Here are a list of questions that are often asked about Rome...
1) What is the best way to get from the airport to my hotel?
There are multiple means of transportation between the airports and the city center. Most international flights come into Leonardo da Vinci Airport or also called Fuimicino (FCO). It is located about 25 miles to the southwest of Rome. Many smaller flights come into Ciampino Airport (CIA). It is located about 20 miles to the east of Rome.
From Fuimicino, you can take one of two trains into town. The Leonardo Express goes directly from the airport to Termini Station (the main train, bus and metro station in Rome). The cost is about 11 Euros per person and takes about 40 minutes. You can also take the FR1 regional train. This train is more of a "local", making many stops along the way and ends at the Tiburtina Station, north of Termini. The cost of the FR1 is about 5.5 Euros per person. From Tiburtina you can take the metro down to Termini. Once at Termini, you can take the metro, the bus or a taxi to your residence.
SITBus offers a shuttle bus service from both airports. The FCO shuttle cost is 8 euros and goes to either Piazza Cavour or Termini. The CIA shuttle costs 8 Euros and goes to Termini only.
There are no trains that go directly from Ciampino Airport to Rome. There is a rail station for the town of Ciampino, but is is several kilometers from the airport. It is best to take either the shuttle bus, a taxi or car service from Ciampino.
If you take a taxi, make certain it is an official taxi. The fare is 45 Euros.
Many people will opt for a private car service. One of our recommended services is Rome Shuttle Limousine. For 3 people the cost is 40 Euros from the airport to anywhere in the city, door to door, in a Mercedes.
2) What is the best area to stay?
That is actually very hard to answer, because it depends on your tastes and budget.
The Piazza Navonna/Campo dei Fiori/Pantheon area is located in the heart of the main historical area. It is also the most expensive.
The Trastevere area is across the Tiber river from the historical center, but is also a favorite.
The Vatican Area is more of a working persons area, giving you more of a flavor of the "real" Rome.
The Spagna Area is full of nightlife and expensive shops.
The Monti Area is pretty big and includes the Colosseum. This is a bit of a walk from the main historical center, but many people like this area because it is often less expensive.
The Termini area is usually the least expensive, but requires public transportation to almost any main historical area. Some people do not like this area, but it is still very safe, as it is the location for many foreign embassies.
If you stay outside of town, you can save substantial amounts of money, but you limit yourself to getting back and forth to the city. Some train services stop at 9pm.
3) What is the best way to get Euros?
Use an ATM machine and a debit card. Do not bring traveler's checks, as these are seldom accepted. ATM machines at bank locations will give you the best exchange rates. Changing money before you arrive will often result in bad exchange rates and outrageous fees. Be certain to inform your bank that you will be traveling in Rome so they do not lock your account. It is also good to have cards from at least 2 different banks.
We have never had a problem in having an American debit card accepted at any place that accepts credit cards, including car rentals.
Also, be aware of something called "DCC" or Dynamic Currency Conversion. If you buy something in Europe make certain that you were charged in EUROS and not Dollars. The DCC is a system that automatically converts from Euros to Dollars, the problem is the exchange rate is horrible and they hit you with additional fees. If you see your receipt shows the bill in "dollars", refuse the bill, make them credit the bill in dollars and charge again in Euros.
4) Is Rome Safe?
ABSOLUTELY! Violent crime is almost unheard of. Now you must be aware that there are lots of petty crimes that take place. Pickpockets are there and will try to get you. While in crowds, be aware of your surroundings. You will also find many street vendors selling fake designer products. If you get caught with one of these you may be fined substantially and the thing taken. Never fall for the "gold ring" scam or the "I'm a business man and need to sell my coat" scam.
We are in our 50s and have walked around most areas of Rome at all hours of the day or night and have never felt unsafe, and that includes about 2am near Termini and after midnight on New Years Eve.
5) When is the best season to visit?
Once again, that depends on you. The summers can be blistering hot and you had better hope nothing goes wrong with your AC. But, the days are much longer and rain is not much of a problem.
The spring and fall can be much less expensive and the most enjoyable. Easter Week is one of the two most expensive times of the year.
The winter months can be cold and snow is not unheard of, but more often than not it rains more than snows. However, with the exception of the Christmas weeks, it is also the least expensive. Christmas is often the most expensive time, it can rain a fair amount, but it can also be almost magical. In 2005, 2006 and 2007 the Christmas weather was almost perfect. In 2008, the rain never stopped, the Tiber flooded and it was pretty cold. Once again, in 2009 it rained a fair amount and in February of 2010 we had a beautiful morning of about 3 inches of snow. To the good side, this made the traffic move much slower and crossing streets easier.
6) Cell Phones and Communications
Cell Phone Answer:
This is an often asked question. Cell phones operate on specific radio frequencies. In North America and some parts of South America we use two frequencies 850 and 1900 megahertz. In most of the rest of the world they use two different frequencies, 900 and 1800 megahertz. What does this mean to the traveler? Well, in most cases if you have say a North American GSM cell phone it will not work in Europe, unless it also has the required frequencies for Europe. These are called tri-band or Quad-band phones. To make matters even more confusing, not all North American phone companies use the GSM system. As an example, Verizon uses a different system, which is not compatible with GSM networks.
Now, some cell phones are "locked" to a specific company. Inside the phone is a little card called a SIM card. This card holds specific information, such as the phone number and may contain the required network. It is usually located just behind the battery in your phone. So, if you have a Locked T-Mobile GSM phone with the required frequencies for Europe, while it may work in Europe, you may pay really high rates to make or receive calls. Some of these rates can go as high as $1.50 per minute both incoming and outgoing.
In Europe you can buy inexpensive SIM cards from almost any retailer, like grocery stores, newspaper stands, etc. (not so in the U.S.). These SIM cards can offer really good rates, like as low as free incoming and 25 cents outgoing, but you must read the fine print. The phone must be "unlocked", meaning it can be used on any phone network. In some instances, you can call your own phone provider and have them unlock your phone. If they won't do it, or the cost is prohibitive, you can go on places like eBay or Overstock and purchase unlocked tri- or quad-band phones for about $30-$40.
It is possible to purchase a SIM card for use in Europe in the U.S.. In some cases the SIM card purchase price will be offset by pre-paid minutes. Companies like Telestial and eKit offer this service. eKit may be the better deal. The positive to having a SIM card before you leave is that you will already know your European phone number. Also, activation can take from a few minutes to a few days, so having it already working before you leave can be helpful. With eKit, you get both a European and American phone number, which can make it easier and less expensive for people to call you.
Now is where it gets interesting. There are ways to where you can call to and from Europe for very little or nothing at all. The trick is you need a computer and internet access.
Skype is a company owned by eBay that is probably the largest communications provider in the world. You download the free Skype software from Skype.com. If you and another person have Skype on both computers, then you can talk to each other at no charge. SkypeOut is a product from Skype that allows you to call out to other phones, for prices at about 2 cents per minute. To use it, you just deposit some money (say $10) into your Skype account. You make calls until you run out of money. SkypeIn is another product that provides you with an incoming phone number. The cost is about $60 per year. You can set this number to be almost anywhere. Something we would do is have a Florida based SkypeIn number. We would forward the number to our European cell phone. Then, relatives could call us on our U.S. number, it would ring our cell phone in Rome and we could either answer the call on the phone, or call back using either the phone or SkypeOut. Normally, you need to bring along a laptop to use Skype or find an internet cafe that has Skype installed. We came up with a way around this, look in our Library area for Skype-On-A-Stick. This lets you take your skype account around on a small flash drive that can work with any PC, whether it has skype or not.
You can even buy WiFi phones, which use available wireless internet connections you may find as you wonder around a city to make internet based calls.
|Last Updated on Monday, 15 August 2011 02:15|