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  Visiting Rome, the Eternal City (1)  

A little girl is about to throw a coin over her head into the Trevi Fountain. A tradition has it that by so doing one is likely to return to Rome.
Described as The Eternal City and glamorized in the film Three Coins in the Fountain, Rome is without doubt at the top of anyone's list of places to visit.
But if you have an extra few days to spare in Rome then you should head for Naples (more here), which is less than one and a half hours away by train and is the starting point for trips to see the ruins of Pompeii and to the captivating island of Capri.
Rome did not disappoint me but left me perplexed sometimes. For instance in order to consult your emails at a cybercafe you will have to hand over your identity card or passport for recording and one cybercafe even made a photocopy of my document!
Then when I bought my railway ticket from a machine with my Visa card I didn't have to type my secret code number nor did I have to put my signature anywhere. When I pushed my card in, a train ticket just popped out but there was no receipt for my record. I was told that is how it is. Strange.
Upon arrival in Rome the first thing you might want to do is to buy the Roma Pass. At 36 euros (price in May 2014) it is a good bargain as it gives you unlimited travel on different types of public transport for 3 days plus free access to the Coliseum and a second major museum of your choosing as well as five or six other smaller museums. A singular advantage is that at the highly-crowded Coliseum, there is a reserved turnstile for Roma Pass holders to cut the queue and get direct access to the monument. The cost of such a pass for just 2 days is 28 euros.
Unlike many other cities you cannot board a bus in Rome unless you already have a ticket (which you can buy at the tobacconist's). Boarding a bus without validating your ticket could result in your having to pay a stiff fine. So make a stop at the tobacconist's first if you intend to take the bus. This is where the above-mentioned Roma Pass comes in particularly handy.
There is a little-known beach in Santa Marinella that is extremely popular with the local population. It is just an hour's train ride from Rome. The water is clean and clear but the downside is that there is little sand for walking since the whole beach is covered with parasols and mattresses (see picture below).

Note: Click on any photo below to reproduce its original size and press the F11 button on your keyboard to fill the whole screen (press F11 again to go back to where you were). All the photos here are not to be reproduced without prior permission.  © pgoh13

Roma Termini, the central railway station at Rome, is huge. Of the many streets outside the station the one that is the most interesting (filled with restaurants, grocery and souvenir shops and cybercafes) is Via Gioberti (it's on the side of the Moka Restaurant in the station).

An interminable queue of over 150 metres long and stretching over two streets (from here to the corner street called Via di Porta Angelica where the post office is) to enter the Vatican Museum. Try to be there before 8h30 to avoid the queue. The metro station to get off is called Ottaviano.

Undoubtedly the top sightseeing spot in Rome is the Coliseum (Colosseum). The queues are often endless and if you have a Roma Pass, show it and you will be ushered to a shorter queue. After this you could visit the nearby Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill), passing some fora on the way.

 Click here for Visiting Rome (Part 2).
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