Following my previous blog on Rome, I wanted to touch on the tidbits I learned about sightseeing in Rome (the Eternal City) and what to look out for.
Here are some tips that we found out before we left the USA and a few we learned along the way.
- Book your tour prior to leaving home. Popular tours and attractions can book up months ahead of time and you wouldn’t want to be disappointed. You really do not want to fall victim to not being able to see a key part of your wish list for your vacation because there are no tours left or you just can’t fit it into your schedule. Also, this will let you research the ones you really want to see and not be left with only the ones available.
- If you don’t want to spend 3 to 5 hours waiting in line for a peek at The Forum, Coliseum or the Vatican, purchase the Skip the Line Tours. There are so many to choose from and it really does make your trip less stressful not having to wait in the heat of the day in line to gain entry. You will also find that these tours are full of information you wouldn’t normally get anywhere else. This is because the guides love the city, most have studied the history in college. They even have some really amazing anecdotes that they can tell you.
My recommendations would be to check www.visitacity.com or www.CityWonders.com. Both of these can help you plan your days and offer you the best chance to see everything that you want too (and some you probably didn’t know were available.)
We booked a day trip to Tuscany (if you take this tour, or any others from CityWonders, make sure that your tour guide is Andy, you won’t regret it, his knowledge and enthusiasm for the country and his tours are second to none.) Take a tour like this on one of your first days there, you can get some great dining tips, tour options and much more from people who know where to go and what to see. After our trip we booked a second tour just because Andy was the guide! He has amazing knowledge and even helped with the local restaurants after the tour.
Buying bottles of water and postcards and a ROSE you MUST HAVE…
You will see more non-Italians selling items from bottles of water to rosary beads during your stay. They are everywhere and there is no side stepping them and their wares. These individuals don’t care who you are or how much of a scene they make. They normally don’t take “no thank you” for an answer either. In fact, they can be very rude, and tend to get right in your path. If you talk to the locals you will hear all about the Italian economy and how street sellers are taking away from the local Mom and Pops stores around the city. This has caused those stores that have been around for decades, to close up and even the families to move away from the area. Don’t be suckered into buying any of these street seller’s products, there are much better “trinkets” to take home in the stores that need and appreciate your business.
As with most guided tours worldwide, if you enjoy your tour…tip your guide. Tour guides get paid a minimum wage and rely on tips to make up the very low wages, this is why the really good ones are in demand. They know their job, they love their job and they make sure you love the tour too. Tipping is nice but what also helps is going to the websites like TripAdvisor and leaving comments. Most tour guides only get used if they rate high on social media sites or other tour sites like TripAdvisor and others.
Another great idea is the Hop on Hop off bus. On the average day you can walk anywhere from 5 to 10 miles. If there is a day or two on your tour where you’d love to have someone drive you to the next must-see destination, grab a ticket on one of these buses.
One of the last tidbits for the trip is to download a translator app onto your phone but also become knowledgeable of a few very common Italian phrases. Showing you are an educated tourist always looks great the locals and may even get you a free cannoli or glass of wine.
Let me know if you have any questions and I’d be happy to give a recommendation or answer any questions you have on the wonderful City of Rome. Rome is a must-see for everybody no matter your age.
If you missed the first part of this blog, jump over to “Rome, Why It’s the World’s Oldest City”