But I realized you might just want a quick view of the most essential tips for planning your Roman holiday. So here goes.
Top 10 Rome Tips Plan Your Perfect Rome Trip
This assumes that visiting Rome is stressful.
It can be.
But it doesn't have to be. And here's how.
This list of tips and tricks to make your Rome visit a bit smoother and less stressful is a mix of advice.
It includes my tips about packing, where to stay, how to plan your itinerary, money and where to eat. See each tip for links to pages with more in-depth advice on that topic.
My top 10 Rome tips list is fairly general and yet, if you follow the below, I believe you will save yourself a lot of unnecessary grief.
1. Plan Ahead
This one may seem obvious but as someone who ran a B&B in Rome for nearly 20 years, I can tell you that many more people than not tend to arrive in Rome figuring they will just work it out when they get here.
I understand this.
1. Top 10 Rome Tips - You should make a plan for visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Don't waste time showing up when they are closed, or waiting in long lines!
We are all a bit harried in our busy lives, and sometimes taking the time to plan a trip can be exhausting.
There are a couple things you should think about booking long in advance if they are important to you: Palazzo Farnese (the French Embassy and a real jewel), and Saint Peter’s Tomb underneath Saint Peter’s Basilica (an archeological visit.)
Both have very limited spots available. Plan for at least 1-2 months lead time for each.
But no matter the season, layering is a good idea.
In spring and fall, it can be really warm during the day but cool down considerably at night.
Even in the dead of winter, you'd be surprised how warm you can get walking around and sight-seeing during the day, when the sun is overhead.
And in summer, you will want to have something to cover your shoulders and knees for visiting churches. This includes (especially) the Vatican and Sistine Chapel.
Which brings me to the scarf. Always have a scarf handy, even in summer.
3. Top 10 Rome Tips - Layer! Here's the whole enchilada for you - I have a summery dress on, and a top over it. The top covers my shoulders (since I am at the Vatican), and keeps me warm (since it's Easter, and a little chilly). And, I have my handy scarf, which dresses me up for a Vatican mass, and also keeps me warm.
4. Wear only comfortable shoes and plan ON walking
You will do more walking in Rome than you think.
It's also much harder on the feet and legs here than it is in other Italian cities. We have cobblestones in a lot of Rome, and they are made of basalt, a very unforgiving stone that will wreak havoc on your body.
4. Top 10 Rome Tips - Plan to walk a lot. And wear the most comfortable shoes you have. Rome has lots of cobblestone streets that will wreak havoc on your legs and feet.
Number 5 of my Top 10 Rome tips is all about cash - how to get it while in Rome, and why you need it.
5. Top 10 Rome Tips - Plan to use more cash than you are used to, but don't bring it with you. Get money out from ATMs as you need it.
Don't bring a lot of cash with you. The most cost-effective and convenient way to have Euros while travelling in Rome (and other parts of Europe) is to use your ATM card. Find out with your bank before you leave home what the terms are and what your daily limit is, and make sure you know your pin.
Prepare yourself to pay for cash a lot more than you are used to. Large hotels, major brand shops, and most restaurants take credit cards. But smaller shops and family-run restaurants either might not accept credit cards, or, will often have a credit card machine that is "out of order". Ahem.
6. to eat well in Rome: avoid Dining in a major tourist piazza
There are plenty of places to eat while sitting on a beautiful square or piazza in Rome, and take in the views. Unfortunately, at most of these places, you are likely not to eat that well. And, you'll probably over-pay for what you get.
6. Top 10 Rome Tips - Avoid eating a meal while sitting on a touristic piazza. I'm all for having a drink and enjoying the view on a plaza like this one, facing the Pantheon. Eating a meal is a different matter.
Also avoid any restaurant where someone is gesturing for you to come in. If the food is good, they shouldn’t need to lure you in.
Avoid using TripAdvisor as a way to judge restaurants. How do you know that you have the same taste or standards as the person whose review you are reading?
My number 6 tip of my Top 10 Rome Tips is to look for restaurants on smaller side streets, ask taxi drivers and other locals where they like to eat, and check food blogs by good local writers.Such as yours truly.
Italy is not a tipping culture. For most services, you don't need to tip at all.
However, nobody will mind if you tip. On the contrary.
Some waiters are even coming to expect a handsome tip, especially from Anglo-Saxon tourists whose cultures include tipping as a way to compensate workers.
8. Top 10 Rome Tips - Don't (over) tip. It's just not part of the economic culture in Italy. At a bar (café), you can leave a 10-20 cent tip when you place your order with the bartender, if you want. Or not.
If you want to tip, here are some basic rules:
At the bar (café), pay first at the cash register, bring the receipt to the barman, and lay it down on the counter with 10-20 cents, then ask for your order.
When taking a taxi, 0 tip is expected. I always round up to the nearest Euro, and the driver always thanks me.
On the other hand, if you hire a private car service, you can tip if the driver helps you with your bags. 5€ for every 2 people is sufficient.
Likewise if you hire a private tour guide, and are happy with them, you can leave a tip on top of their fee. Or not. The amount depends on the length of the tour and number of people in your group. It's really up to you.
At a sit-down restaurant, you don't have to tip. But if you want to, you can tip 1€ per person, or maximum 2€ per person if you want to be generous. A 20% tip is overly generous.
If you are wondering why there is no tipping, it's because in Italy, waiters, bartenders, and others in any service industry make a full salary, with health benefits, sick pay, yearly bonus, and a month paid vacation.
9. Avoid the crowds by going early or late
Many of Rome's most popular sites like the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and Vatican, have crowds nearly all year.
If you are here in a busy season (which lately seems to include every month except for mid-January through mid-February), you can avoid some crowds by coming first thing before or at opening, or, at the end of the day close to closing.
Saint Peter's basilica opens at 7am, and it's just beautiful.
Same with the Spanish Steps. But between about 10am - midnight, they will be mobbed. Year-round.
It's only logical that the crowds at Rome's sites will follow a bell curve - there will be hardly anyone there early in the morning. Then, the crowds will grow through the morning and peak around the middle of the day. After around 2-3pm, the crowds slowly get smaller, and there will be very few people by the end of the day.
Many people think it's a great idea to visit the Vatican Museums early, to "beat the crowds". But it's pretty crowded in the morning.
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