10 essential free phone apps for a visit to Rome

Sort out everything from transport to toilets with the best free phone apps to help you get the most out of a trip to Rome with 10 essential free phone apps for a visit to Rome.

Lengthy guidebooks and enormous maps not only take up more than their fair share of your baggage allowance. They often contain out-of-date or confusing information – and they don’t exactly help you blend in with the locals.

Luckily, these days you can have all the information you’d ever need in your pocket, allowing you to pack more into both your suitcase and your trip.


Fountains in Italy 

Rome’s many fountains aren’t just beautiful to look at, they can also save tourists money in the often scorching heat. But that doesn’t mean you can dip your water bottle into the Trevi Fountain for a quick refill. Use this guide to locate the city’s drinking fountains, called nasoni (‘big noses’ – due to the shape of the spout).

The water is perfectly clean and safe – in fact, it’s the same stuff that comes out of Rome’s taps.

Streetart Roma

If you want your visit to go beyond the tourist staples of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Pantheon, download this free guide to Rome’s street art. With descriptions and information about more than 100 artworks dotted around the city. This app will help anyone seeking an alternative taste of Roman culture, far from the masterpieces you’ll find in the museums.

WC Rome

Rome is sadly not known for its provision of public toilets, so getting caught short can be stressful. WC Rome shows you the nearest public loos, with addresses, opening hours and navigation to over 120 toilets in the city. This means you no longer have to waste valuable sightseeing time hunting for a café with a clean toilet and sympathetic owner. You can update the map to ensure it helps even more users.

Rome Travel Guide

There are plenty of travel guide apps for the eternal city, but Ulmon’s is on top of the list. It includes offline maps, information on thousands of attractions, restaurants and hotels plus insider tips from tourists and locals alike. GPS services and all of the content are available offline after the initial download. You won’t have to shell out for pricey roaming charges.

Probus Rome

Many tourists remain mystified by Rome’s buses and fail to take advantage of them. Which is a shame because they cover much more of the city than the metro system. They’re particularly useful in the summer as a rare source of air conditioning!

This app simplifies the system, helping you to locate your nearest stop, get real time updates and plan your connections. You could also try Muoversi a Roma, the city’s official transport app, which also covers the metro, though this has mixed reviews.

Rome Pocket Guide

This audio guide is GPS-activated, meaning you can learn about the history behind Rome’s many monuments and attractions without having to stop to leaf through chunky guidebooks. It will also alert you to nearby curiosities you might otherwise easily have missed.

It covers a wide range of attractions. From the obvious sights to more quirky things and little-known facts, as well as local tips on places to eat and drink. You can choose tours on a variety of themes. Either listening to them for free online (but bear in mind roaming costs) or paying to download them. Perhaps the most exciting part is that you can later download a personalized 3D video of the sights you passed on your walk.

Baby Out Rome Kids Family Guide

This handy app takes at least some of the stress out of travelling with children. As well as information about attractions and events in Rome and the Lazio region. You will find a big range from parks to zoos and museums. You can also get information about which restaurants and hotels are most family-friendly. And just in case of emergency, it can also direct you to the nearest shops for baby or child items, the pharmacy, or children’s hospital.

Learn Italian

This free app has 30 lessons which are focussed on teaching short sentences applicable to real-life scenarios. There’s an abundance of language-learning apps out there. For free version which is geared towards tourists, this is one of the best. Using a combination of audio and text, you’ll be able to read menus and directions. Also you will be able to ask simple questions before your holiday’s over.


ezTaxi

ezTaxi allows you to book and pay for cabs. The service finds you nearby drivers, meaning you avoid taxi queues, and checking prices in advance helps you avoid tourist rip-offs. If you’re looking for alternatives, you can also use Uber in Rome.

Aeroporti di Roma


This app
 proves useful before you’ve even arrived in the Italian capital, offering up-to-date flight tracking for both Fiumicino and Ciampino airports. You can also find information about your destination and options for contacting your airline.

These 10 essential free phone apps for a visit to Rome will make your life easier and will help you to have even more pleasant vacation!

How to survive an Italian summer

HOW TO SURVIVE AN ITALIAN SUMMER

What could be better than a summer spent in Italy? Strolling down quaint streets and piazzas with a creamy gelato in hand. Soaking up the sun as you lie on a deckchair on the sands of Capri or Sicily; it sounds like a dream – to the uninitiated.

Long-term expats or regular visitors will know better. Italian summer brings its own set of challenges, from weather to crowds to certain regulations that only come into force during tourist season.

If you are heading there on holiday, here are the survival tips you need to survive an Italian summer.

1. Dress appropriately

First of all shorts and flip flops should only be worn in Italy if you’re not concerned about being instantly recognizable as a tourist. And when it comes to the flip flops in particular, bear in mind that many Italian towns are covered in cobblestones, and these are not kind to feet. So if you’re going to do a lot of walking – and you should, both because it’s a great way to explore and because Italian public transport is not always as efficient as you’d hope – sturdy shoes are your friend.

Otherwise, it’s a balancing act between preparing for heat and humidity and covering up enough to avoid causing offence. Churches and religious sites often require shoulders and thighs to be covered up, so bring a scarf or sarong if your outfit doesn’t do this.

2. Pay extra attention to your valuables

An increase in tourists sadly means an increase in opportunistic thefts. Make sure you keep any valuable items close to your body in a zipped pocket or bag. Be wary of anyone asking for assistance or directions – some thieves play the confused tourist as a cover-up for sneakily stealing your belongings.

The other thing to watch out for is the unscrupulous vendors who hike up their prices over the summer months. Some gelaterias have a small size of cup or cone kept out of sight, while anyone not speaking Italian is only offered the larger – and more expensive – sizes. And restaurant owners often add on extra charges for sitting outside. Read the small print on menus and try to avoid anywhere directly opposite an iconic landmark. This is where many tourist traps are located.

3. Figure out the fountains

Italy’s fountains aren’t just pretty to look at; but they’re also extremely useful in the summer. Look out for the cylindrical nasoni drinking fountains dotted around many Italian towns, where you can fill your water bottle, take a drink, or splash cool water over your face and hands.

4. Head for high altitude – or underground

If you get the chance, make like the locals and head for the mountains, where the summer is usually pleasantly warm and perfect for long walks and relaxing by the lakes. And if that’s not an option, fake it by finding a rooftop bar or restaurant – where you should get some shade along with a beautiful view.

Alternatively, going underground can be just as good a method of keeping cool during the hottest part of the day. Try our Underground Rome Private Tour: https://www.realrometours.com/tours/underground-rome-private-tour/

5. Pig out on summer treats

You might not be in the mood for large plates of pizza and pasta, and Italy has plenty of culinary delights to get you through the summer season. Look for stalls selling watermelon or bars serving the caffe shakerato, a sugary iced coffee treat. In Sicily, the summer specialty is a granita – a more sophisticated and delicious version of a slushie. While in Rome you can try to track down the traditional grattachecca dessert. It is a cup of shaved ice flavoured with fruity syrups. And of course, there’s always gelato.

Special Introductory Offer on New Rome Full Day Tour

The July heat must be getting to us!!

Rome Full Day Introductory Offer

See ALL of the “Must-See” places in Rome – skip the line tickets included – for an exceptionally low introductory price of only €95 for adults and only €85  for Under-18s. 

This is an introductory price only, to promote this new tour, so this price will not be available for much longer.

These discount prices have already been programmed into our booking system, so you do not need to enter any promotional codes. Just book now to avail of these exceptional prices before we recover from this August heat which is clearly making us all a bit mad!!

 

 

Archaeology at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

Fiumicino displays ancient statues until December.

Archaeology at Rome’s Fiumicino airport. Ancient statues of Apollo, Aphrodite and the river god Tiber have gone on display in the international departures area of Rome’s Fiumicino airport. Thanks to a collaboration between the airport and the nearby Parco Archeologico di Ostia Antica.

Between now and December passengers taking international non-Schengen flights can view the three original statues. Dating from the second century AD and discovered during excavations in 1939 in Portus, the area’s ancient Roman harbour.

As part of the intiative the airport is also providing a free shuttle service to and from Portus. The man-made hexagonal lake that was once the great maritime port of imperial Rome and centre of the empire’s trading economy.

 

Book your transfer to or from either of Rome’s airports with us: https://www.realrometours.com/rome-transfers/

 

All roads lead to Rome! Subway-Style Map of Roman Roads

Map of Roman Roads: Proof that all roads lead to Rome!!!

It’s finally done. A subway-style diagram of the major Roman roads, based on the Empire of ca. 125 AD.

Creating this required far more research than I had expected—there is not a single consistent source that was particularly good for this. Huge shoutout to: Stanford’s ORBIS modelThe Pelagios Project, and the Antonine Itinerary (found a full PDF online but lost the url).

The lines are a combination of actual, named roads (like the Via Appia or Via Militaris) as well as roads that do not have a known historic name (in which case I creatively invented some names). Skip to the “Creative liberties taken” section for specifics.

How long would it actually take to travel this network? That depends a lot on what method of transport you are using, which depends on how much money you have. Another big factor is the season – each time of year poses its own challenges. In the summer, it would take you about two months to walk on foot from Rome to Byzantium. If you had a horse, it would only take you a month.

However, no sane Roman would use only roads where sea travel is available. Sailing was much cheaper and faster – a combination of horse and sailboat would get you from Rome to Byzantium in about 25 days, Rome to Carthage in 4-5 days. Check out ORBIS if you want to play around with a “Google Maps” for Ancient Rome. I decided not to include maritime routes on the map for simplicity’s sake.

Creative liberties taken

The biggest creative element was choosing which roads and cities to include, and which to exclude. There is no way I could include every Roman road, these are only the main ones. I tried to include cities with larger populations, or cities that were provincial capitals around the 2nd century.

Obviously to travel from Petra to Gaza you would take a more or less direct road, rather than going to Damascus and “transferring” to the Via Maris. The way we travel on roads is very different from rail, which is a slight flaw in the concept of the map. But I think it’s still aesthetically pleasing and informative.

Here’s a list of the roads that have authentic names and paths:

  • Via Appia
  • Via Augusta
  • Via Aurelia
  • Via Delapidata
  • Via Domitia
  • Via Egnatia
  • Via Flaminia
  • Via Flavia (I, II, III)
  • Via Julia Augusta
  • Via Lusitanorum
  • Via Militaris
  • Via Popilia
  • Via Portumia
  • Via Salaria
  • Via Tiburtina
  • Via Traiana
  • Via Traiana Nova

Some Roman roads have real names but were modified somewhat:

  • The Via Latina I combined with the Via Popilia. In reality the Popilia ended at Capua, and the Latina went from Capua to Rome.
  • Via Aquitania only referred to the road from Burdigala (Bordeaux) to Narbo (Narbonne).
  • Via Asturica Burdigalam similarly only refers to the Astrurica-Burdigala section.
  • “Via Claudia” is not a real name, but refers to a real continuous road built by Claudius.
  • Via Hadriana was a real road in Egypt, but it refers to a slightly different section than the green route.
  • The name “Via Maris” is considered to be a modern creation, referring to real ancient trade road whose real name has been lost to history.
  • Via Valeria only referred to a section of the yellow Sicilian loop.
  • The roads around Pisae, Luna and Genua had several names for different sections, including Via Aemilia Scauri. Sometimes “Via Aurelia” referred to the entire road from Rome to Arelate.
  • Via Sucinaria is the Latin name for the Amber Road, a trade route from the Baltic region to Italy that carried amber as a valuable good. It probably was not used to refer to a single literal road.
  • Via Gemina and Via Claudia Augusta are real names that referred to small parts of the routes marked on the map.

 

The other Roman roads have relatively uncreative names that I invented, usually based on a place that they pass through. I have never formally studied Latin and I’ll admit that I am somewhat confused by the distinction between -a and -ensis endings, so there’s a chance I may have messed that up.

 

If you think this would make a cool poster, send us your email address and we will email you a crisp PDF for printing! 

 

By Sasha Trubetskoy

Mini Pompeii found in Rome

Excavations to finish metro Line C in the capital continue to throw up ancient Roman archeological finds. After a military barracks last year, the latest discovery is two Pompeian buildings near the Aurelian Wall.

Mini Pompeii found in Rome
View of the floor of a room in the House of Augustus on the Palatine hill in Rome on September 17, 2014. The house of Emperor Augustus opened its doors to the public on September 18 after years of restorations. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE

Two ancient Roman edifices have been discovered during excavations to extend Metro Line C in Rome. Archeologists were undertaking reinforcement works on monuments near the new public transport line when the ancient solarium was discovered. Still in excellent condition, not far from metro station Amba Aradam in the capital, near the city’s Aurelian Walls.

The discovery came about as archeologists had descended to more than 10 metres below ground level to reinforce the Aurelian Walls. The Aurelian Walls lie near where the new public transport line is being extended. The discovery of the solarium follows that of an army barracks in Via Ipponio, also during the construction of Metro.

The structure found has Pompeian qualities. According to the experts who discovered it, in that the solarium and adjacent structures were preserved thanks to a fire on site during the 3rd century AD. Archeological discoveries are not rare in Rome. Sites where wood is preserved are “extremely rare given the age of the site,” according to a press release by the Ministry of Culture.

Such well-preserved sites only occur thanks to exceptional climactic conditions or, equally rarely, in places such as Ercolano and Pompeii. Pompeii was destroyed by an eruption from Vesuvius in AD 79, the city was preserved in volcanic ash.

The preservation of wooden parts, such as in the solarium recently discovered however, is unique for Rome. The wood is only preserved over such a long period in exceptional circumstances, albeit carbonized.

Frescoes and plaster fragments were also recovered at the site. Besides pieces of furniture, sculptures and windows, the skeleton of a dog was also found on the doorstep of the house, carbonized on impact during the fire.

Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology is set to undertake a study to determine whether seismic activity could have been the cause of the fire.

One hypothesis suggests the structure was part of the aristocratic homes on the Caelian Hill. Near where it was found, one of the Seven Hills of Rome.