Rome is made up of twisting alleys and open piazzas, perfect for exploring by foot. Make your way slowly around the top attractions, stopping for coffee top-ups or cooling off with the world's best gelato. Every corner will reveal something new and extraordinary. Watch out for swarms of scooters and adventurous drivers darting around pedestrians with breathtaking bravado.
Taxis in Rome aren't cheap and can demand surcharges for your luggage. Choose licensed white or yellow taxis that operate on meters not a pre-agreed price to ensure you aren't swindled. Taxi ranks are dotted all over the city centre, but don't rely on hailing down a taxi in the street, especially at night.
Metro trains, trams, buses and night buses form an inexpensive public transport system. Purchase tickets at newsstands to get an all-access pass, lasting from 75 minutes to seven days. Two metro lines run around the centre, making navigation quite simple. Buy separate tickets for special hop-on/hop-off tourist buses that operate two-hour guided tours of the city's main attractions.
Taking on Rome's infamous traffic is not for the faint-hearted. Parking can be difficult and be aware of tolls when you enter the city centre. If you're experienced, hiring a Vespa can be great fun and give you more flexibility. Vespa and car rentals start from around €50 per day.
Roman roads are teeming with traffic, criss-crossing through crowds. Drivers are impatient and can ignore road rules, so expect sweat beads to break. Find a white-striped crossing and make a bold move. Drivers will only break when you're crossing in front of them. Wait for a traffic pause, start crossing and hold up a confident hand.
Street vending and unofficial guides can be a nuisance. Relentless vendors may try to force overpriced goods on you. Ignore them and keep walking. Unofficial guides offer dubious historical expertise. Establish whether they want payment at the outset. Costumed gladiators outside the Colosseum offer a photo opportunity, but reasonably demand fees. Negotiate a price before the snap to avoid overpaying.
Rome is magnificent across the seasons. Even so, choose your dates carefully. Soaring summer temperatures can make long walks tricky and autumn draws the crowds who move en masse around the sites. August is traditionally vacation time for Romans, so businesses may be shut. Choose a neighbouring period and you could find reduced prices, shorter queues and easier attraction manoeuvring.
Sunday is a day of rest in Rome, so expect the whole city to shut down. You might be surprised to see that most restaurants and museums close on Mondays. Plan your itinerary around this. Long lunches are an Italian's prerogative so shops tend to close at 1pm and reopen at 3:30pm. Join them in this enviable tradition.
Emirates run daily flights from Auckland, stopping off in Melbourne and Dubai en route.
From Wellington Take Air New Zealand up to Auckland before joining the Emirates flight to Sydney. You’ll fly Emirates the rest of the way with one stopover in Dubai.
The Leonardo Express train departs every half hour and takes 30 minutes to get into Stazione Termini, Rome's central station. This is your fastest option. You'll find the station outside the main airport terminal and expect to pay around €15 for the ticket. Trains start running between FCO airport and Termini from 05:52 and the last train departs at 22:52.
Rome has a reputation for passionately aggressive drivers and jam-packed roads. If you're confident, a car will give you the freedom to go where you please. Familiarise yourself with road tolls and parking, which can be impossible to find. The main rental operators such as Avis, Hertz and Europcar all have desks at the airport.
Taxis can be a cheaper alternative in a group and will take you straight to your hotel. After a long trip, this could be the best option. You'll pay upwards of €40 in a licensed metered white or yellow taxi. Rome's roads are bursting, so a trip to the centre can take up to an hour.
For travel on a budget, getting a Terravision shuttle bus is the cheapest option, at €4 per passenger. Buses depart from Terminal 3 every 30 – 50 minutes and take about an hour to reach Stazione Termini. Purchase tickets in advance online, or at the airport upon arrival.
Dedicate an evening to an exhilarating live performance at Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Rome's main opera house. In summer, performances take place at the Baths of Caracalla, a glorious setting framed by ancient ruins. Tickets should be purchased well in advance online and prices start from around €20. Piazza Beniamino Gigli 1
Tour the Eternal City's iconic sites from the seat of a stylish vintage Vespa accompanied by a specialist tour guide. Experience the thrill of zipping through traffic on two wheels and choose from a range of fascinating routes, including all the locations from Roman Holiday, the Seven Hills of Rome and Secret Rome. Via Piave 49, 00187
See the splendour of Rome by water, with a dinner cruise down the beautiful Tiber river. Board the Agrippina Maggiore at 9pm from Ponte Sant Angelo and you'll be welcomed with a glass of Prosecco, before moving on to a traditional 3 course meal. Cruises last for 2 hours and 15 minutes with prices starting from €58 per person. Ponte Sant Angelo
Passion for exquisite food is at the heart of Italian culture. Master some classic dishes at a cooking class with chef Andrea Consoli. Classes take place at his family-owned restaurant in Trastevere from Monday to Saturday. The course lasts for five hours and starts at 10am. Learn how to cook a four-course meal from €65. Via dei Fienaroli 5, Rome 00153
A trendy trattoria in Rome's latest buzz district, Primo offers an exciting twist on classic Italian dishes. An open kitchen and warehouse interior creates an informal, stylish atmosphere, popular with local foodies. The tapas-style menu and 250-strong wine list changes regularly to suit the fresh, seasonal produce. Treat yourself to the tuna with friggitelli and basil followed by caramelised prickly pear in balsamic vinegar. Via del pigneto 46, Rome
Soft white leather, dark wood antiques and gilded mirrors make up three candlelit rooms at this ancient Renaissance Palace in Rome's old town district. Started by three passionate Marche brothers, this Michelin-starred restaurant offers a sumptuous and elegant fine dining experience. Choose a bottle from their wine cellar of 3,000 labels to toast a special occasion. Vicolo dei Soldati, 28 Rome, 00186
An air of chaos fills this charming family run restaurant. They offer delicious homemade staples like garlic bruschetta and hearty pastas straight from a traditional Italian oven. Watch Rome walk by from a pavement table in the summer, or enjoy the cheerful ambience at a cosy corner table inside. Perfect for a reasonably priced, family evening. Via Giovanni da Castelbolognese 63 00153
A few candlelit tables make this quiet alley setting near the Pantheon glow at night. A warm, romantic trattoria offering unique Italian fusion dishes like pasta with saffron and coriander. Book in advance to secure a seat amongst swathes of hanging ivy outside or facing one of the beautiful painted murals inside. Via degli Spagnoli, 27 00186
A swanky lounge bar decked out in cool colours to create a chilled out atmosphere. Be adventurous when choosing your drinks from an exciting range of Beige's own cocktail blends. Mingle with young professionals over an aperitif before hitting the dance floor to techno beats. Via del Politeama, 13/14 00153
This uber stylish venue is where locals flock to sip whiskey and toe-tap to jazz with an Italian twang. Relax on velvet couches facing the stage, surrounded by black and white photos of jazz legends. With over 75 labels, Gregory's is also regarded by some as the city's top whiskey bar. Via Gregoriana, 54a 00187
Chic, young Romans dance to mainstream music from international DJ sets in this hot nightspot in the historic centre. Book a table in advance to beat the queues and get treated like a VIP. The €30 cover charge is worth it; some consider this Rome's best nightclub. Via Mario de' Fiori, 97 00187
A one-room bar with quirky furnishings in its own piazza. Mr Pucci draws an artistic crowd seeking a theatrical alternative to the normal nightspots around Trastevere. Sit outside on a resurrected cinema seat, and enjoy off-the-wall entertainment like the nightly laser gun show, set to the theme from Star Wars. Piazza Mastai, 18 00153
Hop on bus 110, which will take you around the city for just €4 for the day. Get to Palatine Hill for a spectacular view of the Forum and Circo Massimo. Cross over to Aventine and look through the keyhole at Santa Maria del Priorato. Next, head to Piazza del Fico trattoria for a slice of pizza and wander east to Piazza Navona. Get a tartufo, sit on the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and soak up the atmosphere before retreating to your hotel for a nightcap.
Take a train trip out of the city and discover the exquisite countryside. Head to Frascati, a town celebrated for its white wine and local porchetta. Lunch beside one of the area's beautiful lakes before returning to the city. That evening, get your glad rags on and treat yourself to an opera at Teatra dell'Opera di Roma. Make sure you have a bite to eat before you get there. Performances start at 8pm, before many restaurants in the area open.
Start the day sipping a cappuccino standing up Italian style, before heading to Foro Romano. Buy a guide to help you know what you're looking at. It'll offer a fascinating insight and will enhance your experience. Spend around two hours here before heading to the Colosseum; be sure to enter it to fully appreciate the jaw-dropping scale of it. In the evening, get to the Pantheon before 7pm for free admission. Have dinner afterwards at Armando al Pantheon followed by drinks in nearby Piazza di Rotonda.
Get to Vatican City early to avoid the throngs in St Peter's Square and take a guided tour. Most end at the Sistine Chapel where your breath will be taken away by Michelangelo's glorious frescoes. Leave the city and wind your way to the Spanish Steps, indulging in some designer store shopping along the way. Don't leave without a trip to the Trevi Fountain to toss a coin in the water. It means you'll return to beautiful Rome again.
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