The final 5 tips in this topic. Sorry they took longer than expected!
6. Drink the local wine
Carrying on our theme of economising on eating and drinking which will make up the bulk of your trip expenses next to your hotel, don’t worry about what kind of wine to order, just drink the local house drop where ever you are. In Rome this will be a Frascati wine from the Castelli region, the cool mountainous area just outside of Rome. In Tuscany it will be local Chianti. You can’t really go wrong ordering house wine in Italy and it will be much cheaper than ordering a bottle with a name on it. House wine comes in glass or ceramic carafes that are quarts (enough for two small glasses), half’s or litres and can be refilled upon request.
Transport is usually a big expense for most trips however Rome as a city has the luck to be quite small in distances, per sight you might want to see. It is therefore cheaper but also quicker and easier to walk everywhere. Small maps of Rome are available everywhere. Be prepared to make your way by foot from sight to sight and you will not only save time and money but get to see the city that exists in between the monuments, as well as surprising and unexpected sights not listed in the Guide Books.
This means however that you can’t wear stilettos, in spite of the fact that many Italians will be. As a woman who loves her stilettos all I can say is that you will severely regret wearing anything with a heel and without a serious soul, full of padding. Italian cobblestones are really hard to walk on; footpaths are few, small and crowded, making walking difficult and painful.
All this is particularly important given tip number one about how much you pay in a café to sit down which you will need to do if you don’t wear flat, rubber-soled footwear. Save your fancy shoes for the evening when you alight from your taxi outside of your restaurant and for a short after-dinner passegiata (the traditional times Italians go walking to see and be seen). If you are not Italian most people will expect you to be wearing Birkenstocks anyway.
8. Expect not to pay
This follows on from the above point. Rome as a city is in itself a sight. Her streets, her piazzas, her buildings, the river, her shops, gardens and statues are all worth admiring, walking through and experiencing on your way to sights and monuments. The architecture, the decorations of art and murals on every street corner, the people, the weather, the outdoor living of the city are all also sights in themselves, beautiful, unique, and awe inspiring.
In addition many of Rome’s monuments are simply part of the city and free – the Circus Maximus, Arch of Constantine, the Pantheon, the Orange Gardens, Spanish Steps, Trevi fountain. Have a look at my blog on Top Ten Places to visit in Rome. Nine of them are free. Rome’s churches are also all free (including St Peters) and hold world heritage art works and sculptures by Michelangelo and Caravaggio just to name a few.
So don’t expect to have to put a lot of money aside to see sights. Simply walking through piazzas, stopping for a coffee, eating a panino, visiting Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, a church, and a monument or two will be enough to fill your days with silent wonder.
9. Take the airport train
The most costly transport that any visitor to Rome will pay for is always going to be the travel from the airports to the city. From both the main airports a taxi will cost around 60 Euro to the centre. Taxi drivers in Rome have a tight cartel and airport fares are fixed at around 45 Euro. In addition they will charge you for each bag they load into the boot and there is a surcharge if it is night time………..
The train from Fiumicino airport in contrast will cost around 13 Euro per person. Tickets can be bought on the platform, a train leaves every 15 minutes at least, to various parts of the city and it usually takes less time than a taxi. The trains are comfortable, have large luggage racks and are wheelchair friendly.
Spend 60 Euro on a nice pair of stilettos instead.
10. Buy from the locals – Prada, Armani, D&G
Labels such as these and Valentino, Versace used to scare the daylights out of me. But here they are just the locals. Shops are unpretentious, full of helpful yet discreet sales staff, who won’t mind if you are not wearing a label, weigh more than 40 kilos or are over twenty five. Everyone in the world comes to look at these stores and admire the craftsmanship. Italians bask in the homage and consider it only natural. There is no pressure to buy, you can look, touch, feel and ask as much as you want. They are also cheaper here than anywhere else in the world so you never know. You might just be able to afford something in there after following tips 1 – 9!