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  • Italy : Rome

    "Romo, non lrosto uno vita" (Rome, a lifelirne is not enough): this lar mous saying should be stamped on the passport of every fit‘Sl-tinte vis- itor to the titernal City. On the one hand, it's a warning: Rome is so p.u ltod with sights that it's impos- sible to take them all in; it's easy to run yourself ragged trying to check off the items on your "must-see" list. At the same time, the saying is a celebration ofthe city’s abundance. There’s so much here. you‘re bound to make discoveries you hadn’t anticipated. To conquer Rome, strike a balance between visits to major sights and leisurely neighborhood strolls. In the first category, the Vatican and the remains of ancient Rome loom the largest. Both require at least half a day: a good strategy is to devote your first morning to one and your second to the other. Leave the after- y noons for exploring the neighbor- hood we label “Baroque Rome" and the shopping district around the Spanish Steps and Via del Corso. lf you have more days at your dis- posal, continue with the same ap- proach. Among the sights, Galleria Borghese and the multilayered church of San Clemente are partic- ularly worthwhile, and the neighbor- hoods of Trastevere and the lewish Ghetto make for great wandering. "Romo, non lrosto uno vita" (Rome, a lifelirne is not enough): this lar mous saying should be stamped on the passport of every fit‘Sl-tinte vis- itor to the titernal City.

    On the one hand, it's a warning: Rome is so p.u ltod with sights that it's impos- sible to take them all in; it's easy to run yourself ragged trying to check off the items on your "must-see" list. At the same time, the saying is a celebration ofthe city’s abundance. There’s so much here. you‘re bound to make discoveries you hadn’t anticipated. To conquer Rome, strike a balance between visits to major sights and leisurely neighborhood strolls. In the first category, the Vatican and the remains of ancient Rome loom the largest. Both require at least half a day: a good strategy is to devote your first morning to one and your second to the other. Leave the after- y noons for exploring the neighbor- hood we label “Baroque Rome" and the shopping district around the Spanish Steps and Via del Corso. lf you have more days at your dis- posal, continue with the same ap- proach. Among the sights, Galleria Borghese and the multilayered church of San Clemente are partic- ularly worthwhile, and the neighbor- hoods of Trastevere and the lewish Ghetto make for great wandering.

    Most ot Rome‘s sights oro ooncentroted in the city center but the area is too large to cover exclusively on foot Tronsportotion options ore the metro (subway), bus tram ond toxl No mater whot method you use to get oround, try to avoid rush hours (8-9, l-2:30, 7-8). Driving is olwoys a mistake in Rome Expect to do lots ot walking. Cobblestone streets call comtortoble shoes (though some natives seem willing to endure ony pain ln the nome of fashion.

    Try to avoid the congestion ond noise of mojor thoroughfare ; plan routes along porollel side streets insteod. Most hotels will give you a functional city map, and you con olso pick rnaps up for Free at tourist intormotlon booths. lf you carve greater detail, purchase better mops ot newsstonds.

    Roman Hours

    Mast churches open at 8 or 9 in the morning, close from noon to 3 or 4, then reopen until 6:30 or 7. The no- table exception is St. Peter's, which has continuous hours from 7 to 7 {6 in the fall and winter).

    Many museums are closed on Monday, including the Galleria Borghese, the Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulio, and the museums ofthe Campidoglio. e The Vatican Museums are open on Monday but closed on Sunday, except for the last Sunday of the month (when admission is free and crowds are large). From November through mid-March, the museums close for the day at 1:45.

    How's the Weather?

    Not surprisingly, spring and fall are the best times to visit, with mild temperatures and many sunny days; the famous Roman sunsets are also at their best, Summers are often sweltering. In july and August, come if you like, but learn to do as the Romans do·get up and out early, seek refuge from the afternoon heat {nap if you can], resume activities in early evening, and stay up late to enjoy the nighttime breeze. Come August, many shops and restaurants close as natives head for the beach or the countryside. Roman winters are relatively mild, with per- sistent rainy spells.

    Reservations Required

    You should reserve tickets for the follovving sights. See the listings within the chapter for contactinfor- mation: ¤Galleria Borghese requires reser- vations. Visitors are admitted in two- hour shifts, and prime time slots can sell out davs in advance, so it pays to plan ahead. You can reserve by phone orthrough the gallerifs Web si. ta In the ancient Rome archaeolog- ical area, reservations iorthe Colos- seum save you from standing in a ticket line that sometimes takes upward ofan hour. You can reserve tickets either by phone {reservation agents speak English] or on the Web. ee Atthe Vatican, you need to reserve several days in advance to see the necropolis and the gardens. Forin- iormation about attending a papal audience, see the Closellp box "A Morning with the Pope" several pages into this chapter.

     visit the Vatican for its exceptional art holdings MichelangeIo’s rare archaeological marbles, and Bernini’s statues or you js may want ro appreciate the singular and grandiose architecrure of Sr. {pcm-’; Square. Many come here on pilgrimage, spiritual or otherwise, l` to see the seat of world Catholicism and the most overwhelming architectural achievement ofthe Renaissance, St. Peter’s Basilica. At the Vat- ican Museums there are magnificent rooms decorated by Raphael, sculptures such as the Apollo Belvedere and the Leocoon, frescoes by Fra Angelico, paintings by Giorto and Leonardo, and the celebrated ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

    The Church power that emerged as the Rome of the emperors declined gave impetus to a profusion of artistic expression and shaped the destiny of the city for a thousand years. Allow yourself an hour to see St. Peter’s Basilica, 30 minutes for the Museo Storico, 15 minutes for the Vatican Grottoes, an hour for Castel Sant’Angelo, and an hour to climb to the top ofthe dome. Ushers at the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums bar entry to people with “inappropriate” cloth1ng—wh1ch means no bare knees or shoulders.


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