Rome – intro and index

Rome doesn’t need any introduction from me really. It’s the most culturally fascinating and historically complex city that I’ve ever visited, which is why I’ve written twenty posts on it, with more to come I’m sure. I’ve been five times, in 1984 on holiday when I was 18, and 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2018 for work. Most of those were fleeting visits but in 2018, when most of the posts below were written, I got to stay for two weeks, with two weekends off, which gave me time to get quite a good knowledge of the different neighbourhoods. Of course I still have plenty to learn so please just think of this as a useful travelogue rather than a comprehensive guide.

Remus and Romulus

My city map with over eight hundred placemarks, plundered from a multitude of guides, is here. The key is in the top left. If there is a more comprehensive tourist map in the English language, I’d like to see it! I’ve organised my posts by neighbourhood, so here’s a map of the neigbourhoods in the Centro Storico. As you can see it’s quite a big area, not just the classical and medieval areas where the main tourist sites are, but the extended area once enclosed by the Aurelian city walls.

Here’s an index and brief descriptions of post contents:

Near Termini and the Hotel Columbia…

Castro Pretorio – staying in the neighbourhood around the Hotel Columbia. (Post here).
Sallustiano – a cheap trattoria, gelato, pinsa, to the north of the hotel. (Post here).
Esquilino – things to see and do. (Post here).
Esquilino – takeaway food to the east of the hotel. (Post here).
Esquilino – restaurants to the east of the hotel.(Post here).
Monti – restaurants to the south of the hotel. (Post here).

And down in the old town…

Spanish Steps – food and sights. (Post here).
Centro Storico – an early morning start. (Post here).
Centro Storico – good restaurants. (Post here).
Centro Storico – Bernini fountains and statues. (Post here).
Centro Storico – more fountains and statues. (Post here).
Centro Storico – cafes and gelatarias. (Post here).
Trastevere – Sunday market and lunch. (Post here).
Ripa – weekend farmers market, archaeology. (Post here).
Ghetto di Roma – a great restaurant in the Jewish Quarter. (Post here).
Testaccio – great restaurants. (Post here).

Some neighbourhoods outside the Centro Storico…

Normentano – an Art Nouveau architecture walk. (Post here).
San Lorenzo – alternative studentsville. (Post here).

And out of town…

Ostia Antica – archaeological ruins. (Post here).
Ostia Lido – rundown sea resort. (Post here).

For those who like long walks, I also recommend hiking the Via Appia Antica out of town and eating lunch at L’Archeologia. Unfortunately I lost my photos for this experience so I didn’t blog it.

Some general tips:

The cost of bottled water is generally exorbitant in the tourist areas in Rome so a great tip is to drink from a ‘nasone’ (big nose!) public water fountain. Just take a plastic bottle with you and keep filling it up. Here’s a map of nasoni around the city. And an article about their history.

You’ll probably end up doing a lot of walking in the medieval and classical parts of the city, so come prepared. This is because taxis are really expensive and the city has a very limited metro system. I’m guessing this is mainly due to all the hills and also the archaeology, which prevented the construction of stations in the ancient centre. Buses are good for getting around but tend to be very crowded.

Thinking of getting a sightseeing pass? In 2018 I bought the Roma Pass for €28 presuming that I would be able to get in free to several other tourist sites, but it turned out that it often just gets you a discount. I’m not convinced that it’s worth buying one unless you really are going to spend your whole weekend sightseeing. You need to visit one of the most expensive museums, make three reduced-entry visits, and also use public transportation frequently, in order for the pass to save you money. I understand the Vatican has a different 72-hour pass, called the Omnia Pass, which will allow you to jump queues there, but it’s much more expensive. Please comment below if you have any experience of it.

Hope you enjoy reading about my experiences. Please do let me know in the comment sections if you found any of it useful. Wishing you a wonderful time in this fantastic city!

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