Rome… The eternal city is just one and a half hours away from Zurich, which makes it a very attractive place for a weekend visit or as a transit destination on your trip to Italy. The name of the city in Italian (ROMA), spelt reverse, transforms into the most ancient word: AMOR, love. Indeed, the city is the one you fall in love with – at first sight. There are, of course, other things which might make your feelings deeper…
Italy is famous for its gelato (ice-cream) – it is sold practically on every corner and it is great refreshment in summer (and any other time of the year). According to my experience, the best places to try it are Gelateria De La Palma (Via della Maddalena 20) and Giolitti (Via Uffici del Vicario 40). The first place is a nice café to stop by: first, you choose the number of ice-cream scoops, pay and get with the check to the counter. Then the hardest part starts – you will have to make your choice looking at roughly 100 sorts of ice-cream! At Giolitti things are more formal – there are waiters who might recommend you something from the menu; prices are, therefore, higher than in De La Palma. Still, the variety and selection is great, together with the atmosphere of the place.
2. Taking a Walk
Walking through the city is sometimes the best way to discover it: it is so easy to get lost in narrow picturesque streets of Rome, not knowing where you might end – at a beautiful fountain, ancient temple or at a pizzeria. Good map, a couple of bottles of water and sun-block (in summer) are the important things to take on a city tour.
3. Vatican Museums
Vatican Museums are the highlight of Rome. There are legends about how difficult it is to get in and how one has to get up in the morning and wait at the entrance already at 7-8 a.m. However, there is a totally legal trick for getting inside without such difficulties. You should find the post office on St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) and ask for tickets with reservation for Vatican Museums. They cost approximately 4 Euro more than standard tickets (12 Euro) but they will let you get in, avoiding the long queue at the entrance (alternatively, hotel staff can help you ordering tickets in advance). For the museums I would recommend to reserve at least a day – depending of your endurance and interest in cultural heritage. Important: no shorts, spaghetti-tops and mini-skirts are allowed in Vatican – shoulders and knees should be covered for visiting churches and museums.
4. St. Peter’s Basilica
The basilica is located on St. Peter’s Square. It is a magnificent, impressive cathedral where one might feel like a tiny grain of sand. The place is simply breath-taking! One can also walk up the stairs to the cupola and enjoy the view over the city.
The temple on Piazza della Rotonda is a tribute to all Roman gods, built by Marcus Agrippa in 126 A.D. Feel like Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code, admiring the mosaic on the floor and the statues around.
Window-shopping in Italy? Impossible! If you are looking for bags, shoes and clothes, Italy might be the best place to buy it all. Via del Corso is a busy street with affordable shops and many others will certainly attract your attention.
Fontana di Trevi, Fontana del Quattro Fiumi, the Triton Fountain and many more is another object of admiration in the city. However, be careful – there might be pick-pockets in the crowd. Should you want to drop a coin in the fountain, prepare it a bit in advance – this way you are giving no chance to the thieves to find out where you are keeping your wallet.
8. Colloseum and Forum
In order to avoid standing in a queue to get a ticket to Colloseum and a queue to enter it (!), get a combi-ticket in Forum Romanum.
One of the ways to recognize a good restaurant is to listen to the guests’ speech – if the majority of them are Italians, you are on the right track! Calzone, pizza, tiramisu, carpaccio – enjoy the local specialities! Have you tried Aranciata? It has lovely orange taste and a bitter touch, if you are taking amara (bitter) version.
10. Last, but not least: enjoy your stay in Rome, but do not forget the basic safety rules (keep your cash in trousers’ pockets; always keep an eye on your backpack and any valuable items, such as cameras).