Rome represents the gateway to the ancient world and modern Europe all in one package. Seated in the middle of Italy, Rome was established well before the birth of Christ between 760 and 720 B.C. As a result there is so much history in this ancient Italian city, one could spend a whole trip just walking through the municipal museums alone.
Timing is Everything
Much of the success of a trip to Rome depends on how much time a visitor has to spend in the city. Short trips for a few days should at least plan for a week. Anything less is just cheating yourself for the price of the trip.
If in town for a week, the best value includes walking around to the main sites. Focus on physical glories of Rome including the Pantheon, the Roman Colosseum, the Vatican Plaza, and Trevi Fountain. Then wrap the last day enjoying the shops and restaurants. Use the first short trip to get your bearings and plan for future, longer visit.
If in Rome for a couple of weeks, you can really enjoy the city and modern Rome life. Plan on adding to the above itinerary with a couple of the big museums showcasing the work of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and other famous names. Make a point to visit a few of the churches as well. Then look to the countryside to see life just outside Rome.
Best Times to Visit
Despite the fact that Rome is in the Mediterranean and makes up Southern Europe, the country shaped like a boot still experiences cold temperatures during the winter. As a result, the best times to visit Rome are similar to the rest of Europe: late summer and fall. During these times the temperature is warm enough for t-shirts and shorts, the skies are fairly dry without storms, and most of the local life is out and about in markets, fairs, and festivals.
Travel during the winter requires a good jacket as temperatures in the city proper can get down to 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit on cold days. The spring brings a fair amount of rain storms and cloudy days, so travelers will need to dress appropriately to adjust between cold and partly sunny midday temperatures.
Travel Cost Control
Given the weather differences, obviously the summer and late fall have the highest prices for visiting Rome, both in air fare, lodging, and transportation. Flight cost differences alone can range from $500 for a round trip in dead winter to as much as $2,000 in prime summer per person. The best way to limit air fare costs is to purchase ahead or be willing to grab last minute trips on a 48 hour notice. Either method will reduce the fare cost by $300 to $500 on average. Consolidators that give you choices between airlines provide the best pricing, but you lose the ability to earn maximum travel miles if you are signed up for them since the airlines won’t recognize third party purchases for credits.
Lodging is also driven in cost by travel seasons. Standard Rome hotels will be expensive, but if you’re willing to be creative and research, you can locate an apartment for longer stays at much cheaper prices. You just have to be willing to do your own cooking and cleaning unlike a hotel. Many Rome-specific tourist sites and lead you to information on apartment rentals for more details.
Food and Spirits
Rome has a long history of fine foods and wonderful wines. Just walking into a deli or food market will cause your taste buds to salivate, smelling all the fresh foods and spices. Keep in mind a proper meal is not just one plate; it include four separate dishes ranging from salads and appetizers to a full-course dish with pastas and meat. In visiting the restaurants big and small, you’ll see everyday life around you and be able to truly relax at the same time. Suggestions include Vineria Il Chianti at Trevi Fountain, with a wide range of foods and plates for everyone and Ripa 12 for fish and seafood lovers.
Part of enjoying travel in Rome includes protecting yourself adequately for problems. Rome, like many areas visited by tourists, has its share of less than savory characters who would like nothing more than to relieve you of your bags and wallet. According to the Rome File, while violent crime is uncommon, theft and pickpockets are rampant in the city (http://www.romefile.com/information/crime.php).
The best protection remains thinking ahead. Keep credit cards and cash in a different location than your main wallet. Finally, have a back up plan. Retain copies of your IDs and passport so, if they do get stolen, you can get replacements at a local U.S. embassy in Rome quickly. Also, keep your plane tickets as email tickets. This makes them easy to replace by the airlines; actual tickets take days to cancel and reissue.