A Roman Holiday in Italy

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Travel Features >> A Roman Holiday in Italy

A Roman Holiday in Italy

April 11, 2011

The Eternal City, Roma, is as much the city of pizzas as it is of piazzas; of ancient monuments and cultural odysseys, of fabulous art and popular cuisine. Rome is also a city of fashion, plays, football, Formula 1 racing - a happy agglomeration of the old and the new.

Undeniably, Rome is a city of a history. Il Centro Storico, or the historical centre, is a good place to begin your sightseeing tour. Trudge up the wide Spanish Steps - much featured in photographs - and wander around this area of magnificent old monuments, some crumbling, some still in excellent condition, but all resonating with history. Explore the Forum, and the Capitoline Hill, all of them packed with old edifices. Head for the Colosseum, and Palatine Hill for a peek at the Circus Maximus, the Baths of Septimus Severus and the House of Livia. See Capitoline Hill, and its spectacular palaces with facades designed by Michelangelo.

And if you still haven’t had your fill of history and art, make tracks for the Vatican, (the only country which exists within a city), explore the exquisite St Peter’s Basilica, as well as a number of outstanding museums and art galleries. Or walk across one of the quaint old bridges which span the Tiber; delve deep down into the Catacombs; walk down the famous 2,000 year-old Via Appia; feast your eyes on churches, ancient ruins, medieval palaces, art galleries, fountains and museums galore.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do: Sip a glass of Chianti at a tavern; feast on pasta at a trattoria, go dancing and drinking at a local disco, or attend a concert at the Theatre of Marcellus. Then toss a coin in the Fontana di Trevi and make a wish – that you come back here again and again!

Making your way here…
All roads lead to Rome. And so does the Italian superhighway or autostrada. Taking a train is a good idea if you are travelling around Europe. The main railway terminus at Rome is the Termini Station or Termini Stazione and the other major railway stations are Trastavere, Tiburtina and Ostiense. Fly in to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport or a take a domestic/charter flight to Ciampino airport.

…and getting around
If you are armed with a map it should be easy enough to get around Rome since the public transport network is comprehensive. An ATAC ticket allows you to change between trams and buses. COTRAL operates the suburban train service, some buses and the Metro. You can buy your tickets from a booth, a machine, a tobacconist’s, stations and bus stops. Renting a car, moped or bicycle is a great way to get around but a little strenuous owing to the hilly terrain.

A roof over your head…
The most important monuments and the popular market at Campo dei Fiori are just a stone’s throw away from any hotel in the historical centre (il centro storico). Reasonably priced pensioni and hotels cluster can be found around Termini. The pensioni near Vatican City, around Borgo and Prati are expensive but comfortable.

…a good meal, a great bargain and more
Wayside eateries, American fast food, highbrow restaurants, wine bars, pubs, pizzerias, pasticceries and cafes provide a mind-boggling array of gastronomic delights. The places to scout are Centro Storico, Trastevere, Testaccio and Via Cavou, and Termini for economical meals. The biggest fashion houses have outlets on Via Condotti but you could try Via Frattina, Via del Corso, Via Cola di Rienzo and Via Nazionale for relatively inexpensive clothes and accessories. The open-air market at Campo dei Fiori is a favourite, while Piazza Navona is where you can pick up “antiques.”

… and one last bit of advice
When driving around in Roma, drive on the right and keep to the speed limit. This is the home of the fiery scarlet racecars, and Italians aren’t too happy trundling at 90 kph when they could be zipping at 110! And whatever you do, respect siesta time: it’s sacred!

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