The eternal city of Rome, constructed of ruins and in whose namethe Caesars sought to claim the world, opens for the visitor as aliving museum. The centuries peel back with each new vista in thisgreat city of gladiators, lunatic drivers and well-rounded pastaposteriors. Vespas, nippy little Fiats and red sports cars speedpast trendy sidewalk bistros and nightclubs, revealing the Rome ofFellini's La Dolce Vita. The chillingly stark facades ofthe Stadio Olimpico complex bring back Mussolini's attempts toreinvent the architecture of the Caesars.
For a taste of the Baroque, visitors need only climb the famousSpanish Steps, walk through the Piazza Navona or toss a coin intothe beautiful Trevi Fountain. Renaissance splendour is perhaps bestrevealed in the Pope's residence, the Vatican Palace, or inMichelangelo's efforts on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. Fromearly Christian Basilicas to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and thePantheon, the sequence of history trails back to the height of theRoman Empire.
It may sound like a city of contrasts, but Rome's timeless magiclies in its ability to blend the old with the new. Empires haverisen and fallen, old gods have been replaced with new ones, butRome remains.
Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in September). Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. A variety of plugs are in use including the European-style two-pin plug. Money: The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, which is divided into100 cents. Those arriving in Italy with foreign currency can obtainEuros through any bank, ATM or bureaux de change. ATMs arewidespread. Travellers cheques can be exchanged with ease in thelarge cities, not so in the smaller towns. Credit cards areaccepted in upmarket establishments and shops around the cities.Banks are closed on weekends, but tend to have better rates thancasas de cambios.
Language: Italian. English is understood in the larger cities but not in the more remote parts of the country. Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens must have a valid passport. A visa is notrequired for stays of up to 90 days. Entry requirements for UK nationals: British passport holders, irrespective of endorsement regardingnational status, do not need a visa to visit Italy for up to 90days. Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians must have a valid passport. No visa is required forstays of up to 90 days. Entry requirements for Australians: Australians must have a valid passport. No visas are requiredfor stays of up to 90 days. Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans need a valid passport and a Schengen visa totravel to Italy. Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a passport. No visa is required for astay of up to 90 days. Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: New Zealand citizens must have a valid passport. No visa isrequired for stays of up to 90 days. Passport/Visa Note: The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes thefollowing countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France,Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands,Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue astandard Schengen visa that allows the holder, in principal, totravel freely within the borders of all. Travellers are advised tohave a return or onward ticket plus all documents required fortheir next destination, and sufficient funds to cover period ofintended stay in Italy. Embassy or Consulate in US: Italian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 6124400. Embassy or Consulate in UK: Italian Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 73122200. Embassy or Consulate in Canada: Italian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 232 2401. Embassy or Consulate in Australia: Italian Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6273 3333. Embassy or Consulate in South Africa: Italian Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 423 0000. US Embassy or Consulate: United States Embassy, Rome: +39 06 46741. UK Embassy or Consulate: British Embassy, Rome: +39 06 4220 0001. Canadian Embassy or Consulate: Canadian Embassy, Rome: +39 06 85444 1. Australian Embassy or Consulate: Australian Embassy, Rome: +39 06 852 721. South African Embassy or Consulate: South African Embassy, Rome: +39 06 852 541. Health: There are no specific health risks associated with travel toItaly. EU citizens can make use of Italy's health services providedthey have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Cases of the N1bird flu were found in swans in southern Italy and Sicily, butthere is a low risk of human infection; as a precaution all closecontact with wild, caged and domestic birds should be avoided, andpoultry and egg dishes should be cooked thoroughly. Tipping: Tipping is customary in Italy and 10% of the bill is acceptablein restaurants (unless a service charge has already been included).Hotels add a service charge of 15-18%, but it is customary to tipthe service staff extra. Italians rarely tip taxi drivers, but5-10% is usual. Most other services expect some small change. Safety: The Italian Government has warned that the risk of aninternational terrorist attack in the country has increased, andtourists should be vigilant in public places and tourist sites.Domestic terrorism continues, but targets are usually Italianauthorities, however there is a possibility of being caught up inattacks. Tourists are vulnerable to pick-pocketing and muggings inthe bigger cities, particularly on public transport, in crowdedareas and around tourist sites, and should exercise caution whencarrying large amounts of cash and valuables. Be particularlycareful on bus 64 to St Peter's Square and around the main trainstation, Termini. Visitors should be wary of groups of children,some of whom will distract attention while the others try to stealwhat they can. Strikes by transport workers take place regularlythroughout Italy and delays are possible. Since February 2007 therehas been an increase in volcanic activity on Stromboli and part ofthe island has been evacuated. Customs: It is an offence to sit on steps and in courtyards near publicbuildings, including the main churches, in Florence; eating anddrinking in the vicinity should also be avoided. Shorts, vests orany other immodest clothing should not be worn inside churches. Business: Italians can be very formal and old fashioned, but are also warmand welcoming. Face to face communication is best, and often athird party introduction can speed initial negotiations. Businessattire is formal and usually stylish, and handshakes are the norm.Expect plenty of gesticulating and interruptions, or people talkingover each other. Business cards are used. Unfortunately thebureaucracy in Italy can slow down deal-making. Business hours areusually 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, but can vary according toseason and region. Communications: The international access code for Italy is +39. The outgoingcode is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for theUnited Kingdom). All numbers must be preceded by 0, whetheroriginating in Italy or out, unless calling a mobile phone.City/area codes are in use, e.g. 02 for Milan and 06 for Rome.There can be high surcharges on calls made from hotels and it isgenerally cheaper to use a calling card. Public telephone boxestake phone cards for local and international calls, which can bebought from newsagents. The local mobile phone operators use GSMnetworks and have roaming agreements with most internationaloperators. Internet cafes are available in the main towns andresorts. Duty free: Travellers over 17 years from non-EU countries do not have topay duty on 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or250g tobacco; 1 litre spirits with alcohol content higher than 22%,or 2 litres dessert wine not exceeding 22% alcohol content andsparkling wine, and 2 litres of table wine; perfume up to 50g or250ml eau de toilette, and other goods for personal consumption tothe value of 175 per adult or 90 for children under15 years. Prohibited items include narcotic drugs, medicinalproducts, arms and weapons, explosives and protected animal andplant species.
Message Edited by LL_Editor on 05-30-2007 04:34 PM
A couple of years ago, we auctioned a package called "Roman Holiday which put us into the delightful Hotel Raphael .With its dramatic ivy-covered faade and quiet luxury, the Hotel Raphael in Rome is a sanctuary in the midst of the Eternal City. The lobby boasts a collection of Picasso ceramics, while rare objets d'art make the Grand Hall a pleasing retreat. Enjoy fabulous guest rooms and suitessome with private terracesthat feel as if they belong in a palazzo, and deluxe apartments that owe their beauty to Florentine masters of decorative arts. Our room was small but quite comfortable. The service was outstanding helping us with tickets to the Galleria Borghese at short notice, and dinner at the Rooftop Restaurant was a pure delight. The view at sunset was out of this world, truly unforgettable.
We had a wonderful time just strolling around Plaza Navona, walking into churches we passed, to the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain; strolling through the Forum and seeing the Colosseum and its dressed up gladiators; visiting the The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel; and the Tabularium of the Capitoline Museums. We enjoyed the phenomenal art at the Galleria Borghese; the privately owned Galleria Doria Pamphilj which was fascinating; and the unique paintings in Palazzo Barberini.
On word of advise though, be careful of your belongs. Do not carry your pocket book and camera over your shoulder. Leave your valuables in your hotel's safe. Carry your camera and pocket book straped over your head and hold them close to you. We witnessed one robbery of a motor cycle driving by, ripping the pocket book and large, expensive Nikon camera of a women's shoulder, throwing her to the ground and diving off. She lost everything, passport, return ticket, money, camera, etc. and of course, there wasn't a policeman in sight. Be very vigilant, something like this could ruin your trip.
My husband and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Italy. We stayed at a variety of hotels including two of which we booked on Luxury Links. Hotel Villa Graziolli in Frascati and Hotel San Montano on the island of Ischia. Both hotels provided good service and a warm atmosphere. We especially enjoyed our stay at San Montano. The junior suite was beautifully appointed and we enjoyed an ocean view as detailed. We would recommend this hotel, however I don't think we would stay there if we had to pay the rack rates..guite pricey. Our room a hotel Graziolli was just so, so but worth our bid, as we had a dinner included. I will continue to look for hotels and bid through Luxury Link. I think it is a great service and much appreciated.
My family and I recently enjoyed our very first trip abroad - as a family. We spent Dec. 19 - 24 in Rome and stayed at the Hotel Villa Graziolli in Frascati. The entire experience was simply enjoyable, memorable and more than worth it. My wife and two boys - ages 10 and 13 - were enthralled by the culture and personalities of the city and region. The Hotel was beyond what we expected, from the staff, the food, the rooms, etc. I'll admit I would not have chosen the place but for the Luxury Link auction package, but I'm glad I did because we would not have gotten the full flavor of Rome, Frascati, etc. if not for the package. This is our third purchase through Luxury Link, from Cabo, to Brazil to Rome - and each time was more than expected. Needless to say, we'll be using the service again.