Years ago I studied abroad in Rome, Italy. To this day I still have friends and family members asking me advice on where to stay and what to do while in Rome. Now I will share my tips and suggestions with you!
You’re going to Rome!! My most favorite place in the world 🙂 Yes, I know you are going to do all of the touristy things suggested on various travel websites and do all of the things you’ve seen in Roman Holiday. Go for it!
I’m here to provide information and a few tips I have collected and still use when I go back to visit – which I will be doing this summer!
Getting in to the City:
There are two airports; Ciampino and Fiumicino.
Fiumicino is bigger and is used by a good deal more airlines. You could take a taxi, shuttle bus, or a regular bus. However, a cheap and faster way is by The Leonardo Express. It cost about 11 euros and takes around 30 minutes. The shuttle bus, one way, is around 10 euros and takes 70 minutes.
I strongly suggest that you grab a map of the city when you are in the airport or train station. You will not regret it, the map always comes in handy.
Places to stay:
It is cheap to stay near Vatican City, there are tons of hotels with good price points. When I visit, I tend to stay in or near the neighborhood in which I lived. The neighborhood does not have a name (historical district, I think…but all of Rome is a historical district), but it’s along the first mile or two of Via Nomentana. I like this area because it lets you feel like a native, the restaurants aren’t tourist traps, the transportation is great (the bus line is right there and you are within walking distance of several metro stations), and it’s close to Termini station.
Things to do (and one thing you shouldn’t):
Of course you have to get gelato. There’s a gelateria on almost every street. This is fact, here is THE Best gelato shop & the oldest gelato factory:
Best gelato shop: Giolitti
The oldest factory (they have the best homemade whipped cream): Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi
Try every type of coffee! The coffee culture is at the forefront in Italy. Make sure you know where and when to order a cappuccino and when not to, you don’t want the server giving you strange looks (hint: do not order it after 11 am and never in a restaurant.)
The Vatican museum is free on the Last Sunday of each month! ***make sure you take a scarf with you when you go to the churches, if you wear shorts or tank tops, they’ll ask you to cover up***
Visit the Jewish Ghetto! It is so peaceful there and they have great little shops and pastries. Also, there is go great graffiti and street art there. The picture is of street art by Andre. I’ve seen some really great C215 pieces around that area, too.
If you go to the Jewish Ghetto, you will be super close to Castle San Angelo (Shown in the movie Angels & Demons, it is the where the pope would hide when the city was under attack) and if you visit Castle San Angelo, you are within a good walking distance of The Vatican. You could basically walk to all of the touristy places if you are up to it. If not, there are buses, trams, metro stations, and taxi stands.
Monday-Saturday from 7am to 1pm is when the open air markets in the city center run, I like the one at Campo dei fiori, but there are markets all over the city. Find one that is close to where you are staying and check it out.
Go in the Vittorio Emmanuele (aka The Wedding Cake, aka The Typewriter) It’s this sexy building:
At the top of the stairs is one of the best views, you can see the Coliseum, the ruins across the street, and part of the forum. Inside is a free museum about Italy’s war history and there is also the flame for the unnamed soldiers, or something like that. If you want a nice place to chill and hide from the sun for a bit, this is the place.
I would try to catch a choir practice in a church, it’s a nice experience and it’s free.
Check out Babbington’s Tea shop The tea shop has survived two world wars and is a nice bit of English charm in an Italian world. It is right next to the Spanish Steps. On the other side of the steps is the Keats-Shelley Memorial house.
The one thing you shouldn’t do: I would strongly suggest that you do not eat in the city center at places where people are standing outside trying to convince you to enter. 90% of the time the food is terrible and would be a waste of money! You could make better food with your hotel microwave.
Shopping : (always watch out for thieves, common sense people!)
You want to go shopping but don’t have tons of money to shell out? No problem!
My favorite store is the international book store near the Jewish Ghetto, Santander. This is the place I would go when I wanted a new English book to read during my travels.
There is a little shop next to it (well, there is a bank between the stores) called La Chiave, my all time favorite shop! They have little trinkets, musical boxes, old fashion ink pens, wax to seal letters, shoes, jewelry, and lots of home decor.
There are a load of shopping opportunities on Via Vittorio Emmanuele, the long street directly in front of the Wedding Cake. This is the main clothes shopping area.
If you are always on the go and you have some time or need last minutes gifts, some of the best shopping I have done was in Termini Station. There are stores for Nike, Sisley, Disgual, Coin, Mango, and United Colors of Benetton and more. You cannot go wrong at Termini Station.
I hope your trip to Rome is amazing and that these suggestions and tips benefit you! If you have any of your own tips for Rome, feel free to share in the comment section. I’d love to hear them!