Essential Rome: 6 Things You Should Know Before You Go! (Part 1 of 2)

You’ve bought your ticket, packed and repacked your bags, have been crossing off the days on your calendar leading up to your departure date, and probably have been psyching yourself up for your trip by imagining touring the Vatican or the Colosseum.

But could it be that you’ve forgotten something?

Image by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Beyond arranging your hotel and flight, here are some essential ways to prepare for your stay in Rome.

 1. Transportation:  Learn How to Get Where You Need to Go!

Already heard about the chaos of Roman traffic and transportation system?  What about costs and fines?  We’ll  break it all down for you.

  • Fares Buses, Trams and Metro tickets are your cheapest way to get around the city and cost the same: €1.50 (one way, 100 minutes), and the tickets can be used interchangeably, i.e. the same ticket can be used to ride bus, tram and metro (one direction) within the allotted time (100 minutes). Passes can also be purchased: one-day, €6; three-day, €16.50, seven-day, €24.  Here longer than a week? Well, there are also passes for one-month, €35, and one-year, €250 (available for purchase at newsstands).
  • Where to Purchase – You can buy tickets and passes from ticket machines (metro stations or major bus terminals), or newsstands, or from Tabacchis (convenience stores marked by a sign with a capital “T,” sometimes located inside bars/cafes).

Image from Rome Information: Click on image to visit the site.

  • Buses – The most basic method of getting around the city. Buses run 24 hours a day, but with special night buses on altered routes.  Night buses run from 12AM to 5:30AM.  The city has many major bus terminals, such as Termini Station, Largo Argentina and Piazza Venezia.
  • Metro – The metro has two lines: A (red) and B (blue). The hours are from 5:30AM to 11:30PM daily, with extended hours on Saturday (closing at 12:30AM). It is easy to use, and stops are often named after or indicate famous historical sites (Colosseo, Piramide, Circo Massimo, Spagna, etc.).
  • Taxis – In Rome, authorized taxis can be found at taxis.  It is possible to hail one if it, but make sure that it is white and licensed–note of the municipal stamp and contact information.  Flat fees: Fiumicino to the Center, €48; Ciampino to the Center, €30.


2. Medical Services: Be Prepared for the Worst-case Scenario!

Perhaps relatively few of us like to think about the worst thing that could happen while traveling, especially when on vacation.  Still, it is a reality that we can encounter moments when we will need to address either minor or major medical issues.

  • For Travelers with Disabilities – Please, be aware of the Rome-based Consorzio Cooperative Integrate (COIN).  This is the primary resource for travelers with disabilities (physical, mental, sensory).  They will provide information on how to get around the city safely and accessibly.  Their resources are not limited to Rome. Contact COIN: 06 57177001;  Beyond COIN, travelers may also contact Roma Per Tutti, which offers similar services: 06 57177094;
  • General Medical Services – Emergency medical services are offered free in all hospitals in the city.  For routine services, you will need to make a small payment for the care you receive.  If you are interested in meeting with a private English-speaking doctor, then there are options available:  Rome American Hospital, 06 22551; Aventino Medical Group, 06 5780738;  Met Travel Health (24 hours, travel clinic, including dental emergency, air evacuation, radiological diagnoses), 06 43236290.  You can also search on the internet for English-speaking medical services.


Pharmacy sign near the Vatican. Image by Columbia University. Click on image to read article on the Vatican.

  • Pharmacies – Easily identifiable by their neon green plus/cross signs.  There a multitude of pharmacies throughout the city. Many pharmacies within the city center offer continuous hours. If you are staying just outside the walls (e.g. Testaccio, Garbatella, etc.), most close between 1:30PM and 4:30PM.  There are some 24-hour pharmacies, but they are usually located within the city center:  Via Arenula, 73 (06 68803278); Piazza Risorgimento, 44 (063722157); Piazza dei Cinquecento, 49-51 (06 4880019); and Piazza Barberini, 49 (06 4825456, English-speaking).


3. Community Services:  Know Who/Where to Ask for Help!

Traveling abroad means not being on your home turf, and possibly not even knowing the language and/customs.  However, it does not mean that you are on your own if something goes wrong.

  • Embassies – Although some embassies can only be visited by appointment, being aware of your embassy’s contact information is a good place to start. American/US Embassy, Via Vittorio Veneto, 12 (06 46741, emergency walk-in: Monday to Friday 8:30AM – 12:30PM, 1:30PM – 5PM); Australian Embassy, Via Antonio Bosio, 5 (06 852721, emergency: 800-8877790; Open Monday to Friday 9AM – 5PM); British Embassy, Via XX Settembre 80a (06 42200001, emergency: 0642202431; Visits by appointment only); Canadian Embassy, Via Zara, 30 (06 854442911, also for emergencies; Open Monday to Friday 9AM -12PM, TTY: 6139441310); Irish Embassy, Villa Spada, Via Giacomo Medici, 1 (06 5852381, also for emergencies; Open Monday to Friday 10AM – 12:30PM); and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Via Clitunno, 44 (06 8537501; Open Monday to Friday 8:30AM-12:30PM, 1:30PM – 5:00PM).


Carabinieri. Image from the blog Spoiled Expat, Click image to visit blog

  • Law Enforcement – Once here, you will notice that Rome has various types of law enforcement personnel.  The two main forces are:  the polizia and the carabinieri.   Although the polizia deal most often with thefts and traffic, you can also approach the carabinieri if you have had any such difficulties as well.  Both are often willing to offer assistance even with the most basic of needs, such as giving directions or explanations.
  • Emergency Numbers – Carabinieri, 112; Police, 113; General, 115; and Ambulance, 118. Please, visit Angloinfo for detailed local emergency numbers for the Rome area, including highway police, poison control, veterinary emergency, towing services and many more useful contacts.


Next Wednesday (Part 2):
Communication, Dietary Needs & ExPat Communities

  -Article by  Diedré Blake

 Look Out For Posts Every Wednesday & Saturday!

The MindtheGuideTeam 

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