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Accommodation

Zanzig's Hotel Tip
View from room #304 Hotel Astoria Garden
Via Bachelet, 8
00185 Roma
Phone +39 06 44 69 908 or +39 06 49 10 97
Fax +39 06 44 53 329

The Astoria Garden is situated within walking distance (approx. 10 minutes) to Stazione Termini. This is very convenient as many major public transport lines begin here. Also, the express train from Rome Airport arrives and departs here. Within 2 minutes walking distance of the hotel you'll find the Piazza Indipendenza, the starting point for the 75 bus line. Other buses stop here, too. Across the Piazza there is a big supermarket.

The hotel is modern, clean and quiet, with friendly staff. Our room #304 was absolutely up to international standards. We highly recommend to ask for a room towards the garden (see image) when making your reservation, as the Romans per se are not very quiet, and the street can get noisy at times (there is a school right across the hotel). They have a number of TV channels, including CNN international. The picture above shows the actual very nice view from our room.

The continental breakfast buffet is above average for Italian standards, but Italians do not care much about breakfast. So you better do not expect too much from it. It is served in the basement of the hotel, and space is limited there, so we had to wait once for a few minutes until we could actually descend into the nice breakfast room. The lounge made this a pleasant wait though.

The Zanzig.com Rating: *** (good)  What does that mean?

Check rates and availability for the Hotel Astoria Garden

Find other hotels in Rome (see tips below)

 

Tips On Finding a Hotel in Rome

Finding a hotel room in Rome is not a problem. The problem is to decide on one as there are so many hotels.
Our partner, Booking.com, lists more than 1,500 hotels for Rome. And these guys already filter unsuitable hotels from their service! So, how could anyone actually find a room given these seemingly endless options?

We suggest to start by picking a town quarter first. Get a Rome map or tour guide (you'll need that anyway), and find out what you might want to see and do. Then check whether there are hotels that match your requirements in that specific area. Most of the attractions are distributed across the town center, so we strongly recommend a hotel with good public transport connections. The more, the merrier! (BTW, just forget about driving yourself in Rome! This would be absolutely insane!) We found the Termini Station area to be quite convenient - it is close to the train station and offers plenty of options for public transport. We think that the Astoria Garden is completely okay, but it has just 34 rooms and may not be available. Well, Booking.com offers reviews and ratings as well, which might be an additional guidance for your final decision.

Once you have decided on a town quarter, you'll have to decide on the quality level required. Please keep in mind that Rome is very expensive, so your money does not buy much in general. Hotels seem to be even more expensive. Having talked to friends who have been to Rome before, we came to the conclusion that one needs a hotel with at least a three star rating. This will get you at least a clean room and some friendly staff. Every hotel below three stars usually has a big problem or two, like: old and/or not so clean rooms, unfriendly staff, a noisy street and no noise protection windows. You get the idea.

Here you can check out 1500+ hotels from our partner Booking.com

Here is why we chose Booking.com as partner for our site: Established in 1996, the service is part of Priceline.com (Nasdaq:PCLN) and is Europe's leading online hotel reservations agency, attracting over 30 million unique visitors each month via the Internet from both leisure and business markets worldwide. With 300,000 room nights booked per day, the service is well established in the market and can be safely recommended to consumers. Their reservation system is secure and any credit card and personal information is encrypted. Plus, they do not charge booking or administration fees, and they offer competitive rates for any type of accommodation, from small independent hotels to big five star luxury hotels. The site is available in 15 languages and offers over 200,000 hotels in more than 160 countries.

Find more than 420 hotels in Rome now!
Mark Zanzig recommends Booking.com

Restaurants

There are zillions of restaurants in Rome, and you will find your own preferred trattoria or pizzeria for sure. We want to specifically warn you about tourist traps at the well-known places (e.g. directly at Piazza Navona). Prices there are about 20% higher than a few steps away in the smaller streets next to the Piazza. Also, avoid sitting down for a Cappucino (or anything else) without having looked at the prices. We did just that once at the Bar Washington (Via del Viminale 4). You can imagine our surprise to be charged 8 Euros (!!) for two cappucinos later (usually a cappucino is around 1 Euro). So that was pure rip-off that we could have avoided.

There is a fast way to check the price level of any restaurant. I call it Petras Minestrone Index (because Petra pointed this out to me during our stay): Just look on the menu for the plain vegetarian soup ("Minestrone"). This price is almost always the base price for all other prices, i.e. if the Minestrone is expensive, the rest is also expensive (and the price level scales through the menu). An average price for a Minestrone in Rome should not exceed 3 Euros. If it exceeds 3 Euros, then be prepared for a hefty bill.

We recommend to go to these friendly, affordable and honest places:

Al Fontanone in Trastevere
Trattoria and Pizzeria
Piazza Trilussa 46
00153 Roma
Phone 06.58.17.312
Fax 06.58.81.694
Web www.alfontanone.com
The Zanzig.com rating: **** (very good)  What does that mean?

Hosteria Piccolo Arancia
Vicolo Scanderberg 112 (behind the Trevi fountain)
Phone: 06.678.6139
Closed on Mondays
The Zanzig.com rating: **** (very good)  What does that mean?

Il Fico Restaurant
Via di Monte Giordano, 49
Roma
Phone: 06.68.75.55.68
Web www.ilfico.com
The Zanzig.com rating: **** (very good)  What does that mean?

Getting To Rome

Almost all tourists arrive at Rome Airport (Aeroporto Intercontinentale Leonardo da Vinci di Fiumicino). The airport is located outside of Rome at the coast, and you can use either bus, taxi or trains to get to the city center. We used the express train (Leonardo express) which costs 9.50 Euro per person (one way) and takes about 30-40 minutes. Just follow the 'train' signs in the airport. You can buy your ticket either at the ticket counter (biglietteria, usually long queues) or at the ticket automats. The automats accept your credit card, but if you need two tickets, please have two credit cards ready - when we purchased our tickets, the automat refused to accept the same card for the 2nd ticket. Could have been just a software glitch, but I assume it is more seen as a fraud protection.

Once you are at Stazione Termini you will have all the usual options to get to your hotel: taxi, bus, or suburban train. If your hotel is located in the proximity of the station, you might as well just walk (like we did, see above).

Getting Around in Rome

Official cabs carry this sign

Taxi

When you decide to use a taxi (either at the airport or during your stay in Rome), please make sure that you use only the offically licenced cabs carrying the SPQR sign (see photo above).
Also watch out that the driver starts the meter after you entered the cab. This avoids long and tedious (and useless) discussions with the driver at the destination.

Bus, Metro, Tram

Public transport is our preferred method of getting around in Rome, and we recommend it to you as well. A three day travel pass ("Biglietto Turistico Integrato 3 giorni") costs 11 Euro per person and allows you to use any public transport within the city during this time. They also have one-day travel passes and short-term tickets (valid for 75 minutes).
Using public transport in Rome is safe and convenient - if you use the typical caution for any public transport system. We found this not more unsafe than, for example, using public transport in London, Paris or San Francisco. Important note: Do validate and sign your ticket immediately! (Signature is only required for travel passes.) They are constantly controlling the tickets, and they will usually not accept any excuses (like, "we are tourists and didn't know..."). We were witness to one lame excuse, and they pulled out the tourist at the next station. There are millions of tourists in Rome every year, so they know how to deal with them.

Official hop-on hop-off tour in Rome

Hop-on Hop-off buses

You purchase a ticket (valid 24 hours) that allows you to enter any bus of the company ("hop on") and leave at any stop ("hop off") of the tour. You will be driven directly to the main attractions of the city.
We would recommend this only to those travellers who do not have much time but still want to see most sites. Such tours are more expensive than plain public transport (prices vary, but calculate with about 12 Euro for 24 hours). There are open double decker buses (recommended, see photo above) but also closed tour buses (these lower the experience substantially). Usually such tours do not operate in the evening hours, so you will end up with taxis or public transport anyways.

Car

There is absolutely no point in trying to drive a car in Rome (let alone your car!). If you want to do this, good luck to you! :-) Roman drivers must be the worst drivers in the world (or the best, if you consider the insane traffic). We saw four minor car crashes in just one day. That's why you'll hardly find a car without dents in Rome. So, unless you absolutely know what you are doing, we recommend to just do not drive in Rome by yourself.

Attractions

There is so much to see that it would be useless to list everything here. Any good travel guide (you'll need that anyway) will be better than what we could tell you. However, we would like to mention just two tips that you might not be aware of:

Colosseo and Palatino

Plan to visit both attractions on the same day, because the tickets (Euro 10 per person in 2006) are valid for both sites! The offical ticket booth does not point this out when selling it to you, so you may notice this when it is already too late.

Vatican City

Try to get there early during the weekdays as there are more visitors during the weekends, especially on Sunday. The queues are long anyway - on a Friday it took us about an hour to finally get to the top of St. Peter's Dome. You have to wait for the security check, for the entrance to the Basilica (use the right queue to get to the top), for the access to the ticket booth, and finally for the lift. Once you exit the lift, another 300+ steps lead to the top of the Dome, and this can be exhausting. Thus, do yourself a favor and buy the tickets for the lift.

Books

There are zillions of travel guide books for Rome, and I won't recommend a specific guide book to you. But I want to mention just one book that will help you to better approach the "Eternal City". It's the book

Ancient Rome: Monuments Past and Present
by R.A. Staccioli
ISBN 8881620308

The author explains in easy-to-understand articles the history of Rome and tells us about the ancient lifestyles. But the books' main attractions are transparent acetate illustrations that are laid over current photos, allowing you to flip back and forth between ancient and present Rome. When taking this to the historic sites, for example to the Colosseo or to the Forum Romanum, you will easily see and understand what you and your family are looking at and how it may have looked in the past. The book is pocket sized, so you can take it with you when exploring the city. I strongly recommend to buy this book prior to your trip (e.g. through Amazon) or upon arrival (at the airport, bookstores are on your way to the express train). You won't regret it.

Please visit also the publishers web site (www.visionpubl.com) for more information.

Maps

Any serious travel guide book comes with a set of good maps that help you to navigate your way through the city. But regardless of that we recommend to get the official tourist map of Rome ("Mappa Ufficiale della Citta di Roma") from the tourist information. It is free (sponsored by the trambus open, the official hop-on hop-off tour), but that should not stop you from getting this map. It is a beautiful 3D-like map with all major and most minor streets mentioned, and it is not cluttered with advertising like so many other free tourist maps. It is also a great souvenir to take home from Rome.

Movies to watch before visiting Rome


Night On EarthNight On EarthNight On Earth
Night on Earth

Night on Earth
(1991)
A series of five episodes. Watch out for the Rome episode: Cab driver Gino (played by young Roberto Benigni) races through a nightly Rome looking for customers. Finally he picks up a priest. Gino thinks this might be a good opportunity to confess (after decades of not having done so). And so he begins a heartfelt monologue leading to serious consequences. Hilarious!

 

Avanti!Avanti!Avanti!
Avanti!

Avanti!
(1972)
Okay, this lighthearted comedy by the great Billy Wilder does not take place in Rome, but on the island of Ischia. It still reflects the (traditional) Italian lifestyle and will help you to better understand the country and her people. Also, the film has been photographed beautifully with many breathtaking exterior shots of Ischia.
Wealthy American businessman Wendell D. Armbruster (Jack Lemmon) comes to Italy after his father died in a car accident during his annual leave. Soon he learns that his father had had a secret mistress who was also in the car during the accident, and he meets the daughter of the mistress (Juliet Mills). As Armbruster step-by-step unveils the secret holiday life of his father, the comedy spirals towards an unexpected end.

 

Roman HolidayRoman HolidayRoman HolidayRoman Holiday
Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday
(1953)
This delightful and captivating fairy-tale was shot entirely on location in Rome. A runaway princess (Audrey Hepburn) rebels against her royal obligations and escapes her golden prison to find Mr. Right (Gregory Peck), an American reporter covering the royal tour in Rome together with his Paparazzi friend. Bittersweet but wonderful, definitely unmissable!

Useful Links
 
www.turismoroma.it

This is the official website of the Rome Tourist Board, and -while it was much better years ago- it still is quite good and informative, especially the "itineraries" section. Here, an intuitive interface presents a vast amount of information.


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