Rome, Italy's capital, is packed with art museums, ancient buildings and historic churches. Visitors have flocked to the Eternal City for centuries to see paintings, sculpture, fountains and, of course, the Vatican, Forum and Colosseum. Don't worry, though – you can enjoy Rome without racing from church to church. Rome is made for wandering – and for relaxing in a famous piazza or sidewalk café.
Rome is served by two airports, Leonardo da Vinci (called "Fiumicino" by the locals) and G. B. Pastine Airport (always referred to as "Ciampino" after its location). If you're arriving at Fiumicino, you can take a handy train into the city – it's fast, easy to use and less expensive than a taxi. To get into Rome from Ciampino, you will need to take a bus.
You can also travel by Trenitalia's passenger train service to Rome's Termini Station. Driving to Rome, while certainly possible, isn't for the faint of heart. Traffic is mind-boggling and parking is expensive and hard to find.
Where to Stay
Rome's hotels are rated according to the European star system, with one-star hotels offering the fewest amenities and lowest prices. Four-star hotels are quite luxurious and command much higher prices. Many one- and two-star hotels do not have air conditioning. Some hotels charge a daily fee for air conditioning, typically around 10 euros per day. Rates vary by season; summer is considered "high season" and is the most expensive (and hottest) time to visit Rome.
Many visitors prefer to stay near Piazza Barberini and the Spanish Steps; hotels here are a little more expensive, but the area is pleasant and safe. Hotel Italia Roma, Daphne Inn (two locations) and Hotel Suisse are all conveniently located within a few blocks of Metro stations. The Trastevere neighborhood, across the Tiber River and near Vatican City, is also quiet and safe. Here, you might consider staying at San Pietro Rooms or Guesthouse Residenza Arco de' Tolomei (more expensive).
While you can certainly find Chinese food and even McDonald's in Rome, most visitors prefer to sample the wide variety of Italian dishes served in the city's Italian restaurants. Roman restaurants display their menus, usually near the doorway, so you can read the menus and check prices before sitting down. Expect to pay a cover charge ("coperto") per person in addition to the cost of your meal. In Trastevere, try Sor'Eva at Piazza delle Rovere 108. Near the Pantheon, you'll find a wide selection of restaurants, including Trattoria Antonio al Pantheon at Via de Pastini 12. Stroll up and down the streets until you find a place you like. Near Piazza Navona, tourists and locals flock to Pizzeria Baffetto at Via del Governo Vecchio 114.
For a low-cost, no-frills meal, try one of Rome's many panini (sandwich) stands – the one in the Colosseo Metro station is pretty good – and take your meal to a nearby piazza or park bench. If you prefer to sit and watch the world go by, relax at a sidewalk café. You'll pay extra to sit outside, but there's nothing quite like spending an hour enjoying the real Rome.