Rome Travel Tips
Car: From Naples, take A1 north (direction "Roma"). Get off on either Roma Sud (if you're going to the south end of Rome, like the Appian Way, Ostiense, Trastevere...) or stay on until Roma Est (which leads you to A24 and most destinations in central Rome). Parking can be difficult, but you can often find street parking even in crowded neighborhoods; one "lot" across from the Colosseum is at 41°53.44'N 12°29.66'E. Also see list of Rome parking lots.
Park and Ride: A cheap parking option that avoids driving through downtown Rome is using a parcheggio di scambio (park and ride lot) and then riding the metro in. See Rome Parking Lots page for more information. For those driving to/from Tuscany (or other places to the north), Rick Steves recommends parking your car at the free lot in Orvieto and taking the train south to Rome.
Train: Unless you plan to go to the outskirts of Rome, this is usually the quickest/easiest option. Note that Rome has several train stations—usually you want to go to Termini (the main station closest to central Rome), but if you end up at Tiburtina or Ostiense, it's easy to get to Termini via Metro Line B. See the train page for more information about trains from Naples to Rome.
Airplane: You can also fly from Capodichinio to Rome, but since all of Rome's airports are well outside the city center, this only makes sense if you are meeting a connecting flight. Note that there are two airports.
Looking for a place to eat at Fiumicino (FCO) airport? Check out Eater's list.
Getting Around Rome
Most of the major sights are in the centro storico (historic center), which is pretty walkable. That being said, here are some references for public transit...note that as with Naples, you should be very wary of pickpockets on public transit, especially in touristy areas.
Metro - is relatively quick and reliable, but it does not go much into the historic center
Metro line A is useful for going to/from the Vatican (Ottaviano stop) and Spanish Steps (Spagna stop)
Metro line B is useful for going to/from the Colosseum (Colosseo stop), and a few other places of interest like Testaccio (Piramide stop), Monti (Cavour stop), Saint Paul's Outside the Walls (Basilica San Paolo stop), and EUR
Buses can be convenient ways of getting around the historic center
Line 64 runs between the Termini train station and the historic center, eventually stopping at the Vatican. Watch out for pickpockets, but this can be super-useful for tourists...line 40 has almost the same route (so again watch out for pickpockets) but is an express (Reid's Italy calls it "the tourist express"; it only stops at Piazza Repubblica, Quirinale, Piazza Venezia, Largo Argentina [near Pantheon], Chiesa Nuova [near Campo de' Fiori], Ponte Vittorio Emmanuele, Conciliazione, and Borgo Sant'Angelo...so it doesn't go quite as close to Saint Peter's Basilica but gets there quicker)
Other bus lines that run from Termini to the historic center (depending on where you're going, you could use these instead of 40/64):
Line 170 goes from Termini to Piazza Venezia before heading south towards la Bocca della Verità, Trastevere, Testaccio, EUR
Line H goes from Termini to Largo Argentina and on to Trastevere
Line 70 goes from Termini to Largo Argentina and then north towards Piazza Navona and on to the Prati neighborhood
Electric bus lines, especiailly Line 116 run inside the historic center, so they can be useful if you can't/don't want to walk (anymore). Gillian's lists links to this nice map of the electric bus lines.
Rome Toolkit has a nice list of the most useful lines for tourists
Trams (above-ground streetcars) are not particularly useful to get to main tourist sites, but they can be useful for getting to certain neighborhoods (e.g. Tram 8 goes to Trastevere and then our favorite restaurant in Casaletto)
You probably do not want to drive in Rome. If you're comfortable driving in downtown Naples, you can probably handle it, but in most cases it's hard to park and much of the historic center is a "ZTL" (zona traffico limitato) that charges you €100 or more if enter without a permit (Google Map of ZTL "varco" or gates). A car makes more sense if you're staying in/visiting outlying neighborhoods outside of the historic center.
My Rome Apartment has a pretty comprehensive page breaking down all the transportation options
Probably not, but read a detailed breakdown of the Roma Pass here.
Since Rome was arguably the most important city in Western civilization, there are hundreds of places worth visiting. Here are some of the most famous and recommended:
Colosseum - the famous amphitheater where gladiators fought, this "colossal" structure is a symbol of the city. €16 combo ticket (€2 more if you book online) with Palatine Hill (see below)...getting your ticket at Palatine Hill is good way to beat the lines. Open every day from 9 until 1 hour before sunset. (Wikivoyage Colosseum page has more....I haven't done the "Underground and Belvedere (Third Ring)" tour, but this is the official site, Amanda Ruggieri explains more, and this blog describes one American's experience)
Note that as of 2019 there are reports that getting tickets is a bit of a mess
Roman Forum and Palatine Hill - ancient Rome's main square, packed with history and fascinating ruins. 8:30-7, closes at 5 in winter, last entry 1 hour before closing. Generally speaking uses the same ticket as Coloseeum.
Pantheon - a shrine erected to "all" (pan) the "gods" (theos) by the Romans, this is one of the best-preserved parts of ancient Rome, and inspired all manner of domes including the US Capitol Building. M-Sat 8:30-7:30, Sun 9-6, holidays 9-1, closed during Mass Sat 5 and Sun 10:30.
Outdoor Piazzas (Piazza Navonna, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Campo de' Fiori) - great hangouts day or night, it is especially fun to walk between them late at night in the summer.
Vatican (St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Museums with Sistine Chapel)
Vatican page has more on this tiny country rich with art and religiosity
Borghese Galleries and Gardens - in a beautifully furnished and decorated estate in a park, see some of the most amazing Bernini statues. Note that a reservation is required (usually a day in advance in the high season, same day possible during the low season). Entry times for 2 hour tour every day at 9, 11, 1, 3, and 5; closed Mon. Ron in Rome explains the reservation process in more detail (especially if you plan to use the Roma Pass).
Appian Way and Catacombs - the ancient Roman road that linked Rome with southern Italy (including Naples, via the Domitiana), where early Christian catacombs dot the countryside just outside the city walls.
Other Cool Ancient Roman Stuff - The Colosseum, Forum, and Pantheon form the trifecta of the best-preserved Ancient ruins, but other cool ruins and statues are around the city:
Baths of Caracalla - featured as a concert site in La Dolce Vita (concerts are still held here), south of the Colosseum
National Museum - a lot of great Greek and Roman art
Capitoline Museums - lots of cool art and artifacts (including the original statues of Marcus Aurelius & the "she wolf" suckling Romulus & Remus)
Trajan's Market/Forum & Column - a lesser-known site near the main Forum
Marcus Aurelius's Column - free and open to the public in Piazza Colonna
Pompey's Theater - where Caesar was actually stabbed, now home to a cat shelter
Ara Pacis - a gigantic Roman altar in a modern (& air conditioned!) building
Other Cool Churches - apart from St. Peter's Basilica, there are bunch of other cool churches with interesting stuff:
San Clemente - E of the Colosseum; like a layer cake, this church has a Medieval church on top, a paleo-Christian church below it, and a Roman house/temple below that. (Historian Ada Palmer has a great blogpost about the San Clemente and how it's a metaphor for the entire city.)
Santa Maria della Vittoria - just N of Repubblica (not far from Termini), this houses Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Theresa...probably the most erotic art you'll ever see in a church
Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri - on Piazza della Repubblica, this church was converted from Diocletian's baths by Michelangelo and has a cool astronomical "meridian line"
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva - behind the Pantheon, this has a Michelangelo statue ("Christ the Redeemer")...also has a funny "Pulcino" statue of an elephant outside, supporting an Egyptian obelisk on its back
Santa Maria della Concezione - N of Piazza Barberini, has a spooky crypt filled with artistically-arranged bones of Cappuchin monks
Santa Maria in Cosmedin - SW of the Roman Forum, near the Tevere; outside is the Bocca della Verità ("Mouth of Truth"), made famous in the film Roman Holiday (line up with the Japanese tourists for a photo)...inside is a very old church whose altar is a converted Roman bathtub
Sant'Ignazio - just E of the Pantheon, has a cool "fake" dome and other trompe l'oeil paintings
San Pietro in Vincoli - just N of the Colosseum, houses chains that supposedly bound St. Peter, and Michelangelo's Moses
Santa Sabina - in the posh, seemingly secluded Aventine neighborhood S of the Roman Forum, the church itself is old but plain but has nice gardens allowing you a chance to escape from the hustle of the city; also don't miss the "secret keyhole" view just up the street through the gardens of the Knights of Malta
Saint John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano) - huge, old church that technically is part of the Vatican; across the street is the Santa Scala, supposedly the stairs Jesus walked to his death sentence
Santa Maria Maggiore - old, large church that contains a lot of interesting art and relics, including one of the oldest depictions of Mary, the Salus Populi Romani
Basilica of Sant’Agostino - features paintings by Caravaggio and Raphael, the relics of St. Monica of Hippo (Augustine's mother), and a statue of "Madonna del Parto" (Our Lady of Childbirth), a devotional site for parents asking for (or thanking for) a safe childbirth
Outside of Rome - the old Roman port of Ostia has some fascinating ruins; also an hour south of Rome near Anzio is the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial.
The following are recommended places to eat; also see a longer list of restaurants organized by neighborhood:
***Cesare al Casaletto (aka Da Cesare) - Via del Casaletto 45, Portuense/Monteverde (take tram 8 from Piazza Venezia, in front of the "Wedding Cake"), 065-360-15, closed Wed, rec'd by Osterie d'Italia, Katie Parla raves about the fried antipasti, primi, and secondi at what she dubs "the perfect Roman trattoria"; Elizabeth Minchilli agrees, more at Rome Digest [not to be confused with a different Da Cesare pizzeria on via Crescenzio 13] --> our absolute favorite place to eat in Rome! (they have especially good fried appetizers, Roman classic pastas like cacio e pepe, and Roman classic meat dishes like abbacchio [baby lamb] and coda alla vaccinara [oxtail stew])
***Pasta Chef Rome aka "al 42" - in Monti near the Colosseum (Via Baccina 42). At one point this place was the #1 restaurant in Rome on TripAdvisor, and after visiting it, we know why: great Roman classic pasta dishes (including gluten free!) and yummy salads, quickly prepared at reasonable prices. They also have daily specials (we loved their lasagna). Oh, and did I mention that they're open all afternoon ("orario continuato")? Since it's counter service, it's great for a meal on the go (or for takeout). Rec'd by Elizabeth Minchilli, Lonely Planet. (...not sure how good they are as of 2021 when they changed their name to "al 42")
***Pasta in Corso - similar kind of fast-casual spot with great pastas in the Campo Marzio historic center (a bit west of Piazza Navona), great for a quick meal especially in the afternoon when many other places are closed
***Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina - Via dei Giubbonari 21 (SE of Campo), 06 687 5287, closed Sun, a deli/salami shop that doubles as a restaurant, Katie Parla rec's the pizza bianca, burrata (given to you in a huge plate), pata negra, carbonara (the bacon in the carbonara is worth going for alone) and amatriciana; also rec'd by Gambero Rosso, Terroir, and Espresso, ~€35-45.
***Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria, nearby on Piazza Benedetto Cairoli 16 has wonderful coffee, great pastries, and some casual pasta dishes (we didn't try the pasta but I think it's the same/similar to that you can get at the main restaurant)...there's also Antico Forno Roscioli, a bakery outlet on Via dei Chiavari 34 with pizza to go and other treats.
***Pianostrada - Via delle Zoccolette 22 (just south of Campo de'Fiori), 068-957-2296, a bit of a mess to get reservations (you have to call during dinner hours) but totally worth it: as of 2022, probably my new favorite restaurant in Rome. Magical garden courtyard with fairy lights and flowers with cutting-edge but relaxed (not haute cuisine) food. Nice mix of traditional Roman flavors with modern twists (like "deconstructed" fried zucchini flowers). Their focaccia was a bit doughy for my taste, but everything else had amazing flavors. Gluten-free & kid friendly (were very accommodating of our 6 year old).
***Luciano - Piazza del Teatro di Pompeo 18 (near Campo de'Fiori). Chef Luciano Monosilio is called "king of carbonara" for a reason: he mixes haute cuisine techniques with a more casual trattoria environment. The signature carbonara is silky & unctuous with amazing 5-spice guanciale, but is pretty al dente (if you like your pasta cooked-through, this is not the place for you). We loved the other dishes too (beef tongue, zucchini alla scapece, tiramisu, etc).
***CiPASSO Bistrot - Fun, buzzy place a bit north of Piazza Navona and the Pantheon (an area that doesn't have many great restaurants). Nice twists on Roman flavors, including crostini, pastas, etc. GF/Kid-friendly and opens early by Roman standards (~6:30 PM).
***L'Asino d'Oro - Via del Boschetto 73, Monti, 06 4891 3832, Umbrian-inspired food, rec'd by chowhounds, Ost, Elizabeth Minchilli and Katie Parla (again here); fixed price lunch T-Fri is an absolute steal! Tasty and flavorful, a great combination of tradition and creativity.
***Pizzarium, Via della Meloria 43, 063-974-5416, closed Sun, open 9-9, good pizza, near Vatican Museums, 06-397-45-416, 9-10:30, closed Sun, rec'd by Osterie d'Italia, Espresso, Time Out and Katie Parla, who rec's the pizza rossa, fritti, and porchetta (also featured on Anthony Bourdain's "The Layover")...apparently the line is shorter before 12:30, between 4-6, or around 8:30.
***Santo Palato - not near any touristy sites but easy to get to from the Re di Roma metro stop; they are known for a wide variety of things but their ribs are *amazing*...their trippa alla romana (Roman-style tripe) is also impossibly tender with a tasty tomato sauce (they do not have gluten-free pasta but there are gluten-free options, including the ribs), a bit of a "hipster" atmosphere, rec'd NY Times
***L'Osteria di Monteverde - not far from tram 8, this is a really high-quality old-school trattoria that has been updated with innovative touches
***Armando al Pantheon, Salita de' Crescenzi 31, one of the cheapest and best places near the Pantheon, ~€45-50, 06-688-03-034, 12.30-3, 7.15-11 M-F, 12.30-3 Sat, closed Aug, rec'd by Time Out, Gambero Rosso, Osterie d'Italia, Fodors, Amanda Ruggieri, and TCI; Katie Parla rec's the gricia and coda alla vaccinara, more at Rome Digest...one of the best places to eat in the historic center
***Flavio al Velavevodetto - Via dei Monte Testaccio 97, 06 574 4194, built into Monte Testaccio so you can see the broken amphorae. ...we went there in 2016 and really enjoyed it; great Roman classics & tiramisu
Were good places in late-2000s but not sure now:
Da Felice Testaccio - renowned for having some of the best Roman food in the city, especially cacio e pepe (pasta with pecorino and pepper), they feature everyday favorites as well as a rotating menu of daily specials. Don't miss the tiramisu, either! In Testaccio (near Metro Piramide), Via Mastro Giorgio 29, 06-574-6800, make reservations early. Recommended by Time Out...but there are reports that it's gone downhill??
Colline Emiliane - near Via Veneto off Piazza Barberini, wonderful Emilia-Romagna cuisine, Frommer's says it is "about the best pasta you'll find in Rome", T-Sun 12:45-2:45PM, T-Sat 7:45-10:45PM, Via Avignonesi 22, 06-4817538
Piccolo Abruzzo - Northest of Via Veneto near Villa Borghese, good Abruzzo cuisine, especially salamis, Via Sicilia 237, Alessandro 328-835-1154 or 06-42820176, 12-16, 19-1:30, open Sun www.piccoloabruzzo.it Also check out the Brancaleone osteria/pizzeria across the street, run by the same family, Via Sicilia 170, 06-4871776.
Trattoria Settimio al Pellegrino - via del Pellegrino 117, W of Campo de'Fiori, 066-880-1978, 1:30-3, 8:30-11, closed Wed, Roman trattoria with long tradition, ~€35, rec'd by Gambero Rosso Terroir ("few places are more authentically Roman"), and Katie Parla, who says it's got an "old school vibe" and praises the Montblanc, also rec'd by Elizabeth Minchilli; every thing is "casalinga" (homestyle) and they make gnocchi on Thursday, fish on Friday. (This place is so traditional that even "recent" Roman dishes like cacio e pepe and carbonara are shunned...truly a trip, and the couple who run the place are wonderful.)
Mexican: La Cucaracha. There are several Mexican restaurants in Rome. Most are overpriced for mediocre food, although La Cucaracha is fairly good. Lots of traditional and spicy Mexican fare to choose from, as well as a nice cocktail menu. Via Mocenigo 10a, at Via Candia (Vatican Museum area, easy to integrate as a stop while sightseeing in Rome), 06-397-463-73; open every evening. It has mixed reviews on places like trip advisor - but you'll notice that the bad review are all from Italians ... probably because most Italians don't appreciate spicy food!
All of the following are highly recommended (***) places for gelato:
Gelateria I Caruso - Via Collina 13 (not far from Republica metro), 06 42918674, rec'd by Gambero Rosso and Amanda Ruggieri as a great "secret" for such flavors as extra-dark chocolate (which is unbelievably creamy), pistacchio, and fragola...worth schlepping out to this neighborhood for the chocolate alone!
Otaleg! - rated by many people as the best gelateria in Rome...they have everything from very intense dark chocolate to smoked salmon (!) flavors, probably the most interesting place
Pinguino - a ~10-15 minute walk along what feels like a freeway onramp from Cesare al Casaletto (our favorite restaurant, see above), it's worth the walk—absolutely delicious flavors including (in spring of 2018) great pistachio, a rich Nutella-like "stragiandiuja", excellent chocolate, and a surprisingly tart passionfruit.
Gunther Rohregger Gelato @ Punto Gelato - Piazza Sant'Eustachio 47 (around the corner from the Pantheon), rec'd Gillian's Lists, An American in Rome...also another Punto Gelato between Campo de' Fiori and Ponte Sisto, and the same gelato at The Taste Gelato near the Spanish Steps.
Fatamorgana Gelato - Piazza degli Zingari in Monti, Via dei Chiavari 37 near Campo de'Fiori, and several other locations—really nice gelato, does both great fruit & cream flavors, see Katie Parla's blog entry
Gelateria dell'Angeletto - Via dell'Angeletto in Monti, rec'd The Culture Trip...they guy who runs it used to work at the renowned Prati gelateria Gracchi
Il Gelato di Claudio Torce - Viale Aventino 59, near the Circo Massimo metro stop, has a ridiculous number of fresh, outstanding flavors, Katie Parla rec's [this is a small chain, with other locations in E.U.R. and Ostiense]...they also used to have a shop at Piazza del Risorgimento 51 near the Vatican??
San Crispino Gelateria - a more "snooty" place (no tastings, no cones, less flavors) and frankly a bit over-rated, but much of their gelato is still fantastic and always fresh/seasonal. Honey-vanilla San Crispino flavor is delicious and nearly always available. Near Trevi Fountain, via della Panetteria 42. They have a couple other franchise outposts, including at Fiumicino Terminal A and Piazza della Maddalena 3 north of the Pantheon. Noon-12:30 AM or 1:30 AM on Fri/Sat, closed Tues in autumn/winter. Featured in the book Eat, Pray, Love.
Gelateria Gracchi - great gelato in the Prati neighborhood near the Vatican, just south of the Lepanto metro stop. via dei Gracchi 272, 06-321-6668.
For more recommended gelaterie, see the Restaurants in Rome, organized by Neighborhood. Other good sources: Romeing's guide to Roman gelato, Katie Parla's Budget Travel article and blog posting, as well as an article about non-Crispino gelaterie
Tridente District - the area just west of the Spanish Steps, known as the Tridente ("Trident", due to the 3 streets leading out from Piazza del Popolo), houses the fanciest stores in Rome. Alongside standard name brands (Gucci, Versace, Zegna, Prada, Ferragamo...) there are also more artisanal tailors, shoemakers, and others on side streets.
VyTA Enoteca del Lazio, described above, is a great lunch stop if you're in this area
Armado Rioda Purses - this workshop will make custom-made purses and other leather goods for fairly reasonable prices (considering the quality...purses for €100-300 depending on size/difficulty/material, wallets for €50-200). Warning: it *used* to be on Via Belsiana 90 (in Tridente) but their address may have changed by late 2014, +39 0669924406. They can ship stuff overseas (we successfully received a purse in 2012) but if you can pick it up in a week or so (depending on how busy they are) that's cheaper & easier.
Ibiz - Via dei Chiavari 39 (east of Campo de' Fiori), +39 06 6830 7297, open 9:30-7:30 except Sundays and part of August, makes hand-crafted leathergoods (including very cute leather flowers) in bright colors with distinctive style. Read this Chicago Tribune article for the full story on Elisa Nepi and her parents, Fulvio and Simonetta; great photos on this blog. They will also make items to order, but will not ship internationally.
Both Roscioli and Pasta Chef Rome, described above, are nice places to eat nearby.
Monti District - this is the hip neighborhood for independent designers; it's close to the Coliseum but a bit out of the way, so it's not mobbed with tourists in the same way that most of Rome's historic center is. Check out this NYT article or Revealed in Rome for details.
MercatoMonti is a great collection of artisans and other "one of a kind" clothes, jewelry, etc. which runs most weekends
L'Asino d'Oro and Pasta Chef Rome, described above, are a great places to eat in this neighborhood
Il Papiro - near the Pantheon, an outpost of a store in Florence that sells old-school stationary supplies like wax seals (not far away are Cartoleria Pantheon dal 1910 and Ditta G. Poggi which apparently also have sealing wax/wax seals)
Ecclesiastical / Clerical Products - Rome is probably the best place to buy clerical vestments and other religious articles (e.g. monstances); you could get something for your parish priest, or just gawk at the bishops' miters. This page lists some of the classic stores (like Gammarelli)
There are hundreds of hotels, B&Bs, and other places to stay in Rome, at nearly every budget. See Places to Stay in Rome for notes and advice.
A number of groups offer guided tours of various sites; they are especially useful for skipping the line at the Vatican Museums or Coliseum. (Note that you can also skip the line for Coliseum tours by getting a Rome pass or buying your ticket at Palatine Hill.)
Unlock Italy - run by an American expat and her Italian husband, they run tours in many of the most popular cities in Italy including Rome; I haven't been on these tours but their blog is amazing (this post in particular is hilarious)
Liz (Elizabeth) Lev - rec'd CN Traveler, Lev has a PhD in Art History and is an amazing lecturer (you can get a taste for it in this EWTN video on St Peters, but there are several other lectures online)
Other tour companies that get good reviews or I've heard good things about:
Walks of Italy - run a bunch of different tours including day trips, food tours, etc.
Some specific sites also have special tours available directly provided by the site:
Check out the Food Resources on the Restaurants page for some in-the-know American expats like Katie Parla and Elizabeth & Sophie Minchilli who offer tours (mostly food-centered, although not exclusively); I've also heard good things about Eating Europe (formerly "Eating Italy") food tours and VinoRoma's tours & tastings
Angel Tours - runs a free Pantheon tour most days at 7 PM (you need to like their Facebook page and reserve here)
Rome's Ultimate Free Tour - runs twice daily at 11 and 4, reservations recommended here, note that while it is "free" it seems people are strongly encouraged to tip their guide; good Google/TA reviews
Tours with Seminarians - the Pontifical North American College (PNAC) seminarians run tours of St Peter's Basilica and other Catholic sites, but only when their school is in session (so no tours during the summer, when the most American tourists are in Rome); more at the PNAC website and CN Traveler
Rick Steves audio tours - Rick Steves lets you download several audio tours that you can save on your phone before you leave (or at your hotel where you have Wifi) and then play it when you're at the site
Events, Information, and Resources
Santa Susanna is an English-language Catholic church designed to help American Catholics; check out their website for more (including some great non-religious travel tips), as well as the Wikinapoli Vatican page (which describes some of their services)
Wanted In Rome is an English-language website that lists events and information
To see movies in English (or other non-Italian languages) see the Rome Review Movies in Rome page.
The Rome restaurant page has LOTS of resources for food