Rome, the Eternal City, is the capital and largest city of Italy and of the Lazio region. It's the famed city of the Roman Empire, the Seven Hills, La Dolce Vita (the sweet life), the Vatican City and Three Coins in the Fountain. Rome, as a millenium-long centre of power, culture (having been the cradle of one of the globe's greatest civilisations ever) and religion, has exerted a huge influence over the world in its roughly 2800 years of existence.
The historic centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With wonderful palaces, millennium-old churches, grand romantic ruins, opulent monuments, ornate statues and graceful fountains, Rome has an immensely rich historical heritage and cosmopolitan atmosphere, making it one of Europe's and the world's most visited, famous, influential and beautiful capitals. Today, Rome has a growing nightlife scene and is also seen as a shopping heaven, being regarded as one of the fashion capitals of the world (some of Italy's oldest jewellery and clothing establishments were founded in the city).
With so many sights and things to do, Rome can truly be classified a "global city".
Rome's history spans over two and half thousand years, which have seen its transformation from a small Latin village to the centre of a vast empire, through the founding of Catholicism, and into the capital of today's Italy. This is a long and complex topic; what follows is merely a quick summary.
Rome is traditionally said to have been founded by the mythical twins Romulus and Remus (the sons of Mars and Rhea Silvia) on 21 April 753 BC. The twins were abandoned as infants in the Tiber river and raised by a she-wolf (Lupa) before being found by a shepherd (Faustulus), who raised them as his own sons.
Actually, Rome was founded as a small village on top of the Palatine Hill (including the area where the Roman Forum is found) sometime in the 8th century BC; due to the village's position at a ford on the Tiber river, Rome became a crossroads of traffic and trade. The settlement developed into the capital of the Roman Kingdom, led by a series of Etruscan kings, before becoming the seat of the Roman Republic in 509BC and then the centre of the Roman Empire from 27BC to 285AD. For almost a thousand years, Rome was the largest, wealthiest, most powerful city in the Western world, with dominance over most of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Even after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476AD, Rome maintained considerable importance and wealth. Beginning with the reign of Constantine I (306-337), the Bishop of Rome (later known as the Pope) gained political and religious importance, establishing the city as the centre of the Catholic Church. The city was sacked by the barbarians, first in 410 and again in 455; after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476 the city withstood a siege by the Ostrogoths in AD 537 and a Saracen raid in AD 846, followed by its capture by the Normans in 1084.
During the Early Middle Ages, the city declined in population but gained a new importance as the capital of the newly formed Papal States; Charlemagne, for example, was crowned Emperor at Saint Peter's in 800. Throughout the Middle Ages, most of the city's ancient monuments fell in disrepair and were gradually stripped of their precious statues, ornaments and materials; these were either recycled in other constructions or, as in the case of marble, baked in order to obtain mortar for new buildings... meanwhile, the ancient Fora became nothing more but pasture land. However, Rome not only was a major pilgrimage site but was also the focus of struggles between Roman nobles and, most importantly, between the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy. In 1309 The Pope left Rome for Avignon, at the request of the King of France, and the city plunged into chaos; despite it being formally under the authority of the Pontiff, nobles ruled it as they pleased and were known for oppressing its citizens, often engaging in bloody feuds. By 1347, the populace was on the verge of rebellion - a commoner, Cola di Rienzo, became "Tribune of the People" and promised to rule for the good of the city; a free comune (city-state) was established, nobles were exiled and a vast reform programme was started. However, said nobles conspired against Cola and this, along with the Tribune's own vanity, caused his downfall in 1354.
Following the return of the Papacy (1377) from the Avignonese captivity and with the Italian Renaissance fully under way in the 15th century, Rome changed dramatically. Extravagant churches, bridges, and public spaces, including a new Saint Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, were constructed by the Papacy so that Rome would equal the grandeur of other Italian cities of the period. The city recovered quickly from the sack of 1527 and, in the following 200 years, it became the centre of Baroque architecture; renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini and Caravaggio worked there while the new St. Peter's basilica was begun in 1506, only to be completed in 1626. During the latter stages of the French Revolution - more precisely, in 1798 - local revolutionaries inspired by the new ideals rose against Papal authority and a Roman Republic was declared; the Pontiff was forced to flee and the following year troops from the Kingdom of Naples entered the city, thus putting an end to the revolutionary movement.
Between 1805 and 1814, Rome was also occupied by Napoleonic troops.
In 1849, the population - with the aid of patriots such as Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini - rose against the Papal government and forced the Pontiff to flee the city and seek refuge at Gaeta. A modern, democratic, Constitution was drafted and a new Roman Republic was proclaimed. The Pope then requested the help of the French emperor, Napoleon III, who promptly sent an expeditionary force: despite some initial setbacks the French troops overcame the revolutionary forces which, after a month-long siege, attempted a desperate last stand on the Janiculum hill. In the ensuing bloodbath, the Italian patriots - along with their foreign allies - were crushed; Goffredo Mameli, composer of the current Italian anthem, was among the fallen. In 1860 Rome became again the focus of a power struggle with the rise of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont, which sought to unite the peninsula; after a series of battles, the Papal States were stripped of all their Italian possessions except for Rome, which remained under French protection. However, with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, the French abandoned Rome, leaving it clear for the newly-formed Kingdom of Italy to capture on 20 September 1870. Rome became thus the capital of Italy, and has remained such ever since. The new Italian government started a huge campaign of public works; [wiki=d960b1bc9a59ddf7098a16892249c16e]new districts[/wiki] (such as Prati, or the Esquilino), monuments (the Vittoriano) and public buildings were built, while countless Medieval and Renaissance buildings were torn down to make way for the new street layout and the Tiber river was enclosed within its current embankments.
Following World War I, with the rise of Fascism in 1922 Rome's face changed again: new districts (the [wiki=65ea9cbaa265f2f8d2b84e023e2b28c0]EUR[/wiki]), avenues (via della Conciliazione, via dei Fori Imperiali) and other public buildings were built and ancient sites (such as the Fora or the Circus Maximus) were feverishly excavated; in doing so, entire Medieval neighbourhoods were bulldozed. Population grew; this trend was halted by World War II, which dealt (relatively minor) damage to Rome. After Italy had signed the Armistice, the city was occupied by the Germans on 8 September 1943 despite heavy resistance from surviving units of the Royal Italian Army aided by local partisan formations: these were crushed in a bloody battle near Porta S. Paolo. Roman Jews were deported on 16 October and on 24 March 1944 - after 33 German soldiers were killed in a partisan attack - 335 civilians were rounded up and summarily executed at the Fosse Ardeatine. Rome was finally liberated by Allied troops on 4 June.
With the fall of the monarchy and the creation of the Italian Republic in 1946, Rome again began to grow in population and became a modern city. Today's Rome is a modern, contemporary, bustling metropolis with an ancient core that reflects the many periods of its long history - the ancient times, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Modern Era - standing today as the capital of Italy and as one of the world's major tourist destinations.
At last count there were close to 1,700 novels set in Rome in days gone by. [url=http://intraweb.stockton.edu/eyos/page.cfm?siteID=78&pageID=1]]Most easily available in bookshops are those by [url=http://lindseydavis.co.uk/]Lindsey Davis[/url[/url] and [url=http://stevensaylor.com/]Steven Saylor[/url]. Both are good storytellers and excellent at portraying life in Ancient Rome. Particularly interesting if you are visiting Rome may be Saylor’s “Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome”, which traces the first thousand years or so of Rome’s history by following the fictional fortunes of two families. Each chapter begins with a map showing the state of Rome’s development at the time of the chapter.
The classic work on Ancient Rome remains Edward Gibbon’s “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. This was written in 1782 but is still being reprinted. A marvellous book that covers Rome’s fortunes from Romulus and Remus to the 1970s is “Rome: The Biography of a City” by Christopher Hibbert (Penguin). An excellent guide book, too, although perhaps a bit too heavy to carry around.
English-language bookshops in Rome are:
*Anglo-American Bookstore, via delle Vite, 102, also close to piazza di Spagna. A large store, with specialist sections. Strong on non-fiction.
*The Almost Corner Bookshop, via del Moro 45, [wiki=13e3dbbe371fc4b9abffa4bb90b43c35]Trastevere[/wiki]. Small but very well-stocked store on the other side of the river.
Some Italian bookstores also have English-language sections. Try the large selection of English books (but also French, Spanish and more) at Feltrinelli International in via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando - or the smaller ones in the branches at [wiki=d408069cd6d035a85d4ff2f791b53d63]Largo Argentina[/wiki] or via del Corso.
Rome can be divided into several districts: the so-called historical centre is quite small - only around 4% of the city area - but it's the place in which most of the tourist attraction are located.
Districts are explained below:
Driving to Rome is quite easy; as they say, all roads lead to Rome. The city is ringed by a motorway - the Grande Raccordo Anulare or, simply, the GRA. If you are going to the very centre of the city any road leading off the GRA will get you there; if you are going anywhere else, however, a GPS or a good map is essential. Signs on the GRA indicate the name of the road leading to the centre (e.g. via Appia Nuova, via Aurelia, via Tiburtina) but this is useful only for Romans who know where these roads pass.
One thing to watch out for is the free parking spaces in deserted areas. As car theft is very common in Italy, you should always watch out for them.
Rome's main railway station is Roma Termini, which is closed between 00:30 and 04:30. Most long-distance trains passing through Rome between these times will stop at Tiburtina station instead (see also the "By boat" section below).
Other main stations are Roma Tiburtina, Roma Ostiense, Roma Trastevere and Roma Tuscolana.
About luggage: when travelling between major cities or to/from another country, trains will be designed for passengers and luggage. Most others (e.g., between nearby towns and cities) are often designed to serve commuters.
* For stations en route, they stop for only 1-2 minutes.
* Most cars have a middle platform close to the station's boarding level, but with a significant gap. Seating areas may be at levels different from the middle platform, with narrow/clumsy steps for moving large luggage and little space to store them. Large pieces must often be left on the middle platform; have someone guard them... as thieves might try to grab them just before the doors close.
Rome ( for [wiki=3eba602f401a070e5274969862ac3cd2]all airports[/wiki]) has two main international airports:
*[url=https://www.adr.it/web/aeroporti-di-roma-en-/pax-fco-fiumicino]Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino International Airport[/url] ([wiki=b269fd7d4677d6731aee6839120084dd]Fiumicino[/wiki], ☎ +39 06 65951) - Rome's main airport is modern, large, rather efficient and well connected to the city centre by public transport. However, late-night arrivals may limit you to an irregular bus into town unless you can afford a taxi.
*[url=https://www.adr.it/web/aeroporti-di-roma-en-/pax-cia-ciampino]G.B. Pastine/Ciampino International Airport[/url] (Ciampino, ☎ +39 06 794941) - Located to the southeast of the capital, this is the city's low-cost airline airport, serving Easyjet, Ryanair and Wizzair flights, among others (see [wiki=55c4f48c4e5ad288c770be9ebdf0778a]Discount airlines in Europe[/wiki]). This small airport is closer to the city centre than Fiumicino but has no direct train connection. There are plans to move the low-cost airport much further out of Rome, but this is unlikely for some years. Note that at Ciampino cash machines are available only in the departures area. This is a relatively small airport and it closes overnight; you'll be locked out of the airport until it opens again for the first check-in around 04:30 or 05:00. Flying into Ciampino, try to sit on the right of the plane - it will fly just to the east of the city centre. While the plane's reaching Rome, you can see the Tiber and then the Olympic stadium, Castel Sant'Angelo, St. Peter's and the Colosseum.
If you'll be staying in Rome for at least 3 days, consider purchasing the [url=http://www.romapass.it]Roma Pass[/url]. It costs €36 (or €28 for a 48 hour pass) and entitles holders to free admission to the first two museums and/or archaeological sites visited, full access to public transportation, reduced tickets and discounts for any other following museums (that are included in the programme - e.g., the Vatican Museums are not included) and sites visited as well as exhibitions, music events, theatrical and dance performances.
[url=https://www.conciergerie.com/rome/pass/rome-combo-pass.php]Rome ComboPass[/url] is also available as a combo pass deal that includes the Roma Pass and hop on/off Bus.
[url=https://www.romeandvaticanpass.com/]OMNIA Vatican and Rome[/url] instead includes the services provided by Roma Pass, free entry to Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, fast track entry to St Peter's Basilica and hop-on-hop-off bus tour for 3 days.
In a nutshell: don't do it. Well, some people actually enjoy it. The traffic in the city centre can be chaotic, but it is possible to drive there; it will take a few weeks to understand where to drive, to get where you want to go. When driving in Rome it is important to accept that Italians drive in a very pragmatic way. Taking it in turn and letting people go in front of you is rare. There is little patience so, if the light is green when you go into the intersection and you are too slow, they will let you know. A green light turning to amber is a reason to accelerate, not brake, in part because the lights usually stay amber for several seconds. If you brake immediately when the light changes you are likely to get rear-ended. Parking is scarce. The city centre is plagued with people who demand money to direct you to a space, even on the rare occasions when there are many places available. While in Rome, it is better to travel by bus or Metro, or (in extremis) take a taxi.
If you're driving in the city centre or in certain parts of Testaccio, note that many areas (limited-traffic zones or ZTL) are limited to residents, who have special electronic passes. If you go into these areas (which are camera controlled) you may end up with a fine, particularly if your car has Italian plates. Beware that when turning right across a pedestrian crossing you might have a green light at the same time as the pedestrians.
Taxis are the most expensive way to get around Rome, but when weighed against convenience and speed, they are often worth it.
Roman taxis run on meters, and you should always make sure the driver starts it. Taxis will typically pick you up only at a taxi stand, which you will find at all but the smallest piazzas, as well as at the main train station or when called by phone. Flagging down a taxi (like in London) is possible but quite rare as the taxi drivers prefer to use the stands. When you get in the cab, there will be a fixed starting charge, which will be more for late nights, Sundays and holidays. An €1 supplement per bag will be requested for every piece of luggage the driver has to handle (however, if you carry only one bag you won't have to pay the supplement). So, if you have a limited amount of luggage that wouldn't need to go in the trunk, you may decline when the driver offers to put your bags in the trunk. Drivers may not use the shortest route, so try to follow the route with a map and discuss if you feel you're being tricked.
Be aware that when you phone for a taxi, the cab's metre starts running when it is summoned - not when it arrives to pick you up! Therefore, by the time a cab arrives at your location, there may already be a substantial amount on the meter. A major problem is that taxi drivers often leave the previous fare running on the metre. So you may find the cab arriving with €15 or even more on the metre. If you are not in a hurry you should tell him (there are very few female cab drivers in Rome) to get lost, but if you are desperate to get to the airport it's a different matter. You can get a taxi pretty easily at any piazza though, so calling ahead is really not required. A trip across the city (within the walls) will cost you about €11 if starting at a cab rank, a little more if there is heavy traffic at night or on a Sunday. Taxi drivers may try to trick customers by switching a €50 note for a €10 one during the payment, leading you to believe that you handed them only €10 when you have already given them €50.
Note that it is possible to pay with credit cards! To do so, however, you will have to notify the driver before the ride starts.
The tariffs (fixed fares to and from the city's airports are covered in the "Get In" section) work as follows:
* If you board a taxi on a week-day between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM ---> € 3.00
* If you board a taxi on a week-end between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM ---> € 4.50
* If you board a taxi at night (between 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM) ------------> € 6.50
Base hourly tariff:
* If the taxi's teaveling at a speed below 20 km/h -------------------------------> € 27/h
* If the taxi's traveling at a speed greater than 20 km/h ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> € 1,10/km
* If the taxi's traveling at a speed greater than 20 km/h and the meter's displaying a fare greater than € 11,00 -------------------> € 1.30/km
* If the taxi's traveling at a speed greater than 20 km/h and the meter is displaying a fare greater than € 13,00 ------------------> € 1.60/km
* If you board a taxi with just one piece of luggage ---------------------------------------------------------------------> Free
* If you board a taxi with two or more pieces of luggage measuring more than 35 x 25 x 50cm -------> € 1/piece
* If you called for a taxi ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> € 3.50
* 10% off if you're directed to one of the city's public hospitals;
* 10% off to women who board a taxi at night (between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM);
* 10% off to young people who board a taxi on Friday and Saturdays and are exiting a disco (but only if the place in question is taking part in the scheme).
Notice! The main taxi companies may be called at ☎ 060609, ☎ 063570, ☎ 065551, ☎ 064994, ☎ 066645, ☎ 0688177, ☎ 068822, ☎ 6645 and ☎ 3570.
Once you're in the centre, you are best off on foot. What could be more romantic than strolling through Rome on foot holding hands? That is hard to beat!
Crossing a street in Rome can be a bit challenging, though. There are crossings but, sometimes, they aren't located at signalled intersections. Traffic can be intimidating, but if you are at a crossing just start walking and cars will let you cross the street. While crossing watch out for the thousands of mopeds: as in many European cities, even if cars and lorries are stationary due to a jam or for another reason, mopeds and bikes will be trying to squeeze through the gaps and may be ignoring the reason why everyone else has stopped. This means that even if the traffic seems stationary you need to pause and look around into the gaps.
Beware that unlike in other countries where a lit "green man" indicates that it is safe to cross the road, in Italy the green man is lit at the same time as the green light for traffic turning right, so you can often find yourself sharing the space with cars.
In Rome, all public transport (comprising buses, trams, trolleybuses, the Metro network and the Roma-Lido, Roma-Viterbo, Roma-Giardinetti light railways) is managed by ATAC [url=http://atac.roma.it/],]whose site comes with a handy route planner [url=http://infopoint.atac.roma.it/bw.asp?lingua=ENG[/url].]There's also the route planner belonging to Romamobilità [http://www.agenziamobilita.roma.it/en.html[/url], the city's public agency in charge of programming bus routes and providing real-time information with regards to traffic.
Android users can download the apps: Muoversi a Roma (with route planner), Probus Rome and Autobus Roma, all with menus translated in English.
There is a network of eight railway lines - the Ferrovie Laziali or FL (also spelt FM or FR in outdated signage) - that mostly connect to the conurbations of Rome and other towns in the Lazio region; these lines are wholly owned and operated by Trenitalia. Tourists are unlikely to use them, except when arriving from Fiumicino or Civitavecchia, but they can be very convenient if you fancy a day-trip out of Rome (see [wiki=1f49f770adc6c84629f50ce3ca2a2109#Get Out]Get Out[/wiki]) or need to get across the city quickly (these lines working a bit like the Metro in their urban stretches). You can ride them by using ordinary ATAC tickets for as long as you stay within the city limits: if you're headed to any other destination that doesn't lie within said boundaries you will have to buy (and then time-stamp before boarding the train) a ticket, which costs about €8; there are no reserved seats, food carts or travel classes aboard. This kind of ticket doesn't come with an expiration date, meaning that you can buy one and use it later.
There are also some Regional train lines connecting Rome with other Italian cities and towns - these use the same tracks as the FL lines but are not part of them.
Useful train lines, along with some of the most important stations, are:
*FL1 [Fiumicino Aeroporto] - Fiera di Roma - Roma Trastevere (tram # 8) - Roma Ostiense (Metro line B) - Roma Tuscolana - Roma Tiburtina (Metro line B).
*FL2 Roma Tiburtina - [Tivoli]
*FL3 R. Tiburtina - R. Ostiense - R. Trastevere - Quattro Venti (Janiculum) - Roma San Pietro (St. Peter's) - Valle Aurelia (Metro line A) - [Bracciano] - [Viterbo].
*FL5 [Civitavecchia] - R. San Pietro - Quattro Venti - R. Trastevere - R. Ostiense.
Note: Placenames in square brackets indicate that the station in question is located outside the city's boundaries.
Note: The signs and maps in a few local train stations haven't been updated in a while. It is possible that they don't show some of the newer stops (such as Quattro Venti).
There is the possibility to hire motorcycles or scooters. Many Romans prefer this way of transportation and even in winter you can see them driving scooters equipped with raincoats, blankets, and rain boots.
Motorbikes are not particularly safe in Rome and most accidents seem to involve one (or two!). Nevertheless, Roman traffic can be chaotic and a two-wheeled provides excellent mobility within the city. Scooter and motorcycle rental costs between €30 and €70 per day depending on scooter size and rental company. The traffic can be intimidating and the experience exciting, if a bit insane.
Some of the main rental shops:
* HP Motorrad Roma BMW motorcycle rental, via Giuseppe Bonaccorsi 28, ☎ +39 06 83777859
* Scoot A Long noleggio scooter, via Cavour 302, ☎ +39 06 6780206
* Centro Moto Colosseo, Strada Statale Quattro, 46, ☎ +39 06 70451069
* Eco Move Rent, via Varese 48/50, ☎ +39 06 44704518
* Rent & Rent, via Capo d'Africa 33, ☎ +39 06 7002915
There is the possibility to hire any kind of bike in Rome: from tandem, road bikes, children bikes to trekking bikes. Some shops are even specialised only on high quality ones while street stands will hire you cheaper and heavy ones. Bicycling alone can be stressful because of the traffic: the best way to discover how to move around and avoid it first is with a guide, thanks to the tours offered by almost all rental shops. There are different itineraries offered from the basic city centre, panoramic Rome tour to the Ancient Parks (€29 for 4h). The experience is well worth it and you would reduce also your impact on the city's environment.
Even moderately experienced cyclists, however, may find that cycling through Rome's streets offers an unparalleled way to learn the city intimately and get around very cheaply and efficiently. While traffic in the city centre is certainly chaotic to someone from a country with more regimented and enforced rules of the road, Roman drivers are - generally speaking - used to seeing bicycles as well as motorcycles and one may move throughout the city relatively easily. Should you find yourself in a car's way, they will generally let you know with a quick beep of the horn and wait for you to move.
A particularly spectacular, and relaxing, cycle trip is to pedal out along the via Appia Antica, the original Appian Way that linked much of Italy to Rome. Some of the original cobblestones, now worn by over two millenia of traffic, are still in place. With exceptionally light traffic in most sections, you can casually meander your bike over kilometres of incredible scenery and pass ancient relics and active archaeological sites throughout the journey. ([wiki=65ea9cbaa265f2f8d2b84e023e2b28c0]Rome/South[/wiki])
Some of the many rental shops:
*Punto Informativo. Via Appia Antica 58/60. From Monday to Saturday 09:30-13:30 and 14:00-17:30 (16:30 in winter). Sundays and holidays from 09:30-17:30 non-stop (16:30 in winter). Price: €3/h and €10/day. ☎ +39 06 5126314.
*Comitato per la Caffarella. Largo Tacchi Venturi. Su 10:00-18:00. Price: €3/h and €10/day. ☎ +39 06 789279
*Catacombe di San Sebastiano. Price: €3/h and €10/day. ☎ +39 06 7850350
*Rolling Rome Electric bicycle and bicycle. Via del Cardello 31. ☎ +39 348 6121355
*TopBike Rental & Tours. Via Quattro Cantoni, 40. ☎ +39 06 4882893
*Bici & Baci. Via del Viminale, 5 (Termini Station). ☎ +39 06 4828443
*Collalti. Via del Pellegrino, 82 (Campo de’ Fiori). ☎ +39 06 68801084
*Romarent. Vicolo dei Bovari, 7/a (Campo de’ Fiori). ☎ +39 06 6896555
*Bikeaway. Via Monte del Gallo, 25/a (near the Roma San Pietro train station). ☎ +39 06 45495816
*Bikesharing. Rome's public transport company, ATAC, operates a b