As one of the most historic and legendary cities in the world, Rome has attracted millions of visitors every year for generations. Whether you want to explore the life of a gladiator at the Colosseum, gorge on the incredible food and drink or simply bask in the glow of one of Europe’s most romantic cities, it’s hard to beat Rome as a holiday destination.
However, as with any popular destination, there are a number of misconceptions about the city and what’s it’s like to visit there — and unfortunately, some of these untruths prevent people from enjoying what would otherwise be an amazing trip.
If you’re considering a holiday in Italy, don’t let these misconceptions keep you from going.
“Rome shuts down in the summer.”
While August is a traditionally high season for Europeans to go on holiday, and you might find many Roman office buildings operating on skeleton crews, chances are your vacation isn’t going to be at a local accounting firm so you really don’t have much to worry about. The major sites you want to visit in Rome will be open for business, and you might even find the crowds to be smaller. True, it can be hot in July and August — temperatures average around 28 degrees Celsius — and you might find yourself seeking out cool, air-conditioned buildings for relief, but you won’t be left wandering deserted streets.
“The Colosseum is overrated.”
While it’s considered one of the wonders of the world — and has stood for more than two thousand years — the large crowds and limited access to much of the Colosseum has led some to deem the Colosseum “overrated” and not worth the trip. Nothing could be further from the truth. The gladiator tunnels underneath the main amphitheatre have recently been restored and are now open to the public, giving visitors another view of the legendary stadium and life in ancient Rome. The trick to avoiding the long lines is to purchase your admission ticket in advance, either with a reputable tour company or through a Rome city pass — and not from the ticket booth at the entrance or one of the “tour guides” patrolling the plaza outside the structure.
“Rome is expensive.”
Any city can be expensive if you don’t know where to go, and Rome is no exception. But it is possible to have an affordable holiday in Rome. Cheap accommodations in Rome are abundant, particularly around the Stazione Termini; pensioni, which are small, family-run lodgings, are another affordable way to experience authentic Roman life without breaking the budget. Because there are so many hotels and inns in Rome, many are trying to attract visitors with amenities, and it’s very easy to find lodging that includes breakfast or other meals, saving you money on your visit.
“I need a car to get around”
There are actually two schools of thought on the need for a car in Rome: Some argue that it’s absolutely necessary in order to see and do everything in Rome, while others argue that the proximity of major attractions to each other and the notoriously tricky Roman traffic make a car more of a headache. Essentially, if you plan to spend all of your time in Rome, you can see everything you want to see either on foot or via public transportation and taxis. If you plan to travel outside of Rome, trains and low-cost airlines can efficiently transport you to other major cities, but a car will help you explore areas like Tuscany.
“You cannot wear jeans in Rome.”
The subject of fashion — or more accurately, what not to wear — in Europe is a contentious one. While some might suggest that jeans, or any casual clothing, are unacceptable in Rome, the bottom line is that you need to be comfortable for all of the walking you’ll be doing. That being said, while fashionable jeans are okay, shorts, miniskirts and other revealing clothing are generally not worn in Rome (and prohibited by many of the churches) and your best bet is to wear stylish, modest clothes and comfortable walking shoes.
For many people, Rome is a dream destination. If you wish to visit Rome, don’t allow a few misguided myths to deter your plans. Do your research and plan the trip you want, and you’ll enjoy “la dolce vita” in the Italian sun.
About the Author: Diane McFadden first visited Rome as a teenager on a European tour with her grandparents. Today, she lives in Melbourne and writes about travel and lifestyle for several blogs and dreams of someday owning a villa in the Italian countryside.