Rome is definitely on the Italian “MUST-SEE” list. So with a cheap flight and a long weekend we headed down this past month to see one of the world’s most spectacular cities.
We flew Munich to Rome, direct on Lufthansa, 1 hour flight – but… this inexpensive flight had a few hiccups. It was a very early flight on a Friday morning, so we paid for an extra night in the hotel on Thursday night. Our “sleep and fly” hotel was very close to airport and offered a quick morning breakfast and shuttle. We were also able to park our car at the hotel for several days for a minimal fee. This was a much better plan for me than leaving at o-dark-thirty to get to the airport. Just remember if you find a fairly inexpensive flight from another destination you may have to pay for the hotel and trip from the departure city, making it not as cheap as flying out of your home town (Stuttgart) after all.
Arriving in Rome – the train travels from the Fiuminco airport to downtown Rome but it isn’t very easy to understand and is not at all well marked. We decided to try it and ended up in the north part of town with a few other Americans… did someone say “adventure?” We took the train to one of the main stations and took a taxi the rest of the way to the hotel! HA! It was another €13. I was wet and hungry, it was money well-spent!
Speak a little Italian?
Although Rome seemed like it was an international city it was pretty hard to understand (Roman Italian) and be understood. It definitely was more of a challenge than say…Northern Italy was for me – which was odd for me. But after spending five days in Rome I was very grateful I knew several phrases in Italian to communicate.
Typically when I am traveling around Italy I stay in Agriturismo’s LINK, but we were heading to Rome and it was just Jon and I, so I looked outside our price range but close to the attractions. Well, at least the one, Jon really wanted to see the Vatican again. I found this cute little hotel just outside the entrance, for about €160/night that included breakfast for a deluxe double room with amazing views. The Hotel Alimandi Vaticano was a perfect selection for us – I could get use to this!
The hotel was also within walking distance of the metro within just a few blocks. Our front desk clerks Chris and Nicco were amazing. Helpful from the minute we arrived with suggestions of where to eat and what to do. If we needed to hail a taxi and more, like a 24 hour bar, right on the property.
Getting around ~
Walking around Rome – we walked over 40k steps in just a few days. I use Google Maps a lot when we are walking around, I send myself a walking map code with links.
Taxi’s or Uber?
It was pretty confusing in Rome figuring out UBER, all of our Taxi drivers recommended the MyTaxi App instead. I did download this and use it quite a bit since we had better luck with grabbing a taxi there, Rome has UBER but they also have these new signs everywhere that say, “use UBER, be prepared for a €6,000 fine!” Ouch! They are considered illegal taxis, it was turned over last year and they in fact are not illegal. Unlike the rumors I heard from the past our taxi drivers in Rome were not that crazy, I didn’t find this to be true. A little careless and optional lanes, but if you’ve driven in Italy as much as I have it’s “non problema.” Well, not anymore than any other drivers in any major city I’ve been in around the world. There were hand gestures, expletives and fun, weaving techniques but they are the country who participates in Formula 1 – andiamo ~ let’s go!
More about the MyTaxi App – it partners with GoogleMaps and gives you the 411 on how much it will cost you to get around from point A to point B.
Metro around Rome
Consider getting a 24, 48 or 72 hour train pass. You will have to use a credit/debit card and buy these multi-day tickets from a cashier in a window. We bought a 24 hour pass the day it snowed not knowing what our schedule would have been like for the day. We wanted the security of knowing if we just got tired we could hop the train back to the Vatican and make it back to the hotel without it costing a fortune.
A 100 minute ticket costs €1.50/person, so you could just purchase one of those if you happen to just pop into the Termini (the main station) and want to see the sites. Not all of the major sites are close together, so be prepared to get some steps in as well, if you take the train.
Car-I don’t advise doing this – parking was horrendous in Rome and I couldn’t even imagine driving here. Check out some of these creative park jobs.
Vatican and Sistine Chapel
- If you have military connections GO to the USO in Rome – located near the Vatican – visit Christian and tell him I sent you. If at all possible do all your tours through the USO – you will save so much time and money. Even in February they were completely booked when we arrived and offered much better deals than you can find on TripAdvisor.
The BEST deal they had was €55/person, skip the line at the Vatican & Sistine Chapel with a 4.5 hour tour. There is nothing like that on-line anywhere.
2. Skip the Line tickets – absolutely WORTH IT! Spend the money and pay for these if you’d like the ones that add the 3 hour tour through Like a Local website. Jon and I just chose to do the SKIP the LINE and did our own tour at our own pace. I also downloaded the RICK STEVE’s Audio Europe App. Totally worth it, more about that down below!
3. Arrive very early and stand in line. I mean SUPER EARLY – like 7 a.m. but the doors don’t open til 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. depending on the day. You might stand in line for 3 hours but once your in, you can stay as long as you like. Well with a caveat. I’ll explain in a little.
After going through two different types of security (which made me feel super safe) you’ll come into the main area of the Vatican – grab a map. It is always crowded.
Colosseum ~ if you decide to tour the inside of the Colosseum, the wait for walk-up tickets will take you quite a while. We just walked around. I have been to Arena in Verona and it based off the Colosseum. A LOT of the Colosseum is under construction and had quite a bit of muddy-mud all around it. I have no regrets, crowds are not my thing.
Jon and I showed up here and it was so crowded we just snapped a few photos. Just walking around this alive and vibrant city was a treat!
This area of Rome has such an amazing history. Brought here in the early part of 70 AD the Jewish community in Rome were brought to live in really poor conditions…. It wasn’t until Napoleon’s invasion that the Jewish community enjoyed more freedoms. Napoleon released some restrictions and they enjoyed a bit more prosperity. Also, this area of town held the Pescheria (or fish market) since it was close to the harbor.
During WWII, the community was brought together and threatened to come up with 20Kg of gold to not be sent to concentration camps within a 24 hour period. Not just the Jewish community but other Romans came together and met the ransom, however, the Nazi promise was not kept and they were taken to the camps anyway.
We really enjoyed walking through this ancient area of Rome, of course, the weather got a little nicer with the sun coming out and still snow everywhere.
One of the surreal things we experienced while we were walking the city was how far up the city has been built. Notice as you walk the city how much lower the streets were in Ancient Rome. I think you are actually able to walk through these ruins in better weather, but perhaps because the weather was so slippery and wet the ruins were closed to tourists. I was still able to get great shots.
MAGICAL SNOW IN ROME!
I love when magic just happens when I travel. On Monday morning, with one look out the window this northern NY girl, knew we had some ground cover. No worries for me, because…
1) I know snow and 2)I live in Germany and 3 )It’s February – right? I wasn’t expecting super warm weather. So glad I packed a hat, mittens and boots. Mom and Dad would be proud. To my surprise this kind of magic only happens once in a while, so Rome was perplexed, I guess it snowed like six years ago, so this was something really special. I hope you enjoy my pictures!
Near the Vatican ~
Make reservations here ~ you can do this through TripAdvisor real easy with The Fork
In the Jewish Ghetto
Near the Castell… (look up address) in Roma
The Meat Market– interesting and fabulous food!
Visiting Rome was definitely on the bucket list for sure – I’m so glad we did – one of my absolute highlights of this adventure was our day trip to Ostia Antica – I’ll be writing about that soon, look for that blog.
OTHER things you need to know…
Remember Rome is like Athens and New York City or any major city in the world. Mind your belongings and keep track of your valuables. There are pick-pocket signs in every public area from the train stations to the restrooms, to one of the churches we visited.
Rome with Jon was an amazing experience and I’m so glad we did it together. It is a super romantic city too. I think it probably goes unnoticed as such because there is so much to see and do, but walking everywhere surrounded by beautiful architecture and art, passing all the fountains of love, the many canals and bridges in every part of Rome can’t help but be a city of love.