When In Rome... a day in the life

By Go City Expert

One of the best things to do when experiencing another culture is to fully embrace it yourself. Whether it’s with the locals themselves, or with your family, get to grips with the Roman culture to make the most of your stay. From how to drink your coffee, to getting around the city, these are our top tips and recommendations for things to do when in Rome. Drink an espresso... standing up It’s no surprise that Italians love their coffee. Did you know the espresso is even regulated by the Italian government as it’s considered an essential part of an Italian’s daily lifestyle? In Rome, you’ll notice most drink their coffees, stood up, at a bar (not the alcoholic kind) but a very understated coffee shop, before 9am. Also, if you don’t like your coffee strong you’ll have to specify that you want milk adding to it, otherwise just asking for un caffè will mean you’ll get an espresso automatically. FYI - if you want an Americano, you want to ask for un caffè lungo. Hire a Vespa Getting around Rome is even easier if you hire a Vespa. Traffic in Rome is crazy at the best of times, so you’ll want to avoid getting in a taxi, and public buses can be few and far between. The best way to nip around Rome – if you’re a confident driver – is to hire a classic Vespa from Bici&Baci. Take in the sites on two wheels and you can determine your own sightseeing itinerary. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about parking either, just do as the Romans do and leave it wherever you want! Just don’t forget where and take your helmets with you! Get a photo with a Gladiator It’s not often, if ever, you see swarms of grown men dressed head to toe as a gladiators unless it’s for a themed social event. In Rome you only need to be 200m from the Coliseum and Roman Forum and you’ll see them with their red pleated skirts and bronze armour hustling for a photo. The best thing is to wait, and while they’re not looking, get one from afar – if not, you’ll end up forking out to pay for that precious selfie, which could be a costly souvenir. Eat a gelato If you’re visiting Rome in the warmer months, or any month for that matter, a gelato is a must. This creamy ice cream is one of the most popular foods in the city and you’ll see everyone walking around with a dripping cone of multi-coloured scoops. The Italians are experimental with their gelato flavours and you can pretty much get anything that’s edible whipped up; some of our personal favourites are Panacotta and Bacio. For a taste of real authentic Roman gelato make a beeline for Giolitti, the city’s favourite gelato house! Shop like a local The Italians love their food and they have a huge culture around fresh, local produce. Forget anything processed and refined, when in Rome, you will eat well. Locals champion traditional recipes and eating simply – and everything is delicious! If you’re staying in an Air B&B or are self-catered, why don’t you join the locals and do your shop at a fresh food market. With the help of some authentic recipes and fresh ingredients, you can make your own restaurant-worthy meals. Make sure Campo dei Fiori is on your list of places to visit, it’s the oldest running market in Rome, operating since 1869 and has an impressive offering of fresh ingredients every day except Sunday.

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The Best Rome Walks - Get Around the City

Ah, Rome. One of the best ways to see this ancient city is by foot as there’s a surprise on every corner and given that many of its big tourist attractions are quite close together, a good itinerary will save you money flitting back and forth. We’ve put together two of our favorite Rome walks which will take you from the Spanish Steps to the Colosseum in no time and hit all the big attractions in between. Bring some good shoes, you’ll need them. Spanish Steps to Trevi Fountain to The Pantheon Start things off like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday at the Spanish Steps, one of Rome’s biggest landmarks. Dating back to 1723, this grandiose staircase has attracted many and it’s worth nipping into the nearby streets to explore the boutiques and cafes for a souvenir or three. Once you’ve wrapped up at the Steps, it’s pretty much a straight line towards the Trevi Fountain. Walk past the Keats/Shelley house nearby the base of the steps and walk south along the Piazza di Spagna. It will eventually give way to the Via di Propaganda and you’ll spot the Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte Basilica church on your left, continue going straight on Via di Sant’Andrea beside it. When the road forks, go left onto Largo del Nazareno and then continue onto Via del Nazarano. After that, turn right Via della Panetteria, right onto Via della Stamperia and keep walking straight until you hit the Piazza di Trevi. It’s not going to come as a huge surprise that the Trevi Fountain will be waiting for you there and it’s pretty easy to spot, as there’s usually a big crowd congregated round the massive ivory structure. After you’ve taken your photograph and taken part in a very Roman tradition (tossing a coin into the fountain), head towards Vicolo del Forno. Continue onto Via delle Muratte and walk past the McDonald’s, onto Via di Pietra and finally left into a narrow street called Vicolo de Burro. Continue onto right onto PIazza S. Ignazio, then left at the end of the road and right onto Via del Seminario. Then just walk straight until you see the gigantic facade of the Pantheon rise up in the distance, it’ll be on your left. All in all, the total walk should take between twenty to thirty minutes — of course, if you’re stopping off at the sights then it’s going to take a little longer. Trastevere to the Capitoline Museum, Roman Forum and Colosseum A lazy morning in Trastevere is a gorgeous way to start the day, as it’s one of Rome’s coolest districts and it’s packed with no end of restaurants perfect for a spot of brunch and coffee. Once you’ve finished up and spent time getting to know the area, return to the Basilica of our Lady in Trastevere — located in one of Trastevere’s biggest squares. With your back to the church entrance, turn left and walk till you reach Piazza di Santa Maria. From there, turn right and go past Ristorante Sabatini, past Antica Osteria Rugantino until you hit a major dual carriageway called Piazza Sidney Nonnino. Cross the road, turn left and walk over the bridge (Ponte Garibaldi) which crosses the River Tiber. You’ll then hit Lungotevere de Cenci, which you should follow along the length of the river until you hit a turn off for Via del Foro Olitorio. At the end of the street, turn left onto Via di Teatro di Marcello, then right onto Piazza del Campidoglio. This is when a lot of stairs get involved, as you’ll then start your climb up to Capitoline Hill which you’ll easily spot by the gigantic white statues that line the walk to the entrance. Once you’ve finished with the fascinating ancient museum, stand on the hill and take in the ruins of the Roman Forum from a distance. You can choose to walk down and around to explore it properly, however this walking tour will take you up to the Colosseum first. Take the stairs to Via del Campidoglio (located at the edge of Piazza del Campidoglio) walk along it. It’ll eventually give way to another street called Via di St Pietro which you’ll want to continue along, then turn right onto Via dei Fori Imperiali. You’ll be able to see the Piazza del Colosseo and the imposing structure in the distance, so just continue towards it — you literally can't miss it!
Megan Hills

Things To Do In Rome For A Week

Soak up the culture, discover the history and embrace the Roman lifestyle with our top tips on things to do in Rome for a week! Are you planning a trip and looking for things to do in Rome? With 280 fountains, more than 900 churches and world-famous monuments spanning more than 2,700 years of history, the Eternal City is full of beautiful surprises. If you’re lucky enough to be staying for a week, look no further than our favourite top tips. However, you’d be well advised not to over-plan, and to leave some time to just wander and soak up the atmosphere in the piazze. Day 1 – Guided tours Why not use your first day to find your bearings? There are lots of different kinds of guided tour to help you orient yourself and make getting around during your stay that bit easier. Choose from hop-on-hop-off bus tours with audio commentary, excellent (and often free) guided walks, bike tours (with or without the help of an electric motor) and even segway tours. While Rome is well known for being a ‘walkable’ city, it’s also famous for being built on seven hills. If you are planning on cycling, a reasonable level of fitness will be needed! Once you have worked up an appetite why not choose a ‘trattoria’, a type of informal restaurant, and settle down to a traditionally Roman pasta dish of ‘cacio e pepe’ or ‘amatriciana’? Day 2 – the Vatican The Vatican is one of the must-see attractions for most visitors to Rome. Although the Vatican sights are always busy, you may want to plan your visit for a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday and to consider a fast-entry ticket. The museums are closed on Sundays except for the last Sunday of the month when there is free entry - and mind-boggling numbers of people. St Peter’s Basilica and its Necropolis, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and the thousands of famous paintings and sculptures mean that you could easily spend the day here. If you spent a minute looking at each painting in the museums’ collections, you would have to stay for four years! Day 3 – Ancient monuments Follow in the footsteps of the Ancient Romans, starting with a visit to the Colosseum, the amphitheatre that is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Forum with its ruins of ancient government buildings and Palatine Hill with its views over the oldest parts of Rome, are only a short walk away. The Pantheon, the temple built around 120 AD by Emperor Hadrian, is another must-see landmark. Did you know that concrete was a Roman invention? The Pantheon has a completely unreinforced concrete dome, which is larger than that of St. Peter’s Basilica. Day 4 – Ostia Antica Although there’s more than enough things to do in Rome to keep you busy, there are also some great options for day trips. Why not check out the archaeological site at Ostia Antica, the ruins of Rome’s old sea port, just 30 minutes from central Rome? Wandering around the ruins, you’ll see the remains of homes, baths, docks and warehouses, as well as an amphitheatre and a small museum. Trips to other Italian towns and cities are also possible, including Florence, Orvieto, Naples and Pompei. Day 5 – Museums If you’re looking for a quieter, more reflective day, why not head to the Capitoline Museums and the Museum of Rome? The Capitoline is remarkable in itself, dating back to 1471, and most of the exhibits come from the city of Rome and relate to its history. Particular crowd-pleasers include the collection of classical sculpture and picture gallery with masterpieces by the likes of Titian, Tintoretto, Rubens and Caravaggio. The museum includes a famous sculpture showing Remus and Romulus being suckled by a she-wolf, part of the legend of Rome’s foundation. This image has come to represent Rome and can be seen around the city. There are many other captivating museums in Rome including Maxxi and Macro for modern art and the Museum of Rome, which has over time become primarily an art museum too. Day 6 – Castel Sant’Angelo Take in some fresh air with a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo, on the banks of the Tiber. Built in the 2nd century AD, it was originally designed as a mausoleum by the Roman emperor Hadrian. Over the centuries it has been used as a fortress, papal residence and even a prison, before becoming a museum in 1901. As you walk up the wide ramp into the castle, a statue of the archangel Michael appears overhead, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590. The views from the Castle’s rooftop over the city are beautiful and it’s well worth leaving time for a stroll by the river and to explore the magnificent grounds. Day 7 – Villa Borghese Finish your stay with a visit to Villa Borghese. Although you couldn’t tell from the name, this is a fairly large public park, which houses a popular art gallery and other attractions. Tickets for the gallery have to purchased online in advance. Within walking distance of the park are the Spanish steps and the Trevi fountain, two other popular Roman landmarks. Tradition has it that if you throw a coin into the Trevi fountain, you will return to Rome. In fact, every night about 3,000 Euros are swept up from the bottom of the basin and donated to the charity Caritas, to provide services for families in need. This concludes our suggestions for things to do in Rome for a week. We hope that you have an amazing trip!
Go City Expert

Our Easy Guide to Vatican City

Beat the holiday crowds and make your vacation a blessed one with our sightseeing guide to Vatican City. If the idea of queuing to hours and elbowing through crowds of people doesn't sound like too much fun... then you're in luck! With the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Pass, you can skip the queues and head straight to the amazing landmarks in Vatican City. From the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica to the Vatican Museums and more, here's our easy-to-follow guide to Vatican City. Sistine Chapel Not only is the Sistine Chapel a grand place of worship, it also houses some of the world's finest Renaissance art. Drawing its name from Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere, the man who oversaw its construction, the chapel is part of the Vatican Museums and is always bustling with tourists. Famous master artists such as Botticelli were commissioned to create works for the chapel, including Michelangelo whose detailed ceiling frescoes and The Last Judgment never fails to amaze all those who pass through its doors. Opening hours: 10am - 6pm Highlights: The ceiling and painting The Last Judgment by Michelangelo, Temptation of Christ and Trial of Moses by Botticelli St Peter's Basilica As one of the largest churches in the world, St Peter's Basilica is an icon of the Vatican City and is easily spotted by its elaborate dome designed by Michelangelo. With enough room for 20,000 people, it was built to honour Saint Peter after his crucifixion in 324AD and his tomb still remains in the scavi (grottoes) beneath the basilica, alongside beloved popes. Aside from its impressive standing in the religious community, it also boasts an incredible view from its dome of the city well worth climbing the stairs for. Keep an eye out for the general audiences with the Pope on Wednesdays at 10am - you'll need to sort out tickets in advance which can be found at the basilica, but they're free. Opening hours: 7am - 7pm daily, April - September; 7am - 6pm, October - March Highlights: The view from Michelangelo's dome, Vatican grottoes, general audiences with the Pope, Michelangelo's Piéta Basilica of St John Lateran Situated beyond the Vatican City's limits, the Basilica of St John Lateran is the oldest in Rome and also one of its most important as it houses the official papal throne. While the Pope technically spends most of his time in the Vatican City at St Peter's Basilica, the cathedral is still worth the visit and impressive in its own right with Baroque statues of the apostles adorning its hall. It is also said to house a part of the table from Jesus' last supper, as well as his blood. Venture across the road to the Holy Stairs, the steps of Pontius Pilate's palace that Jesus descended following the trial that led to his crucifixion which can only be climbed on your knees. Opening hours: 7am - 7pm, with the exception of winter months 7am - 6pm Highlights: Papal tombs and throne, holy relics, Holy Stairs, apostle statues Vatican Museums Tackling the Vatican Museums is no small task with over twenty distinct sections and notoriously long lines, however it's a must-visit for any traveller in the Vatican City. Started by Pope Julius II in the early 1500s with just a small collection of statues, it has since become a sprawling epicenter of art and religious iconography spanning centuries and countries. The Raphael Rooms, located at the entrance, herald the unbelievable mastery and beauty of the works to come and a photo of the iconic spiral staircase is mandatory. Opening Hours: Ticket office, 9am - 4pm; museums, 9am - 6pm Highlights: Raphael rooms, spiral staircase, Egyptian museum, Vatican Historical Museum
Megan Hills

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