So they say 'All roads lead to Rome' but way back then there was only one road, the Appian Way and it most certainly led to Rome! If you are heading to Rome, let me give you a few pointers.
Rome is a city that welcomes single travellers as well as couples and it is an easy city to find your way around, especially if you have a map and you use the river Tiber as your guiding star.
A quick way to get from A to B for example, is to walk by the river and avoid the crowds in the streets; when you meet the street leading to the inner city where you are heading, then leave the river and head in to your destination.
Be very careful using zebra crossings though because you think they are for you to cross safely, Italian drivers don't register them as existing! At early morning peak traffic time, don't think those drivers are blowing their horns at you because you look so fabulous in those new Italian leather pants that you purchased in Piazza di Spagna, oh no, they are tooting at the traffic police! Traffic Police over ride the traffic lights at peak periods of traffic and if they are a bit slow, the motorists let them know!
If you feel like getting away from it all, try a walk at river level, however be prepared to see a different side of Rome as many homeless folk live under the famous bridges of Rome. The Tiber is a khaki colour and runs fast through the city dividing it into the shopping and business area with Vatican City on the opposite bank. There are many little market stalls set up on the Vatican side where you can purchase souvenir items including anything from a postcard to a centurion's helmet!
The economy in Rome is slowly improving and so there are several renovations being carried out at the moment. A must see, the 18th century Spanish Steps have been reopened after being fully restored and abound with flowers. Drape yourself across the balustrade for an iconic memory of Roma.
The Trevi Fountain is still drawing crowds and I was lucky enough to visit the morning the fountain was being cleaned and the coins removed. Tossing a coin over your left shoulder became the thing to do to ensure your return to Rome after the 1954 movie Three Coins In A Fountain. The coins are collected each day by the Roman Catholic charity, Caritas and the money distributed to the needy.
Also available at the Trevi Fountain are hot roasted chestnuts. The vendor sells them for 5 euros in a paper cone. A must try for the uninitiated, especially if you are there at Christmas, then you can sing Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire as you wander romantically through the streets of Roma.
There are several bus companies in Rome offering 'Hop On, Hop Off'. I found this to be a great way to see the city and a cheap form of a taxi. Some of the buses (but not all, so check first), offer wi-fi on the bus, along with a dialogue describing each stop, available in various languages via a headset. The grey 'I Love Rome' bus offered wi-fi and was 20 euros a day, with nine different hop on, hop off stops including all the major ones such as the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Mouth of Truth and, attention ladies, Via Veneto, the 'must do' shopping street!
Vendors beseech you to buy their products at each bus stop. If it's hot, they have spf 30 for sale, if it's raining, they appear with umbrellas and if it's really hot they will throw you up to the top deck, a bottle of icy cold water for 2 euros which you in turn throw down to them. You could stay on the bus all day and be well looked after!
The night lights of Rome are spectacular and there are two really good places to see Rome spread out before you in all of its glory. The first is a lookout above Piazza del Popolo and the second is on Janiculum hill on the square Piazza Garibaldi, where the statue of Garibaldi is found. The park is rather overgrown and under-maintained but the view of the city is worth the walk.
I was lucky to be staying in a hotel which offered guests bikes to ride around the city. I did this for a day and decided I wanted to live a little longer so it was back to walking. If you like to walk, then walking is the way to go. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you get lost. A good word to know whilst pointing at your map is 'dove', pronounced 'doh vay' which means 'where'. Many hand gesticulations later and you are on yourway!
If you go to the Vatican, a good hint to get in front of everyone once you pass through security, take the queue which says 'Tombs of the Popes', you go quickly through the tombs and then you pop up like a meerkat in the middle of the Basilica.
Cafes will often advertise 'wi-fi within', be careful and try the wi-fi before ordering because it is often NOT available and you will only find that out after you have ordered your caffe doppio (2 espressos served in one cup). Pickpockets are rampant in just about every European city with warning signs everywhere but it is easy to be distracted and where there are large crowds and queues with jostling, that's where they strike, so be aware, perhaps get a backpack that you can wear as a 'front-pack' and know where your valuables are at all times.
Ladies if you are travelling alone and don't know what to do with your luggage when nature calls, use the disabled toilet, that way you and your luggage will fit in ... be quick though so as not to impede an actual disabled person!
The airport is 45 minutes from the city. There is now Uber in Rome but the white taxis are cheap and reliable, when I say 'cheap', cheaper than Sydney taxis. Some words to know to get you through: 'Dove' = where, 'camera' = room, 'piano' = floor as in 1st floor, 'grazie' = thanks, 'qui' = here, 'tutto' = everything, 'per favore' = please. If you at least attempt a 'please' and 'thank you' in their language they will appreciate it and remember when you are in a foreign country and yousee something different, it is not wrong, it is just different and after all, isn't that why we all travel, to discover something different?