Saturday, December 31, 2016

10 Hot Tips for Visiting Rome

Rome is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations and with over 3.8 million residents, there are a few things that you should know before arriving. Follow these tips for a fun and safe visit to the busiest city in Italy.

Tip 1
There are two airports that service Rome. The major one is Leonardo da Vinci, also commonly known as Fiumicino. The secondary airport is the one most commonly serviced by charter flights and the average discount flight that many airlines offer from various European cities. Ciampino is the secondary airport and though it’s less serviced by major transit, it’s easy to take a CORTAL bus to the Metropolitana station which connects with a train that ends at Stazione Termini. This train leaves from Fiumicino every hour. The station is located in the heart of old Rome and is the main hub for all trains, subways, and buses in Rome. It’s also surrounded by the cheapest hotels in the city.

Tip 2
The quickest and cheapest way to get around Rome is by bus. ATAC is the main bus company servicing Rome, and two routes go directly through the historical district and the cultural center of Rome. The 64 is by far more popular, while the 40 has fewer stops but is an express and less crowded. Whenever possible, choose to ride the 40 as the 64 is famous for the professional pickpockets and shady characters constantly on board. This bus houses professional looking businessmen with suit jackets on their arms, which they use to cover their roaming hands and relieve you of your money, wallets, and anything else that might be within their reach. The 40 has fewer people and fewer tourists. Because the 64 is well-known as a popular route for visitors, it’s an easy target. Avoid the dangers of the 64 completely and take the 40 into the historic center of Rome.

Tip 3
If you’re looking to get into the historical center of Rome and the entrance to the Vatican, you’ll have to go by bus, taxi, or on foot. While Rome has a subway, called Metro, it doesn’t service the oldest parts of the city. The reasons for this are simply that too many archaeological treasures are found under the city and digging is often stopped before it really gets started. The Metro is the quickest way to get around, and since a day ticket or visitor’s pass is good on the trains or buses, you’ll be likely to use the Metro, but when heading towards the Vatican, the bus should be your travel option of choice.

Tip 4
Small fountains found along the streets of Rome, along with larger more decorative fountains are all flowing with cold, fresh water that flows down the mountain springs in the outer areas of the city. These fountains are safe to drink from unless they have a sign posted that reads “acqua non potabile” in which case the water is not safe for drinking. Although drinking is allowed from the fountains, bathing and swimming never is, so don’t dip in no matter how hot it is or how inviting the water is, unless you’re hoping to be arrested and charged at least 500 euro.

Tip 5
Since transit tickets can be used on the bus and the train your pass simply needs to be activated. There are metro ticket machines, however these only take exact change and are known to eat money and produce no tickets. Instead of using the machines, purchase your tickets at the station, from a newsstand, or a nearby tobacconist. Tickets start at 1 euro for 75 minutes of travel by bus or train. Visitor passes are available for 11 euro for three days, and a week-long travel pass is 16 euro. Make sure you have a ticket that is validated or you could face a 51 euro fine.

Tip 6
Street scammers, beggars, and thieves run abundant in the Eternal City, so make sure you’re prepared ahead of time. Always wear a money belt or secure money pouch under your clothing. Bags should have a secure zipper and if possible, a Velcro flap over the zipper as well. Never leave bags on the ground or walk away from your belongings. If you turn your head for even a moment, you may lose your belongings. Also be aware of scammers who present themselves as police and demand to know the pin numbers of your credit and debit cards. They scan your cards into a machine and then demand to know your personal identification number. These are not really police, the police would never demand your pin. As soon as possible, call your bank and report this activity to the real police. Any case of robbery should be reported immediately.

Tip 7
The most popular tourist months in Rome are between May and October, although August is usually a very quiet time. The heat is usually such that most Romans leave the city for a beach vacation and the city is far less busy and crowded. Several events still take place in August, but if you’re looking to travel with a smaller crowd, this may be the right time for you. Otherwise, the early spring to late fall months are less crowded than May and June. Winters are also mild and the build-up for Christmas is usually a great time to visit Rome.

Tip 8
No trip to Rome is complete without visiting the Vatican. This small country located within Rome is the home of the Catholic Church and a large number of historic buildings, churches, basilicas, monuments, and famous art pieces. Whatever your reasons for visiting the Vatican, keep this tip in mind. There is a dress code to the Vatican that is strictly enforced by guards outside St. Peter’s Square. For men, shorts are not allowed, nor are sleeveless tops. Slacks and t-shirts are acceptable. For women, no bare shoulders are permitted, no low-cut blouses, and slacks and skirts must cover the knees. Refrain from wearing attire that may have offensive or vulgar pictures or words. If your attire is not acceptable, you will not be permitted to enter. Several vendors outside the square have set up shop selling paper pants, shirts and shawls. However, unless you feel like purchasing these or changing in front of a crowd, make sure you’re dressed appropriately before leaving your hotel. Keeping a cover-up in a backpack isn’t a bad idea either.

Tip 9
The Vatican Post office offers an alternative to the Italian Post which many Romans have discovered is too slow and lax in its services. While the Vatican postage costs the same and the Italian, the service is usually much faster. If you’re looking to send postcards home, try this post instead. You can also tell your addressee that they’re receiving a stamp which was blessed by the Pope!

Tip 10
In order to see Rome properly try to follow Roman traditions. For example, an early morning excursion, leading to lunch, a lengthy afternoon nap, and an evening excursion will fit well with Rome’s schedule. Many shops and eateries close in the afternoon hours for their own afternoon naps, reopening later in the day for the dinner hours. Tourists are in the street, battling large crowds by 10am, so the earlier you go to some things, the better. This practice is especially observed in the hotter summer months when a break from the heat is needed. Plan your days to include an early morning, a late night, and a long nap in the afternoon.

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