Rome Hotels Articles

July 13, 2010

Rome Through the Eyes of an Expert

As a Rome airport shuttle driver, passengers often seek my advice on what the best places are to visit in the city. Because I have lived here for the past 14 years, I feel I have a good handle on which sights will delight and which will disappoint. It’s always gratifying to collect the same people on the return leg of their Rome airport transfer, and see if my recommendations were what they were looking for.

So far, these seem to be the top picks from my Rome airport transfer passengers:

The Vatican

You can’t be a Rome airport shuttle driver without hearing about the Vatican. The general consensus is that you must visit whether you’re Catholic or not – but be prepared to queue. You’ll want to bring your own water and be prepared to wait for a long while. Once inside, the Vatican museums will overwhelm with the sheer quantity of amazing artefacts and art works, and the whole place has an atmosphere unique unto itself. Most of my passengers seem to have coped fine without a tour guide, and there’s so much to see that they like being able to wander around at their own pace.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon is another highlight which gets almost universal praise from my passengers – possibly in no small part to the fact that it’s free! It’s stunningly preserved and regarded as one of the best places to go on the rare occasion that the skies open and it begins raining, because of the breathtaking sight of the water pouring in through the oculus. Once again, and probably more so thanks to the attractive price – it is prone to getting extremely crowded, though.

Trevi Fountain

Possibly the most photographed fountain in the world, I have been able to pick up quite a few tips from the passengers in my Rome airport shuttles. As per usual, it gets extremely crowded at certain hours. In fact, it’s best to visit between 6:30 and 9:30 in the morning or very late at night. Although this is far from convenient, you won’t have to deal with the crowds, and you can be sure that the experience won’t be a let down (some have struggled to see the beauty of it through the crowds when visiting at peak hours.) If you do insist on visiting at peak times, you should avoid the local restaurants which are both overpriced and disappointing – they seem to know that most people will visit only once, and subsequently feel there is no need to rely on repeat custom.

The Colusseum

There’s no more iconic image in the whole of Rome than that of The Colusseum, and my passengers are universal in their praise for this amazing structure. Key things to note are that it is far more impressive in person than pictures can ever indicate, and that it is one of those attractions that really benefits from a guided tour – and not just because those taking the tour can beat the queues!

Borghese Gallery

The Galleria Borghese is one of the underrated gems of Rome, and one which my passengers keep offering rave reviews of. Within its walls are some of the finest sculptures you are likely to see, but make sure you book in advance as it can get a little crowded. Also make sure you take the tour or get an audioguide as only the title and not the history of each piece is provided.

Capitoline Museum

The Museo Capitolino is another must-see for art lovers, containing works from the Renaissance and Baroque periods from artists such as Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Caravaggio. The labels are in English, so feel free to skip on the audioguides here – but watch out for the overzealous attendants who will not be afraid of shouting at you if you get too close to the sculptures!

Jewish Ghetto

When Pope Paul restricted the Jews to a small area of the city back in 1555, this ghetto was born. As it contains an incredible amount of history, taking a tour or stroll around this area is an absolute must, and many of my Rome airport shuttle customers have commented that it’s the highlight of their trip!

Sure, you can trust the guidebooks or the tour operators, but if you want the real truth on the city, I’d argue you can do far worse than asking the Rome airport shuttle driver!

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