Rome is a classic European city with several famous sites to visit and plenty of history to explore, while fortunately also having a nice Jewish/Kosher representation to cover your food and Davening needs.Trip Reports:Mtl18
, steve L
, yg99Getting there and getting around:How long should I go for?
There are 3 main activities in Rome, so having a full 2 days is the minimum for a trip. Some will say that you want more time so you can explore some more of the city or perhaps visit the Tivoli gardens outside of Rome (see "Attractions" below), while others will say 2 days is perfect, and you'll be bored with anything longer. Shabbos can definitely be done in Rome since there are Minyanim and food options, but once you're in Italy, Venice is really the perfect place for Shabbos.Travelling around Italy/Getting to Rome
Most often, if you're making a trip from USA to Rome, you're not just going to see Rome, but rather a few cities in Italy. When visiting Italy there are a few ways to travel around - trains, rent a car, or if you're going directly from one end of Italy (let's say Rome) to the other end (let's say Milan or Venice), it could be you'll want to fly.Air:
If Rome is your first stop in Italy, then you'll likely be coming via air. FCO is the airport code. Because people arrive at FCO from many different locations, it's not practical to discuss the different routes you can take to get here. There are a few ways to get from the airport to the city center - shuttle, taxi, train, or bus. When you get out of baggage claim, you will be harassed by drivers offering to shuttle you (in a van, mini-van, or even just a taxi) along with other passengers to the city center for around 20-30 euro per person. It's not a terrible idea, and will be cheaper than a cab unless you can fill a cab's capacity with your family. A cab should cost approximately 50 euro. Leonardo Express trains to the city cost 14 euro each way, run every 30 minutes to Termini train station, and take 30 minutes for the trip. There are a couple of bus companies that offer bus service to Termini for 5-7 euro. You can buy tickets in the airport arrival hall on the right side when leaving customs. The bus can hit traffic, so the train is better bet for a more efficient ride.Train:
If your Italy trip starts in a different city in Italy, then you may want to look into travelling via rail. There are 2 main train companies in Italy - TrenItalia and Treno Italo. Rates vary on a bunch of factors and neither site is fantastically designed, so check them out and ask for some help here if you need. Termini Train Station is the main station in Rome and is in the heart of the city.Car Rental:
If your Italy trip starts in a different city in Italy, then besides for taking trains, you may find that a car rental suits your needs better, especially if you plan on hitting up several cities along the way as taking a train usually means having to get a cab or bus to/from each train station from your hotel. That time/cost plus the cost of the trains may cause you to decide on a car rental instead. Since it's Europe, expect a manual car unless you pay more for an automatic. Driving in Italy may bother you if you're not super comfortable driving, but that's really just in regards to the city driving; the highways are just like highway driving back home. Drop off your car at a location in town (as opposed to the airport), will get you to the city center, although will require some street driving, which can be a bit confusing/hectic/etc. if you don't love driving.Getting around Rome
The main attractions in Rome are all within a 20-40 minute walk of each other, so walking is definitely an option if you're staying in the city center. There are also buses and a metro that you may want to take. The metro is pretty bad in Rome, with very few stops (there happens to be one at the Colosseum, but nothing within a 15 minute walk to the Jewish Ghetto), which makes it not so useful. So, if you're up for walking, it can definitely be done, otherwise a cab or bus would probably be your next best bet. When taking a taxi, it is advisable to catch one from a taxi stand and go by the meter. Non-official taxis are known to rip you off.
Where to stay:
The common points hotels are located pretty close to each other in the center of town near the Spanish Steps. That area is a 30 minute walk to the Jewish Ghetto.
Here are some places that are discussed in this thread:
|St. Regis Rome||Spanish Steps||Website||SPG Cat. 6 - 20K/25K, C+P 10K+$180|
|Westin Excelsior||Spanish Steps||Website||SPG Cat. 6 - 20K/25K, C+P 10K+$180|
Intercontinental De La Villa Roma |Spanish Steps||Website||IHG Cat. 9 - 50K|
|Sheraton Roma||Between FCO and Rome proper||Website||SPG Cat. 2 - 3K, C+P 2K+$35 | For someone stingy on points, this hotel might work well. It has a paid shuttle to the airport, as well as a paid shuttle to the city center. It is far from the sites of Rome, so cabs will be expensive. A 15 minute walk to the nearest metro can get you to town, but as said above, the metro isn't great in Rome.|
|Sheraton Golf Parco de Medici||Near FCO||Website||SPG Cat. 3 - 7K, C+P 3.5K+$55 | Nice option if you just need to be near the airport for the night as there is an airport shuttle, although it's not complimentary.|
What to do:Attractions & Activities
|Tour of Jewish Ghetto||RFJ, JR||The Ghetto will be the center of your trip (because of food/Minyan and because of its actual location), so you'll get to know it well just by visiting. However, almost everyone who has taken a tour of the Ghetto has said it was the highlight of their trip. There are 2 main tour guides for the Ghetto (they also offer tours of other sites in Rome), Rome For Jews and Jewish Roma. The reviews - DDF and elsewhere - of both are outstanding. Everyone who has taken either tour has raved about it. No one on DDF has taken both, though, so there are no reports comparing the two (although you will find much discussion and debate as to which one is better that ends with neither program on top). The tour will bring you back in history and really help you understand how this small street is not just a street with restaurants, but once was closed in and housed thousands of Jews. The unbelievably gorgeous Great Synagogue of Rome is the center of the Ghetto - it can only be entered during Minyanim or with a tour guide. The museum/archive in the basement can be entered by anyone during hours, but the tours will take you there (and the entrance fee won't be included in your tour cost). The main issue with the tours is that they are extremely expensive, running about 100 euro per person (both are similarly priced and are usually in small groups). However, Jewish Roma does offer a student rate of 50 euro if others - paying full price - have already started a tour for your day. The money is well worth it, but for those trying to save money, there is a free Rick Steves' audio tour of the Ghetto that people have said is good.|
|Colosseum, Roman Forums||Website||This area is known as Old Rome. Viewing these sites can be done on your own or with a tour. The same ticket grants entrance to both sites. You can walk into the Colosseum, and with a general knowledge of what went on there, get a good feel for the place. However, a tour could be nice. Several DDFers have taken tours with companies like City Wonders, but have felt that the guides were boring and the tours too long and not too good. The free Rick Steves' audio tour is very good and might be your best bet. However, the biggest concern at the Colosseum is the line to get in, which can be 1-2 hours long, but tour groups get to skip the line, which is the biggest upside to taking a tour. Another way to skip the line is by purchasing tickets in advance and getting on the normally short line for renting an audio guide. By renting the audio guide, you are able to skip the entrance line. Once inside, they say it's better to use Rick Steves rather than the Colosseum's audio guide you just rented. Another option to get in faster is to cross the street to the entrance of the Roman Forums where the line for tickets is usually much shorter - again, that tickets works for both sites. The Roman Forums, just across the street from the Colosseum, is an open area that houses many ruins from different Roman structure. If you're into Roman history, you'll enjoy this part, otherwise you might find it to be dull except for the main attraction within the Forums - the Arch of Titus. There are a few entrances to the Forums, so if you just want to see Titus, try to find the entrance near the Colosseum that leads right to it.|
|Vatican||Website||If you're into art/history, the Vatican museums will be unbelievable. DDFers have varying opinions about their experience in the museum. Some loved it (with and without tours/audio guides), others found it super boring. (Could that be because they didn't take a tour?) You will also want to AYLOR about going into the Sistine Chapel, which is the last room you'll get to if you follow the museum path (somehow the @Yehudas completely missed it). To avoid entering the chapel, you can either ask the guard standing there if you can go through exit that's there (explain religious reasons, etc.) or go back through the whole museum. The lines here can be just as long as the Colossuem or they could be non-existent. Buying tickets online beforehand/going with a group should help with that.|
|Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish Steps||Tour||You can simply walk up to these sites and check them out or you can take the New Rome Walking Tour which is a daily, free walking tour that covers these sites among others and lasts for about 2.5 hours. AYLOR about the Pantheon (as it's a church as well as a potential issue for Kohanim), although even if you don't go in, just seeing the building is worth stopping by.|
|Outside of Rome - Villa D'este, Tivoli||Website||If you're willing to drive outside of Rome for about an hour (doesn't add too much time to a trip heading towards Florence/Pisa), you might want to stop in Tivoli to see this. It's an old estate that has a quick house to walk through (not too exciting) and then an absolutely stunning fountain garden in the back. You'll see tons of fountains, each designed differently, along with a great view of the countryside.|
|Great Synagogue of Rome||Website||Shacharis at 7:45AM, Mincha/Maariv before/after Shkia, Nusach Italki.|
|Oratorio di Castro||N/A||Cesare Balbo 33, 17 minute walk from the Westin, Eidut Mizrach|
|Chabad||Website, Website||It seems like there are 2 websites for Chabad, with the first having some dead links, but otherwise good Jewish info, while the second seems to be the current, live site. Shabbos meals can be arranged at Chabad.|
Basically all of the Kosher restaurants are on the 1 block strip of the Ghetto, aside for Yotvata, which is about 2 blocks away. All the restaurants listed below are under the Beis Din of Rome. Yehoshua and @Yehuda were told by their LORs to contact Rabbi Eidlitz from KosherQuest.org to find out more information about Kashrus in Rome. He suggested to both of them to call and rely on a Rabbi in Milan. The Rabbi there said that one should only eat in the dairy places in Rome. From the thread, you'll learn that people found out that the Jews of Italy don't require Glatt meat, which is why eating at the meat restaurants is more of a sketchy issue, although some places do offer Glatt as an option (if that works for you).
|BA"Ghetto Milky||Website||Ah, BA"Ghetto. The best place to eat in Rome (if you're only eating dairy). The pasta here is homemade and other-worldly. You must, must eat here. Ok, hope that was clear enough. Try one thing, try 'em all! You can also get a famous, tasty Roman/Jewish artichoke here, although not everyone thinks it's as good as they say. You can eat outside on the street under umbrellas, and ah! it's just a fantastic experience. There is also a BA"Ghetto Meaty down the block, but that faces the Glatt issue raised above. BA"Ghetto is right near the Great Synagogue, so it's kinda in the middle of the strip of Kosher restaurants (just for a reference point).|
|Yotvata||Website||2 blocks away from the Ghetto, Yotvata is a very nice dairy place that's often compared to BA"Ghetto. Generally, the prices are slightly cheaper here. Most agree that although the food does taste good here, BA"Ghetto is just better.|
|Little Tripoli||Website||Located in the Piazza Bologna area. This is a Mediterranean cuisine restaurant which is under the hashgacha of the local chabad and is Glatt Kosher.|
|Gelato||N/A||A little ice cream shop a few stores down from BA"Ghetto Milky that serves great tasting and cheap ice cream. The ice cream is Chalav Stam, but there are Pareve options that are amazing, as well. Depending on your schedule, you might find yourself at 2-3 o'clock without having yet eaten lunch and might be able to pull off some ice cream/milkshake as a cheap lunch meal to save some money and hold you off until dinner.|
|Bakery||N/A||Offically known as Pasticceria Boccione and Il Forno de Ghetto, you can find this Kosher bakery on a corner in the Ghetto adjacent to the Gelato store. The store is extremely tiny, with very few baked goods on display (especially stuff that you'll recognize), but you may find some donuts and croissants that are tasty.|
|Kosher Delight Grocery||N/A||Down the block from BA"Ghetto Milky, this grocery is very small, but does have a few packaged goods from Israel that could help you put together some food for the road. You can also buy fancy cheeses at low prices that you can't get close to in America.|