Rome - my five minute travel guide.

Rome is one of my favourite places on earth, its where we went on Honeymoon and we've been back a few times since. I'm a city person, a people watcher and a lover of Italian food and wine, so its pretty much the best place to take me.

Every time anyone tells me they are heading to Rome, I get all excited and have to share my tips and favourite places to go and eat and what to do. I figured it was about time I shared it here too. 

  • Look into a Roma Pass. Not necessarily for everyone, but well worth thinking about, this pass covers a few entrances to places, discounts and transport. There are a few different options but the main reason to go for it is generally the entrances - most specifically the Colosseum. Using the pass to get in here lets you skip the huge queue. It's worth doing the math but most times it saves you not only a few quid, but lots of time in queues.
  • Embrace the Italian Hours. Especially true in the hot months. Start early, eat later and rest in the middle of the day, I never see the point of visiting somewhere and not embracing the hours the locals keep. For a start, if you visit in the warm, you'll enjoy yourself more if you don't try to struggle through the heat. The Italians live with the heat all the time, trust them when it comes to how to survive it.
  • Don't just stick the the headline attractions. Rome is a city with so much to see, and if you have time. As well as the Colosseum and Forum, consider visiting the Palatine Hill. As well as the Vatican, consider the smaller churches - a favourite is Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano, which has 3 levels of church. San Clemente is a 12th Century Church, in whose basement is a 6th Century Church, under which can be visited an ancient Roman street. There are many such little places dotted throughout the city that you might miss if you just stick to the headliners.
  • If you want to visit the Vatican, consider booking a tour. This is another queue jumping exercise. If you book with the Vatican directly you get to skip the line, and one of the tours they offer is the only way to actually walk around inside Vatican city and gardens. It doesn't cover St. Peters, but it does cover the Sistine Chapel.
  • Wear long bottoms, and carry a big scarf everywhere. Churches contain a lot of the more spectacular attractions of Rome, and they require you to have knees and shoulders covered. Longer skirts and shorts/trousers are a good call, but for tops in a pinch just cover your shoulders with a large pashmina. The "fashion police" at St Peters can be particularly strict - I've seen people get past the metal detectors and the crazily long queue, to be turned away at the last second because they're flashing tanned shoulders. Don't risk it, always have something on you that can be used to cover up.
  • Avoid eating in tourist traps, or places that put pictures of the food on display. There are a few exceptions to the tourist area rule, one of the places we always go back to on the Piazza Campo de Fiori is a tourist restaurant that is a great people watching spot and fairly reasonable. Campo de Fiori is an exception, but in the case of places like Piazza Navona and the like, a lot of the places we found in such locations cater to the "every tourist once" market. Look out for the places the locals use. Before our last visit I found the fab Katie Parla's Food Blog covering Rome and her suggestions were 10 out to 10. She's a handy app too, but however you find where to eat, do look out for Italians among the patrons.

These are generally the things I pass on to other travellers about to visit Rome, along with a very many great gelato recommendations. Have you been to Rome? If so, are there any tips that you have to share?

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