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Kathleen Horgan is a contributing writer to The Hudsucker. Specializing in marketing and communications, she currently works at a top sports marketing agency. She is eagerly awaiting her acceptance letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Follow Kathleen on Twitter at @KathleenHorgan.

Travel Tips and Tricks: Rome

Colosseum. Image credit: Kathleen Horgan.

I’m no Rick Steves, but having a best friend with a Masters in Latin who has traveled to Italy more times than I can count certainly helped with my summer trip to Italy. Below are a few tips and tricks that will help you make the most out of your trip to Rome:

1. Scavi Tour

One of the most exclusive tickets in Rome is the Vatican’s Scavi Tour. Admitting only 250 people per day, this tour takes you under St. Peter’s Basilica to the necropolis where the tomb of Saint Peter is located. Exploring two levels below the current St. Peter’s Basilica, you will see constructions built between 0-50 AD and the bones of Saint Peter. For this amazing experience, you must apply in advance by reaching out to the Excavations Office on the Vatican’s website. If selected, the Excavations Office will reach out to make arrangements. Remember to cover your shoulders and girls should wear garments that extend to the knee.

Courtney, Kathleen, and Katie at the Vatican Excavations Office. Image credit: Courtney Rogers

2. Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican is a must-see for any tourist in Rome, and not without reason. At almost any time of the year, the line for the Vatican can be several hours long. To avoid the queue, purchase your tickets online in advance. Print your tickets out at home, cut the line, and enjoy! Be sure to wear some comfortable shoes, as you will want to pay the extra fee (€6) to climb St. Peter’s Basilica’s 551 steps–the view from the roof is incredible!

View from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica overlooking Vatican City. Image credit: Kathleen Horgan

3. Colosseum and Roman Forum

While on the subject of tickets and long queues, surely you’re planning on seeing the Colosseum while in Rome. Like the Vatican, the line for the Colosseum can creep on for hours and blocks. You can skip the ticket line by venturing down the street to the Roman Forum to purchase your ticket. Tickets purchased at both the Colosseum and Roman Forum provide entrance to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. However, the line at the Roman Forum is significantly shorter than the one at the Colosseum. While you’re there, be sure not to miss Rome’s first emperor Augustus’ home and the massive Flavian Palace.

In front of the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Image credit: Kathleen Horgan.

4. Fountains of Rome

If you visit Rome during the warmer months, you will definitely work up a sweat. But don’t waste your money buying bottled water because there are free drinking fountains located throughout the city. Aqueducts provide fresh drinking water to fountains and basins every few blocks in Rome–and yes, it’s totally safe to drink. Be sure to bring a refillable water bottle so you can stay hydrated as you see the sights! Having trouble locating the fountains? Download one of the many apps available on the Android or Apple app store to help find a fountain nearby.

Street drinking fountain in Rome. Image credit: Kathleen Horgan.

5. Giolitti

Giolitti is hands down the absolute best gelato in all of Rome. Nay, it’s the best gelato in all of Italy! Located near the Pantheon and a short walk from the Trevi Fountain, Giolitti will serve you the best gelato you will ever have. Pay at the counter in the front room, then proceed to the gelato bar where you will be served. A small (piccolo) two flavor cup is more than enough and is only €2.5. Try my favorite: one scoop dark chocolate (cioccolato fondente) and one scoop mint (menta).

Rome’s famed Giolitti gelato shop. Image credit: Courtney Rogers.

Hope you have as much fun on your Italian adventure as we had on ours! To plan your own Italian getaway, visit the Italian Tourism Board at their official website.

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2 Comments on “Travel Tips and Tricks: Rome”

  1. Dong Shao January 29, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    As Rome is one of the oldest cities in the world so no doubt that there are various historical tourist spots. I have been to Rome just once and it was 3 day trip. No doubt Colosseum is best of them. I just love the simple and beautiful interior of the Pantheon. I am also planning another trip to major tourist cities in Italy including Rome. I am too excited about the trip and I hope It would be much enjoyable. I will definitely keep your tips in mind while planning my trip.

  2. Holiday Velvet Rome April 24, 2014 at 6:28 am #

    Really interesting post – you have some great photos here! The Scavi tour sounds certainly exclusive and quite amazing – did you just get lucky and happen to be selected for tickets on that day? I enjoyed your video as well; it looks like a cool, non-traditional way to capture your travels. Hope you enjoyed your stay, I know that no matter how much time you spend in Rome, it is never enough time!

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