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The Italian capital city of Rome is one of the most visited tourist locations in the world. More than 2,000 years of history are epitomised in archaeological sites such as the Colosseum, the Forum Romanum and the Pantheon. The Vatican Museums and the Spanish Steps are among other abundant attractions visited by millions every year. Rome’s prime position on the country’s western coastline is ideal for exploring the area with a self-drive vehicle.
Who to Book With
As is to be expected for one of Europe’s principal cities, all the global car rental suppliers are represented here as well as quite a few local ones. Avis, Sixt and Hertz are among firms with service depots in the city. Local suppliers include National’s Italian partner Maggiore and Rentissimo. Offices are dotted around the city and in prime locations including the main railway station and Fiumicino Airport. People wishing to ensure they are able to get their chosen vehicle can book online in advance.
Best time to go
The months between May and late September are when Rome is resplendent in all its glory. In July and August temperatures are constantly above 30°C. High humidity and a massive influx of international visitors during these two months make sightseeing a bit of an ordeal and it is probably better to arrive in Rome either before or just after this peak period.
Need to Know Essentials
Those collecting rental cars in the city need to produce the following items:
- A driver’s license or a current International Driving Permit
- A second form of photographic id, preferably a passport
- A hard copy of your booking confirmation
- The credit card used when making the reservation
The streets of Rome are not the easiest to drive on as they are very busy and this is compounded by the style of local drivers. City authorities sometimes introduce restrictions linked to car number plates which stop drivers taking them into certain areas on selected days. These rules are changed regularly.
Parking spaces in the central parts of the city are mostly limited to residents with official permits. There are covered garages which charge around €1.50 for the first hour and then €1 for each subsequent one. Apart from the one near Rome’s central rail station these are a little hard to find.
Rome is best explored on foot or by public transport. Car hire is best for daytrips or longer excursions around the surrounding region. The A90 is the ring road around the city and it in turn links to motorways for locations such as Civitavecchia, Naples, Tivoli, L'Aquila and the Adriatic coast. Motorway signs are green and ones on the main highways are blue. Motorists are required to keep dipped headlights on when using rural routes and in bad weather.
Please refer to our Guide to Italy for additional details about road conditions and regulations in the country.
Public transport in Rome is managed by ATAC which operates a network of metro lines, trams, buses and suburban trains that covers all parts of the city. Transport runs from 05:00 to as late as 02:00 on the metro lines. Buses and, on weekday rush hours, metro trains can get quite crowded. For city trips, it is better to take advantage of this integrated network and save car hires for trips farther afield.
Tickets for public transport need to be purchased prior to travel and are available from any shop, café or kiosk displaying a T (for Tabacchi) sign. There are also ticket machines at metro stations. People traveling by metro need to get their tickets stamped. Inspectors on all forms of public transport randomly check tickets and passengers without a valid one for their journeys face on-the-spot penalties of €50.
Rome has 10 railway stations. Roma Termini is the main one and is just a 500ms walk from the Roman Forum. This station is the busiest in the country and has trains from cities such as Brindisi, Naples, Florence and Milan. A preserved segment of the 2,500-year-old Servian Wall is right outside the station. The station is also the centre of the city’s suburban network as there is a metro station in the building and a bus station at the front.
Buses and Trams
Buses are the cheapest option for getting around. Free maps are available for tourists and bus stops also display lists of destinations served. The tram network is not as comprehensive and most routes do not go right into the city centre.
Rome’s metro system has two fully operational lines which cross at Roma Termini. Construction work on additional lines is ongoing and city authorities open new sections to the public as and when they are completed.
Taxis are plentiful in Rome and can be found at taxi ranks almost everywhere in the centre. The taxis are fitted with metres. Fares start with a set amount which varies with the time of day and then a fee for each kilometre travelled. Passengers boarding need to ensure they take licensed taxis with a sign on the roof and that the driver actually turns the metre on before setting off. Pronto Taxi is one of the larger taxi firms here and accepts telephone bookings on 6645.
Rome is the ideal base for exploring seaside resorts on the Tyrrhenian Sea coastline, magnificent medieval castles and the ancient towns in the surrounding region of Lazio with a car rental. Every road that leads out of Rome leads to somewhere interesting. Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence on Lake Albano, Tivoli, Orvieto and Frascati are all within easy driving distance.
Villa d'Este - This is a marvellous Renaissance edifice surrounded by beautifully laid-out gardens. This villa in Tivoli is a UNESCO World Heritage site with highlights that include the Rometta fountain and intricate ceiling frescos.
Cerveteri - Noted for the remains of 2,500-year-old Etruscan necropolises, tombs and monuments. Cerveteri’s Banditaccia Necropolis is another of the regional UNESCO sites.
Lake Bracciano - Located inland from Cerveteri, the lake offers a picturesque setting to enjoy hiking, swimming, sailing and windsurfing. Fine dining and souvenir shopping in quaint lakeside towns are other enticements for making the trip to Bracciano.
Tyrrhenian seaside resorts - These are dotted along the length of coast to the west of Rome. Ostia and Fregene are the nearest and therefore the most crowded in summer. Heading south down the coast and passing through the town of Anzio eventually leads to a sheltered bay where beaches at Terracina and Sperlonga boast translucent seas.