By Brandie Mathison-Klein, CEO
My husband and I recently had the opportunity to visit Rome, Italy which has been on our bucket list for many years. What an amazing experience! If you have ever been to New York City, you can kind of get a feel for the traffic and bustle of people that Rome has. We thankfully took the advice from a few friends who had traveled there, which made our experience much better. Here are the top 3 travel tips that I would have to give to you if you are planning a trip to Rome any time soon.
Transportation is one of the biggest aspects that you will want to plan for. Renting a car in my opinion is a recipe for disaster, stress, and an accident waiting to happen. I would suggest that you arrange a limo ahead of time for your travels from the airport to your hotel or Airbnb. We reserved a limo through romeshuttlelimousine.com. Your driver will be waiting for you with your name and will take you right where you need to go. This is only slightly more than taking a taxi. In Rome, Uber is not recommended or reliable. Taxi drivers cannot always be trusted either. We did however, use a taxi app that is very similar to Uber called MyTaxi to get around the city. It worked well and was reliable for us.
We also got a 3 day pass for the hop-on-hop off. This was very useful in getting around the city to all the hot spots for us to check out when we wanted and we could just get back on when we were done at that spot. It also gives you a great scenic view of the city, and you can get some history of some of the historical sites as you are passing by, along with some good photo ops on the double decker open bus.
While in Rome, you will surely want to see some of the historical sites. There is so much to see. Depending on what you would like to see, you may very well want to arrange a private tour guide who can help you skip the line. We arranged an early access tour through the Vatican that allowed us to get in 2 hours before it opened, and we didn’t have nearly as many crowds. If you do not arrange tickets ahead of time, you could very well spend a good portion of your day standing in line for a ticket. An average of 30,000 people visit the Vatican every day.
Depending on what sites and what time of year, you will also need to likely purchase those tickets and guides a couple months in advance if you are looking for special access or to skip the ticket lines. I can tell you that it really enhanced our trip to have our own personal tour guide. It was a little more expensive but well worth it for us to skip all the long lines and also get a personal history lesson on all the things we were seeing. You can save some expenses by going in a large group, or you can get a more private tour where you have your own personal guide. I would suggest checking out Unlock Italy for your private tour guide experience.
What to Pack
This was one of the things I was really unsure of. If you desire to “fit in” with the masses and not stand out like a tourist, I would suggest leaving the shorts at home. Jeans, capris, and skirts below the knee and tops that aren’t too revealing would be recommended, and bringing along a cardigan or light jacket if traveling during the summer months. Pack strategically so that you can have 2 or 3 pairs of bottoms that will match with any of your tops and shoes. This will allow you to pack lighter because lugging a 45 lb suitcase up several flights of stairs and along cobblestone sidewalks is not fun. For shoes, I would also leave the high heels at home and bring a comfortable pair of sneakers and sandals. The sidewalks are very uneven. Pickpockets are prevalent so you also want to ensure you bring a pouch to store your money, passports, and important things that are not in your pockets. My husband got one that strapped onto his belt and tucked inside his pants that was more comfortable and secure than the one that straps around your waist.
I hope that these tips are helpful for your preparations of having a memorable and fantastic experience. Remember that you likely won’t get to see everything unless you plan a full week for your trip and you will likely want to visit some other locations while in Italy as well. Ciao!