This February (2014) I took my mum to Rome for 6 nights while my dad and brother went hiking in Germany. I learnt so much and visited a good number of places that I felt my experience may be helpful to others so here is a blog-advice-guide. I’ll cover the most popular sites in Rome, as well as taking the Italian railway to Pompeii and the metro system within the Rome vicinity.
- Take a map and mark your hotel on it before you go so you can always get back to it even if you’re lost and need to take a taxi.
- Be careful of wearing heels on the cobbles!
- Learn basic Italian at the very least. Take a phrase book to help too.
- Eat somewhere new every night. There’s so much choice! We managed to always keep our dinner at under €15 each for a main course plus a half litre carafe of wine between us. Occasionally we had a starter or dessert which took the price up a fair bit, but we were pleased with how affordable eating out can be.
- Try a new gelato flavour each time!
- Try and pay for things with cash as close to the right price you can. If you only have notes you may be asked for an extra euro or two so that they can give you change in a note. I was thanked for paying in change once! It definitely helps you at the end of the holiday for changing more money back into your own currency.
- Take ID! Even if you don’t want to carry around your passport with you, keep your driving license if you’re 18-25 and want to take advantage of the significant discount you get at attractions (apart from the Vatican, but we’ll get to that). Even i you don’t qualify for the discount, you still have to leave some official ID when hiring audio guide handsets.
- Note for coffee drinkers: an espresso seems to be what they mean when it’s just advertised as “coffee”. I don’t like coffee at all, but my mum drinks decaffeinated americanos with milk and it was always more expensive if it wasn’t specifically advertised as being available. You will always have to ask for milk too, so ask for it as you order to save them coming back with it later.
Getting from the airport
Since I booked via Expedia I had the option to book shared transportation (a minibus which drops you to your hotel) as I booked the whole trip. It suited my visit this time since my mum would rather just be dropped off right at the front door from the flight- completely understandable. However, it did add about £20 pp for a round trip. If you’re on more of a budget then you can take the metro from the airport into the centre of rome for €1.50 and walk from the nearest metro station. Taxis are expensive (compared to other cities I’ve taken them in) and when we did take one this trip he tried dropping us at the wrong hotel and charging us loads. I know this won’t be unique to Rome at all but if you’re nervous or want to keep an eye on the the pennies, figure out your nearest metro station and take a map. I’ll discuss the metro system later. We arrived early Saturday evening so had plenty of time to get out for dinner and come back via a handy shop to buy our own bottle of wine.