USEFUL INFO ON ROME

TRANSPORTATION

There are only two metro lines in downtown Rome. For bus and metro lines see:

http://www.atac.roma.it/index.asp?lingua=ENG

The ticket is 1.5 euro, you can buy it in tobacco stores and newspaper kiosks, or in metro stations. It must be stamped upon boarding the bus, and it is valid 100 minutes on all buses and it includes one metro ride.

The daily ticket is 7 euro and it is valid for 24 hours from the first time you stamp it for an unlimited number of  journeys. The 2-day ticket is 12.50 and it is valid for 48 hours from the first time you stamp it for an unlimited number of journeys. The 3-day ticket is 18 euro and it is valid for 72 hours for an unlimited number of journeys from the first time you stamp it. These are only available at metro stations.

Licensed taxis are white and have a sign bearing the word “TAXI” on their roofs. The symbol of Rome City Council is clearly visible on the front doors and the licence number is inside on the back left door. There is always a starting charge which is: weekdays €3; on Sundays and holidays (from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) €4.50; at night (from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.) €6.50. The standard cost per 1 hour would be something around €27.

There are two fares: 1 is for trips within the GRA (Rome’s ring road), 2 for trips outside the GRA. Make sure the meter is on 1 in town.

The first piece of baggage is free. The cost of every other piece that  measures more than 32x25x50 is €1. There is an extra charge of €1 for every fifth passenger and more.

Trying to flag a taxi down in the street can be frustrating, best walk to the nearest taxi rank (there is one in every major square). If you call a taxi by phone (060609) there is a fixed maximum call charge to be added to the first unit: € 2.00 if the arrival of the taxi is expected within 5 minutes of the call; € 4.00 if the arrival of the taxi is expected within 10 minutes of the call; € 6.00  if the arrival of the taxi is expected more than 10 minutes after the call.

Make sure the taxi meter  is switched on prior to starting the journey, if not ask driver to get it going.  Always ask to be given a receipt. The receipt must include: details of the journey, licence number,  fare and the driver’s signature. If possible, take a picture of the licence number on the door, just in case.

The set fare to/from Fiumicino Airport is 48 euro, including luggage; to/from Ciampino Airport 30 euro, including luggage.

For more info on transportation in Rome see:

http://www.turismoroma.it/infoviaggio_categorie/muoversi-in-citta?lang=en

DRESS CODE

In the Vatican no sleeveless shirts, no shorts, no short skirts (no bare knees). Ladies can wear pants. Gentlemen must wear long trousers (no bare ankles).

Other churches are not that strict, but still no bare shoulders and no shorts.

There isn’t a dress code for archaeological sites, but please note that shorts  (for both men and women) are beachwear in Italy!

Make sure you always wear comfortable shoes (trekking shoes or sneakers are best), and hat, sunglasses and sunscreen in the Summer.

FOOD

Food is pretty much good all over the city. Make sure you try the pastas (Amatriciana, Carbonara, Gnocchi), artichokes, “fiori fritti” (fried zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella)  and “supplì” (fried rice balls with a mozzarella  heart). Pizza in Rome is with a thin and crispy crust, best if wood fired.

Restaurants and Pizza places must post their menu with detailed  prices outside by law. This way you can see if they have anything you like and have an idea of the prices before you go in. Make sure you check  the cover charge: it can be from 1 to 6 euro for each person, so it can make a big difference. It normally says at the bottom of the menu, in small letters. The tip is never included, it goes on top of the bill, about 10 %, in cash. Always order from the menu, don’t just trust a funny/friendly waiter. And stay away from restaurants where menus have photos of food!

Snack bars are the best for a quick sandwich or just a coffee. Normally you have to pay at the cashier before you proceed to the counter to order. Locals drink coffee standing at the counter. Most places charge for sitting at the tables inside, and more for sitting at the outdoor tables. Take-away coffee is not common, and it normally comes in a small soft plastic glass.

In Italy “caffè” means Expresso, it is very strong and it comes in a tiny cup. “Americano” comes in a tea cup, but it is still Expresso with more water. Ask for “caffè macchiato” if you want a little milk in your coffee, or “latte macchiato” if you want milk with a drop of coffee. “Cappuccino” is only for breakfast or a snack, coffee is more common at the end of a meal or any other time of the day.

Make sure you try gelato in Rome! Go where it says “gelato artigianale”: it is home made, just milk and fruit, no additives no preservatives. I will be glad to teach you tips to tell real good gelato. Make an effort and order flavours in Italian, it will be well appreciated. In Rome you can have whipped cream (panna) on top of your gelato, at no additional cost!

No need to bring snacks from home! Italians believe in food, we have great snacks here (you will end up taking some back with you!). When in Rome, eat as the Romans!

Water is great in Rome! No need to buy expensive bottled water, just carry a bottle and fill it at the street fountains: tasteful, safe, cold, free!

Supermarkets are all over the city, sometimes hidden among tourist attractions, just ask locals! They are normally open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. There is also an out-door market in every neighbourhood, open only in the morning (most famous is the one at Campo de’ Fiori). Excellent to buy fresh fruit, snacks, and drinks.

SHOPPING

Shops are normally open all day, from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, though some may have different hours. In downtown most shops are open 7 days, but not all.

All prices must be displayed by law, even for small items, and they include taxes.

The shopkeeper/vendor must issue a receipt  for every transaction, by law: make sure you get it, you will need it in case you want to change your buyings, or if anything goes wrong. In case of problems, call City Police 06 67104282.

PICKPOCKETS

As every other big city Rome has pickpockets.

Make sure your money is safe in a moneybelt. Don’t keep important things in ANY outside pockets in your suitcase, jacket, or purse.

Never leave your camera or bag unattended.

Don’t let strangers come too close to you, not even in museums or churches.

STREET VENDORS 

You will be bothered by many illegal street vendors. Most of them are Indian or Bengladeshi, mostly illegally in Italy. Buying from them is a crime. Just say “No”, they will walk away.

Kiosks and stands are licensed, no problem buying from them. But make sure you bargain! And again: prices must be displayed, and a receipt issued.

DON’T DO WHAT THE ROMANS DON’T

There are some things Romans would never do, and some they really find offensive. To blend in, better abide with the following rules while in Rome:

- Fountains are monuments, most of them by greatest artists. It is very disrespectful (and a crime) to bathe/shower/dip your feet in a fountain, even if it is a very hot Summer day.  Easier with drinking fountains: you can fill up your bottles there, and wash hands and face (no soap though).

- Trevi Fountain is the only fountain you are welcome to throw coins in.  Don’t throw coins in just any fountain.

- Roman men would never wear sleeveless shirts and/or shorts in a museum, restaurant, snack-bar, and any other public place (forget a church), and they rather consider it offensive. Women wear sleeveless shirts but would never enter a church bare shoulders. Carry a light scarf with you just in case you run into a church. Shorts are beachwear in Italy for both men and women!

- People expect you to knock on a public bathroom door before you open it. Locks don’t always work, it is polite to make sure nobody is in the bathroom before you wide open the door.

- Most toilets must be flushed manually. Look for a button/lever/chain/pedal and flush the toilet, it will not flush automatically.

- At hotels, people expect that you wear shoes in all public areas.

- Writing graffiti on a monument/ancient ruin/art piece  and picking up fragments from sites are crimes (and extremely offensive behaviours), even if the monument/ruin/art/fragment are very small and don’t look significant to you.

TEMPORARY EXHIBITIONS AND NEWS 

For updates and curiosities, see my Archaeonews and Facebook page

READING LIST:

A. Claridge, Rome, 1998

R. Krautheimer, Rome: Profile of a City, 312-1308, 1980

C. Hibbert, Rome: The Biography of a City, 1987