Your home in Rome is the elegant and intimate Palazzo Navona Hotel at Largo della Sapienza 8 (tel +39 06 81152341, email [email protected]), in downtown Rome’s Campo Marzio neighborhood and right next door to the famed piazza Navona. Your room will be available to you from 2:00pm, though you’re welcome to contact the hotel by phone or email ahead of your arrival if you are scheduled to get in earlier to see if your room can be made available to you. Below are directions taken from the hotel’s website to the hotel from Fiumicino airport, from Termini train station, and by car.
From Fiumicino airport (Leonardo da Vinci) there are three options:
- taxi (recommended) – 45 to 60 minutes (€50.00, plus €1.00 for each piece of luggage after the first, which is free)
- Leonardo Express Train train to Termini Station – 30 minutes (€14.00, trains every 30 min.); then take taxi or bus
- hotel pick-up service
From Termini Station (central train station):
- taxi (recommended) – 15 minutes (approx. €15.00; see above for luggage fees)
- bus #70 toward CLODIO, get off at RINASCIMENTO, staying on side of street you got off on, walk 130 yards. Hotel is on your right in Largo della Sapienza.
By car (not recommended):
Note that you MUST let the hotel know that you’re coming by car as they must help you with parking. The hotel is located in a parking- and traffic-restricted area so you’ll need their assistance in parking your car
from Florence to the Roma Nord (North Rome) exit or from Naples to the Roma Sud (South Rome) exit, take the Grande Raccordo Anulare to the Aeroporto Fiumicino Civitavecchia. Then take the second exit: #6 Flaminio Roma Centro in the direction of the Centro (city center), Stadio Olimpico (olympic stadium), S. Pietro (St. Peter’s) and continue to the Lungotevere (avenue running alongside the Tiber River). Once on the Lungotevere, after the second underpass, take the road on left hand side and turn right to cross the Tiber River on Ponte Umberto I (Umberto I Bridge). From here, follow the hotel’s directions regarding where to unload and park.
WHAT TO BRING
Here’s a list of things to bring. These are just the basics:
– two pairs of comfortable shoes. By far the most important thing you’ll need on this trip!! Tennis shoes and/or padded, walking-friendly closed shoes; two pairs so that if it rains you’ll have a spare pair. And I would recommend breaking them in well before our seminar
– layers: a couple of T-shirts, a couple of long-sleeved shirts, comfortable long trousers and/or jeans, a sweater or two, and a rain-proof jacket. I also find that November is a good month for scarves or shawls as they help to keep one cosy and go a long way to dress up an outfit
– a ‘nice’ change for dinners out. Romans like to look good and, after all, “when in Rome…”
– sunglasses, sunscreen, a light-weight, folding umbrella. The weather is usually somewhere around the mid-60s in Rome in November but it can get warmer – or wet. So we’ll want to be prepared for any eventuality.
– your smartphone or a camera if you’re a happy snapper and, if you have them, maybe a very light pair of binoculars for better fresco viewing
– walking poles if you appreciate the stability they can provide on the uneven terrain we’ll sometimes encounter
– a comfortable bag in which to carry your things around town – backback or shoulder bag or purse, whichever you prefer
– lastly, a photocopy of your passport (see ‘Safety and Smart Travel Practices,’ below).
Here’s my favorite site for the latest currency exchange rates: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/
How to have access to money while in Rome:
The best system is to use the ATMs in Rome. You’ll want to make sure, therefore, that your credit card can be used in Europe and has a PIN number (the code you punch in once you’ve inserted your card into the machine) that is valid abroad. Also, ideally, your card will feature one of those embedded security chips that have been in use for a few years now in Europe and are recently becoming widespread in the U.S.,too. Bottom line is, if you haven’t already done so, make sure your card can be used in Europe. Also, you might want to see which credit card companies offer the most competitive rates since some charge higher conversion commission rates than others and there are several that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. It may be worthwhile to switch companies.
DO NOT bring traveler’s checks or assume you’ll do your currency exchanging at a bank in Rome. Dealing with Roman banks is notoriously time-consuming and can result in serious headaches that will spoil your trip. Not worth it.
Tipping in Italy is NOT REQUIRED. There is no percentage for tipping in Italy as all servers are on salary. At a cafe, I usually leave the change that I get from the bill I’ve paid (50 cents to a euro or two if there were several people) and at a restaurant I usually leave a euro a head. As for taxis, again, a euro or two on top of the fare does the trick. Simple. No calculating necessary and definitely no 10%-20%.
SAFETY AND SMART TRAVEL PRACTICES
Take a photograph of your suitcase prior to handing it over at check-in!!! Bags do get lost and, while in my experience they are usually delivered quite quickly, it can be a real drag if you can’t remember what your bag looks like. On the same note, carry basics (glasses, contact lens solution, medication, cellphone, etc.) with you on the plane so that, if your bag should get lost, you can get by for a few days. And definitely bring any valuables (laptops, electronics, jewelry) with you on the plane. There have been reports of thefts at the hands of baggage handlers.
It’s not a bad idea to bring a photocopy of your passport with you to Rome along with the real thing, of course – signature page will suffice (where your photograph, passport number, and the date of issue, signature, etc. are recorded). This is so that, if anything should happen to your passport, we can easily get a replacement.
As my mother has often said about Rome, “the great thing is that your body is always safe, though your belongings may not be.” I cannot sufficiently stress the importance of being vigilant about pickpockets in Rome. Be they young ‘gypsy’ children or women in the streets or adult Italian men or women on the bus, it is an unfortunate reality that pickpocketing is a regular occurrence in Rome. So, to avoid any unpleasant experiences…
– carry large amounts of cash on your person. It’s much safer to leave it in the safe at the Palazzo Navona Hotel.
– carry your passport with you. Again, leave it at the hotel.
– put anything valuable in back pockets.
– keep your hands on your valuables when walking the streets through a crowd, visiting a site (Colosseum, Forum, yes, even the Sistine Chapel!), or on the bus.
– turn backpacks and purses around (carrying them on your front) when on buses or the metro and put your hands across the pockets where you are keeping your valuables (money, camera, etc.).
– be aware of your surroundings! If anyone should try to grab something, shout, “Via!!” (Go away!) and “Aiuto!!” ([ah-YOU-toe] Help!) as loudly as you can.
PHONES, COMPUTERS, & GADGETS, OH MY!
– WIFI matters: Palazzo Navona Hotel has WIFI access throughout the building, including your rooms. You’re therefore welcome to bring your laptop or iPad or whatever you like to use for e-mailing and reading online material. Just make sure that you have a US-Europe plug adaptor that will attach to your power source. This can be bought at most electronics stores.
- Phones: if you want to be able to place calls during your stay in Italy, there are two ways to do so. 1) Get an international data plan for your already existing phone, specifying that you’re going to be using it in Europe, OR 2) Get a European enabled cell-phone that you can then put an Italian SIM card into that you would buy in Rome. Just keep in mind that the second option will require finding and working with a Roman phone store and may take a lot of time.
PHOTOGRAPHING IN ROME
Policies regarding photography vary from place to place. Some sites do not allow photography at all (Sistine Chapel and Galleria Borghese, for example), others allow photography sans flash (Vatican Museums, most of the churches)… It really depends on the place. I will find out in advance and will be sure to let you know on a day-to-day basis whether or not it is alright to take photographs.
I hope all this helps!