Rome

Rome is magnificent and brutal at the same time. Your ears will ring. If you’re careless, you’ll be run down or pickpocketed. You’ll be frustrated by the kind of chaos that only an Italian can understand. But Rome is required, and if your hotel provides a comfortable refuge, if you pace yourself, if you accept and even partake in the siesta plan, if you are well organized for sightseeing and if you protect yourself and your valuables with extra caution and discretion you’ll do fine.  Two thousand years a ago, the word Rome meant civilization itself. Today, Rome is Italy’s political capital,  the capital of Catholicism, and the center of the ancient world, littered with evocative remains. as you peel through its fascinating and jumbled layers, you’ll find Rome’s buildings, cats, laundry, traffic, and 2.6 million people endlessly entertaining.

Tourist Information                                                                                                                 Top Hotels in Rome

While Rome has several tourist information offices, the dozen or so TI kiosks scattered around the town at major tourist centers are handy and just as helpful. If all you need is a map, forget the TI and get one at your hotel or a new stand kiosk. At any TI, ask for a city map, a listing of sights and hours and the free seasonal entertainment guide for evening events and fun. Don’t book rooms through a TI, you’ll save money by booking on-line. Tip: The tourism promotion office, near Piazza della Repubblica’s huge fountain, covers the city and the region. It’s five minute walk out the front of the train station, air conditioned and less crowded than the TI’s.

Qatar Airways – Italia

Rome Attractions

St. Peter in Chains Church – built in the 5th century to house the chains that held St. Peter, this church is most famous for its Michelangelo statue. Check out the much-venerated chains under the high altar, then focus on Moses. The church is 1 to 15 minutes walk north of the Colosseum.

Colosseum

Colosseum – This 2000 year old building is the great example of Roman engineering. Using concrete, brick and their trademark round arches, Romans constructed much larger buildings than the Greeks. But in difference to the higher Greek culture, they finished their no-nonsense mega-structure by pasting all three orders of Greek columns (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian). The Flavian Amphitheater’s popular name Colosseum comes from the colossal statue of Nero that once stood in front of it. By putting two theaters together, Romans created a circular amphitheater. They could fill and empty its 50 000 numbered seats as quickly and efficiently as we do our super stadiums. Teams of sailors hoisted canvas awnings over the stadium to violence was the equal of modern America’s, enjoyed their Dirty Harry and Terminator, Gladiators, criminal, and wild animals fought to death in every conceivable scenario.

Arch of Constantine – The arch, next to the Colosseum, marks one of the great turning points in history, the military coup that made Christianity  mainstream. In A.D. 312, Emperor Constantine defeated his rival Maxentius in one crucial battle. The night before, he had seen a vision of a cross in the sky. Constantine became sole emperor and legalized Christianity. With this one battle,  a once obscure Jewish sect with a handful of followers was now the state religion of the entire Western world.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain – This bubbly Baroque fountain, is a minor sight to art scholars but a major nighttime gathering spot for teens on the make and tourists tossing coins.

Piazza Venezia – This vast square is the focal point of modern Rome. The Via del Corso, which starts here is the city’s axis, surrounded by Rome’s classiest shopping district. In the 1930’s Mussolini whipped up Italy’s nationalistic fervor here from a balcony above the square.

Victor Emmanuel Monument an oversized monument dedicated to Italy’s first king, built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the country’s unification. There is a clever little back door access from the top of Capitol Hill, leading directly to the top of the Victor Emmanuel Monument, saving you lots of uphill stair climbing.

Vatican City Area – There is no doubt:This is the richest and most impressive church on earth. To call it vast is like calling God smart. Marks on the floor show where the next largest churches would fit if they were put inside. The ornamental cherubs would dwarf a  large man. Birds roost inside, and thousands of people wander about, heads craned heavenward, hardly noticing each other. Don’t miss Michelangelo’s Pieta to the right of the entrance. Bernini’s altar work and seven story tall bronze canopy.The four miles of displays in the immense museum from ancient statues to Christian frescoes to modern paintings, are topped by the Raphael Rooms and Michelangelo’s glorious Sistine Chapel. Even without the Sistine, there is one of the Europe’s top three or four houses of art.It can be exhausting, so plan your visit carefully focusing on a few themes.

Accommodation in Rome

The absolute cheapest beds (dorms or some cramped doubles)in Rome are EUR 20 in small, backpacker – filled hostels. A nicer hotel (around EUR 130 with a bathroom and A/C)provides an oasis and refuge, making it easier to enjoy the intense and grinding city. If you are going door to door, prices are soft – so bargain. Many hotels have high season and low season prices. If traveling outside of peak times ask about a discount. Room rates are lowest in sweltering. August. Easter, September and Christmas are most crowded and expensive. Most hotels are eager to connect you with a shuttle service to the airport. It’s reasonable and easy for departure, but upon arrival it’s simpliest to catch a cab or train. Bed and breakfast are booming in Rome, offering comfy doubles in the old center for 70 -110EUR. Rome has many convents that rent out rooms, the beds are twins and English is often in short supply, but the price is right.

****Hotel Nazionale a four star landmark, is a 16 th century palace sharing a well policed square with the national Parliament. Its 92 rooms are served by lush public spaces, fancy bars, and a uniformed staff. It’s a big, stuffy hotel with a revolving front door, but it’s a worthy splurge if you want security, comfort and ancient Rome at your doorstep.

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