Rome, Italy - Stein Travel
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The eternal city of Rome, constructed of ruins and in whose name the Caesars sought to claim the world, opens for the visitor like a living museum. The centuries peel back with each new vista in this great city of gladiators, lunatic drivers and sumptuous pasta dishes. Vespas, nippy little Fiats and red sports cars speed past trendy sidewalk bistros and nightclubs, revealing the Rome of Fellini's La Dolce Vita; while the chillingly stark facades of the Stadio Olimpico complex bring back Mussolini's attempts to reinvent the architecture of the Caesars.

For a taste of the Baroque, visitors need only climb the famous Spanish Steps, walk through the Piazza Navona or toss a coin into the beautiful Trevi Fountain. Renaissance splendour is perhaps best revealed in the Pope's residence, the Vatican Palace, or in Michelangelo's efforts on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. From early Christian Basilicas to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Pantheon, the sequence of history trails back to the height of the Roman Empire.

It may sound like a city of contrasts, but Rome's timeless magic lies in its ability to blend the old with the new. Empires have risen and fallen, old gods have been replaced with new ones, but Rome remains.

Information & Facts


The weather in Rome during summer is uncomfortably hot, temperatures often exceeding 95°F (35°C) at midday, and Romans tend to close up their businesses during August to take holidays in cooler spots. Mid-winter is mild, with the average temperature in December hovering around 55°F (13°C). The best time to travel to Rome is in springtime, when skies are blue and the weather warm. Rain showers are possible any time of year.

Eating Out

Rome is delicious and affordable when it comes to dining out - and while everyone in the world may claim to 'love' Italian food, you cannot really compare 'ordinary' pizza and pasta to the wonderful dishes you can sample in the nation's capital. Italian food prepared in the Italian tradition is strong on flavour, meagre in ingredients, richer, and high(er) in calories.

The typical meal is accompanied with a bruschetta ammazzavampiri(garlic canapé) and grated cheeses. Not surprisingly, pastas and pizzas are provided in abundance, the local varieties of which are not to be missed. Red meat and seafood dishes in the international tradition are also on offer but are more expensive and come in less generous servings.

There are three main kinds of restaurant in Rome. An osteriais an informal gathering-spot, serving basic spaghetti meals and some wine. Trattorieare more languid, bistro-style affairs, offering large meals in a homely setting. A ristoranteoffers the white table-clothed, silver spoon and wine-list dining experience preferred by the more lavish-living among us. All three can be found in the popular districts of Centro Storico, along Via Cavour and around Stazione Termini. The Borgo district near the Vatican offers the cheapest dining options in Rome.

Breakfasts in Rome, as in most of Italy, are minimal, and people rarely leave the house for their first meal of the day. The main event is lunch, which sees restaurants open between 1pm and 3pm and most locals enjoy their lunch breaks in three courses!

Getting Around

The historic centre of Rome is compact and manageable on foot, and most of it is closed to normal traffic. Driving in Rome is an experience to be avoided, so if arriving by car, it's best to park it and use public transport to get around. The network of buses, trams, metro and trains covers the whole city from 5.30am to midnight (the metro until 11.30pm), and night buses take over until about 5am, covering the main routes. The metro only has two lines, but is the easiest and fastest way to get around, and is convenient for several attractions. The bus service is cheap and reliable, albeit slow due to traffic congestion. Tickets cover all forms of transport and must be pre-purchased and validated at the start of every journey; there are daily tickets valid for unlimited rides, or standard tickets valid for one metro ride or 75 minutes on buses. Taxis are notoriously expensive and display a list of surcharges. They are also difficult to find on the streets or even at taxi stands, and are best ordered by the hotel concierge or at restaurants. Note that the meter gets switched on immediately so the time it takes to arrive is added to the bill. If hailing one on the street, use only the official yellow-and-white taxis, make sure the meter is on, and have small change handy. The 110 Open is a bus service that stops at all the city's main sights, departing from Termini Station square every 20 minutes.

Kids Attractions

Rome has been an enticing, romantic holiday destination for decades, drawing art- and history-lovers from all over the world. This may seem more appealing to adults, but Rome also has a barrage of culture and entertainment to offer children.

A holiday with kids in Rome is made fun and easy by the vast amount of parks, theatres and entertainment centres; while a multitude of galleries and museums bring beautiful images and legendary characters to life. Historical sites, such as the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, are also great for kids to explore.

Most of the attractions in this beautiful, ancient city can be enjoyed year-round. However, the best time to take children on holiday to Rome is during the spring (April and May), when comfortably warm temperatures and blue skies make for perfect sightseeing adventures.


The official language of Italy is Italian. English is understood in the larger cities but not in the more remote parts of the country.


The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, which is divided into 100 cents. Those arriving in Italy with foreign currency can obtain Euros through any bank, ATM or bureaux de change. ATMs are widespread. Travellers cheques can be exchanged with ease in the large cities, not so in the smaller towns. Credit cards are accepted in upmarket establishments and shops around the cities. Banks are closed on weekends, but tend to have better rates than casas de cambios.

Night Life

The nightlife in Rome is laid-back, in true Italian style. People like to sit at cafés or restaurants taking their time with lots of food, wine and coffee. Campo dei Fiori, the Piazza Navona area and Trastevere are some of the best places for bars and cafés, while the Testaccio and Ostiense districts are better for nightclubs. Roma C'è and TrovaRoma (free with La Repubblica newspaper) have information on nightlife in Rome.

There are many wine bars and cafés near Campo de' Fiori, Piazza Navona and Via della Pace. Bar del Fico is good for cocktails and Zest at Es Hotel has a lovely poolside bar. The Vineria, in Campo de' Fiori, is very trendy and often frequented by movie stars. Freni & Frizioni in Trastevere was a former car workshop, its name translates to Brakes and Clutches. Cafés in Trastevere attract visitors to see Piazza di Santa Maria's fountain and 12th-century church lit up at night, as well as occasional guitar performances.

Party with the rich and famous at Gilda, close to Piazza di Spagna, or watch paid dancers at Alien on Via Velletri. In Ostiense, hear some great DJs at Goa, or visit Classico Village for good Italian pop, rock and jazz concerts. There are also various ristodiscos, where both eating and dancing are enjoyed. When the clubs close for summer, there are numerous outdoor venues around town and near Ostia; outdoor festivities on Via di Monte Testaccio, in Testaccio, take centre stage and include food stalls and markets.

The Teatro dell'Opera is home to the Rome Opera Ballet and opera is performed at the Baths of Caracalla's open-air ruins in July and August. Rock bands often perform at Stadio Flaminio and the Palazzo dello Sport.


Rome, only too aware of its popularity with international tourists and investors, is an expensive shopping destination; however, some deals can be found on trinkets like crafts, leather goods and glasswork. To find these bargains, look to the markets of central Rome, which operate Monday to Saturday from 7am to 1pm. On Sundays, the popular Porta Portese flea market operates from the Trastevere district. While this market is stimulating for shopping enthusiasts, Rome has some of the most skilled pickpockets in the world, and visitors are advised to take care with their possessions.

Another reasonable shopping option popular in Rome, is second-hand book and clothing shopping, with an abundance of stores located throughout the city. Antique shopping is also pervasive but could prove expensive for those who aren't sure of what they're doing!

If you have the means, Rome has an assortment of boutique stores, with brands like Prada, Valentino, Gucci and Fendi all represented in the Piazza di Spagna. The Piazza San Silvestro exhibits Rome's best jewellers, such as Bulgari and Martinelli, among others. In Via del Corso one can find, in addition to an assortment of clothing department stores, the flagship stores for Ferrari (which is worth a look if nothing else) and Swarovski, with exquisite crystal-wrought crafts.

Non-EU tourists can apply for a tax refund of 20 percent on a slip of EUR154.94 or more, so long as the amount is spent in one store. Alternatively, look out for stores which participate in tax-free shopping: they will have a tax-free logo prominently displayed.


They say: 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do' - but in a city filled with two millennia of history, there's much to do and even more to see. Among Rome's more renowned historic attractions are the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon. The Vatican, locus of the Roman Catholic Church, lies within Rome's borders and alongside is the Sistine Chapel with its famously painted ceiling. Once the seat of the mightiest empire in existence, the culture of Rome has shaped the face of art, architecture, law, warfare, literature and language in the Western world today; in fact, some refer to Rome as the 'cradle of Western civilisation'.

Most of the historic sites are within walking distance of one another, and it is advisable to walk and take in the city's architecture while the frantic road traffic passes you by. Otherwise, a taxi or bus is the recommended means of travel. A bustling metropolis, Rome is constantly abuzz with tourists and locals; however, in the late summer, around August, a short holiday window sees locals heading out of the city and providing a little congestive relief.

As of 1 January 2011, the local authorities in Rome implemented a supplementary EUR1 'tourist tax' charged on all museum and monument entrance fees. All visitors who do not hold a valid Rome ID will be charged the extra fee. The revenue collected will be used on the maintenance and upkeep of the city's treasured sights. The same tax is added to hotel fees: tourists to the eternal city are required to pay a supplementary EUR2 per night for stays in three-star hotels, while an extra EUR3 per night is added to the bill of those staying in five-star hotels.

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