Rome is a fantastic place! The entire downtown area is like a huge museum. Wherever you look, wherever you go there are historic buildings, fountains, statues, monuments, palaces… And history is so alive in Rome. Makes you feel privileged to visit this great city and see what has been one of the most important cities in our western history.
Streets are narrow and winding. The building plan is somewhat confusing; so many streets, and many of them change their name along the road. Even with a good map it can be quite hard to find the way.
There are tourists everywhere! The most renown sights are crowded, long lines of people waiting for admittance. And the typical tourist “traps” lots of street salesmen offering souvenirs of all sorts. We had an exciting experience at one occasion; someone shouted out the single word “Polizia” (=Police) and all street salesmen and their goods disappeared within seconds. Absolutely incredible, it happened so quickly one could almost believe they turned invisible.
A good start is to take a bus tour and get familiar with the general plan of the City. There are several tour operators that run guided tours from Stazione Termini. Buses are open-roof so bring a hat to protect from the sun! There are also bus tours that run to the outskirts of Rome, e.g. to catacombs, aqueducts and along the Via Appia which is the ancient road on which the Imperial Roman army returned in triumph after successful campaigns! Parts of Via Appia are preserved, i.e. you ride on 2000 year old pavement!!!
Walking is a very good way to see Rome, but be prepared for distances and heat. It is very easy to find nice outdoor places to sit and have a rest and get something to drink along the road. Be careful if you have a limited expense account, at some places they will charge you 5 euro for a small bottle of water or 7 euro for a small beer! Also note that there are public drinking fountains everywhere in Rome. The water is said to be of good drinking quality. Buy a bottle of mineral water when you leave the hotel in the morning and refill it from the drinking fountains as you move through Rome.
Taxi services are relatively inexpensive and easy to catch. There is also a large number of city buses that run frequently more or less everywhere. The subway is good but there are only two lines crossing each other at Stazione Termini. So far it has been impossible to expand the subway system; wherever they want to dig a new tunnel they run into some archeological finding.
Anyway, Rome is a beautiful city with a friendly atmosphere, lots of historic sights, good restaurants and a lovely climate so it is well worth a visit!