A tourist guide to Rome – Trip to Ostia Antica (with Metro advice), Terme di Caracalla, Porte de San Sebastián

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.

Trip to Ostia Antica (with Metro advice), Terme di Caracalla, Porte de San Sebastian.

We had always planned to go to Ostia Antica on the best weather day to enjoy the ruins in glorious bright light. You can reach it very easily at a very affordable price via the Metro system. You can Metro tickets from newsagents or from the stations themselves. One journey used within 100 minutes of buying will cost you €1.50. Yes that’s right. €1.50. That will take you all the way out to the site. If you wanted an unlimited number of journeys in one day, for instance if you were going to go on to the Lido (beach) afterwards then get the €6 ticket.

The Metro system in Rome

The Metro system in Rome

We went from Termini station (as it was closest took our hotel) and took the B line to Piramide. Head for the exit but do not exit the station. At the top of the stairs turn left to the Porte San Paolo platforms. The Rome-Lido line runs from here and counts within your €1.50 Metro ticket journey as you aren’t exiting a station.

Rome-Lido line

Rome-Lido line

Once you disembark at the Ostia Antica station, go over the blue footbridge and follow signs for the site. Unfortunately for us we made it out all this way and the site was closed due to the bad weather all of Europe was experiencing at the time. Very very disappointed! Check out their website for entry details: http://www.ostia-antica.org.

So we made our way back to Rome (another €1.50) and decided to get off at Circo Massimo to admire the old chariot track. It’s now an open expanse of grass with some excavation at one end but was the inspiration for films such as Ben Hurr. Our bad luck earlier in the day was made up for as we found the Terme di Caracalla on the hill behind the Colosseum (Parco Egerio). This was always marked on the map but is lesser known. This huge Roman leisure facility is really worth their entry fee at €3 reduced entry (18-25 again), €6 full price. There is an audio guide option but we only noticed the signs part way round and wished we’d taken the option as we went in. These are stunningly huge and a fantastic example of Roman architecture, design and living.

Roman Baths

Roman Baths

Continuing on through the park we walked to Porte de San Sebastián. This huge entry gate to Rome in the Aurelian wall marks the start of the Appian Way- one of Rome’s oldest roads full of history.

The entryway to Rome

The entryway to Rome

You can’t really walk down the road straight from here as the path stops after a few hundred metres. The whole road is closed to traffic on Sundays though, so give it a go then. You can hire bikes to cycle the length of it and end up at the catacombs. I visited some catacombs on a previous visit and they’re incredibly creepy but fascinating so go if you can.

Advertisements

A tourist guide to Rome – General Advice and Getting From The Airport

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.

General advice

  • 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.