Rome is a dazzling metropolis, full to the brim with famous works of art, culinary wonders, and unbelievably expensive clothing. The city has been one of the most important cultural centers in the world for thousands of years, which means you can hardly stroll through the center without stumbling upon a remarkable site. The sheer number of historical artifacts can be overwhelming. For some, it’s difficult to know where to start, how to see it all, and how to cut your list down to make sure you aren’t full of that terrible traveler’s regret: did I miss something essential to the Roman Travel Experience? This planning guide will help you answer these important questions.
How to Get Around Rome
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It’s well-known to most travelers that driving in Rome is a terrible idea. Aside from the shift in driving culture that visitors won’t be accustomed to, there’s also the notorious traffic congestion and near impossibility of finding parking. What’s worse, there are special zones that are reserved only for residents with specific permits; get a photo snapped of you in one of these areas and you’ll get a delightfully expensive fine (in euros!).
But luckily, driving is completely unnecessary in the wonderful urban metropolis of Rome. Most major sites are concentred in the city center, which means within easy walking distance of one another (be sure to find hotels in the center to be within walking distance as well). Those located further afield can be reached by cheap and convenient public transportation. The metro, bus, and tram systems all use the same tickets, which can be purchased at any tobacco shop, kiosk, or ticket machine in the city. Single journey tickets are valid for 100 minutes and can be used on any of the transport systems within those 100 minutes. If you’re going to be power-site-seeing, invest in the all day pass for around 6 euros.
How to Save Time in those Long Lines
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Having attempted to wait in line to see the Vatican Museum during high season in Rome, I can tell you first hand that you don’t want to be there. With so much to see and do, it would be a shame to waste that time only to be shuffled through with hundreds of other tourists at your back, barely glimpsing the remarkable Sistine Chapel on your way out. For this reason, I highly recommend that you either book your tickets online in advance, or book tickets for the night museum tour. The night museum tour is more expensive but the number of entrants is limited so you have much more breathing room. The grounds at night are also beautiful.
The same rule applies for the Colosseum. Book your tickets in advance or use the Roma Pass to enter without waiting in the long ticket line. You may still be waiting in a small line to get your ticket scanned but it will be nothing compared to the long line that snakes out and around the Colosseum (I have personally used the Roma Pass and can recommend it).
Bring Interesting Books to Learn about Roman History
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This is a personal preference for me, but with such complex political and cultural movements happening throughout Rome’s history, it’s important to really grasp the importance of the amazing works of art you’ll be seeing. Find some good, solid books before you go that will keep you interested and engaged in learning about the city. While guide books are always helpful, they are usually lacking the depth and excitement of some fictional novels that keep you engrossed. So find a real page-turner and explore the city through your novel before arriving to explore on your own. It makes touring all the more exciting.
While Rome can be a complex and overwhelming city, you’ll get the most out of it by being prepared. Do the leg work beforehand so that you can enjoy the city at your own leisurely pace, and take in all of the wondrous sights it has to offer.