FAQs - Tips for Pilgrims and Tourists

There are a number of bus shuttles that travel between Termini and the two airports in Rome.

The SIT Bus shuttle serving Fiumicino Airport has a stop at Termini as well as a Vatican area stop near Piazza Cavour. The trip takes about an hour and costs €6.00 one way. A bus is also available from Termini to Ciampino (40 minutes). Children under 4 travel free and free wifi is offered. www.sitbusshuttle.com/en

Terravision Rome Airport bus is another choice. The journey takes 55 minutes and the cost one way is €4.00. Children under 5 ride free. www.teravision.eu

One service we can recommend is DRIVEROMA, under the supervision of Mr. Tony Mancini. They have cars, vans and supervans, with service to Fiumicino AND Ciampino Airports to and from the Center of Rome. And also can provide clients with service to Civitiavecchio and many other locations. You can contact Tony Mancini at  or (+39)339.458.4206. His website is: www.driveroma.com

We also recommend Roberto Morelli, of Five Stars (limo & coach service)
Via T.Boetti Valvassura 80, 00139 Roma (Italy)
E-mail :  Tel : (001)(39) 347.040.1676

Another service we recommend is that of GREENTRAVEL S.R.L.,Autoservizi, Via Papirio Carbone n. 49, 00178 ROMA, tel (+39)06.9799.7247 fax (+39)06.979.97248, 

Just remember always to confirm right before you are departing, and to get the name of the driver and a cell phone number.

 

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While there are three official U.S. Embassies in Rome: one to the Italian government, one to the Holy See, and one to the United Nations agencies, American visitors in need must go to the U.S. Consulate, on Via Veneto 121 next to the American Embassy to Italy. The Consulate can assist with the following: issue new passports; witness and notarize documents; help with legal formalities in case of death; inform your family if you are in difficulty; and provide a list of doctors and lawyers. The Consulate cannot give you money, settle your disputes, or get you out of jail. They can only ensure that you are being treated according to the laws of the host country. Tel: 06.46.741 or website: rome.usembassy.gov. Please remember not to bring a large backpack or bag as you may not be admitted or allowed to leave it outside due to security reasons. 

Most bars charge different prices at the counter than at a table. You may want to check posted prices before sitting down, and decide if you feel it is worth spending $5 for a cappuccino and the pleasure of sitting at a sunny sidewalk cafe. Once seated, you may sit there for as long as you please. If you choose counter service, pay the cashier first. If you choose to sit at a table, the waiter will bring the check. Most bars have a toilet available for customers. 

BUSES AND METRO (SUBWAY)

There are hundreds of bus lines running from 5:30 AM until midnight. Public buses stop at carefully marked places called Fermata. These are large yellow and white signs attached to poles along the sidewalk. The signs list every stop that the bus will make. Check to see if your destination, a stop close to your destination, or a stop that allows you to change buses is listed. Express buses are marked with the letter X. Exact lines that cover short distances and leave at specific times are marked with a red E. Night buses begin at midnight and are marked with the letter N and an owl sits atop their Fermata sign. Some bus stops now have helpful digital signs listing the exact arrival times for the next bus.

Two cell phone apps that can be useful showing bus arrivals at your Fermata are Moovit and Roma Bus. These are free apps for your phone. 

A combination Bus and Metro (subway) ticket may be bought from ATAC/COTRAL windows as well as tobacco shops, newsstands and vending machines. Some buses have ticket machines on board but not all. The BIT standard ticket costs €1.50 and is valid for 100 minutes of multiple bus rides and one ride on the metro. It is wise to buy a number of bus tickets at one time to use. Fines are high if caught without a ticket. Stamp your ticket in the machines after boarding the bus.

If the machine will not time stamp your ticket, take out a pen and write the time, date and bus number yourself.

The BIG or Roma24H ticket costs €7.00 and allows unlimited travel on metro, bus and train within Rome. Also available are the Roma48H pass for €12.50, the Roma72H pass for €18.00 and the CIS weekly pass for €24.00. Validate these tickets the first time you use them and they will start their countdown. 

Passholders board at the front of the bus. Italians usually do not show their ‘tessera’, but you should be ready to do so if asked. Ticket holders board from the rear of the bus and all exit from the middle door. Never ride a bus without your ticket or pass. Inspectors are common and the fine for being without a ticket is €50 plus the cost of the ticket and it is payable immediately! Contested tickets or delayed payment raises the fine to over €100. Children under the age of 10 ride free when accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket. All necessary information may be found at www.atac.roma.it in Italian and English.

There are many fun things to do with children in Rome. The Villa Borghese has a children’s movie theater, the Cinema Dei Piccoli, which is listed in the Guiness book of World Records as the smallest cinema in the world. Often the films are in the original language. The park is vast with a bioparc zoo, a turtle-filled pond with rental row boats, bicycle rentals available for the many pathways, and a children’s playground at the Casina di Raffaello. The Gianicolo (Janiculum) another lovely park behind the Vatican has a wonderful view – and a marionette show. A cannon is fired every day at noon, where it can be observed from the wall above. The lake in EUR is surrounded by a large park with trees, grass, park benches, and lots of space to play and run. There is a children’s museum, Explora, Via Flaminia, 82 (www.mdbr.it). A useful website for updated children’s events is: http://www.bambinidiroma.com (only in Italian).

In the summer, there are at least two waterparks, both of them about 30 minutes from the center: 1) Hydromania, Via Vicolo Casale Lumbroso, 200 (06.661.83183) (www.hydromania.it) and 2) Aquapiper, Via Maremmana Inferiore, 354, Guidonia Montecelio (077.432.6538) (wwwaquapiper.it). There is Zoo Marine which features marine animal shows, diving exhibitions and a few amusement park rides (www.zoomarine.it). The newest park, Rainbow Magicland (www.magicland.it) can be found about an hour south of Rome.

Please remember that churches are primarily places of worship and you must dress appropriately (which means NO shorts, sleeveless or low-cut tops, miniskirts etc.) Don’t undergo the humiliation of being turned away at St. Peter’s due to casual summer dress. It’s an argument you won’t win. You can also be prepared with a shawl or wrap if you are in shorts or a sleeveless top. Summer hours for St. Peter’s Basilica are 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. There are no lines early in the morning!

Know that most churches are CLOSED between noon and 4:00 PM. They usually open again for three hours in the late afternoon. The four basilicas are open all day: Saint Peter’s, Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls, Saint Mary Major and Saint John Lateran. The Vatican Museums (which is the only way to get into the Sistine Chapel) have limited hours. By far the best way to get tickets for the Museums is to buy them online (http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do) for a pre-determined entry time, so you can avoid standing on queue. Otherwise, plan to go early and stand in line. GET UP EARLY. Plan on leaving your hotel no later than 8:00 AM. Otherwise the morning will go by and you’ll have missed everything!

Information technology seems so universal, but it can certainly be helpful in Rome to know who you can turn to for valid and objective computer advice, assistance and instruction. Plus! Assistance of Ann Frances Margolies offers personalized computer services with over 30 years of experience in Rome and the USA. Services are available in either English or Italian or both languages, as you and your computer grow into the Eternal City, Italy, Europe and the world!

Before you leave home, notify your bank of your travel plans so that your card is not blocked. Again, photocopy front and back all of your credit cards (and passport) and keep them in a separate place. (We cannot suggest this enough!!) You will need the contact numbers (as well as the card number) if they are stolen.

Like all big cities, Rome has its share of crime.  Try to avoid wearing flashy, expensive jewelry, carrying open purses, or making your wallet easily accessible.  Thieves love to pick your pocket. While some of this is avoidable on the street, it may be more difficult to protect yourself on a crowded bus or Metro.  Hold on tightly to purses and briefcases and keep them away from the traffic side of the street. Keep your eyes open on buses for suspicious characters – especially on the heavily traveled buses 64, 62, 40, 46, and 492.  Warn someone you think is a potential victim as you would want such a warning. If your pocket is picked on the bus, start screaming as loudly as you can. The bus driver should stop the bus and lock the doors. Often if the pickpocket is still aboard, he will drop your wallet on the floor of the bus.  Beware of walking late at night in or around the Colosseum, Campo dei Fiori, St. Mary Major, Termini areas or on the metro.

If your passport, driver’s license or airline tickets are lost, report to the nearest Carabiniere or Polizia station (at the Questura on Via Genova and another station on Via Boncompagni near the US Embassy there are also special offices for foreigners, “per stranieri”) to fill out a report or denuncia.  This denuncia may be used as a temporary driver’s license and must be presented at the Consulate for a new passport and to retrieve any lost items that are found.  Photocopy everything and keep the copies in a safe place.

Be aware that some food, dairy and agricultural products purchased in Italy cannot be brought into the United States, otherwise you will lose those homemade sausages and cheeses that your relative gave to you.  Check either before you leave the States or with U.S. Customs (Tel: 06.46741) for a list of items which you will not be allowed to bring in to the US.

You can check the Italian newspapers always looking for the V.O. designation that means the film will be shown in the original language it was filmed in.  The majority of English language films shown in Rome are dubbed in Italian.  

These theaters often (be sure to check) have a film showing in English: Alcazar, Via Merry di Val 14, 06.588.0099 (usually Monday evenings only in original version); Barberini, Piazza Barberini 24/26, 06.863.9136;  Intrastevere, Vicolo Moroni 3/a, 06.588.4230; Lux, Via Massaciuccoli 33, (zone Trieste), 06.863.91.361;  Nuovo Olimpia, Via in Lucina 16/G, Tel: 06.686.1068.

You can also check these websites: www.inromenow.comwww.romereview.comwww.trovacinema.repubblica.it (listing in Italian only), www.mymovies.it (listing in Italian only). Also please note that during the summer many cinemas are closed.

Buy at least one good guidebook and bring it with you.  Get a Rome map as well. The streets are complicated but with a good map you’ll have no trouble.  The street names are usually on a marble plaque on the sides of buildings and are hard to see if you don’t know what you’re looking for.  For Guidebooks, try Fodor’s and The Real Guide, and of course, Rick Steves (short, funny and informative - he also has a free app “Rick Steves Audio Europe” that gives self-guided tours to many places). The Eyewitness Travel Guides have good photos and maps. Read your guidebook on the plane.

The Office of Social Policies for the Rome City Council has issued an exhaustive guide entitled Roma Accessibile, Guida Turistica per Persone con Disibilitá. While this guide is available for people who wish to write to: CO.IN. Cooperative Intergrate ONLUS, Via Enrico Giglioli 54a, 00169, Roma, Italia, we have another suggestion that might be easier. Their website www.coinsociale.it currently does not have an English version.

We would suggest using the website www.sagetraveling.com The EuropeanDisabled Travel Experts, for extensive information. They have a telephone number for the United States to ask questions: 1.888.645.7920

Italian hotel breakfasts are light: cappuccino and a cornetto (like a croissant, but smaller) or roll and sometimes orange juice.  Remember that coffee is a diuretic and that bathrooms are few and far between! Usually coffee with milk (cappuccino or caffe latte) is not served after 12 Noon, however most bars (an Italian term for a coffee and light food shop) are accommodating to tourists.  Many bars and restaurants now offer an American-style breakfast/brunch on weekends.

Rooms in Italian hotels usually are much smaller and have less accoutrements than US hotels.   Do your research by reading your guidebooks, shop the internet. Just make sure that you’re staying in town (Centro) and not outside the central historical district.  See our section, Get Thee to a Nunnery, for a list of economically priced convents to stay in that are located in the center. 

Tourist kiosks are located on most major streets.  City maps can be found there as well as some interesting and informative booklets or pamphlets. http://www.turismoroma.it  is a very useful site and you can access it in English. At the kiosks you can find “Un Ospite a Roma” (A Guest in Rome) which is a small magazine, published bimonthly.   Free of charge, it has a wealth of information and is in Italian and English. 

More and more bars, restaurants and hotels have free wifi service.  

These are called “Lavanderia automatica” and are available throughout the city.  Ask your hotel for the closest location. 

Report all lost items to Ufficio Oggetti Smarriti, Circonvallazione Ostiense, 191. 06.676.93214/3217 or email:   Winter hours are: Mon-Wed and Fri from: 8.30-1.30 and Thursday from 8.30-5.  You can also dial 060608 (will have an English speaker) for further information on how to report lost items.  Generally all lost and found items are delivered first to the police station near where they are found, then they are transferred to the Roma Capital offices at Circonvallazione Ostiense, 191. In order to claim a lost item the owner must present a valid I.D., a complaint of theft or loss with description of object (denuncia made to local police station) and pay a number of small fees for custody of object, administrative costs etc. This office will also notify the appropriate Consulate for any found items belonging to foreigners. The Consulate in that case would notify you. 

Before you go, get a few Euro from your bank, though it’s not necessary.  You can get them also at the airport and at ATMs. Just remember that the dollar exchange rate changes daily.  For daily rates check www.x-rates.com.   Use your ATM card at a bank for security purposes. Keep your card and your passport in a safe place.  Don’t be surprised when your hotel asks you for your passport when you check in and then keeps it for a while. This is normal – they have to register you with the police in case you’re a wanted criminal – you’ll get it back.  Beyond that it’s a good idea to keep a copy of your passport on your person at all times.

English language papers are sold at the large newsstands (edicole).  The International New York Times and USA Today are published daily except Sunday. The magazine Wanted in Rome comes out monthly in English.  It is widely available, has classified advertising, articles, and a calendar of current events. Romeing is another monthly publication with a current events calendar, information on Rome, as well as classifieds. It is distributed in 200 places in the city, free of charge and is written for tourists and expats living in Rome. 

The American is available exclusively on line, It is full of information about current events, food, film, books, music, law, etc. It is a pro bono undertaking.  Websites: www.wantedinrome.com, www.romeing.it, www.theamericanmag.com, www.inromenow.com, www.buzzinrome.com, and www.italia.it

There are hundreds of websites and blogs relating to Rome one can consult when planning a trip. We wish you happy internet hunting.

An English speaking doctor is available 24 hours a day at International Medical Center, 06.4882371, Via Firenze, 47.  This is a private medical center with a fee and all doctors speak English. You may also call the American Embassy for a list of doctors at 06.46741.  We also recommend the Aventino Medical Group:  Highly-qualified international English-speaking physicians and other health professionals offering world-class services in a variety of specialties in the center of Rome, Via Sant'Alberto Magno, 5 - 00153 Rome, Italy, tel./fax (+39) 06 5780738, hours: Monday-Friday 9 AM - 7:30 PM, email: 

The main branch at Piazza San Silvestro is open from Monday through Saturday from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM and is closed Sundays.  This is a multi-purpose post office.  Stamps (francobolli) are also available in tobacco stores (Tabacchi).  

For quick, efficient and courteous service, the Vatican Post Office may be used by anyone.  There are offices off the right-hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square near the newsstand and to the left of St. Peter’s square near the Information Office as well as in a trailer in the piazza.  The hours are Monday through Saturday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  The Vatican issues their own beautiful stamps to use and to collect.   You must mail your cards/letters from their post office.  Stamps can’t be used outside of Vatican City.

Difficult to find! Try using the facilities of a well-heeled bar or restaurant when in need. By law bars are supposed to let anyone use it, even if you don’t buy anything.  Ask for the bagni or toilette. Note that they may be quite small, shared men and women, and of a different standard than you may be used to (two footprints and a hole in the floor!) and there isn’t always paper available, so carry Kleenex with you. Some good public restrooms are located in St. Peter’s Square.  Fast food restaurants are also a good opportunity.

Most restaurants begin serving dinner until at 7:30 PM. Lunch usually begins at 12:30 PM. You can always go to a bar (a "coffee" bar) and order a sandwich (panino). If you sit outside, you'll get charged more, but it's fun to watch people. You'll seldom get butter or ice in a restaurant, but you can ask if you really want it and you might get it. There is no Diet Coke -- it's called Coca Cola Lite. You won't get coffee with your meal -- or even with your dessert -- coffee is a separate course (caffe is espresso; cappuccino is espresso with steamed milk). There are no Starbucks. Italians wouldn't think of walking around with a cup of coffee and the portions are much smaller -- and the espresso is LESS strong. 

Click here for some Recommended Restaurants in the area!

All the portions are less. And with the amount of walking you do, you'll probably lose weight before you get home. First thing to order are the water and the wine. Usually the house wine is more than delicious, but you can order a more expensive bottle. Water is always bottled: gassata (with gas, usually carbonated) or naturale, senza gas (still). House wine is served in liter, half liter and quarter liter pitchers. Just ask for red or white (rosso oppure bianco). You can order as you go along or the whole meal at the beginning. Pace yourself. You can start with an antipasto or the Primo Piatto (First Plate or Course). The Primo Piatto is usually pasta or soup (forget about spaghetti and meatballs -- you won't find it) or eggplant parmigiana or lasagna or risotto (although risotto is more common in the north). The Secondo Piatto is meat or fish (fish is expensive, but very good). Most beef is bland, but not all. Veal (vitello) is fabulous. Also roasted chicken. Usually these come with roasted potatoes. You can also order a salad (insalata mista -- the only dressing they have is oil and vinegar, although you might be able to get balsamic vinegar if they have it. Forget about Ranch, 1000 Island or Honey Mustard!) and/or a vegetable (spinach, green beans, whatever is on the menu or in season). The Dolce or dessert comes next. You'll probably get tired of Tiramisu, but if it's homemade (fatta in casa) it's probably very good. Mixed fruit, strawberries in season, gelato, and usually one or two very nice cakes. Then coffee (you can get decaffeinated) or tea and a digestivo (Amaro, Limoncello, Sambucco). Don't overdo these -- they're delicious, but deceiving and you may wake up in the middle of the night with a headache if you drink too much.

Getting the bill sometimes requires asking for it two or three times (Faccia il conto, per favore). Don't get upset – remember you're on vacation. Breathe deeply three times. Waiters can be very nice, but if they're busy, they can also be forgetful. If something's missing, ask for it. Most restaurants take credit cards, but check at the entrance to make sure. A few only take cash. There's a small cover charge (for the bread, etc) and a tax. Tip LESS than you do in the states. About 5% to 10% unless you're in a real fancy place and the service is extraordinary, but even then, don't overdo it. However, please note that Fr. Greg tips 10 to 15% because he feels guilty and that the waiters have come to expect it from Americans!  Also, please always take your bill or receipt with you. Always.

Always use a white licensed taxi with an identification number and a taxi-meter. Never use an unmarked cab or you will be overcharged and cheated. Cabs are usually found at marked Taxi Stands with bright orange signs. At the airport, be sure to go out to the curbside to the TAXI STAND for the organized line of taxis. DO NOT take cabs offered by drivers in the building.

Taxi’s to and from Fiumicino have a fixed rate of €48.00. The rate for Ciampino is €30.00.

A small tip of 1 or 2 euro is appropriate.

Taxis in Rome start at a base price of E€2.80 (7 AM to 10 PM) when you enter the cab and then

the charge is €1.22 per kilometer. Supplements may be added. Sunday and holiday travel meters begin at € 4.00, night travel after 10 PM meters begin at E€5.80. 

You may also telephone for a cab, but be aware that the meter begins the minute the cab starts its journey to where you are located, so expect to see more than E€2.80 on the meter. Your hotel concierge or restaurant can call a cab or you can telephone yourself at 06.3570, 06.6645, 06.4994, 06.8822 or 06.5551. (There is also a central number: 06.0609). It is always best to have your restaurant call a cab for you late in the evening. Also when it rains, it is difficult to find a taxi at a taxi stand so it is best to call one. 

The train station (Stazione Termini) has self-serve machines or windows where you can buy your reserved seat tickets. Remember to validate your tickets in the stamping machine at the beginning of each track before boarding the train. This is not necessary with an online booking printout. Your ticket will give you a train number, a car number by class and a seat number on that car. A conductor will check your ticket enroute. Travel agents also sell train tickets. You can book online at www.trenitalia.it and travel with the PNR code listed on your ticket you can print out or send to your mobile phone. There are special fast trains called Freccia Rossa and Argento to many destinations.

A great way to go to Florence (Firenze) for the day is to take one of the Freccia trains. Take the 7:00 AM-ish train for the 1 ½ hour trip. Go first or second class with reserved seats – there is very little difference. Have breakfast in the dining car and you’ll be in the center of Florence by 8:30. You can see everything in a day – get reserved tickets online for the Uffizi Gallery, or at 055.294.883. See the David at the Accademia. Go to the San Marco Monastery to see the Fra Angelico’s. See the Medici Tombs and the burial sites of Galileo and Michelangelo at the Santa Croce Church. Buy leather and stationary at the outdoor markets and gold on the Ponte Vecchio. Have a great lunch somewhere and take the 5:00 PM train back to Rome. A wonderful day ending with dinner in Rome. Day trips are also possible to Assisi, Siena, Naples etc. For Venice (Venezia), it’s a 4 and 1/2 hour train ride, so you’ll need to stay overnight or longer. The Santa Lucia station is directly on the Grand Canal. Jump off the train onto a vaporetto (waterbus). 

Many organizations offer historical, spiritual and gourmet walking tours in Rome. Fr. Greg’s Spiritual Walking Tours (www.stpatricksamericanrome.org), Italy Hotline (www.italyhotline.com), Tours by Laila Volpe (www.followlaila.com),Urbs Sacra (www.urbssacra.com). 

Italians have two work periods – in the morning and in the late afternoon.  They have a long leisurely lunch starting at 1:00, then either go for a walk or take a nap – ready for a fresh start at 3:30 or 4:00 until about 7:00PM.  This is changing and now most stores in the main shopping areas have continuous hours. Many shops are closed on Monday mornings and/or Saturday afternoons. Try to take advantage of the saldi or sales in January and July.

Mass Times and Directions

Masses in English with the American Community are now permanently at the Church of St. Patrick (Chiesa di S. Patrizio a Villa Ludovisi), Via Boncompagni 31. Click here for our New Mass schedule at St.Patrick's. For Holy Days and special Liturgies (including our Christmas/New Year's Schedule), see also special Mass times.

Papal Audiences

On most Wednesdays throughout the year, Pope Francis holds a public audience in St. Peter's Square in front of St. Peter's Basilica. To request tickets to the Wednesday Papal Audience, please click here .

Donate

To make donations to St. Patrick's American Community in Rome, you can click on the secure PayPal/Credit card "DONATE" link below. If you need a tax credit letter, it is best not to use PayPal "DONATE", but make your donations by checks made out to “Paulist Fathers”, a US entity, and Fr. Greg can issue a letter for your taxes. You can mail this check or you can give US dollars in person. We hope this inconvenience won't discourage you from donating to the St. Patrick's American Community as we are much in need of your support.

As Romans Do

AsRomansDoCover

Our newest edition of As Romans Do, 2019-2020, our periodic guide for pilgrims to Rome, is now available. This 100-page guide to Rome and the Catholic American Community of St. Patrick’s Church is a real treasure. Click for more info!

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