Rome for Less
Funds are tight for all of us these days, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo Rome’s eternal pleasures. With our useful tips and a bit of commonsense, you can save your euro and still enjoy la dolce vita.
With car hire or public transport, you really don’t need to stay in the centre of Rome. It’s much cheaper to book a hotel on the outskirts of Rome, in somewhere like Flaminio, Frascati, or Ostia. You’ll save even more by eating in local restaurants occasionally, instead of city centre tourist haunts. For basic accommodation, try hostels, B&Bs, and lodging in monasteries.
Eat for Less
Rome is foodie heaven, so, don’t worry, we’re not suggesting that you survive on bread and (tap) water for the duration of your stay. Do as the Romans do and go to family-run restaurants off the beaten tourist track. Trastevere, for example, has some wonderful trattorias, where you’re likely to find the chef/owner coming out of the kitchen to ask about your meal. You’ll fork out less than you would at home, and you’ll get to eat like a true Roman.
Rome is the kind of place where it’s virtually impossible to walk around without seeing something historic or beautiful or both, and you pay nothing to look. For museums and attractions that charge an entry fee, you can get 50% off with a Rome Pass Card. If you visit around April 20, the anniversary of the Birth of Rome, most monuments are free to enter. The Vatican Museums charge no entry fee on the last weekend of each month.
These Roman lovelies won't cost you anything:
Constructed in 27 B.C. as a temple to the Roman gods, the Pantheon is the city's oldest standing domed building. You'll find it in Piazza della Rotonda, a place where the young and hip like to gather in the evenings. Imperial Rome's best-preserved monument, it inspired Brunelleschi's design for the cupola of the Duomo in Florence.
Walk off that gelato on Europe's longest staircase. Constructed to link the Spanish embassy to the Holy See, the Spanish Steps lead from the Piazza di Spagna to the church of Trinità dei Monti. Stop near the top - not just to catch your breath, but to enjoy wonderful views of Rome.
It is free to enter the main floor of St. Peter's Basilica, the Catholic Church's headquarters and the world's biggest Roman Catholic building. Artistic highlights include the 30-metre bronze baldacchino, which overlooks the Papal Altar, and Michelangelo's renowned Pietà .
Try to make time for San Clemente, a church on Via San Giovanni that includes an ancient worship site called a mithraeum, the original Christian worship site, and sanctuaries dating from the fourth and 12th centuries.
If you don't feel like paying to access the Colosseum, you can appreciate its grandeur at its best from the open (free) air. Nighttime viewing is recommended: Subtle lighting makes it easy to imagine a time when men and lions battled inside the ancient stadium.
One of the stars of Federico Felini's La Dolce Vita, the Trevi Fountain is one of Rome's most spectacular Baroque fountains. Tradition maintains that flinging one coin in the fountain will ensure a return to Rome, two coins will guarantee a romance in Rome, and three coins will lead to marriage in Rome. You might be better off using your euro to buy a cappuccino instead...
In Piazza Navona, you'll find another stunning Baroque fountain - Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers. This won't be quite as thronged as the Trevi and makes a great location for people-watching.