For information, including a list of useful telephone numbers and the address of public services, embassies and consulates, hotels, and restaurants, we recommend you visit the official website of the Rome Tourist Board at: www.romaturismo.com
History and landmarks
Located on the River Tiber, between the Apennine Mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea, the ‘Eternal City’ of Rome (Roma) was once the administrative centre of the Roman Empire, governing a vast region that stretched from Britain to Mesopotamia. Today, it remains the seat of the Italian government and home to numerous ministerial offices.
The legendary beginnings of Rome are related in the tale of Romulus and Remus. Princess Rhea Silvia, ravished by Mars (the God of War), gave birth to the twins and abandoned them to fate. The River Tiber carried them to the Palatine Hill, where a she-wolf mothered the babes until their discovery by a shepherd. Romulus later killed Remus, before going on to found Rome in the marshy lowlands of seven hills. The anniversary of Rome’s foundation – 21 April 753BC – is now marked by a public holiday.
Rome saw a second period of development during the 15th-century Renaissance, when the Papacy took up permanent residence in the city. Although Rome’s power has since waned, the city remains the essence of European civilisation.
Monumental ruins dating from Rome’s glory days lie within an area known as Roma Antica (Ancient Rome) and include the Colosseum and the Foro Romano – a crumbling legacy of pagan temples, broken marble and triumphal arches. Buildings from the Renaissance period are concentrated within the centro storico (historic centre), between Via del Corso and the Tevere (River Tiber).
The romantic Piazza Navona with Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain immortalised by Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1959), all lie within walking distance of each other.
Location: Lazio region, Italy (www.regione.lazio.it)
Country dialling code: 39
Area code: 06
Population: around 3 millions
Time zone: GMT +1
International airports: two: Leonardo da Vinci – Fiumicino; Ciampino (www.adr.it)
Metro lines: Two, the lines A and B (www.atac.roma.it)
Arriving in Rome
Fiumicino Airport (Leonardo da Vinci), Rome's main airport is well-connected to the centre during the day by a direct train and slower trains. The direct train between Fiumicino and Termini costs € 8,78 and takes approximately 30 minutes. It leaves from and arrives at track 22 at Termini (the main train station).
Most Inter-City trains arrive at Termini Station. A few trains, particularly those arriving at night, arrive at the Tiburtina or Ostiense stations.
Termini Station, the hub of Rome's transport system, can be confusing when you first arrive. Once you have gotten off the train and walked down the platform, you will reach the main gallery. The exit by platform 1 will take you to the north side of Termini; the exit by platform 22 will take you to the south side of Termini. Continuing away from the platforms past the main gallery, you will reach the main hall. If you exit through the main hall you will find Piazza dei Cinquecento, where the largest bus terminal in Rome and access to the city's two metro (subway) lines, A and B, is also located. The night bus to Fiumicino airport departs from and arrives here as well.
All roads lead to Rome, but it can be difficult to actually reach the centre. If you are on the A1 highway from the north, take the exit called "Roma Nord" . If you are on the A1 from the south, take the exit "Roma Est". Both of these exits, after a few kilometres, take you to the GRA (Grande Raccordo Anulare), the road that forms a ring around the city.
Once in Rome
Rome's metro system is very useful and quite safe as long as you are alert. Although the bus network is extensive and buses run frequently (though will still be crowded), the metro is much simpler to master.
The metro system has only two lines, A and B, which cross at Termini. There are trains from 5.30 am until 10.30 pm every day (on Saturdays until 0.30 am). Metro stations on line A do not have facilities for the disabled (except the Cipro-Musei Vaticani and Valle Aurelia stations). Alternatively, bus 590 follows the same route of metro line A and has wheelchair access (see below). All the metro stations on line B have facilities for the disabled except the Circo Massimo, Colosseo and Cavour stations(direction Laurentina).
There are hundreds of bus lines, running from 5.30am until midnight. In addition to the usual bus lines recognisable by a “U” letter on a blue background, the city Bus Lines are the following:
- Express Lines: marked by an X letter in green colour covering long distances and connecting far away areas;
- Exact Lines: marked by an E letter in bordeaux colour covering short distances leaving at fixed hours;
- Electric Lines: for historic centre transportation. This bus is nicknamed "Pollicino" for its small size;
- Night Lines: marked by and N letter. Service runs from midnight to 5.30am Stops are easily recognisable because they feature an owl sign;
- Lines for the disabled: lifts allow getting on and off with a wheel-chair. In particular bus 590 runs along the Metro A route: from Piazza Cinecittà to Viale Giulio Cesare
Taxis in Rome are white or yellow, have an identification name and number on the front door and show a taximeter inside. They can be easily found in every part of the city in special taxi parkings, each parking having its own phone number. You can also call one of the many Radio Taxi companies: an operator will contact the nearest taxi parking to where you are at the moment and tell you the name and number of the taxi arriving to pick you up to allow easy and safe identification. The operator should also tell how many minutes it will take for the taxi to reach your present location.
Taxi telephone numbers: 06.3570 – 06.6645 – 06.8822 – 06.4157 – 06.4994 – 06.5551.
Places to visit
It is impossible to recommend something to visit in a town that is an open-air museum, but pay attention to the following tips:
- Museums hours are subject to change without notice as per Superintendency instructions.
- As a rule, ticket offices close 30 to 60 minutes before the actual closing times.
- It is advisable to check opening hours by calling directly the place you intend to visit. For further information please visit the web site of the Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali (the Ministry of Cultural Goods and Activities) at: www.beniculturali.it.
Interesting itineraries tips are available within the website of the Rome Tourist Board at: www.romaturismo.com
Hotel and restaurants
The range of hotels in Rome is enormous. There is no peak season in Rome since the tourist flow is stable throughout the year. This might make finding a hotel in Rome at the last minute very difficult so we recommend you book your accommodation as soon as possible.
The Azienda di Promozione Turistica di Roma (Tourist Board of Rome) supports the initiative sponsored by ARSIAL (Regional Agency for the Development and Innovation of Agriculture in Lazio) and FIPE (Italian Federation of Public Concerns) aiming at the promotion of traditional Roman cuisine. The restaurants listed within this website have obtained the trademark of “typical” that certifies their attention to ingredients, the use of local products, respect for authentic traditional recipes and wines offerings from Lazio on their wine lists. The grant of the “Ristorante Tipico” (Typical Restaurant) trademark is verified on an annual basis and only authorized restaurants can display the tag with the initiative’s logo.
Rome’s shops are full of fine clothes, leather items, shoes and bags. The designer shops are concentrated in the network of streets spanning out from the Spanish Steps. Of these, Via Condotti has most of the big names: Gucci, Max Mara, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Giorgio Armani, Bulgari, Damiani. Nearby you’ll find Dolce e Gabbana, Fendi, Gianni Versace, Moschino, Gianfranco Ferré and Laura Biagiotti, Pineider.
Affordable buys can be found in the high-street shops lining Via del Corso, Via del Tritone, Via Nazionale and Via Cola di Rienzo.
The antiques district lies along Via Margutta, Via del Babuino, Via Giulia, Via dei Banchi Vecchi and Via de’ Coronari (the pedestrian street organises fairs in May and October when its stores are open late). Bric-a-brac and retro clothes can be found at the popular flea markets, the best being Via Sannio (Monday to Saturday, 0730-1300) and Porta Portese (Sunday 0730-1300) flea markets.
Luxury goods recommended to take home may include assorted vinegars, truffles and olive oil.
Smaller shops often close for lunch (1:00 – 4:00 p.m.) while larger stores tend to stay open all day (9:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.).
Major exhibitions have a spectacular venue in the Scuderie Papali del Quirinale, renovated by famous Italian architect Gae Aulenti and located opposite the Quirinal Palace (www.scuderiequirinale.it).
The weekly Time Out Rome (www.timeout.com/rome/index.html) publications provide information on cultural events.
Renzo Piano’s new auditorium or Parco della Musica, recently inaugurated, is a ten-minute tram-ride from Piazza del Popolo, and features three halls with perfect acoustics and a large courtyard used for outdoor concerts and events. The tourist information office can provide more information. In the meantime, the classical musical scene bases its reputation on two academies: the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and the Accademia Filarmonica. Rome’s principal and most prestigious academy, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia stages its own concerts or hosts visiting orchestras all year round at Auditorio Pio, Via della Conciliazione 4, while it graces the beautiful Renaissance courtyard of Villa Giulia, Piazzale di Villa Giulia 9 during the summer.
The Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Via Beniamino Gigli 1 (www.operaroma.it), dominates the opera scene. The season runs from November to May. The box office opens two days before each performance.
The theatre season runs from October to May. The city’s official troop, the Teatro di Roma (www.teatrodiroma.net), is based at the prestigious Teatro Argentina, Largo di Torre Argentina 52 which hosts lavish productions directed by renowned directors. The Teatro Nazionale, Via del Viminale 51 is the permanent home of the Italian Theatre Board – ETI, which puts on light and enjoyable comedies. Musical comedies are performed at the fashionable Teatro Sistina, Via Sistina 129 (www.ilsistina.com). Classical works are performed in the Teatro Valle, Via del Teatro Valle 23A (www.teatrovalle.it), and in Teatro Quirino, Via Marco Minghetti 1 (www.teatroquirino.it), whose varied programme includes classics, contemporary work and Commedia dell’Arte.
Italy’s grand history in film has been centred in Rome’s Cinecittà (Cinema City), Via Tuscolana 1, which was opened by Mussolini in 1937.
Rome has over 90 cinemas. Tickets cost about €7 (prices are often reduced for matinee performances and on Monday evenings). Non-Italian language movies are dubbed.
Romans go out late and the real fun only really begins after dinner. The wine-bars and cafés lying between Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Navona and Via della Pace are the places to be seen. The biggest concentration of nightclubs lies in the Testaccio district, where a plethora of small venues offer dancing and concerts.
Remember that drinks and coffees are always much cheaper when consumed standing at the bar.