Heading to Rome and looking to save some money? Check out the Roma Pass. This pass offers free admission to two museums, discounted admission to a slew of others as well as free use of Rome’s public transportation system for three days.
Details on purchasing the pass (it currently costs 30 euro) can be found online. If you plan to spend at least three days in Rome, then this is an excellent pass for you. If your visit extends longer than 3 days, the pass is valid from the moment that it is used (either on public transport or when first used to enter the first museum you choose). So you might consider spending 3 days of your stay in Rome visiting many of the museums which accept the Roma Pass.
You get a free map, your transportation ticket, and a news publication highlighting what’s on in Rome as well as a guide that lists all the museums that accept the pass. At 30 euro, the pass is quite a bargain, especially if you plan to do a lot of sight-seeing.
The pass always for free transportation on the ATAC buses and trams, the metro (lines A and B) as well as the railway lines of: Roma – Lido, Roma – Viterbo (in the Roma – Sacrofano section), and Roma – Pantano. There are a lot of great sites on these railway lines, and free travel will make getting around Rome more economical. If your stay extends longer than 3 days, you could purchase another Roma Pass or simply pay the regular fair. Rome’s transportation is not expensive and quite affordable.
Remember, if you arrive in Rome on a Tuesday, visit your first free museum on Wednesday, the pass expires midnight on Saturday so be sure to get your money’s worth and use the pass once it becomes active. The pass “activates” from the moment it is validated. Also, the museum portion of the pass and the transportation portion are two separate passes. The museum portion is activated when you visit your first free museum; the transportation portion activates when you validate it before your first ride. Instructions on how the card works (in both English and Italian) can be found here on the Roma Pass web site.
A few months ago I mentioned that I would be moving to Rome in August. Now I am here, and I wanted to report on how things have been going for the past week!
I arrived on August 30th after several long flights from the USA to Rome. It was definitely a tiring trip but worth it. The heat is starting to ebb, and I can feel autumn is just around the corner. Almost all of the Romans have returned to the Eternal City as evidenced by the lack of parking spaces, the traffic and the throngs of people on the streets during the day.
This is my first time in Rome where I haven’t had as much assistance from friends as in the past as I make my way through the city taking care of getting my permesso di soggiorno and other bureaucratic endeavors. Many visitors to the city probably will not have to go through the sort of ‘hurdles’ that I am having to endure, but some things I have learned might be useful to the casual tourist.
First, you cannot be passive in Rome. What do I mean by this? Waiting your turn in line will often mean that someone will cut you. They are not trying to be rude, but they see you as wasting their time because now they have to wait longer because you cannot get the attention of a counter person or cashier. If they see that you are holding up the line, you will find yourself slowly falling to the back of the cue. Be assertive. I learned this the hard way when I went to get my passport copied for my permesso di soggiorno application. I dutifully waited my turn — as any American would — only to be cut in front of by several other people. Finally, someone served me after waiting for almost twenty minutes in line.
The next day when I had to go back to make copies of some other documents, I did not make the same mistake twice. I spoke up, pushed myself assertively to the front of the line, got my business taken care of and was then on my merry way. The best part — not one person tried to slip in front of me. If you find that people are trying to jump the line, be assertive. Most Italians will back down when you call them out on their behavior.
Second, be careful when crossing the street. Drivers in Rome are notoriously impatient, especially at red lights. When crossing the street, stick to the crosswalks (the white stripes on the road) and only cross when it is safe to do so. Wait for the crosswalk signal to turn green and follow the rest of the pack (often at night, you will find that people will cross the street before it turns green, especially when there is almost little to no traffic). As you cross the street, try to place a little distance between yourself and the waiting cars. I learned the hard way when a driver took his/her foot off the brake slightly, and their car lurched forward and almost hit me. I was lucky enough to dodge the bumper of the car before it smashed into my legs.
On those streets without crossing signals, you again must be assertive! When it looks safe to do, make your way across the street quickly and with as much air of authority as you can muster. Once drivers see that you are not going to go running back to where you started, they will slow down or stop to allow you to cross the street.
Lastly, do not forget to stay hydrated as you are out in the heat of Rome! There are water fountains all over the city (you can drink from most of them, although I would avoid drinking from the Trevi fountain) as well as small fire-hydrant looking drinking fountains (nasoni). Roman water is quite fresh and clean and completely safe to drink. Always avoid drinking from fountains that say “Non potabile”!
It’s no secret that summer in Rome is…well…it’s hot! If you plan to be out and about in the summer heat, be sure to keep your fluids up, drink lots of water, and drink less coffee and alcohol: this will ensure that you spend more time vacationing and less time in the local emergency room!
You might have heard about how a town in Australia that has put a stop to the sale of bottled water, calling it wasteful and damaging to the environment. While I do not foresee that happening in Rome anytime soon, there are things that you can do to cut down on waste – that is, throwing away your water bottles. Here are some tips:
If you’ve ever been to Rome, you’ll notice that there are a lot of fountains – the grand kind that you see in the piazzas and also the small ones (fontanelle), which are drinking fountains (pictured on the left). The water is safe to drink unless you see a sign that says “Non Potabile” or “Acqua Non Potabile” – if you don’t see the sign, then the water is safe to drink. These small drinking fountains are all over the city center as well as throughout the metropolitan area. Instead of buying bottled water, consider refilling an aluminium or plastic bottle brought from home to re-hydrate. The water has a slightly metallic flavor. Generally, I don’t like it, but it varies from fountain to fountain. The water might not taste as good as bottled water, but it’s clean. Cutting down on bottled water makes for a cleaner environment and less waste!
You can also drink water from many of the large fountains in the city, but use your judgment. For example, I wouldn’t drink the water from the Trevi Fountain (with all the coins in the water), but many of the other fountains in the city are good water sources. Keep in mind what the fountains were intended for: first as sources of water and second as works of art!
If you do buy bottled water, save the plastic bottle and refill it throughout the day at a fountain or fontanella. Not only will you be recycling your own plastic, but you can save money on buying more bottled water.
Try to avoid buying bottled water from tourist traps or near busy tourist areas – you’ll pay 10 times what you would pay in a supermarket. There are tons of supermarkets in Rome. Don’t be daunted if you find that all the water bottles come in packs of six, 12 or more. You can break open the pack and take just one or two bottles. There’s a great supermarket on Via Ostiense near Andreotti – it’s small, but you can buy a small bottle of water for 0.15 euro and reuse the bottle – that’s the cheapest bottled water I found in the city. Buy a few larger bottles and leaving them in your hotel or lodgings for the evenings. The nighttime is a good time to re-hydrate for the following morning.
And lastly, if you cannot or do not like to reuse your plastic bottles, at the very least, recycle them. There are recycling bins all throughout the city and are clearly marked. Read what others are saying about drinking water from Rome’s fountains:
Also check out this post, about the nasoni of Rome!
Ciao a tutti!
In August, I shall be moving to Rome to do graduate work! Being so close the city and having a bit more time on my hands should allow me to update the blog more regularly as well as include more pictures as well as report on museums, concerts, events, festivals, and other happenings that I am able to attend while I am there. There are some places that I would like to visit first hand without relying on the photography of others. Living in Rome will allow me to do just that!
As always, if you have a question about Rome or want some travel tips or advice, please do not hesitate to contact me:
Published this past November, Franco Mormando’s Bernini: His Life and His Rome is a wonderful biography on an artist who has left an indelible mark on Rome with his theatrical sculptures, playful fountains and building works. Published by the University of Chicago Press, this book relates not only the life of Bernini from his auspicious beginnings to the end of his career, but it also attempts — might I say, most successfully — to recreate the “atmosphere” of Rome in Bernini’s time and my favorite aspect of this work.
Mormondo does a wonderful job of creating a psychological profile of the artist, doing his best to get into the mind of his subject and helps us to understand what he might be thinking and feeling and why Bernini does what he does. Mormondo does not force 21st century values onto his subject and paints a picture of the artist as he should be seen: a product of his time. This task is most certainly not an easy task, but, the author draws on primary source material in order to complete his profile of Bernini.
Primary source material from Bernini’s own son, Domenico, and observations from those of other eyewitnesses work to create a balanced portrait of the artist, his works, his temperament, and his dealings with others. Mormondo is always careful and cautions the reader regularly that we must judge carefully Domenico’s accounts of many exploits recounted in his biography. Using other eyewitness accounts certain helps to balance out some of Domenico’s less believable observations. In doing so, we are able to judge Bernini through the eyes of several observers.
More importantly, Mormondo recreates Baroque Rome, providing the reader with a realistic account of Rome by discussing not only the art and patrons of Bernini but the politics and problems of the time as well as the circumstances involving Bernini’s works and commissions. This aspect of the book I enjoyed the most, and I also appreciated the author’s dedication in keeping Rome and its cultural and political climate always “on stage” with the artist. I enjoy how the author focuses not only on Bernini but on the major players of the time, looking at Bernini’s business rivalries, his love interests, as well as the many patrons who Bernini worked for during his lifetime. While there is much “gossip” in the book, Mormondo refuses to place his primary source material in any kind of hierarchy: no primary source seems to reign over any other. This balanced approach is used throughout the book.
I was pleasantly surprised to see extensive use of Giacinto Gigli’s Diario di Roma, a diary written by one of Bernini’s contemporaries that discusses the going’s on in the Rome from 1608 to 1670. Sadly, this work was translated into English but is hard to find, and the Italian edition, republished in 1994, is also now out of print. Mormondo cites heavily from this work and allows the reader to enjoy the Gigli’s observations about Bernini, his works, the reception of his works as well as the political and religious climate in Rome at the time. His invaluable diary and Mormondo’s use of it in support of his research adds much value to the book.
Mormondo takes a lot of chances with his research, but they are gambles that are supported by his source material. Mormondo clearly understands the minds of those who lived during the Baroque. He possesses an insight that is invaluable in understanding Bernini and his Rome. We must admire how Mormondo never sways from reporting the various angles of a story, even when they are risque and scandalous, and he refuses to place Bernini on a “proverbial pedestal” — acknowledging the master’s faults and successes. You might find Mormondo’s psychological insight into Bernini hard to swallow at times, but his observations help us to see a side of the artist, his works and his environs that simply cannot be dismissed.
Anyone heading to Rome would do well to read this wonderful biography. It’s almost impossible not to see the works of Bernini while you are in Rome, and this book will help in understanding the artist and his works.
How to purchase:
I purchased this book for the Kindle app on my iPad. A hardback copy of book is available from $35.00 from the publisher (University of Chicago Press). If you purchase the ebook directly from the publisher, they offer several options, two “30 day loan periods” as PDF or ePub for $7.00 or you could purchase the ebook for $21.00. Prices are, of course, subject to change. Visit the publisher’s web site for more details.