Rome — Free or Fee??

Many of you might have already visited — and fallen in love with — Rome’s culture and charm, or you may be planning to explore this city just as soon as you can.  There is much to admire in Rome, and you can fill numerous days wandering around its ancient buildings, cathedrals, piazzas, boutiques, restaurants, parks, and even its underground catacombs.  Though many of its attractions remain free to the public, you should be aware that some cultural destinations are now charging a fee.  You may want to explore your options and consider purchasing one of several excursion passes sold in the city to grant you access to some of your favorite sites. 

Famous places that continue to be free include the Pantheon, which is the only ancient Roman temple to survive all of the battles that have been fought in Rome over the centuries.  This architectural masterpiece, built of marble and featuring impressive columns, must not be missed.  Also free are the Trevi fountain and the Spanish steps, which have long been meeting places for Italians to converse and share a cone of gelato.  Try throwing a coin (or three) in the Travi fountain over your shoulder and see if your wish comes true!  Also of note (and free) is the “Mouth of Truth”, which has been featured in several movies for its mystical powers to tell if someone is lying or truthful.  Stick your hand in the gaping mouth of this stone carved face, tell it a secret, and see what happens!  Stroll across the Ponte Sant’Angelo bridge, which stretches over the Tiber River and is dotted with beautiful statues of angels designed by Bernini.  You can always stop for a glass of wine or just admire the artists painting the classic Italian buildings at the many piazzas in Rome.  Also, ruins of historic Roman buildings are scattered throughout the city for all eyes to see.  The Column of Marcus Aurelias, the Imperial Fori, and the Vittoriale monument will all give you a lesson in Italian history without charging a dime.  Be sure to bring your camera along as well!

Some sites charge fees to enter, and your money will be well-spent on many of these monuments.  There is much to see in Rome, and don’t get overwhelmed by trying to decide which attractions are worth your money.  You can get a great travel experience by visiting both free and fee-charging attractions.  For instance, the Colisseum is a must-see, and I think it is worth the money as well as braving the potential crowds to walk across the stones of this ancient gladiator ring.  As of March 9, 2008, the Roman Forum is no longer free.  If you purchase a Colisseum-Palatine Hill combination ticket, you may also visit the Forum under that pass, so this may be worth considering.  The ancient Roman Forum is a immense array of ruined temples, parliament buildings, arches, and churches that mark the significant political and social history of this eternal city.  If you do not want to pay to see it up-close, you can get a good view of it from behind the Capitoline Hill museums.  It is especially breath-taking at night, when all of the buildings are lit up by the moon as well as by golden spotlights.

You may find that the least expensive and best deal for getting a full overview of Rome’s sites is with a Roma Pass.  For 23 euros, you can get free admission to the first two museums or archaeological sites that you visit, full access to Rome’s transportation system (metro or busline), reduced tickets and discounts for any further sites or museums visited, as well as for operas, exhibitions, music events, dance events, and much more.  With purchase of this Pass, you will also get an extensive map of Rome that can be very useful for this visit and for future visits.  You can find out more about this great resource at http://www.romapass.it/

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