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Rome: 8 Things to Know Before Coming to the Eternal City

Tourists looking at Roman Forum
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Tourists looking at Roman Forum

Rome is one of those cities that are difficult to explore in just 24 hours. This great city requires a whole week, or, perhaps, even more. Italian food, ancient Roman architecture, museums, the Vatican, a mixture of different historical periods and the modern face of Italy… Giving advice on what to see in Rome is all but hopeless. With this in mind, Travelonspot.com decided to offer you a handful of tips that may help you have an even better time in Italy's capital.

1. Explore Rome for Free

Famous Spanish Steps
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Famous Spanish Steps

City fountains are one of the symbols of Rome, and on hot summer days, these lofty structures attract a great number of people. Also, don’t forget that, on certain days of the month, most museums and historical monuments of Rome can be visited free of charge.

Digging deeper into the city’ architecture and history, you may also discover such fascinating (and free) things as an old cemetery inhabited by cats; the skull of St. Valentine, located in the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilical; the flea market of the Monti Quarter, situated near the Coliseum; free movies at the Casa del Cinema; a contemporary art exposition in the Sala 1 gallery; or listen to some blues in the Big Mama club. If you ever get tired of galleries and museums, we recommend going to see Rome from the hill of Gianicolo.

2. When can you Visit the Vatican?

Tourists visit St. Peter's Basilica
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Tourists visit St. Peter's Basilica

Given that Vatican is one of the most popular attractions in the world, seeing large numbers of tourists on the streets every day is hardly a surprise. On Wednesdays and Sundays, however, when the Pope Francis makes a public appearance, the Vatican’s population swells to enormous numbers, and the main Christian celebrations are even worse. So, if you want to explore Vatican, be sure to come on the other days of the week. On the other hand, the opportunity to see the Pope himself and to spend some time in a crowd of pilgrims from all around the world is also bound to leave an indelible impression.

3. Wear Longer Clothes

Tourists visit Via Fori Imperiali
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Tourists visit Via Fori Imperiali

Even though during peak season, when Rome gets scorching-hot, it is fashionable to wear short and light dresses, shorts and other summer apparel, remember that most churches and museums will ask you to cover all exposed skin. If you refuse to do so, you might be denied entrance.

4. Don’t Tip

Pizza baked in a wood fireplace
Photo taken by flickr.com.  Pizza baked in a wood fireplace

In Rome, leaving tips is not mandatory. That’s mostly because the salaries of waiters working in the tourist-infested capital are quite substantial – sometimes, they’re on par with the salaries of engineers. Moreover, tipping in restaurants may even offend – especially if you know the waiter personally. Italians have a notion that sincerity cannot be bought.

5. Use Public Transportation

Termini subway station
Photo taken by flickr.com.  Termini subway station

Even though, in foreign countries, many try to avoid public transportation, there’s no need for that in Rome. All you need to do is buy a transit map and a single or season ticket, and your travels in this large city will become much more pleasant. Just remember to keep an eye for pickpockets in crowded places.

6. Drink Water from Public Taps

Drinking water from fountain
Photo taken by flickr.com.  Drinking water from fountain

Don’t waste your money on bottled water – all around Rome, you’ll find ancient taps that supply water that’s not just safe, but also really tasty. Just don’t forget about common courtesy and don’t drink right out of the tap. If you just want to freshen up – just wet a scarf or splash your face with water using your hands.

7. Make Peace with the Fact that you’re not going to See Everything

Tourists staying in a queue in front of the Colosseum
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Tourists staying in a queue in front of the Colosseum

This is the most important piece of advice for visitors of Rome. Draw up a plan, arrange your priorities, evaluate your abilities and find some time to enjoy the sun and the city atmosphere by the Trevi Fountain. If you were to try and acquaint yourself with Rome in just a couple of days, you’d end up in long queues, grumbling about all the tourists, wiping sweat off your forehead, and return home more tired than happy. Rome cannot be visited in a day, you know.

8. Visit Rome during the Off Season

Tourists in the famous Piazza di Spagna
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Tourists in the famous Piazza di Spagna

If you go during late autumn, winter or early spring, you’ll avoid the heat, the tourist crowds and the astronomical prices. We recommend you visit Rome – or almost any other city, for that matter – once the summer heat is long gone.

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