Monthly Archives: June 2013

Riding a Scooter in Rome

A classic Vespa makes a fun way to get around Rome

A classic Vespa makes a fun way to get around Rome

When you visit Italy, it’s hard to keep yourself from wistfully imagining yourself zipping around town on one of the country’s famous Vespa scooters. The Italians are all doing it, and they make it look so easy! Why not, you think, rent a scooter to get around Rome, so you can have your own Roman Holiday moment?

You have a couple of options when it comes to riding a scooter in Rome. You can choose to rent one and pilot yourself around the city, either for a few hours or an entire day (even using it to take day trips from Rome into the surrounding area), or you can take a Vespa tour of Rome and let someone else do the driving. Which you choose depends on your comfort level with both driving a scooter around Rome and dealing with the intense traffic of a big Italian city.

There are a few companies in Rome where you can rent a Vespa by the hour or by the day. The cost is determined by how long you want to rent ths scooter, and also how powerful the motor is – it varies from 50cc to 150cc, with the more powerful scooters being more expensive to rent. A lightweight scooter can cost as little as €10 per hour or €50 per day, and the prices go up from there. You can also rent a helmet at these shops – which is always a good idea, even if you see locals riding around without one. It’s important to remember that Italians are riding on and driving scooters from the time they’re small kids, so you shouldn’t try to emulate their behavior as they dodge traffic. In fact, unless you’re familiar with the city and comfortable driving a Vespa, you may want to avoid major roads altogether.

If you’d rather see the sights in Rome than concentrate on driving a Vespa, however, you can take a Rome scooter tour instead. You’ll get to check out Rome’s major attractions from the back of a Vespa while your expert guide drives, navigates through traffic, and points out all the stuff you get to look at while you’re not driving.

- Jessica Spiegel

Riding a Scooter in Rome from Viator Rome

Rome’s Jewish Ghetto

Kosher tavern in Rome's Jewish Ghetto

Kosher tavern in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto. Creative Commons photo by via Flickr.

The Jewish ghetto in Rome is, today, simply one of the colorful and historic neighborhoods in an enormous city. But of course it gets its name from a less happy time when Jews in Rome were corralled behind the walls that used to circle this neighborhood. Although many of the buildings that once stood here are now gone, it’s still worth visiting the former Jewish ghetto – if for no other reason than to sample some of the famous Roman Jewish cuisine.

The Roman Jewish ghetto, which is next to the Tiber River across Tiber Island from the Trastevere neighborhood, was established in 1555 and all the Jews in the city were required to live inside its borders. The gates in the ghetto walls were only open during the day – the residents were locked in at night. Jews were no longer allowed to own property, had to pay annual taxes to the city in order to live in the ghetto (despite being offered no alternatives), and even had to pay for the construction of the wall that surrounded the ghetto. Christian churches inside the walls were torn down when the ghetto was built, and the synagogue that was built was demolished along with most of the rest of the ghetto in 1888, 18 years after Italy became a unified country.

Today, the Synagogue of Rome, built in 1904, stands on the same spot as the synagogue that once served the residents of the Jewish ghetto. Only a small piece of the wall that used to circle the ghetto remains, which you can see built into a courtyard wall near the Piazza delle Cinque Scole. The main sights in the Roman Jewish ghetto are the synagogue and Jewish Museum (both closed on Saturday), the Portico d’Ottavia (one of the former gates of ancient Rome), and the street called Via del Portico d’Ottavia. This road offers a look at the only ghetto buildings that remain standing, as well as the shops and restaurants of the modern Roman Jewish community.

Rome’s Jewish ghetto is increasingly thought of as a foodie destination in the city, and during the spring it’s the best place to get Rome’s famous fried artichokes (a traditional Roman Jewish dish). It’s a less-touristy part of the city, too, since it doesn’t contain the big Rome attractions on everyone’s must-see list, so it can be a lovely neighborhood to explore when you need a break from the crowds.

Learn more about the flavor of this area with a food walking tour of the Jewish ghetto.

- Jessica Spiegel

Rome’s Jewish Ghetto from Viator Rome

Ghost Tours in Rome

Colosseum at night

Colosseum at night

Many cities around the world have after-hours ghost tours you can take, but few have the history – and mystery – of Rome at night. This is a city where ancient ghost stories live alongside more modern ones, and attractions crowded with tourists during daylight hours take on an entirely different atmosphere in the dark.

Among Rome’s most popular attractions, the Colosseum is – perhaps unsurprisingly – considered one of the most haunted. Given how many people died here in gory gladiator “games,” it may not be a mystery why there are reports of hearing the sounds of sword fights or animals growling. An ancient graveyard near the church of Santa Maria del Popolo was once said to be haunted by the ghost of the Roman Emperor Nero. A woman called Beatrice Cenci is said to appear every year on the night of September 10th on the Sant’Angelo bridge, where she and her family were executed in 1599. Another Roman ghost is said to speed across the Sisto Bridge in a black horse-drawn carriage late at night. And of course some sights are spooky no matter what time of day they’re visited – including the Roman Catacombs, Cappuchin Crypt, and Vatican Necropolis.

Whether you believe any of Rome’s ghost stories or not, seeing the city at night – with a good guide to tell interesting stories along the way – is a fun way to explore another side of the Italian capital. There are several Rome ghost tours to choose from, including some that let you skip the otherwise long lines that can form in front of the city’s top attractions. And don’t miss a stop in Rome’s odd “Museum of Purgatory,” a room in the Sacro Cuore del Suffragio church featuring supposed examples of messages from “the other side.”

- Jessica Spiegel

Ghost Tours in Rome from Viator Rome

Mare 2013: ad Ostia tariffe scontate per gli ospiti degli hotel

Siglato il protocollo d’intesa tra Federalberghi Roma, Roma Capitale ed il Sindacato Italiano Balneari (Sib) di Roma che, anche per la stagione estiva 2013, promuove l’offerta turistica balneare del  Lido di Ostia offrendo sconti ai propri clienti.


Grazie a quest’accordo, a tutti i clienti alloggiati presso le strutture Associate a Federalberghi Roma verrà riservato un sconto del 50% sul prezzo al pubblico relativo al noleggio di lettini, sedie a sdraio ed ombrelloni, che verrà applicato presentando un apposito ticket promozionale debitamente vidimato con il timbro dell’hotel, presso gli stabilimenti balneari aderenti al Sib Roma.


Lo sconto verrà applicato ai seguenti stabilimenti balneari:
Belsito, CO.TRA.L. MET.RO, Guerrino er marinaro, il Gabbiano, La Bicocca, la Bussola, La Caletta, La Marinella, La Mariposa, Le Palme, Lido Azzurro, L’Oasi, Nuova Pineta-Pinetina, Peppino a mare/beach.



Protocollo d’intesa Roma Capitale, Federalberghi Roma e Sindacato Balneari Roma

Christian Religious Sites in Rome

Michelanelgo's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Michelanelgo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

While many of the most famous sights in Rome center around the ancient city, there are also lots of places that are important Christian religious sites. Some are key points on religious pilgrimages, and they all have historic importance regardless of one’s faith.

Historically, seven churches in Rome are considered its “Pilgrim Churches,” and those seeking indulgences from the church were required to visit most (if not all) of them. The seven basilicas are St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Lorenzo Outside the Walls, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, and the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Divine Love. The last of these churches was only added in 2000, replacing St. Sebastian Outside the Walls, which many Christians still include as a pilgrimage church.

Other notable Christian religious sites in Rome include the Mamertine Prison, where both St. Peter and St. Paul are said to have been imprisoned before being executed; the Arch of Titus near the Roman Forum, showing the looting of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem; the Arch of Constantine, which shows the battle that led to Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity; and the Roman Catacombs, where many early adopters of the Christian faith were buried. You can also see the small chapel along the Appian Way where St. Peter is said to have seen the spirit of the risen Christ.

There are, of course, many other places of religious significance among the famous things to do in Rome, and in a city with this many churches it’s nearly impossible to see them all in a short visit. You can book a tour of Rome’s Christian sites to see the highlights (and learn their importance from an expert guide), or simply make a point of stopping in every church you pass along your wanderings.

- Jessica Spiegel

Christian Religious Sites in Rome from Viator Rome

A spasso per Roma

La nostra proposta: offrirvi  un  itinerario, fatto di luoghi ed opere, da percorrere  con una spesa minima; addirittura gratis. E, come vedrete,  non mancheranno capolavori assoluti.   Prima che chiuda, bisogna visitare  il Roseto Comunale:  affacciato sul Circo Massimo, il piccolo parco, aperto solo nel periodo delle fioriture e tutto dedicato alle rose,  è una gioia per gli occhi.   Il Circo Massimo, purtroppo i romani ci passano di lato solo in macchina e lo ricordano per i concerti di Venditti, era il circo più famoso dell’antichità: i suoi spalti potevano ospitare oltre 250.000 spettatori. Passeggiare al suo interno  fa tornare alla mente  la scena delle bighe in “Ben Hur”. Può essere una buona occasione per rivedere vecchi film sull’antica Roma  girati a Cinecittà, la “Hollywood sul Tevere”.     Due passi e si arriva sull’Aventino.  Camminare nel silenzio,  a due passi dal centro, rappresenta già un’esperienza insolita, ma possiamo indicare due luoghi fascinosi. Il parco degli aranci, con la sua terrazza panoramica, e la piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, progetto di Giovan Battista Piranesi,  ricca di simboli egizi e alchemici, con la singolare veduta che si scopre guardando attraverso il buco della serratura: una sorpresa per chi non lo conosce.     Dall’Aventino si percorre il vicolo Savello verso il lungotevere;  se dimentichiamo la città, potremo fantasticare di essere in un borgo medievale.  Verso il centro, se non lo abbiamo mai fatto, è d’obbligo la tappa alla Bocca della Verità, nel portico di Santa Maria in Cosmedin.  Se di solito diciamo bugie, forse non avremo il coraggio di infilare la mano nella Bocca; non si sa mai.     Prossima tappa, verso piazza Venezia, la scalinata che conduce alla piazza del Campidoglio. La statua di Marco Aurelio è una copia, ma la piazza, progettata da Michelangelo vale una sosta. Alle spalle, una breve discesa porta ad un piccolo slargo dove si gode  il più completo  panorama del Foro Romano, con il Colosseo sullo sfondo.   Torniamo a piazza Venezia, direzione verso piazza Navona.  La prima tappa è il Pantheon. Edificato dall’imperatore Adriano, risale al 125 d.C.; in principio era dedicato al culto di tutti gli dei, ora ospita le tombe dei re d’Italia. A stupire è il perfetto emisfero della cupola, la più larga mai costruita in calcestruzzo. La luce penetra attraverso l’oculus, una apertura circolare larga 9 metri sul culmine della cupola.     Un breve tratto separa da due chiese imperdibili. In entrambe potrete godere opere di Caravaggio. In San Luigi dei Francesi,  la “Conversione di San Matteo”, con un uso delle luci di una modernità sconcertante. Nella Chiesa di San’Agostino,  la “Madonna di Loreto”, conosciuta colme la “Madonna dei Pellegrini”.     La passeggiata termina a piazza Navona, uno dei simboli della città: la piazza è nata sui resti di un circo romano, di cui rimane visibile l’antico impianto. Al centro, un poco di riposo seduti sul bordo della Fontana dei Fiumi, opera di Gian Lorenzo Bernini.