This guide gives information on how to tour Rome cheaply (updated September 2004). Backpackers are not Romes typical tourists so the city may seem inhospitable at times, especially accommodation-wise. The best zone to stay in is around the main railway station, Termini, as it's central, well connected to both airports and to the rest of the city, good value and very close to the quarter of S. Lorenzo, which is full of pubs, disco-pubs and reasonably-priced places to eat. The main tourist office is in Via Parigi 5, tel. 06488991, open Mon-Sat 09.00-19.00, Sun closed. There are tourist kiosks at Fiumicino airport, terminal B and close to major monuments. In these you can get free maps of the city centre; for a detailed map you can buy Roma metro-bus, price 6, or even better a Roma tour-plan guide, price 6,50.
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Where to Sleep.
All around Termini station there are plenty of hotels, so if you dont have a reservation it shouldnt be too difficult to find somewhere to stay. Otherwise you can try:
Hotel Il Castello, Via Vittorio Amedeo II 9 (Termini), tel. 0677204036, fax 0670490068, www.ilcastello.com. Prices from e18 for a dorm bed. Breakfast e3 on request.
Pensione Ottaviano, Via Ottaviano 6, 2nd floor (Vatican), tel. 0639738138. Prices e18 for a dorm bed, up to e81 for a triple. Use of fridge, microwave, internet and TV. English spoken.
Pensione Sandy, Via Cavour 136 (4th floor, no lift, between Termini and the Colosseum), tel. 064884585, www.sandyhostel.com, email@example.com. Dorm beds e18. Use of washing machine, fridge, internet and TV.
Fawlty Towers, Via Magenta 39, tel. 064450374, 064454802, www.fawltytowers.org. e20 pp.
Hostelling International, Viale delle Olimpiadi 61 (next to Olympic stadium), tel. 063236267/79, fax 063242613. Rooms are for 6-12 people, e16 pp breakfast included. Only communal bathrooms. Strict midnight curfew.
Flaminio Camping Village, Via Flaminia Nuova 821, tel. 063332604, fax 063330653, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.villageflaminio.com. Numerous possibilities from use of tent to bungalows of different sizes. Prices from e8,90 pp + e7,40 pp for a tent up to a maximum of e144 for the biggest bungalow. Car park, safe, swimming pool and restaurant. Easy access to the city centre by bus or train.
Camping Tiber, Via Tiberina km 1,400 (Prima Porta), tel. 0633610733, fax 0633612314, email@example.com, www.campingtiber.com. Prices from e8,50 pp + e6,80 for a tent. Internet point, supermarket, laundry facilities, swimming pool, restaurant and free shuttle service from the campsite to the railway station at Prima Porta.
Parco Del Lago, Lungolago di Polline 75, (Anguillara on Lake Bracciano) tel. 0699802003, fax 0699802000, www.parcodellago.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers tents to bungalows of different sizes. Prices from e4,20 pp + e4,50 for a tent + e5 for a car. Bar, supermarket, greengrocer, washing machine, soccer pitch, moorings, tennis court, drugstore, facilities for the disabled and a private beach.
The following addresses and suggestions will help you not to spend too much on food. The first rule is that you should never buy anything from kiosks at major sights. An easy and cheap way to eat is to buy bread and a filling in an alimentari (grocery store) or supermarket and ask the person at the counter to make up the sandwich.
Sma supermarket, Piazza S. Maria Maggiore 1/3/5.
Despar, Via Giustiniani 18/b-21 (Pantheon).
GS, Viale del Galoppatoio 33 (Villa Borghese).
Sidis, Piazza Nicosia 35 (between the Pantheon and the Ara Pacis).
Co-op, Piazza Adriana 4 (Castel S. Angelo).
These cost less than a normal supermarket, but usually they do not have fresh fruit or vegetables.
Tuos supermarket, Piazza S. Maria Maggiore 73.
Todis, Via Natale del Grande 24 (Trastevere). This one has fresh fruit and vegetables.
For fresh fruit and vegetables go to one of the many open-air markets around Rome. One of the biggest is in Via G. Pepe off Via G. Giolitti (Termini). Open Mon-Fri 07.00-15.00, Sat 07.00-12.30, Sun closed. Alternatively you can go to the one in Campo de Fiori or in Via Cesare Balbo 13, but remember that everything in the centre is more expensive.
Pizza to take away
One of the best things that Rome has to offer is takeaway pizza or so-called pizza al taglio; the city is packed with pizzerie places that sell it. You just go in and choose the amount of pizza you want by weight or by price.
Try out Lo Zozzone, Via del Teatro Pace 32 (Piazza Navona), where for e2,50 you can get a standard-size pizza or for e3 a large piece of plain pizza filled with three ingredients of your choice.
Rome is full of bars where you can buy a good sandwich or a drink, but remember that if you sit down, prices are usually higher. A sandwich starts at e1,50.
In Rome the same ticket is used for buses, trams and metro. The standard 75-minute ticket costs e1 and is valid for an unlimited number of bus rides plus a single ride on the underground. You must remember to validate your ticket on the bus or tram or before getting on the metro. Look for the yellow and black stamping machine. If it does not work, you have to write the date, time and number of the bus or tram on the ticket. In the event of further complications seek immediate assistance from the driver. Tickets are available at tobacconists, cafs and newsstands, and from vending machines inside the underground stations and at bus terminals. Daily tickets cost e4, a three-day ticket costs e11 and a weekly ticket e16. For all transport information visit www.atac.roma.it or call 800431784 (toll-free line in Italy).
The main bus terminals in the centre are in Piazza dei Cinquecento (Termini), Piazza S. Silvestro and a smaller one in Piazza Venezia. From these you can get to almost all the main sights, but try to avoid buses 64 and 70 theyre notorious for pickpockets.
A pleasant way to get around is by electric bus:
116-116T starts from the Gianicolo car park (quite close to the Vatican) and goes through the centre up to the Villa Borghese park (116 also goes into Villa Borghese).
117 covers the zone between Piazza di Spagna and the Colosseum, passing through Monti. Operates Mon-Sat only.
119 (good for city centre shoppers) operates a circular trip to and from Piazza del Popolo.
Two lines, A and B, usually operate 05.30-23.30 but Line A is about to close earlier (21.00) for extensive repairs. Red and Blue are the colours for Line A and B respectively. The main stops in the centre on line A are: Termini, Spagna (for the Spanish Steps), Ottaviano (the Vatican) and Cipro Musei Vaticani. On Line B the main stops are Termini, Colosseo, Piramide and Eur.
This is a good way to move around. Tram 8 is especially useful; it starts from Largo Argentina and goes through Trastevere, up to Trastevere train station (good for Fiumicino airport) and beyond.
If you want to visit places outside Rome, blue Cotral buses leave from Lepanto (metro line A) for the north of Lazio and from Anagnina (metro line A) for the south (Castelli Romani). There are also buses that leave from Laurentina and Ponte Mammolo (both on metro line B) and Saxa Rubra (train from Flaminio). For more information visit; www.contralspa.it, tel.800150008
There are numerous bicycle rental points around major historic monuments and parks, offering mountain and other models.
In Villa Borghese: at the car park, Piazzale delle Canestre corner Viale del Galoppatoio, section III, open daily 09.00-19.00. Piazzale Museo Borghese 5, open daily 09.00-19.00. Viale del Giardino Zoologico 20 (next to the zoo), open daily 08.30-19.00. Prices from e3 an hour to e10 for the day.
Piazza del Cinquecento (Termini), open daily 08.30-20.00. Prices from e2,50 an hour.
You can also bike away from the pollution of the city centre on Via Appia Antica (closed to private traffic on Sun). Bikes are available next to the Catacombs of S. Sebastiano, open daily 09.00-17.00. Prices from e3 an hour.
Via in Lucina 13-14 (close to Parliament), tel. 066876455, or Via Paola 12-13 (near Castel S. Angelo), tel. 066833469, open daily 09.00-19.30. Rent by the day. Prices from e31.
BICI and BACI, Via del Viminale 5 (near Termini) tel. 064828443, www.bicibaci.com. Prices start from e6 per hour for scooters. Discounted rates for longer hire.
Via del Pernicone (Roman Forum end of Via Cavour), open daily 09.00-20.00. Rent by the day. Prices from e30.
At Fiumicino airport and Termini station (next to platform 1) there are different car rental company desks. Some rental companies allow younger people to hire a car at an additional daily cost. Important rules: you can hardly ever drive into the historic centre (check for times); both cars and motorbike drivers must remember that Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Navona and Piazza di Trevi (Trevi fountain) are for pedestrians only; and lanes marked in yellow are reserved for public transport.
Rome has an efficient but expensive taxi system. The charge per km within the Grand Raccordo Anulare (GRA) ring road is e0,78 per km plus a fixed charge of:
Mon-Sat 07.00-22.00, e2,33, Sun and public holidays 07.00-22.00, e3,36.
Night 22.00-07.00, e4,91. Note that travel time is also charged: the more time spent the higher the charge. Suitcases and back packs are e1 each and all airports are outside the GRA.
Always check the rate applicable on boarding the taxi and that the metre has been re-set.
Away from Termini or taxi ranks, a taxi can be called on 063570, 065551, 066645, but in this case the metre is activated the moment the driver takes up the call.
Stop n go bus
This is a circular bus tour that starts at Via Giolotti 44 (Termini) and goes to Villa Borghese, Piazza Venezia, Via Appia Antica and many other places. The bus leaves every hour starting from 09.30; you can get off at designated stops, look around and then continue your journey on the next bus. The daily ticket is e12, two days e18 and three days e24. For information tel. 0648905729 www.romecitytours.com.
110 City Tour
Leaves from Termini station every 40 minutes. 1 Oct-31 March 10.00-18.00, 1 April-30 Sept 09.00-20.20. Stop 'n' go formula, enabling you to get off along the route, e13. Covers all the main sights in Rome.
Hourly departures every day from Termini from 10.00-16.00. Uses the stop n go formula, e7,75.
For addresses, admission fees and opening times of museums and archaeological sights in Rome see museums page in Wanted in Rome, updated every three months.
There is free admission for European Union citizens under 18 and over 65 years of age. For
18-25 year olds there is a 50 per cent discount.
Soprintendenza archaeologica di Roma, tel. 0639967700, offers two cards. The e22 card gives access to the Colosseum, the Palatine, the Baths of Caracalla, the four sections of the Museo Nazionale Romano (Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Massimo, Baths of Diocletian and Crypta Balbi), the Tomb of Cecilia Metella and Villa dei Quintili.
The e9 card covers only the Museo Nazionale Romano.
Both cards are valid for seven days starting from the first day of use and can be purchased at the ticket office in participating museums.
Roma Vision, tel. 0646954695, email@example.com, www.romavision.com. The card costs e12,91 and covers the Capitoline Museums, the Auditorium del Mecenate, Circus of Maxentius, the Roman Forum, Trajans Markets, Museo di Roma in Trastevere, the Galleria Comunale dArte Moderna e Contemporanea, Museo Casina delle Civette, Museo Barracco, Museo Canonica, Museo della Civilt Romana, Museo delle Mura, Museo Napoleonico, Palazzo Braschi and the Mausoleum of Augustus, as well as giving a 40 per cent discount on entrance to the Synagogue. Its valid for seven days and you can buy it in Piazza Venezia (Piazza S. Marco side), open daily 09.30-16.30, Piazza del Cinquecento bay C (Termini), open daily 08.30-20.00, and Piazza del Colosseo (outside the metro station), open daily 10.00-16.00.
The Esquilino zone near Termini has numerous low-priced cyber cafes and phone centres. Internet prices start from e1,50 an hour.
Mail Wash, Via G. Procida 7/b (Piazza Bologna), tel. 0644242284, open daily 08.00-20.00. This is no ordinary internet point: its a lavanderia self-service facility. You can wash your clothes and write to all your friends around the world while you wait. (See also Laundry).
Easynet caf on Via Barberini 2. Standard rate e2.50 an hour. (Varies according to demand). Open daily 07.00-03.00.
International phone and internet centres (air-conditioned) Via Volturno 50 and Via Volturno 40/a. Internet e2 an hour. Open daily 07.00-24.00.
Netl@nders, Via Principe Amedeo 72, tel. 064742353, offers internet and a wide range of computer services. Ideal for downloading photos. Prices are usually around e2,50 an hour.
Phoning abroad is expensive, but there are some phone cards that have good rates. They can be purchased at phone centres and most tobacconists. Ask for the best value for the country you are calling and ensure it works from a public phone. Prices from e5.
Self-service (see also Internet)
Piazzale Gregorio VII 38 (near Vatican), tel. 066374370, open daily 07.30-22.30. Prices from e3 for 8 kg.
Via Cavour 168-170 (Termini), tel. 064817857, open daily 08.00-22.00. Prices from e3 for 7 kg.
Via Montebello 11, (near Termini), tel. 0647825977, open daily 08.00-22.00 and offers free drop-off service plus free 15 minutes internet access. Prices from e4 for 7 kg drying included.
Stamps are sometimes difficult to find but you should be able to buy them at tobacconists and post offices. Most post offices close at 13.30, but the ones at Via della Scrofa, Piazza dei Caprettari (both near the Pantheon), Termini station and Piazza Bologna are also open in the afternoon until 18.30.
Cashpoints are often difficult to use because the reflection of the sun on the screen makes them impossible to read, so improvise some shade to use or look for one that is housed.
At Termini station there is a left-luggage office in the basement, accessible from platform 24. Open daily 07.00-24.00. The price is e3,10 for the first five hours, every extra hour is e0,52. (the queue can be quite long).
You can buy clothes, shoes and accessories in Via Sannio (S. Giovanni), open daily 07.00-12.30. Sun closed. Porta Portese (Trastevere) is open on Sunday morning (here you can find everything you could possibly want).
Theres a small but very pleasant and well-stocked camp shop, Il Rifugio, in Via Corfinio 25 (S. Giovanni).
Parks and villas
Not recommended after dark, especially for women travelling alone. There are several entrances for each villa or park so check which is closest to you.
Gianicolo (for a lovely view of Rome), Piazza G. Garibaldi (open all day).
Villa Doria Pamphilj, Via S. Pancrazio (open 07.00 till sunset).
Villa Ada, Via Salaria (open 07.00 till sunset).
Villa Celimontana, Piazza della Navicella (open 07.00 until sunset).
Villa Torlonia, Via Nomentana 70 (open 07.00 until sunset).
Villa Borghese (ideal for cycling), Viale Trinit dei Monti if you are near the Spanish Steps, Piazzale Flaminio if you are near Piazza del Popolo.
Botanical Gardens, Largo Cristina di Svezia 24, tel. 066864193, open 09.00-19.00 (summer), 09.00-16.30 (winter). Sun, Mon, public holidays and Aug closed.
For evening entertainment consult "Roma c" (e1) a weekly listing published every Wednesday that gives information on concerts, pubs, theatres, etc. Try some of the centri sociali (alternative cultural centres), which include Villaggio Globale, Lungotevere Testaccio, www.enc.org/villaggioglobale and Forte Prenestino, Via Delpino (Prenestina), www.enc.org/forte. See also Whats on pages in Wanted in Rome.
For cds, cassettes, English-language magazines and papers go to Messaggerie Musicali, Via del Corso 472, Villaggio Musicale, Via Ciao Manilio 10, tel. 06764186.
Emergency numbers in Rome
Police,113, Carabinieri 112, Ambulances 118, Fire brigade 115, Road assistance 116.
Graphics, Marco Viola. Illustrations, Salvatore Ingala. Updating, Ludovico Maloba.
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