The blog of Free Tour Rome!

Blog with handy tips about Rome and the Vatican


✓  One thing what to do in Rome would be to go to see the pope in person. If the pope is in the Vatican City. Twice a week, come to the Vatican city on Wednesday there's the general audience to the public on Sundays there's the blessing of the pope to the public, either in the Saint Peters Square or in the Audience Hall (normally only during the winter).

✓  The Vatican City is a different state it is in Italy but it is independent. Therefore security is from a high level, you will be going through an X-ray machine so don't bring any ''weapons'' with you. (knives, nail clippers, scissors, sharp objects etcetera)

✓  Do you need to bring your passport to the Vatican? No you don't need to, better to leave it on a place somewhere safe so pickpockets can't walk off with it. (We would recommend you to bring a photocopy with you at all-time ones you travel in Rome) However the Vatican city is another county so in some parts out of the tourist areas you would need it but in that case you would know before.

✓  Pack light! Big backpacks are not allowed in the museums you can however leave them for free ones you entered the museum.

✓  There is in most of the museum no air-conditioning, so it can be quite hot in the summer it would be highly recommended to bring your own bottle of water with you.

✓  The Vatican museums and the Sistine chapel are at a separate entrance from Saint Peter's Basilica. It doesn't cost anything to enter into the Saint Peter's church.

✓  Many people wonder where the Sistine chapel is, well if you stand in Saint Peter's square facing the church you would see it on the right hand side next to the church. However to visit in to the Sistine chapel you need to go through the Vatican museum first.

✓  From the Sistine Chapel you can go straight in to the Saint Peter's Basilica.

✓  You can take pictures almost everywhere in the Vatican museum, with the exception of the Sistine Chapel. (There is a copyright for the Sistine chapel) There are places where flash is not allowed which will be shown clearly with notes. (No flash in italian: senza flash)

✓  Dress Appropriately. There is a dress code in the Vatican that means you have to cover your shoulders and knees before you enter.

✓  You will enter a different state however in general you don't need to bring your passport because you will be only aloud in the public areas which are: 1. Saint Peter's square 2. Saint Peter's basilica (both are free entrance) 3. the Vatican museums 4. the Sistine chapel (There is an entrance fee to enter the museum and the Sistine chapel)

✓  If you like to have more general information before you go to the Vatican they have their own website: www.vatican.va


✓  Pope Francis announced this year (2015) an extraordinary Holy Year which normally take place ones in the 25 years the last one happened in the Jubilee year 2000 so this one is ten years in advance.

We did set out some facts and know about around the Jubilee year.

✓  The Jubilee year will begin on December 8, 2015 and end on November 20, 2016

✓  This is the 30th holy year since the year 1300.

✓  The tradition started of on February 22, 1300 and was announced by the Pope Boniface VIII. His most likely motivation for making this was probably to collect money from pilgrims, it was for sure very successful in Rome they had never seen so many visitors before.

✓  The Pope Boniface VIII had originally planned to have a jubilee year only ones in the hundred years. This changed in 1475 and became one time in the 25 years to allow every generation to have at least have ones in a lifetime.

✓  One of the jubilee most remembered was the one from 1450 where around two hundred persons were trampled to death on the bridge in front of castle sant'Angelo because of a panic in between them. This lead up to the building of a new bridge over the Tiber river ordered by the pope Sixtus IV today it's called ponte Sisto.

✓  There are four churches in Rome and the Vatican included who will open the so-called "Holy door" Porta Santa in Italian. The doors are normally closed and sealed and open only during the Jubilee year when pilgrims from all over the world come through the doors to gain a plenary indulgence which is connected with the Jubilee year.

✓  There are in total seven churches who have a Holy door

  1. Saint Peter's church in the Vatican city
  2. Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls in Rome, Italy
  3. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, Italy
  4. Archbasilica San Giovanni in Laterano in Rome, Italy
  5. Notre-Dame Basilica-Cathedral in Quebec City, Canada
  6. Saint Jean Marie Vianney Sanctuary in Ars-sur-Formans, France
  7. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain

✓ No 1 : the Vatican museums

Only on the last Sunday of each month the entrance to the Vatican museums which include the Sistine chapel is for free. It would be recommended to be there very early, because there are always a lot people going on the free Sunday. So be prepared to wait in line before you can enter. The museum is opening at 9 the last entrance is at 12:30.

✓ No 2 : Saint Peter's Basilica

This is a must ones you are in Rome. The Saint Peter's church has the name from the bible figure Peter according the history he was crucified right there on the very spot. It has been build starting in the early 15th century. To complete the church it took about 120 years. The entrance is for free at all time, pay attention how you dressed (especially in the summer) because you have to cover up your shoulders and knees otherwise they will not let you enter.

✓ No 3 : the Pantheon

The Pantheon is certainly worth a visit. The entrance is for free. Every day from 9 till 19:30 except Sunday then it is open from 9 till 18:00. The pantheon was ones a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome. The original one dates back to 27 BC it got destroyed in a big fire of Rome in the year 80 AC. Emperor Hadrian let it rebuilt in the year 125 this is the building what even stands today. It is still in a very good condition, but it is missing the bronze roof covering the dome. This bronze has been taken away and melted down in order to build the canopy (by Bernini) in the saint peter's church. The catholic church was well famous for recycling. Most of the people were not happy about it so this led to a famous statement "quod non fecerunt Barbari, fecerunt Barberini", freely translated "what the barbarians have not demolished, the Barberini be aborted" It is one of the best preserved of all Roman buildings also it is the most famous pantheon in the world.

✓ No 4 : Trastevere

Looking for a nice place to eat or to hang around? Well you will find it in the neighborhood called Trastevere. Especially in the evening it is a nice place to go and enjoy one of the many (typical Italian) restaurants and pubs there. Most of the restaurants have some seats outside so you will get the real roman feeling. They in general charge normal price. It is also a nice place to go for some different entertainment like street artist who in the summer preform many different acts. Nice tip for families with children for sure they will love it.

✓ No 5 : Campo de' Fiori

"Campo de' Fiori" translated ''Field of flowers'' it is called like this since the middle ages because it used to be a meadow. One of the famous squares in Rome. A lovely place to have a break and/or a drink. In the nighttime there are some busy pubs around also many people hang around in the middle of the square with friends for a good time, underneath the statue from Giordano Bruno who got burned on a stake in the 1600th The Roman inquisition found him guilty of heresy for his pantheism. The square is also know from the movie '' Campo de' Foiri '' made in 1943.

✓ No 6 : Trevi fontain

This is a baroque fountain considered for sure one of the most famous fountains in the world. It is 26 meters high and 20 meters wide. It is standing on one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome. The fountain at the junction of three roads (tre vie) which means : tre = 3, vie = roads. So there you go ''3 roads''. That is where the name comes from. It is a nice site to visit also at night, it is one of the highlights of Rome. Ones you there you will see people throwing in coins over their shoulder. The story is that if you throw coins in the Trevi Fountain, you will one day return to Rome. There is always police around because there are regular attempts to steal coins from the fountain.

✓ No 7 : the Vittorio Emanuele

Vittorio Emanuele II is a monument to the formal king of Italy named Victor Emmanuel II it has also another name ''Altare della patria'' in English : Altar of the Fatherland. It is a nice landmark to visit and is for free as well. It is open for visitors every day in the summer from 9:30 till 16:30. The building holds the tomb of the unknown soldier with an eternal flame after world war 1. The body was chosen in 1921 from among 11 unknown remains, and buried in a state funeral on the 4th of November 1921. If you go upstairs you will have a nice overview on the forum Romano.

✓ No 8 : Mouth of truth

La Bocca della Verita (English : The Mouth of Truth) is a famous sculptured image of a human head. The face probably represents a river god. It is depicted on a large marble disc which comes from Roman antiquity and presumably as part of a fountain or pit cover was used. Since the 17th century it is in the porch of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The Mouth of Truth is known as an ancient lie detector. A medieval legend tells that whoever puts his hand in the mouth and speaks a lie, he will lose his hand. So you better think twice:-D the opening hours are 9:00 till 13:00 and 14:30 till 18:00.

✓ No 9 : Via Appia antica

All roads lead to Rome. A 560 kilometer road, the ''Highway to Brindisi.'' Very famous by the tourist for sure worth to have a look. There are many historian sites along the way. The road ran straight through the hills around Rome to the southern city of Terracina 56 km away. The Via Appia began at the Circus Maximus and walked past the Baths of Caracalla and later the Aurelian Wall. along the site of the road there are ancient tombs many of these ruins and monuments are still visible even today. The road ran along the west coast to Capua, the end of the original road. The road was a 210 km long. Thanks to the Via Appia was the Roman army faster with military equipment and troops to the south what helped them in achieving several victories. Around the year 295 BC. the road was extended in just five years, Eventually walked the Appian way to the port of Brindisi, on the east coast from Italy, 560 km from Rome.

✓ No 10 : the Beach

After wondering around the city you can relax on the beach it is for free and ''Yes'' Rome has a beach. It is about 40 kilometer from Rome the far easiest way to go there is to take the metro line B (Blue line) hop off on the pyramid have a look outside there is the only pyramid of Rome. Then take the train from there direction ''Ostia'' hop off at ''Ostia'' or any stop after. The beach from ''Ostia'' is for sure not the best beach but is the one what is the closest to Rome. If you want to spend a day we would recommend to hop off on the stop ''Stella polare'' or the last stop ''Cristoforo Colombo''. Anyways whatever stop you go off from there it is a little walk to the beach.

✓ No 1 : Sistine chapel

The chapel got its name from Pope Sixtus IV, and was restored from the old Cappella Magna between the year 1477 and 1480. Many people everyday come from around the world to admire the famous paintings don by Michelangelo. He started of in the year 1508. It took him in total 4 years to finish the painting on the ceiling. To find it you have to stand in the saint Peters square facing the saint Peters church. There on the right hand side (next to the church) you can find the Sistine chapel. To enter the Sistine chapel, you have to go first through the Vatican museums. It is probably the most famous building in the Vatican city. Today it is used for the Papal conclave. In which the new pope is elected.

✓ No 2 : Rafael rooms.

The four Stanze di Raffaello ("Raphael's rooms") painted by Raphael a young artist from Urbino. This rooms are spectacular to see. The Raphael rooms where his biggest works of his career. Probably his most famous work is The school of Athens in the stanza della segnatura. He got commissioned by Pope Julius II in the year 1508. On the same time Michelangelo started working in the Sistine chapel. He died at a age of 37, many of his works remain.

✓ No 3 : Saint Peter's square

Saint Peter's Square in Italian it is called piazza San Pietro, was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1656 to 1667. It had to have an forecourt, so that a big number of people could see the Pope when he was giving his blessing, either from the balcony situated in the middle of the facade of the church or from a window in the Vatican. The obelisk standing in the middle has been taken from the Circus of Nero.

✓ No 4 : Saint Peter's basilica

This is a must ones you are in Rome. The saint peter's church has the name from the bible figure Peter according the history he was crucified right there on the very spot. It has been build starting in the early 15th century. To complete the church it took about 120 years. The entrance is for free at all time, pay attention how you dressed (especially in the summer) because you have to cover up your shoulders and knees otherwise they will not let you enter.

✓ No 5 : Gallery of Maps

The galley was commissioned in 1580 by Pope Gregory XIII. The room is 120 meter long and 6 meter wide. It contains 40 panels along 2 sides made by Ignazio Danti of Perugia. It took him 3 years to complete this room. He worked from 1580 till 1583. It still is today the world's largest pictorial geographical study ever done. It represent the whole of Italy.

✓ No 6 : Pietà

The Pietà has been made Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1498–1499, it is one of his masterpieces. It is standing in the Saint Peter basilica behind bulletproof glass. A anecdote about this statue is that shortly after the installation of his Pietà, Michelangelo overheard (or asked visitors about the sculptor) someone remark that it was the work of another sculptor. That is why Michelangelo signed the sculpture. He carved on the sash running across Mary's chest (Michaela(n)gelus Bonarotus Florentin(us) facieba(t). What stand for Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made this. It was the only work he ever signed. He later regretted his outburst of pride and swore never to sign another work of his hands again.

✓ No 7 : Apollo of the Belvedere

This statue was rediscovered in the late 15th century in central Italy, during the Renaissance. In the middle of the 18th century, it was considered the greatest ancient sculpture. The marble sculpture is 2.24 meter in height. The Apollo is probably a roman copy from around the year 120-140, from a lost bronze statue original made between 350 - 325 BC by the Greek sculptor Leochares. There are numerous copies around the world. This statue has been an inspiration for different artists like Michelangelo, Goltzius and Marcantonio Raimondi. It is standing in the Vatican museums in the so called cortile del Belvedere.

✓ No 8 : Gregorian Egyptian Museum

For this museum in a museum is responsible the pope Gregory the 16th in the year 1839. It houses monuments brought from Egypt most by Roman emperors. A part is coming from Rome and from Villa Adriana in Tivoli which is a place about 30 kilometers from Rome. You can find the statues from the Serapeum from Hadrian's villa in Tivoli, which he built after his journey to Egypt in 130 – 131. Hadrian was a formal emperor of Rome. He traveled a lot around all corners of the roman empire. On display there is also the statue of Queen Tuaa, the mother of Ramses II. Numerous objects are found in the total of nine rooms from this museum, like Egyptian mummies, sarcophagi, vases, statues, jewelry, and hieroglyphic inscriptions. The Museum is located at the northern end of the lower floor.

✓ No 9 : Hercules

This statue is made of bronze and was discovered in 1864 near the Theater of Pompey. It is called the Hercules of the Theater of Pompey. It had been carefully buried under protective tiles, in this tiles was written FCS which stand for ''fulgor conditum summanium'' saying that the statue had been struck by lightning and had been carefully interred on the spot. It is dating back to the early 2nd century. You can find it in the so called circular hall in the Vatican museums.

✓ No 10 : Nero's porphyry bathtub

This porphyry bathtub was from the famous Emperor Nero (54-68 AD). Porphyry is the Greek word for purple. Porphyry is extremely hard, dense and very heavy. The source of the name is the Greek word for purple. It is made out of the biggest piece of Porphyry ever found and has been taken from Nero's golden palace (Domus aurea) in Rome, which was situated close to the Colosseum. The marble is from Egypt. It is a very expensive marble because it is very rare. Today you can find it in the so called circular hall in the Vatican museums.

✓  The first conclave ever held was in January 1276. This was not in the Sistine chapel but in Arezzo, about 200 kilometers north of Rome. The elected pope was Pierre de Tarentaise. He took the name pope Innocent V.

✓  The Sistine chapel was completed in the year 1481. The first conclave to be held in the Sistine chapel was in the year 1492.

✓  The shortest conclave so far was from the 7th till the 9th of April, 1378.

✓  The longest conclave so far was nearly three years and was from November, 1268 till September, 1271.

✓  To elect a new pope two – thirds majority of the vote is required. The cardinal who is mend to be the new pope will be asked if he would like to take the task, he can also reject and pass it on.

✓  The smoke signs (black and white) are the only way for the cardinals to communicate with the outside world.

✓  By burning the ballots together with chemicals and straw will produce the famous black smoke.

✓  Black smoke out of the chimney of the Sistine chapel can be seen when there is not been elected a new pope yet.

✓  White smoke announces to the world that the pope has been elected and so the conclave is over.

✓  Ones the new pope presents himself, he presents himself with a "new" name. Often this name is taken from a formal pope for example joseph Ratzinger became Benedict XVI he took the name from Benedict XV. Why? Basically when the pope take the new name he is going to follow in the footsteps of the formal pope in this case Benedict XV. When he take a new name like the present pope Francis (Francesco I) you don't really know what he is going to do during his papacy.

✓  Ok 1 more 10 + 1:-) The word "conclave" comes from Latin words "cum clave" If you would translate it in English "with a key" freely translated "locked room" What explains the cardinals getting locked (with key) into the Sistine Chapel.

✓  The word pope derives from the Greek language (πάππας) meaning "Father"

✓  The present pope Francis (Francesco I) he is pope number 266 elected.

✓  Pope Francis (Francesco I) is the first pope born outside of Europe (from Latin America, Argentinia) in more than 1,000 years.

✓  The pope is the king from the Vatican city one of the smallest state in the world. This state exist since the year 1929.

✓  The pope is the bishop of Rome also called the Pope of Rome.

✓  Catholics traditionally recognize Saint Peter (disciple of Jesus) as being the first pope.

✓  The pope has been elected in the so called conclave.

✓  The pope has many titles one of them would be the term "pontiff" it is from the Latin word pontifex, which means "bridge builder". In other words the pope is the bridge between heaven and earth.

✓  The longest sitting pope was Pius IX from 1846 till 1878 for a total of 31 years.

✓  The shortest sitting pope was Urban VII from 15 till 27 of September 1590, which makes a total of only 13 days.

If you are a tourist here in Rome and planning you trip around the city, you will find out walking will be the most effective way to make your way around Rome. The tourist sides around Rome are easy to reach by walking. It is healthy and of course for free.. However of course there are other ways to go around Rome. We will give you some tips from the where, what and how lined out below.

Metro


✓  Metro line A called the red line. Very useful if you would like to visit the Vatican, Vatican museums, Sistine chapel and the Saint Peters basilica (Get off on metro stop Ottaviano)

✓  Metro line B called the blue line. Handy when you like to visit the Colosseum (Get of on metro stop Colosseo)

✓  Metro line C called the green line. Just opened up a part of the line it will be expected fully operational in the year 2021

It is for sure an easy way to get around Rome. The metro is running from 5.30 in the morning till midnight. In the weekend till 2:30 AM. Did miss the last metro? No problem, in Rome we have night buses taking it over till 5.30 in the morning.

Important note!

✓  BE AWARE OF PICKPOCKETS. Please take care of your stuff. We have only 3 metro lines so often it will be busy especially in the morning when all the romans go to work and tourist go to different sides in Rome. Rome is in general a very save city there is very little violence but pickpockets go where the tourist go you have been warned!

Auto Bus


✓  Buses are running twentyfour hours a day but especially when the metro stop at midnight they might come in very handy. Night buses you can easily recognize they are numbered like: N1, N2, N3 etc.. N from Night. Followed by the number of the bus.

Bus to Ciampino airport


✓  There is a non-stop bus service running from Termini (main station Rome) to the airport Ciampino and visa versa. You can purchase the tickets on their site: www.terravision.eu

To Fiumicino airport


✓  There are non-stop express trains from Termini station to the Fimucino | Leonardo da Vinci airport and visa versa. More info, tickets, times etc on the website: www.trenitalia.com

Tram


✓  We have different tramlines in Rome. They run from 5.30 in the morning till midnight.

Tickets


In Rome there is only one ticket used for all the public transport. This tickets you can use on all the public transport but you should purchase before you hop on the bus, tram, metro etc.

There are different tickets:

  1. € 1.50 for a one way trip with the metro or for 100 minutes in any other transport pointed out before. This means for the metro you can use it only ones, but if you would take the metro and the bus straight after you can make a 1way trip for only € 1.50. Also the train what brings you to the beach of Ostia (about 40 km from Rome) would cost you only € 1.50 one way. Pretty good deal no?
  2. € 6.00 for a day pass used unlimited for 24 hours on any transport in territory of Rome capital.
  3. € 16.50 for a 3 day pass used unlimited on any transport in territory of Rome capital.
  4. € 24.00 for a 7 day pass used unlimited on any transport in territory of Rome capital.

More information about prices, time tables and routes etc. You can find on the website: www.atac.roma.it

Taxi


To take a Taxi is an easy way to get around. There are two different ones:

✓  Legal: Easy to recognize the legal ones are white cars and you can find them anywhere around Rome. Easy to pick out and you can stop them whenever you need them. A lot of prices are fixed but it would be suggested to ask an approximately price.

✓  Illegal: The illegal ones are not hard to spot as well. This could happen to you: imagine you are standing on Termini (main station of Rome) after a long trip waiting for your friend to pick you up. You look outside and see the taxi drivers are standing waiting for a new customer. Suddenly someone come over to you and says… you need a taxi? Then you know this would be most likely the illegal one working. If you would go with him/her for sure their own car will be parked around the corner, and they will give you a discount price. All rounded up there are many things to say about it but we leave it with this.. we wouldn’t recommend it.