AD.
Tip 62: Elephant of Bernini
Check out the little elephant Bernini carved in front of Santa Maria del Anima, just around the corner of the Pantheon.
Tip 63: Sant’Ignazio
Sant’Ignazio church is not a well-known church, but everybody that goes inside is always amazed by the frescos on the ceiling. Even if you are not a fan of baroque fresco painting, you will be amazed by the incredible perspective painting of Andrea Pozzo.
Tip 64: Expensive Bars
The bars and restaurants in front of the Pantheon are ridiculously expensive. Better try your luck in one of the side streets to the north of the piazza.
Tip 65: Gladiators
In front of the Pantheon, you always find people dressed up as gladiators. You can take pictures with them, but be sure to determine a price beforehand. They might overcharge you otherwise. Just like in Roman times, these gladiators are often ex-convicts.
Tip 66: Caravaggio
Make sure to check out the ‘Calling of Matthew’ by Caravaggio in the San Luigi dei Francesi church. It is one of his most beautiful paintings. Beware that many smaller churches like this are often closed during a part of the afternoon.
Tip 67: Sant’Eustachio Caffè
Try to have a coffee at the Sant’Eustachio Caffè, Piazza di Sant'Eustachio, 82. They serve coffee from home-roasted beans with water from an ancient aqueduct. Their coffee is actually one of the best in Rome, as you will see by the number of people standing in line.
Tip 68: Cat refuge
Visit the Cat refuge at Largo di Torre Argentina. Stray cats are being taken care of between ruins from the Roman Republic. The volunteers have a little shop where they sell cat related products to help pay for their cats. It’s a nice place but beware of the strong smell. You can find it on the south side of the archaeological area of Largo di Torre Argentina.
Tip 69: The Tiber in August
If you happen to be in August in Rome, there is a good chance the banks of the Tiber are filled with little bars and shops. Because of the heat, many pubs and stores close, just to reopen here on the Tiber. It’s lovely to spend an evening here. Normally, there is even an open air cinema on the Tiber Island.
Tip 70: Jewish Ghetto
Make sure to spend some time in the Jewish Ghetto. Many Romans come here to lunch, to enjoy the typical Roman/Jewish cuisine. Look for the Carciofi al Giudia, one of the typical dishes.
Tip 71: Tiber Island
Cross over to the Tiber Island. It’s small but very picturesque. Try to find the ‘Ponte Rotto’, the broken Roman bridge. One arch still stands in the river to the southeast of the island.
Tip 72: Grattachecca
If you cross the Island all the way to Trastevere, you’ll find a typical Roman Grattachecca stall on your right when you cross the bridge from the Island. Gratachecca is a typical Roman refreshment. It’s just scraped ice with some syrup. It is amazingly refreshing on a hot day. Besides, it’s fun to watch the guy work his magic on his enormous block of ice.
Tip 73: Climb the Vittoriano
If you’re near Piazza Venezia, I would take the time to climb up the Vittoriano. The Vittoriano is the enormous white monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy. You can get in for free, it’s a museum about the Risorgimento, the unification of Italy. It’s much more interesting to take the elevator all the way to the top. You can find it on the backside of the building. Just pay for your ticket and you will be treated to one of the most beautiful views of Rome.
Tip 74: Capitoline Museums
If it’s a rainy day, visit the Capitoline Museums on Capitoline hill. They have a very diverse and interesting collection. You see paintings by Caravaggio, beautifully decorated palace chambers, but also archaeological remains, like the foundation of the temple of Jupiter, which was found below the Museum. There is also an exquisite collection of Roman Statues.
Tip 75: Trevi at night
The area in front of the Trevi Fountain is small and all those visiting Rome would like to see it, so in the tourist season (April until November) it will be completely packed. If you are an early riser or love to stay up late, you are in luck. The Trevi Fountain is most beautiful from 12 at night until 7 in the morning. It’s such a different experience to enjoy this fountain with 3 other people instead of 500. So if you happen to have a late dinner and are on your way back to the hotel, make the effort to pass by the fountain at night. It is really worth it.
Tip 76: Cripta dei Capuccini
If you like seeing something scary, go visit the Cripta dei Capuccini on Via Veneto. Monks have decorated a few chapels here with the bones of their predecessors. You can admire complete artworks and wall decorations all made with the bones of the bodies of Capuchin Monks. It’s quite spooky.
Tip 77: International Books
If you are in need of English (or French or Spanish) books, there is an international bookstore on Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, which is a side street of Piazza Repubblica. It’s called Feltrinelli International. Don’t get confused with the Feltrinelli next door, they only sell Italian books.
Tip 78: View
From the Trevi Fountain it is a small walk up to Piazza del Quirinale. From here you have a beautiful view of the city and the dome of Saint Peter’s in the background. The Piazza lays in front of the Quirinale Palace, the residence of the President of the Republic of Italy. Sometimes you can see a changing of the guards here.
Tip 79: Two small Churches
Next to the Palace of the Quirinale, there are two small churches. Sant’Andrea al Quirinale was designed by Bernini and San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane was designed by his big rival Borromini. Visit both churches to compare the style of both artists. In my opinion, Borromini was the better architect but see for yourself. You can find both churches on Via del Quirinale, which runs alongside the Palace. Beware that most churches close for a while in the afternoon (normally from 1 pm until 4 pm).
Tip 80: Via Veneto
It’s nice to walk up or down Via Veneto. In the 60s and 70s Via Veneto was the centre of high society of Rome. Many movie stars and aristocrats used to visit the hotels, restaurants and bars here. It was an inspiration for Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’. You’ll still see really expensive hotels on this street, with really expensive cars parked in front of them. If you are planning on visiting the Villa Borghese park, you just walk up this street, which will take you right to it.
Tip 81: Tickets
The Forum, Colosseum and Palatine hill have one entrance ticket which is valid for all three sites. You cannot buy a ticket that is just valid for one site. Because most people want to visit the Colosseum, the ticket line is longest there. Make sure to buy your ticket to the Colosseum at the entrance of Palatine Hill. It will save you a lot of waiting time.
Tip 82: Visiting the Colosseum
Personally, I prefer looking at the Colosseum from the outside than from the inside. Almost all the decoration has been taken away inside and there is not as much to see as you would like. Of course, for some people, it’s a must to visit and I’m sure you will enjoy it, but if you don’t have a particular want to go in, I would admire the building from the outside and spend your ticket money on the Vatican Museums or the Galleria Borghese.
Tip 83: Toilets
There are public toilets located outside at the backside of the Colosseum (at the side of Piazza del Colosseo). They are free and normally not that busy unless a tour group just arrived.
Tip 84: Gladiators
Watch out for the people dressed up as Gladiators. They often overcharge and can get quite threatening if you don’t pay up after a picture. Just like in the olden days, they are often ex-convicts.
Tip 85: Pickpockets
Always watch out for your belongings in busy places like this. Pickpockets are everywhere. Never keep important things in your backpack and be really alert if you feel someone or something touching you.
Tip 86: The Colosseum at night
The Colosseum is beautifully lit up at night. Go visit!
Tip 87: Visiting the Forum
If you decide to visit the Forum, please do, but I would advise you to read something about it first. If you don’t know what you are looking at, it might disappoint you. Without the stories about the buildings and history, you’ll just be looking at a big pile of stones. You can also get audio guides at the ticket office. Also, buy your Colosseum ticket from here, as it includes both the Forum and the Colosseum and you will not waste 1 hour waiting in line at the Colosseum!
Tip 88: Coffee
If you like to drink a coffee, I would go to one of the bars at the crossing of Via Cavour and Via dei Fori Imperiali. Last time I checked, even sitting down was not too expensive. Make sure to ask the price before ordering though. Some bars will charge you 9 euro’s for one Cappuccino if you are not carefull.
Tip 89: Santi Cosma e Damiano
If it’s open, go check quickly the small church of Santi Cosma e Damiano. It’s on the Via dei Fori Imperiali, next to the ticket office of the Forum. The entrance is on the side of the church. It has a wonderful early medieval mosaic in its apse and on the other side you look straight into the ancient temple of Romulus on the Forum. The church was built on top.
Tip 90: Piazza della Madonna dei Monti
If you are hungry, it’s worth it to walk a few streets down to the Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. Around here you’ll find many great restaurants and wine bars. The area around this Piazza has become really fashionable in the last few years and many great places have opened their doors here. It’s so much better to eat here than the tourist menu’s on Via Cavour or around the Colosseum. It’s also a nice area to have a glass of wine at night.
Tip 91: View of the Forum
If you walk to the top of Capitoline hill, make sure to look at the view over the Forum. Just walk past the City Hall either on the left or the right and you’ll find a beautiful view of the Forum, Palatine hill and the mountains of the Castelli Romani in the back.
Tip 92: Villa Celimontana
If you are tired of the masses of people around the Colosseum, walk down the Via Claudia to the park of Villa Celimontana. It’s a lovely quiet park, where Romans love to come to sit in the grass. In the summer there normally is a Jazz Festival here.
Tip 93: Colle Oppio
Another option is the Parco del Colle Oppio, which is right next to the Colosseum. Emperor Nero’s Golden House used to be located here and now you can find some nice benches here to sit down.
Tip 94: Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli
If you decided to go up the Colle Oppio, you might as well visit the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli. Here you can find Michelangelo’s famous statue of Moses. Beware, the church is closed for some time in the afternoon.
Tip 95: Villa Aldobrandini
Another hidden park close to Piazza Venezia is the Villa Aldobrandini. The entrance is on Via Mazzarino. Even though it is in a very busy part of the city, very few people seem to know about this park. Maybe it’s because it is elevated and the entrance is in some side street. It’s nice to sit here and relax a bit.
Tip 96: Euro coin
When you are on top of Capitoline hill, take out an Italian 50 eurocent coin. You’ll see that the design is of the piazza you are standing at right now.
Tip 97: Public transport
Termini is the central transportation hub of the city. You can take busses anywhere in the city from here. The two main lines used by most tourists are the 40 and the 64. They take you right to Piazza Venezia in the historical centre. The two metro lines A and B also intersect here. Line A is good for going to the Vatican or Saint John Lateran, line B is good for going to the Colosseum or the church of Saint Paul outside the walls.
Tip 98: The train station at night
The area around the station can get a bit unpleasant at night. Many homeless people sleep near the station. Still, I walked home many nights through this area and never encountered any problems. I am however a two meters tall man. Girls alone should watch out.
Tip 99: Tickets to bus and subway
Tickets to public transport can be bought in the Metro stops and also at the Tabacchi, where cigarettes are sold. You can also get stamps here (usually). Tickets are cheap compared to other European capitals.
Tip 100: Santa Prassede
Visit Santa Prassede. It’s a beautiful and intimate small church very close to Santa Maria Maggiore. It’s one of these churches that were built in the early middle ages. It has a wonderful apse mosaic! Go visit the little chapel of Zeno too.
Tip 101: Fiddler’s Elbow
If you have seen enough churches, you can visit Rome’s oldest Irish pub, the Fiddler’s elbow. You can find it in Via del Olmata. The owner, Gino, married an Irishwoman in the 70s and started this pub soon after. It was an instant hit. Romans had never seen anything like it.
Tip 102: Mercato dell’Esquilino
Close to the station is the Mercato dell’Esquilino. You can find it on via Principe Amedeo 184. It is the most colourful and cheapest food market in Rome. It is very multicultural and you can find Sicilian vegetable salesmen next to Pakistani butchers. It’s best in the morning and closes at around 3 pm. This is where I go to get vegetables or exotic ingredients like quinoa or passion fruit.
Tip 103: Palazzo del Freddo
If you like ice cream and don’t mind walking a bit to get it, visit the Palazzo del Freddo on Via Principe Eugenio 65. It the biggest ice cream shop you have ever seen. They produce their own ice cream in the back and have many kinds of flavours. The area it is located in has slowly transformed to Rome’s Chinatown, so now you will see a lot of young Chinese kids having an ice cream, together with many Romans. It’s one of the best in Rome and definitely worth the walk.
Tip 104: Trattoria dell’Omo
As a general rule, don’t eat in any of the restaurants close to the station, except at Trattoria dell’Omo, at Via Vicenza 18. It’s much better to walk to a nicer area, like Monti (the area around Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. You’ll find lovely restaurants in Via Urbana, Via dei Serpenti and Via Panisperna (try La Carbonara).
Tip 105: Baptistery of Saint John
Try to visit the Baptistery of Saint John. You find it behind the main church on the west side. It’s a hidden gem but closed for some time in the afternoon.