Rome, Italy

Guide for the rail traveller

Information

CurrencyEuro
Local languageItalian
Country Italy

Introduction

Situated on the River Tiber in the Lazio region, Rome or the ‘Eternal City’, is the seat of Italy’s government. The sheer amount of history envelops you the minute you arrive in Rome, making the city and particularity the centro storico appear much like an open-air museum. With over four hundred churches, several stunning basilicas, countless ruins as well as some of the world’s most beautiful piazzas and fountains Rome has much to offer. The legendary beginnings of Rome are well documented, with such illustrious past rulers as Julius Caesar and Nero; Rome is very much the heart of European civilization.

Across the River Tiber to the west lies the Vatican State, which is home to the Pope and the heart of the Roman Catholic Church. Clearly tourism is a major source of income for this city and until recently the city had been criticized for its poor infrastructure. However in anticipation of the estimated thirty million visitors for the millennium, much was restored and improved.

Rome is blessed with a warm Mediterranean climate, the best times to visit are in spring and autumn, the summer months however do get very hot. Only two hours from both Naples and Florence, Rome is located very centrally. Similarly, the seaside isn’t too far away providing a pleasant getaway for Romans during the hot summer months.

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Things to do

The Foro Romano (Roman Forum), once the political, commercial and social center of Rome displays incredible ruins of temples and palaces of times gone by. Take the metro to Colosseo or the bus to Piazza Venezia. Equally impressive is the gigantic oval Colosseo (Colosseum) dating back to 72AD. Though only a skeletal framework remains, this was the scene of gladiatorial conquests (made famous by the recent Hollywood film) and remains ancient Rome’s hallmark monument. The best preserved of Rome’s ancient monuments is the architecturally beautiful Pantheon situated in Piazza della Rotunda.

The Vatican City lies close to the Tiber in central Rome and is a fully independent state. The Sistine Chapel adorned with Michelangelo’s astonishing frescos attracts long queues but is clearly worth waiting for. Meanwhile, the Vatican Museum includes the world’s largest collection of classical statues. The interior of St Peters Basilica is an opulent display of the Church’s power and wealth, and home to Michelangelo’s famous Pieta. Lastly, St Peters Square (Piazza San Pietro) is a large, circular Piazza which can hold up to four hundred thousand and is the site of the Palazzo Vaticano.

One of Rome’s many fountains, the Fontata di Trevi (Trevi Fountain) on Piazza di Trevi was the setting for the famous scene of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. Meanwhile at Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) a steep climb leads to Trinita dei Monti from where spectacular views of the city can be enjoyed. East of the Spanish Steps lies the welcome greenery of the park Villa Borghese which is scattered with sculptures and home to Galleria Borghese, a magnificent palace.

Campo dei Fiori (Field of Flowers) is a wide square that hosts the fruit and vegetable market, popular with locals as well as visitors it is more down to earth and at night becomes very lively with many bars and trattorie. The principal modern street, Via Veneto, Rome's 'Champs Elysées', is lined with hotels, embassies and cafés. From here the many fashionable and elegant shopping streets can be explored.

Local transport

Public transport in Rome has improved in recent years and includes the buses, trams, metro and the suburban railway. All tickets must be purchased in advance from ticket counters, tobacconists, newsagents or automatic ticket dispensers. Tickets must be validated before each journey and there are several options including daily and weekly passes as well as a 75-minute ticket.

Day trips

The options for day trips are extensive including destinations such as Florence, Pompeii and Capri, being within reach of Rome by coach or train, though note that a day may not be long enough. Alternatively Tivoli, home to the Villa d’Este’s famous fountains and Renaissance gardens, is situated only thirty kilometers (twenty miles) east of Rome. This hilltop town is the site of numerous luxurious villas and is an escape from the hustle and bustle of Rome.

If you want to follow the Pope’s example visit Castel Gandolfo. The summer residence of the Pope is situated on the western edge of Lake Albano, sixteen kilometers (ten miles) southeast of Rome and can still be described as ‘off the beaten track’. Lastly, the beach resort of Fregene is located thirty-five kilometers from Rome. Backed by pine forest the resort features wide sandy beaches as well as a small center with a number of shops and cafés.

Recommended places and events to visit in Rome

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