Things to know before visiting Roma

Rome, the Eternal City, is a destination brimming with history, culture, and charm. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or an art lover, Rome has something to offer everyone. However, navigating this vibrant city can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. Therefore, here’s a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know before visiting Rome.

Timing your visit in Rome

Rome is a year-round destination, but the best times to visit are during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. Summer can be hot and crowded, while winter offers fewer tourists but cooler temperatures and shorter days.

Key attraction and best time to visit Rome

Rome’s top attractions can get extremely crowded, but with a bit of planning, you can avoid the worst of the lines.

  • Vatican Museums: These are among the most visited museums in the world. To avoid the crowds, visit on tuesdays and thursdays, preferably in the afternoon. Avoid mondays and weekends.
  • Colosseum and roman forum: Arrive early in the morning to beat the queues. Pre-booking tickets online can save you a lot of time.
  • Fontana di Trevi and Piazza di Spagna: Visit these iconic sites early in the morning or late at night to enjoy them without the crowds.

Transportation tip

Rome’s public transportation system includes buses, trams, and the metro. Here are some tips to navigate the city:

  • Metro: The metro is the fastest way to get around, with lines A and B covering most tourist areas. The metro operates from 5:30 AM to 11:30 PM on weekdays and until 1:30 AM on fridays and saturdays.
  • Buses and Trams: Buses and trams cover areas not served by the metro. Tickets can be bought at newsstands, tobacco shops, or metro stations and must be validated upon boarding.
  • Walking: Rome is a walkable city, and many of its attractions are within walking distance of each other. Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking on cobblestones.

Dining etiquette and tips

Roman cuisine is one of the highlights of visiting the city. Here’s how to make the most of your dining experience:

  • Meal Times: Romans typically eat lunch from 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM and dinner from 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM. Many restaurants close between lunch and dinner.
  • Reservations: Popular restaurants can fill up quickly, so it’s wise to make reservations, especially for dinner.
  • Tipping: Tipping is not obligatory in Italy, but it is appreciated. Leaving a small amount (5-10%) or rounding up the bill is customary.

Dress code and cultural etiquette

Romans take pride in their appearance, and dressing well is appreciated. Here are some cultural etiquette tips:

  • Churches: When visiting churches, dress modestly. This means covering your shoulders and knees. Many churches have strict dress codes.
  • Greetings: Italians are polite and formal in their greetings. Use “buongiorno” (good morning) or “buonasera” (good evening) when entering shops, restaurants, or when meeting someone.
  • Social Etiquette: Italians value good manners. Say “mi scusi” (excuse me) to get someone’s attention and “permesso” (permission) when passing by.

Best attraction in Rome

The Colosseum: an icon of ancient Rome

The Colosseum stands as a symbol of Rome’s ancient grandeur. Indeed, this iconic amphitheater hosted gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, and dramas. Walking through its arches and corridors transports you back to the days of emperors and warriors. Therefore, ensure you visit early to avoid the crowds and fully immerse yourself in the history of this majestic structure.

The Vatican city

Home to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City is a treasure trove of religious and artistic wonders. First, marvel at Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and then explore the vast collections of art and artifacts. Finally, don’t miss the breathtaking view from the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon, with its impressive dome and oculus, is a testament to Roman engineering prowess. Originally a temple for all roman gods, it now serves as a church and the final resting place of notable figures like Raphael. Step inside to admire the harmonious proportions and the play of light from the oculus above.

The heart of ancient Rome

The Roman Forum was the political, commercial, and social hub of ancient Rome. Wander through the ruins of temples, basilicas, and arches that once formed the center of Roman public life. Highlights include the Arch of Titus, the Temple of Saturn, and the House of the Vestal Virgins.

Fontana di Trevi

The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s most famous landmarks. Indeed, this Baroque masterpiece, with its intricate sculptures and cascading waters, is a sight to behold. Tradition says that tossing a coin into the fountain ensures a return to Rome. Furthermore, visit at night to see the fountain beautifully illuminated.

Piazza di Spagna

The Spanish Steps connect the Piazza di Spagna with the Trinità dei Monti church. These iconic steps are a popular spot for both locals and tourists to relax and enjoy the ambiance. The nearby Piazza di Spagna is perfect for shopping and dining.

Health and safety in Rome

Rome is generally a safe city, but it’s always good to arrive in Rome with good intensions

  • Stay dydrated: Especially in the summer, carry a water bottle. Rome has many public drinking fountains where you can refill.
  • Beware of pickpockets: Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas like the Colosseum, Piazza di Spagna, and public transport.
  • Emergency numbers: The emergency number for police (Carabinieri) is 112. Report any theft or loss within 24 hours to get a police statement.

Practical tips

  • Language: While many romans speak english, learning a few basic italian phrases can enhance your experience.
  • Currency: Italy uses the Euro (€). Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s always good to have some cash for smaller purchases.
  • Public Restrooms: Public restrooms are scarce. Use facilities in museums, restaurants, or cafes.

(credits: Freepik) 

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