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|Rome is many cities in one. It is of course the marble capital of Augustus's vast empire, with sites such as the Forum and Colosseum remaining as testimony to one of the greatest cultures of world history. Rome is also the city of the Catholic Church and the Vatican.|
The mosaics of Early Christian churches, the High
Renaissance masterpieces of Raphael and
Michelangelo, and the magnificence of St. Peter's and
the Vatican museums are just the beginning of the
religious art and architecture found here. And there's
the joy of purely secular Rome: the exuberant
fountains of Bernini's Baroque plazas, and the
artisans and restorers still working in the old city
around the Campo dei Fiori and in Trastevere. All of
these different Romes intermingle in surprising and
wondrous ways that make this one of the great
sightseeing cities of the world.
And when you weary of the crowds and the heat, just an hour or so away are the ancient port of Ostia Antica, the fountains of Tivoli, the rolling hills of the Castelli Romani, and the Etruscan ruins of the coast.
Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino is the fourth busiest in Europe and certainly the largest in Italy, for both international and domestic flights. The airport is connected to central Rome in 25 minutes by train. Its coastal location near Ostia means that you could rent a car and head up the Etruscan coast to Tuscany and the north without entering Rome. Smaller Ciampino Airport serves domestic and charter airlines.
Rome is both center of the Ferrovia dello Stato rail service, and center of the Italian peninsula. From Rome, there are rapid trains to most European as well as Italian cities. The central station is called Stazione Termini.
Rome is well connected by highway to major Italian and international cities. The fastest route to Rome is by the Autostrada del Sole, or A-1 from the north, A-2 from the south. One of the most scenic routes from the north is via SS 2 from Siena and past Lake Bolsena and Viterbo (3½ hours). Avoid entering or leaving Rome during rush hours.
The regional bus service is called COTRAL; there are several bus terminals, and they are scattered around the perimeter of Rome, so it can be confusing to use this service unless you know exactly where you want to go.
City Buses and Trams
The local transit authority, ATAC, operates both the extensive city bus system, and the network of trams that shunt around the city. Both systems use the same tickets; tickets are good for 90 minutes, and you can transfer as many times as needed. You must purchase your ticket before boarding, either from a ticket office, a tabacchi, or a newsstand. Upon boarding, immediately validate your ticket at the orange machine at the back of the bus. If you are caught riding without a valid ticket, the fine is a hefty 50,000 lire.
Single tickets are 1,200 lire; save time and a little money by buying books of ten. Several different kinds of passes are also available, including a 24-hour one. Weekly and monthly passes are also good on the subway. Regular bus tickets are not valid for transport on the subway.
Rome's Metropolitana has two lines, A and B, which intersect at the central train station. Look for entrances to the subway by spotting the sign with a white M in a red square. Although the subway is an efficient people mover, it's not really convenient to the usual tourist sites. Individual tickets are 1,200 lire, and you'll need one to get through the turnstiles. Subway tickets cannot be used on the buses, and vice versa; weekly and monthly passes are good on all public transport, however. Buy tickets at kiosks and tobacconists, or at the stations.
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