Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Planning your trip to Rome? Well look no further, we have the information for you! I have always wanted to visit this renowned location and we had the privilege of doing so this year.
Rome is the well-known Capital of Italy and one of Europe’s most famous and beautiful cities. It’s also one of the oldest cities in Europe being thousands of years old and famously the birthplace to the Roman Empire. If you are interested in culture, seeing some spectacular sites, interesting history, and some excellent locations for good food and wine, or you simply just want to enjoy the Mediterranean experience, Rome is for you. There’s plenty of opportunity to visit some great restaurants, cafes, and of course… to see the magnificent
Rome is also the home to the Vatican City, residence of the Pope, and the Headquarters of the Catholic Church. There’s also the Vatican Museum and the famous Sistine Chapel where you can see the fresco of God and Adam reaching out to each other.
As you would expect, there are some tourist traps in the city to be mindful of avoiding, but if you aware of these and are looking for a bit of adventure and culture… then go discover Rome!
When to go:
We travelled to Rome in October which is traditionally one of the quieter periods to visit for tourists. The weather is still very good with an average temperature of about 22C, with plenty of sunny periods (earlier on in the year the temperature can be a little higher, at about 27C). We wanted to avoid the large and busy crowds of travellers that appear during the summer months, but September and October are recently becoming a more popular time for people to visit. I’d still recommend September or October as the best time to go and it can also be a little cheaper to purchase the air fare too.
Talking to people:
Although I would love to be able to speak Italian – it isn’t something I have learned to do, and although I looked up the odd phrase in a book, it’s not something I can confidently speak. I had a worry that we wouldn’t be understood when asking for information and that we’d experience a lot of difficulty. Let me reassure you, this isn’t the case – there were plenty of people who could speak English and information was relatively easy to decipher. We found the people to be generally very helpful and friendly, and it seemed safe and cosmopolitan place to visit.
Things to avoid:
Around some of the tourist sites (such as the Colosseum) there are people who will try to show you a little wrist band and engage you in some conversation, or alternatively offer to take a photo with you. Beware – this is a scam and they are deliberately attempting to fleece you of your hard earned cash. Although it might seem rude, I would strongly advise you simply say “NO” assertively and walk away without engaging in any further dialogue (it is likely that they will follow you for a short while). Some of the common tricks used by these people, is to begin asking you where you are from, offer you a wristband, tell you that you can have the wrist band for free (and then they’ll attach it to you or hand it to you), begin telling you a story about a party you can go to, or try to appear in your photograph (sometimes in costume). However, as soon as they have placed the wrist band in your hand or appeared in a photograph with you – you are trapped. You will be expected to handover over money and they will pursue you and not leave you alone until you do. There have been some reports of them becoming quite aggressive when people have refused to pay, so don’t engage with them and simply walk away irrespective of how friendly they may first seem. They will soon get bored and bother someone else.
Getting around from place to place was relatively easy. Centrally located there is the bus station, whereby you can buy a day or weekly pass and it is easy to hop on and off stops. There were also some local tour buses which can take you around to all the main sightseeing activities if you buy a special ticket. The bus drivers don’t ask for money when you get on, and they generally don’t ask to see your ticket – so most people seemed to just hop on and off at their destination without paying. However, beware of not purchasing a ticket – there are often ticket enforcers about who regularly and unpredictably, appear on the bus to carry out stop checks. They will lock the doors of the bus so no one can leave and issue heavy fines for anyone who can’t produce a ticket. The tickets are fairly cheap so it’s not worth the fine.
The Colloseum is pretty spectacular and I wasn’t really prepared for how enormous and impressive it really is. If you look out carefully of the plane window when coming into the airport you can see it as part of the descent. It’s best to get there early to avoid the queues, and well worth going when it is sunny. There isn’t much opportunity to purchase water on the visit, so I’d make sure you bring some along with you as you may be stood some time.
The Roman ruins have been carefully preserved and routes cut out of the landscape to reveal the streets and buildings of the Roman age. I was astonished at the sheer size and imposing nature of the architecture – very inspiring. By purchasing a ticket you can walk through the ruins and experience what it was like to pass through in ancient time. This is something you should make sure to do – as you can get some spectacular and instagramable photos.
The Vatican City:
How can you not visit the Vatican City if you are visiting Rome? The Vatican is truly astonishing, with beautiful architecture, easy to visit and access, and a place of amazing history and art, and of course religion. St Peter’s square is particularly instgramable.
The Vatican City can often get very busy, with huge crowds and queues amassing. The size of the queues frankly were utterly enormous. Unfortunately due to the length of the queues and the time needed to spend in them we weren’t able to see everything we wanted to see. I would strongly recommend pre-purchasing a ticket in advance and arriving early, with an expectation of queuing for quite some time before getting in anywhere. There were plenty of ticket touts approaching people offering “skip the queue” tickets, but there is no guarantee that these will be accepted.
Make sure to visit the trevi fountain. When we went there, there were thousands of tourist. Be sure to come early to have a fantastic photo op.
Another important consideration is what you choose to wear. There are plenty of occasions when tourists have spent lengthy periods waiting in line with a valid ticket, only to be turned away because they are wearing shorts or a short skirt. If you are unsure of what is suitable to wear check out the Vatican website. Generally, men should wear trousers/jeans and woman should wear long dresses (covering the knees) and have their shoulders covered. It’s not advisable to wear flip flops either but sandals are fine.
Where to eat:
Obviously, Italy has such amazing cuisine so you wont have any problems in finding amazing restaurants. Weve tried a fine dining and check it out here for more.
Where to stay:
Weve stayed in NH Collection Roma Palazzo Cinquecento which is literally by the main train station. It was very convenient and comfortable as it was sound proof! Weve made a separate blog post make sure to check it out here.
Some of the key sites you may want to visit at the Vatican are, St Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican Museum, and the Cupula di San Petro.
So If you are heading to Rome in the near future… I hope this blog has helped you with planning your trip. Paradoxically both a modern and ancient city, Rome is a wonderful place to visit in the Mediterranean country of Italy. Enjoy your trip!