I’m no Rick Steves, but having a best friend with a Masters in Latin who has traveled to Italy more times than I can count certainly helped with my summer trip to Italy. Below are a few tips and tricks that will help you make the most out of your trip to Rome:
1. Scavi Tour
One of the most exclusive tickets in Rome is the Vatican’s Scavi Tour. Admitting only 250 people per day, this tour takes you under St. Peter’s Basilica to the necropolis where the tomb of Saint Peter is located. Exploring two levels below the current St. Peter’s Basilica, you will see constructions built between 0-50 AD and the bones of Saint Peter. For this amazing experience, you must apply in advance by reaching out to the Excavations Office on the Vatican’s website. If selected, the Excavations Office will reach out to make arrangements. Remember to cover your shoulders and girls should wear garments that extend to the knee.
2. Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica
The Vatican is a must-see for any tourist in Rome, and not without reason. At almost any time of the year, the line for the Vatican can be several hours long. To avoid the queue, purchase your tickets online in advance. Print your tickets out at home, cut the line, and enjoy! Be sure to wear some comfortable shoes, as you will want to pay the extra fee (€6) to climb St. Peter’s Basilica’s 551 steps–the view from the roof is incredible!
3. Colosseum and Roman Forum
While on the subject of tickets and long queues, surely you’re planning on seeing the Colosseum while in Rome. Like the Vatican, the line for the Colosseum can creep on for hours and blocks. You can skip the ticket line by venturing down the street to the Roman Forum to purchase your ticket. Tickets purchased at both the Colosseum and Roman Forum provide entrance to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. However, the line at the Roman Forum is significantly shorter than the one at the Colosseum. While you’re there, be sure not to miss Rome’s first emperor Augustus’ home and the massive Flavian Palace.
4. Fountains of Rome
If you visit Rome during the warmer months, you will definitely work up a sweat. But don’t waste your money buying bottled water because there are free drinking fountains located throughout the city. Aqueducts provide fresh drinking water to fountains and basins every few blocks in Rome–and yes, it’s totally safe to drink. Be sure to bring a refillable water bottle so you can stay hydrated as you see the sights! Having trouble locating the fountains? Download one of the many apps available on the Android or Apple app store to help find a fountain nearby.
Giolitti is hands down the absolute best gelato in all of Rome. Nay, it’s the best gelato in all of Italy! Located near the Pantheon and a short walk from the Trevi Fountain, Giolitti will serve you the best gelato you will ever have. Pay at the counter in the front room, then proceed to the gelato bar where you will be served. A small (piccolo) two flavor cup is more than enough and is only €2.5. Try my favorite: one scoop dark chocolate (cioccolato fondente) and one scoop mint (menta).
Hope you have as much fun on your Italian adventure as we had on ours! To plan your own Italian getaway, visit the Italian Tourism Board at their official website.