WHEN TO GO
The best time to visit Rome is at the beginning or the end of the long Roman summer—April to June and then again in late September through October. You'll still get long days of warm sunshine but avoid the peak tourist crowds at the key sights, as well as the sweltering mid-summer heat.
Offices and shops in Italy are closed on the following national holidays: January 1, Easter Monday, April 25 (Liberation Day), May 1 (Labor Day), August 15 (Assumption of the Virgin), November 1 (All Saints' Day), December 8 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), December 25 (Christmas Day), and December 26 (Santo Stefano).
HOW TO GET THERE
Rome is served by two airports (www.adr.it). The Leonardo Da Vinci Airport (also known as Fiumicino after the suburb of Rome where it is located) is the main international hub served by the American carriers and larger international carriers. Fiumicino airport is conveniently linked to central Rome by the Leonardo Express, a direct train service that runs every 30 minutes to Rome's central rail station (Stazione Termini; www.trenitalia.com) between 6:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. That service costs 9.5€ ($11.30) and tickets must be stamped before you board the trains on the platform's validating machines.
Ciampino Airport is a much smaller, largely domestic option that has grown recently due to the increasing number of low-cost airlines who use it. From Ciampino, you can take the Terravision Coach buses to Via Marsala next to Stazione Termini for 8.00€ ($9.50). The journey takes about 45 minutes and you can book tickets online at www.terravision.it. From Stazione Termini you can easily take a taxi on to your destination or connect via Rome's Metro which has several lines running through the station.
Although Taxis seem plentiful, there is never an empty one available when you need it. Call ahead or have your hotel or restaurant do it for you (6 6645, 6 3570, 6 4994, 6 8822, 6 4157, 6 5551). The meter begins at 2.35€ ($2.85) for the first 3km (1 3/4 miles) and goes up after that .78€ ($.95) per kilometer. Each suitcase costs 1€ ($1.20), and on Sunday, a 3.35€ ($4.05) supplement is assessed. There's another 4.90€ ($6.85) supplement from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. A 10% tip is expected.
The Metro is the fastest way to get around Rome's clogged streets. Trains run daily from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance from tabacchi (tobacco shops, most of which display a sign with a white T on a brown background). They are also sold at many newsstands and in vending machines at all stations. Considering the expense of getting around by taxi, the transit system is an excellent value. You can purchase single ride tickets for 1€ ($1.20), an unlimited day pass for 4€ ($4.85), a 3 day pass for 11€ ($13.30), or a weekly pass for 16€ ($19.40) (www.metroroma.it).
Bus and Tram
The same tickets are valid for Rome's network of buses and trams. You can obtain a complete transit map with all the routes at the office of ATAC (Azienda Tramvie e Autobus del Comune di Roma, 6 4695 2087, www.atac.roma.it), next to the Stazione Termini at 59 Via Volturno (800 431 784 for information).
All roads might indeed lead to Rome, but driving on them is a daunting prospect. The city's mind boggling network of winding one-way medieval streets and chronic parking shortage is enough to dissuade any visitor from trying to see Rome by car. However, you will need wheels if you plan to explore the countryside around Rome or drive on to another destination. All the major international car rental agencies have locations at the airports and in central Rome. If you're driving in or out of the city, ask your hotel to help you map out your route before hand, paying special attention to the one-way streets.
Rome's official tourist offices are located throughout the city marked with green signs that read PIT (Punti Informativi Turistici). Here are three key locations: Piazza Pia, Castel S. Angelo (open daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; 6 6880 9707); Piazza Cinque Lune (open daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; 6 6880 9240); and Termini Station, Galleria Gommata (open daily 8 a.m.–9 p.m.; 6 4890 6300).View Italy Factsheet