We believe that you can experience Rome truly only if you stay within the Historic Center of the city. All hotels we list are situated between the Vatican and the Colosseum.
ROME BY RAIL
If you plan to use Italy’s rail system to get to or from Rome, you can find all the schedule and price information on the English language version of Italy’s train travel website: www.ferroviedellostato.it/homepage_en.html
AIRPORT TO ROME AND BACK
Taxis between Rome and the airports operate at fixed rates for all points within the city center, day and night. The rates include luggage and up to 4 passengers: € 48 for Fiumicino (da Vinci) Airport and € 30 for Ciampino airport. DOWNLOAD THIS MAP (opens in a new window) to make sure your destination/origin is included.
Taxi ranks are located and many point within the city center. Visitors are advised to use only the white, official taxis with the ‘Commune di Roma’ sticker on the side. Hailing cabs often works but NOT near cab stands: cabbie etiquette dictates that taxis waiting in the cab rank have priority. Remember, when taxis are called by phone the meter is turned on at the time of call rather than upon pickup.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT WITHIN THE CITY
If you’re thinking of using Rome’s large network of buses, metros, trams, and local trains, we recommend buying the metro passes that cover Rome’s entire transport network: 1-day € 6.00; 3-day € 16.50; 7-day € 24.00.
Downtown Rome is not very big and you can probably walk to most of the places you’ll want to go, especially if you’re staying within our recommended area of the Historic Center (see Hotels). Bring a comfortable pair of shoes: you’ll enjoy using them. Oh, and bring that old compass if you were in the scouts. We’re not joking: it might save you a lot of time amid Rome’s ancient, twisting streets.
Rome’s city center is very safe and welcoming. Just beware of pickpockets (see Dangers and Annoyances).
Rome is not a disabled-accessible city, in part because of its age and location. Most buses are now wheelchair friendly but other public transport is only partially accessible. Leading attractions are also a mix: in the Colosseum there is an elevator but the Roman Forum is almost inaccessible and the Sistine Chapel requires a long path through the Vatican Museums (although wheelchairs can move to the front of the entry line).
Cash Machines are the best places to get local currency and will generally save you money compared to using your credit card or exchanging currencies. Don’t expect to find good exchange rates at banks or on the street. There are plenty of ATMs all over the city.
It is customary for foreigners to tip in Rome, although Italians themselves don't always do so. Carry enough change in Euros to cover transportation, hotel, sightseeing, and restaurant tips. Many RESTAURANTS in Rome include service charges on the bill, so tips vary greatly in size. Depending on quality of service and supplementary charges on your restaurant bill, an average tip is anywhere from 5% to 10%. Tips at bars are also expected, and remember to leave a few coins at cafes. At HOTELS, small tips are expected. Room service tips should be 3-10 euro. Tip the bellhop when you use the service and leave 1-2 euro per day for maids. If a concierge has been very helpful, make sure to leave a tip as a way of saying thanks. At more expensive hotels, increase gratuities accordingly.
Don’t pay for water. Rome can be hot and you’ll probably need a lot of water, but you don’t have to pay for it. Unlike any other city, Rome distributes free, tasty, cold water for everyone who is thirsty. All you have to do is spot one of the more than 2500 NASONI located all over the city. Close the pipe with your finger and drink from the water fountain that spurts up from the little hole! The name "nasone" means "big nose" and comes from the shape of the pipe on most of these fountains. Don´t be afraid to drink from them: each year more than 100,000 laboratory tests are carried out to assure the pristine purity of the water.
There’s a great way to save money and make your trip a little easier. Pick up a Roma Pass tourist card and you get: reduced admissions at museums around the city; three-day access to all city transport; a map of the city; discounts at certain exhibitions and performances; a city guide to current events.
Price: € 30
Where to buy: tourist information points, main airport, several museums
More information: at www.romapass.it/?l=en
DON'T SIT AT CAFES
In Rome, cafes charge much more when customers sit at the tables. This is normal and legal. Space is at a premium and you have to pay for it. You can pay 2 to 3 times as much for seated "table service", so know what you’re getting into. Of course, waiters will often encourage you to sit at a table, but don’t sit down unless you are really want to. LO PRENDO AL BANCO means "I’ll have it at the bar."
Rome is a great place to shop. There are plenty of shops and boutiques, from the world's most famous fashion designers to local ateliers. It is especially worth visiting during sale-seasons, which last for about a month and start around the 7th of January and the 15th of July.
There are three large shopping outlets near Rome: Sorrate, Valmontone, Castel Romano. There are good deals but, unfortunately, access is quite difficult without a car. Within the city, there are a lot of shops that have adopted the useful label "outlet" but most of them do not sell branded goods (keep an eye out for fakes!) and do not offer real discounts. Two exceptions are Cimar at via Depretis, 87 and Il Discount dell'Alta Moda at via Gesù e Maria, 16.
Via Condotii starts at piazza di Spagna. Within 50 meters of this street you will find most of the world´s famous designer shops, those based in Rome—Valentino, Fendi, Bulgari, Biagiotti—and everybody else, including Hermès, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Gucci, and Ferragamo. Smaller designers on the sidestreets.
MALLS AND MARKETS
Borghetto Flaminio is a flea market that specializes in antiques, rare books, prints, vinyl records, trinkets and souvenirs. In recent years, you could find famous Romans there looking for original and unique items. The market is located five blocks north of the Flaminio metro stop (Line A) with its entrance at piazza della Marina. Open Saturday and Sunday from 10.00 to 18.00. Entrance € 2.
It’s true, Rome is rife with pickpockets. Don’t be a victim of Rome’s most popular crime. Pickpockets prey particularly on tourists: you’re likely to be distracted by your new surroundings, carrying some cash and, best of all, you probably prefer to return home rather that stick around for a prosecution. Pickpockets love popular areas such as Termini Railway Station, the Colosseum, and the Via del Corso. Bus number 64 and the subway stops are also favorites.
We have heard too many stories of even Rome’s taxi drivers, even the official ones, charging 25 euro for a ride from Termini railway station to a hotel just 5 blocks away. A good way to avoid this:
Remember, there are some JUSTIFYABLE EXTRA CHARGES:
If you want to take a picture with the fake gladiators standing near the ruins, ALWAYS settle on a price FIRST. Otherwise, you might be surprised when a dangerous-looking gladiator decides your "bill" is 20 euro.
Some of Rome’s restaurants make a hobby of overcharging unsuspecting guests. Don’t be lazy: it could cost you. There was a recent scandal when the press found out that a foreign couple had been charged 700 euro (1000 dollars) for a simple lunch. This kind of thing (usually on a smaller scale) happens at all levels of restaurant, no matter how much the waiter smiles. Our advice will save you some money:
FLOWER AND PHOTO SELLERS
Although not dangerous, many people find the ubiquitous flower and photo sellers really annoying during their stay in Rome. A walk or outdoor dinner can be interrupted several times. Your reaction will provoke their insistence that you accept their "gifts" but—unless you want to buy them—never let them "give" you flowers, bracelets, etc. Your best tactic is to limit the conversation to "no, grazie".
If you are a lady walking by yourself in the center of Rome you might be interrupted by an Italian gentleman asking you for directions. After a small introductory question he will go into raptures over your beauty and then invite you to join him, perhaps for a cup of coffee. Obviously, you are kind and willing to talk to this pleasant-if-quirky stranger for a few minutes but wait till you try to get rid of him: these guys stick to you like glue! They are all over Rome, they come in all shapes and sizes, and you will see the same ones in the same piazzas hunting for tourists day after day. These men are widely-known by locals and foreigners alike and there's even a name for them in the Roman dialect: piacione (which can be loosely translated as "flatterer"). The best way to avoid being harassed by them is simply not stopping and not indulging them in conversation.