That’s Amore: A Travel Insider’s Guide To Rome

1. Make Rome your first European stop

Why? Because airport taxes are cheaper in Rome than London or Paris. It is also closer to Australia so that means less time in the air. Be airfare savvy and take advantage of cheaper pricing.

A young couple stands in front looking at the Colosseum in Rome
Colosseum. Tick! (Image: Getty)

2. Get a Roma Pass

Rome has a lot of monuments, museums and magical places. So see them with the Roma Pass.  The Roma Pass will also give you unlimited travel on all public transport (including the buses, you daredevil you), free entrance into two of the five major tourist attractions and discounted entry and rates for literally hundreds of attractions. It is a bargain.

People wander down a spiral staircase in the Vatican Museum in Vatican City
Everywhere you look is inspired by great design and art in the Vatican Museums. (Image: Getty)

3. Put the Vatican City on your itinerary

The Vatican City. Smallest country in the world. Tick that one off for bragging rights alone. The Vatican City is home to some of the most prized art collections in the world, including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. There are several points to know about the Vatican City:

  • Make sure you are covered from the neck down to the knees – this is not the place for hot pants or mesh singlets.
  • The Roma Pass allows you to fast-track and skip the queues. No big deal, you say? Wrong. The queues into the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica snake their way around St Peter’s Square and can be four to six hours of waiting time. Even the Pope would be tested. While entry into the Basilica is free if you queue, for the love of God, literally, get the Roma Pass.
  • You will have the option to do a walking tour in the Vatican Museums or wander around by yourself. The tour costs around €25. I have been inside with and without the tour, and it is far more enjoyable with the tour. You can only look at statues and paintings for so long without knowing the historical relevance or the story behind them. You also get the rundown on the Sistine Chapel and get to check out the Pope carriages over the ages – and do they have style or what?
  • You cannot take photos in the Sistine Chapel. It is forbidden and is a big no-no.
A mother and daughter wander around the interior of St Peter's Basilica in Rome
The exterior and interior of St Peter’s Basilica is truly stunning. (Image: Getty)

4. Skip the queue for St Peter’s Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica. There are no words except: breathtaking. You do not have to be religious to appreciate the grandeur and sheer ‘whoa’ power of this structure. Lighting within the Basilica is not fantastic unless you know your way around a camera; so appreciate it while you are there. It must also be noted; if you do the Vatican tour, you get to skip the queue going into the Basilica as there is a walkway for tour groups that joins the two. If you do not go on the tour, tack on the end of a tour group leaving the Sistine Chapel (which is the end point for all Vatican City tours) as they take the walkway through to the Basilica. You’ll save yourself literally hours. You never heard that one from me, though.

Three young tourists sample different gelato flavours in a Rome street
Is there such a thing as bad gelato in Rome? (Image: Getty)

5. The best gelato is…

Away from some of the big drawcards to something very near and dear to my heart: gelato. All I will say is that there is a gelateria right near the Pantheon that has 150 different gelato flavours. It is called Gelateria Della Palma. If you do not go, you will not have experienced Rome. Or Italy. Or ice-cream.

The famous Trevi Fountain is obscured by scaffolding while undergoing maintenance
 (Image: Getty)

6. Closed for maintenance? Research before you go

Rome is old. Really, very old. So if there is a specific site you are looking forward to seeing and snapping a selfie in front of, check that it will not be under maintenance before you go. For example, the Trevi Fountain has been under repair for several years and while you can still admire the fountain from afar, its charm is slightly lost behind construction fencing and tarpaulins.

A stunning view of Piazza di Spagna in Rome from the Spanish Steps at dusk with lots of people in the area
(Image: Getty)

7. Where to go for nightlife

Rome is all architectural, cultural brilliance by day and a wine-pumping, club-jumping good time by night. Not sure where to go or travelling solo? Head to the Spanish Steps to find out all about the bar crawls on offer throughout the city. They are usually around €30 and will include the first hour of drinking and shooters along the way – you’re practically making money!

A vintage yellow Vespa is parked on a charming street in Rome
(Image: Getty)

8. Do a day trip to the country

You’ve seen the city? So hit the country. There are Vespa day tours to the country to really make you embrace the Italian way. Get the ultimate adrenaline rush by taking on the small country roads, discover quaint little towns and work on those enthusiastic hand gestures.

The Roman Catacombs has ornate tombs under Rome's streets
 (Image: Getty)

9. Don’t miss the Catacombs

Get your Tom Hanks on and feel the Angels and Demons vibe by checking out the Catacombs of Rome below the city. Gawp at the Capuchin Crypt (decorated entirely with human bones) or the Church of San Clemente, which is 14 metres below the city streets. It is Indiana Jones meets Dan Brown.

A woman holds some fresh pasta in her hands
(Image: Getty)

10. Book a cooking lesson

What could be more quintessentially Italian than a cooking lesson in the countryside? There are numerous tour operators that will take you into the Roman hills and help you fill your belly with the staple goodies of Italian cuisine. Hopefully you learn some culinary skills along the way too!

My beloved Rome; it has everything. No wonder Caesar stepped on a few toes for it. He obviously tasted the gelato.

 

 


Note: This blog post was originally written for and featured by the Flight Centre Group on their travel blog. Original link: http://www.flightcentre.com.au/travel-news/destinations/a-travel-insiders-guide-to-rome

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