Here’s what I’d advise for anyone planning to spend a day or 2 in Rome:
- Use ItaliaRail to buy your ticket from your host city (mine was Naples) to Rome
- Enjoy the safest, most gorgeous (and quick 1 hour 17m) train ride
- Freccarosia Super Economy will do you well. There probably won’t be anyone else riding & you get the same snacks as in Business Class (€20 more)
- With TI’s mobile PDF, you won’t need to validate at the station
- Ensure your phone is charged well before boarding; the chargers onboard may or may not work
- At the station platforms, look for the Train #, not your destination name
- Arrive to the departing station at least 20m before your train departs
- Walk in Rome. There’s something to see around every corner.
- Consider Hotel Ivanhoe, or any of the many hotels/hostels positioned between Roma Termini Station and the Colloseo
- Bar Monti has amazing risotto, meatballs and traditional dishes, served on a quaint outdoor patio in the heart of Rome
- Most gelato is good gelato, but I had the best (and BEST service) from Gelateria S.M. Maggiore on Via Cavor!
- Eat further away from the toursity monuments to save money
- Use GetYourGuide for fast track entry into the Vatican. DO NOT wait in the Vatican’s lines without an advanced ticket from a tour company; you’ll waste hours
- The best Metro stop for the Vatican Museums is Cipro, not Ottaviano, on the Battistini line (€1.50 each way via Roma Termini)
- Buy the option with an audio guide to explore the Museums on your own, and really listen for some gems 🙂
- Women: shoulders and knees must be covered to enter. Don’t get caught up.
- Photogs: tripods are not allowed in the Vatican/Sistine Chapel
- Photography is not permitted inside the Sistine Chapel itself
- Oooooh baby, get ready for crowds like you’ve never seen them before
- Hold onto your belongings (or better yet, tuck them securely under your clothing) when riding Rome’s Metro. Expect folks to violate your personal space boundaries much more than on US metros. It’s just packed like that, but well worth the savings
- Arrive at the Trevi fountain early in the morning to avoid (you guessed it) crowds of other tourists like you
- Approach and perch on the base of the fountain for the best photo + elimination of meanderers in the back of your shot
- For about €14, the I ❤ Rome Hop On/Hop Off Bus will carry you around the most iconic parts of the city.
- No need to hop off if you’re just looking for a smooth, scenic ride
- Sit on the top deck (open air), near the front, and pounce on any open first-row seats for shade
- This ride comes with another helpful audio guide in at least 4 languages!
I preferred Naples to the capital city because I could soak in the culture, sights and sounds without the pull of the crowds. However, Rome admittedly felt safer than Naples (in the heart of the city). But don’t be a victim either way; street smarts will serve you well. Finally, I did feel as if Rome would have made a better day trip rather than an overnight stay. If you’re going city to city, consider blocking out only one day for Roma.