The center of Rome is really not that big:  you can cross it on foot.  And that’s exactly how we suggest you spend a few hours in the Eternal City!  Stray from the main avenues and take the side streets; leave behind the traffic and stroll the intricate web of streets and alleys in the loop of the Tiber.  It is here in these streets that you’ll find local artisans and small boutiques selling unusual products.  Furniture restorers, frame gilders, mosaic artists and, of course, restaurants where Romans enjoy lunches and bars where they indulge in pastries or a chat among friends, often overlooking a beautiful piazza.

From the first tip comes my second:  wear comfortable shoes!!  The cobblestones are charming, but they do not work well with high heels or fancy loafers.

Rest  your feet and your heart.  Still regarding long walks… a rightful tip I give everyone:  visit the churches!  You can go in and sit down without having to feel obligated to spend money on food or beverage consumption.  You can relax a bit  and enjoy the beauty, because the churches in the center of Rome are, without exception, all beautiful and full of extraordinary treasures.  Also, the silence you will find in a Church will bring relief to your ears (an escape from the noisy traffic of Rome should never be underestimated!!).  Lastly, whether or not you are believers, the beauty of our churches provides serenity to the heart:  you’ll find colorful frescoes everywhere, shining mosaics, the spectacle of gold, marble angels, the scent of incense and wax, sometimes even the chant of monks, the litany of vespers or sacred music, someone praying (do not disturb them!)… and it always will be a pleasant experience.

The water in Rome is good to drink.  It’s the same water you’ll find in your hotel, the same that we Romans have in our homes, and it’s the same that you’ll find in the public water fountains.  It comes from a modern aqueduct which is constantly monitored.  So don’t spend a fortune buying bottled water and, especially, don’t waste plastic:  buy one bottle and keep filling it up at the various public fountains… there are plenty of them!  The water runs continually and is always very fresh.

If there were as many public bathrooms as there are public water fountains, we’d be (almost) a perfect city!!  But there aren’t!!  Sorry!!  This is our weak point!!  However, you can go into any bar and ask to use their bathrooms.  Normally they are hospitable (especially those far from the tourist crowds), but if you order a coffee, they’ll even be nicer!

The situation with taxis has changed a lot in the past few years. Now there are many more and even during congested hours you can still find one.  It can happen, however, that a demonstration, a strike or a particularly rainy day can cause long waiting times, even when calling from your hotel.  But generally speaking, service is good in the center of Rome.  Also, I strongly suggest you use legal taxis, which are white, and pay only what is shown on the taximeter.  The rules, the fare (that change according to times and distance), including eventual supplements, are displayed on the back of the driver’s seat.  Be aware that a base charge is applied at departure, but if you call from a telephone, the charge begins from the moment the taxi driver accepts the course.  So if you have a taxi stand nearby, it’s best you walk there, to avoid paying extra.  Always ask where there’s a taxi stand nearby.  Go to TAXI STOP ROMA map for the historic center.

The Bus – Metro system in Rome’s center works fairly well, but I wouldn’t give it a vote of excellence.  I would suggest you take the bus and subway if you have time and you like the idea of doing as the Romans do, but… during high commuting hours, evenings, late night and holidays… a taxi will be much better!

Still concerning public transportation:  there are some lines that are heavily frequented by pickpockets.  Tips for when you’re on public transportation:  1) take your wallet out of your back pocket, 2) keep your bag in front of you, perfectly visible and inaccessible to hands other than your own.  Rome is a big city and, like all big cities, it is the center of attraction for a varied world of nice people… but also some not as nice.
Be aware of pickpockets even in tourists sites that are full of people!

To conclude this discussion on SAFETY, we can certainly say that Rome is a safe city. Obviously we have some bad episodes here too, but notwithstanding these, Rome is considered among the safest cities in the world.  Let’s say the worst thing that could happen is getting your wallet stolen (although not a nice experience!), but you can easily avoid this if you are careful.  Well, these suggestions are necessary, but you’ll soon see that Rome is not crawling with thieves as it was once said!