Travel tips for an enjoyable and safe Roman Holiday

August 21, 2023

Did you know that the iconic movie, Roman Holiday, turned 70 on August 21? Whilst Audrey Hepburn’s character only headed to the Eternal City for one night, many Europesure Travel Insurance customers may have a longer break in mind.  If you are planning to be among the 10m tourists who head to Rome each year, knowing what to see and how to try to stay safe whilst seeing it, may be advisable.

Colosseum

Head to the centre of Rome and you could round a corner and suddenly encounter the  Colosseum, the world’s largest amphitheatre, where fearless gladiators once fought.  More than 1900 years old, this huge building took only eight years to build, with work starting in 72AD and finishing 80AD.  Given its birth date, it is 500 years older than The Great Wall of China!

Trevi Fountain

Immortalised in Fellini’s film, La Dolce Vita, the Trevi holds a special place in many hearts. Unfortunately, that movie may also encourage you to follow the lead of Anita Ekberg and wade into the fountain. Enter a Rome fountain, dip your feet in one, even in a heatwave, or even climb on one, and you can be fined around €500, with a zero-tolerance policy applying.  

Similar fines are levied if you try to eat or drink anything, sitting on or around a fountain. Respect all landmarks in Rome and do not decide to stop and have a packed lunch or takeaway food around any of them.

Legend suggests that, if you throw a coin into the magnificent Trevi fountain, which stands at 86ft (26.3metres) high and 161.3ft wide (49.15 metres), you will one day return to Rome.  This tradition dates back to the time of the ancient Romans, who often threw coins into water, to try to elicit favour from the water gods, prior to travelling.  The Trevi is a very beautiful but also very charitable fountain, thanks to this superstition.  When open, the fountain collects around 3,000 Euros a day.  Each night the coins are collected and donated to Italian charity Caritas, which distributes the money amongst Rome’s needy.

The fountain is hugely photogenic but be careful with your camera, whilst taking your photos.  Do not put it down anywhere or carry it in your hand and, if wearing it on a strap, make sure it is one that cannot quickly be snipped with scissors.  The same holds true for your bag.  Try to wear that in a cross-body way and choose one with a fairly resilient strap.

This, and other Rome landmarks, are fairly heavily policed, especially at times of an enhanced terrorism threat.  When you visit a major city, terrorism is something you should perhaps consider when taking out your travel insurance.  Europesure Travel Insurance can offer you an optional Terrorism Disruption Cover add-on to your standard travel insurance policy, to protect against cancellation or curtailment of your trip, due to terrorism.

Vatican City/The Vatican

Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and only has 600 citizens, the majority of whom live abroad.  The Vatican Church (St Peter’s Basilica) is located within Vatican City and is considered to be one of the Catholic Church’s holiest temples.  Whilst entry to the Basilica is free, it is Rome’s most popular tourist destination, which means you could be queuing for up to two hours.  The best way to avoid the queues is to pay for a guided tour.

Sistine Chapel

Whilst visiting Vatican City take time to go to The Vatican Museums and gaze in awe at the Sistine Chapel.  Every year, the chapel, decorated with its splendid Michelangelo frescoes, is visited by millions of people from around the world. The wonderful works that cover the ceiling and walls include The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgement

Pantheon

Take time out to head to the Pantheon, a former Roman temple and Catholic church since 609 A.D.  The round-shaped building is one of the most well-preserved of all of the ancient Roman buildings, largely because it has been continuously used throughout history.  Since July 3, 2023, admission to the Pantheon has not been free and a 5 Euro charge now applies.  This can be purchased online or at the entrance.  

Avoiding having to get money out of your bag or wallet is often advisable in busy places, so buying online admissions, in advance, makes sense.  Many cities also provide a special tourist card which, once purchased, allows access to many different attractions.  Pre-plan your visits in this way and you can usually save money.  It also allows you to leave most of your cash in a hotel room safe, taking out only what is necessary for your daily spending.

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps, built between 1723 and 1726, lead from the Piazza di Spagna to the French monastery church of Trinità dei Monti.  There are a total of 135 steps and three terraces, the latter referencing the Holy Trinity.  Once at the top of the ascent, there is a wonderful view to behold, making the exercise worth it.  There, you can also visit the Trinità dei Monti, which boasts impressive works of art, including the Deposizione dalla Croce by Daniele da Volterra.   

If you visit in April, you will find the Spanish Steps transformed into a bed of azaleas, to celebrate Rome’s annual anniversary.  If you visit in December, the statue of Mary at the base of the steps will be covered in flowers.  

Do be aware of the threat of pickpocketing in this popular tourist location and remember that Rome is deemed one of the world’s top 10 cities for this crime.

Trastevere

Trastevere is a colourful, vibrant, and Bohemian area of Rome, offering fantastic food at lower prices than in the tourist-filled centre.  Home to traditional and innovative trattorias, craft beer pubs and artisan shops, this area provides a feel of real authenticity within Rome.

If you are using Rome’s train stations, do remember that these are also places where pickpocketing can be an issue. Don’t put your purse or wallet in a back trouser pocket or in an easily accessible backpack pocket.  You should even, in crowded areas or on public transport, consider wearing your backpack on your front.

Should you require money from a cash machine, only use one attached to a bank, as some others may have skimmers or cameras, which could defraud you.  

Do also watch out for e-scooters that could appear from nowhere and catch you out when crossing roads.  If carrying a handbag, be continually aware of the threat of bag-snatching, again often perpetrated by scooter riders.

Protect yourself with the right travel insurance before heading to Rome and you should be able to call upon your policy for medical expenses and for compensation for losses.  It can also be of great assistance should your passport, flight tickets or other documents be stolen.

Europesure offers both single trip  and annual policies (which cover you if you take a number of holidays per year).  You can also purchase different levels of cover within each option, according to the amount of protection you require for key components. 

To find out more visit www.europesuretravelinsurance.com

Photo by Michele Bitteto.

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