Just about anyone you talk to you will say that driving in Rome is only for the brave. The rules are usually, drive with one foot on the gas, the other on the brake. Rome authorities, however, have begun to crack down on crazy drivers to make the driving experience safer. Familiarize yourself with the new traffic regulations, which include forbidden drive zones and designated parking areas.
There are some precautions to take for driving in hot weather. The sun can be very intense. When parking, use a sun shade to cover the wind shield and for blocking the sun from the interior. Without shade, the sun can heat the steering wheel so much, it can burn your hands, or at least make driving very uncomfortable.
Do not leave your sunglasses on the dash during hot weather. The heat builds up within minutes and can cause them to warp. If they don’t warp, they can still leave a nasty burn across your nose and eyebrows. Likewise, do not leave your cell phone or other mobile application on the dash as the sun’s heat can damage them internally.
Do not leave babies, children or pets in the car for any length of time during the sunlit days. Even with the windows rolled down, they can become very ill or even die from sun exposure.
Leaving aerosols or inhalers exposed to the sun is dangerous. They can explode.
Rome has an excellent bus and rail transportation system, and will be a lot cheaper than taking a taxi, which can cost up to 50 Euros just for a drive from the airport. In Central Rome, you can arrive at many of the sites just by walking.
Much of Rome’s architecture and art is free to the visitor and can be found at many of the abundant churches and basilicas. There are also plenty of free concerts held during special holidays or Rome festivities. Typical free concerts include performances by Italian rock and pop artists, and sometimes international artists.
Try to reserve tickets in advance for visiting popular places like the Borghese Gallery or the Vatican Museums. The Museums are generally closed on Sundays, except the last Sunday of the month, when the offer free admission between 9:00 AM to 12:30. It’s well worth the wait for a visit to the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s world-renowned masterpiece.
Street sales people are persistent in Rome. If you don’t want their products, don’t look, and learn to say no if they insist. Eye contact is half the kill, so keep your eyes straight ahead if you don’t want to end up buying something you didn’t want. Do not accept “gifts”. As soon as the item is in your hand, the vendor may want payment.
If you can’t find a good hotel within the central, expand your territory. There are many excellent hotels throughout the city of Rome, with very efficient public transportation services. When uncertain, ask questions of the bus drivers, the tourist information office or at your hotel. Roman citizens are not rude and will generally help you if you look lost, but they have their own lives to attend to and Rome is filled with tourists asking directions. Refrain from asking questions such as the best places to go to eat or where you can find some lively entertainment. As far as they are concerned, it’s all good.
The costumed gladiators do not work for free. Before taking a photograph, find out how much they intend to charge you for that nifty photo of you posing with a gladiator.
It’s nice to believe that as a religious centre, Rome citizens are upstanding and honest. Most of them are, but it is a big city with all the big city problems. Be suspicious of unmarked, unlicensed taxis. If you use one, be sure to negotiate a firm price before accepting their services.
Pick pockets and purse snatchers are notorious in Rome. Try to avoid crowded busses and late night busses. Don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket. A good safety precaution is to pin your valuables, such as credit cards and cash, inside your clothing.
Know your exchange rate. Many money changers, especially at the airports and stations will charge an excess of ten percent more than the current exchange rate. There will also be money changers on the street offering a “special deal”. The only thing special about it could be that you just accepted an exchange for less value than your currency is worth.
During the hot months, drink plenty of liquids and always carry a water bottle. You can dehydrate easily in the Mediterranean sun. Buying water from the snack carts and restaurants can become expensive quickly. Drinking water in Rome is safe, and there are many public drinking fountains, but if you are in doubt, buy your water from the supermarket.
Pace yourself. There is so much to see and do in Rome, you can become exhausted quickly. Take advantage of those cozy, shaded outdoor cafe’s to idle over a refreshing gelato that will cool you down before cramming in the next Rome experience on your agenda. Give yourself time to become acclimatised. Wear sun screen and a floppy hat when touring during the hot summer months.
Say goodby to your heart. The one thing you can be sure of Rome doing, is stealing it. Once you have learned to navigate the streets, the magic of the eternal city will infect you and there is no cure except to visit Rome again and again.