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If you are watching the euros during your trip to Rome, fear not. We’re on hand with five simple tips to add a sprinkle of free froth to your freshly served Roman holiday.
1. St Peters Basilica
The most famous Catholic church in the world is free to enter. Don’t be deterred by the queue outside in St Peter’s Square, this is for security. Once through, keep left to avoid those waiting to climb the Dome, and prepare to have your breath taken away without having to pay a cent.
2. Drink your coffee standing up
If you wonder why the locals cluster around the bar in every coffee shop when the tables remain empty, it is because often there is an extra charge for sitting down. For example, a trendy coffee shop I visited this morning charges €2 for an espresso and croissant standing at the bar. Sit down and you will pay €5.40—and the waiter will expect your small change.
3. Don’t tip too much
If you have had good service, then it’s normal to leave around €1-2 for the waiter. For coffee, leave around 20 cents (or round up your change). Tipping 10% is unheard of here, and there is no expectation to tip like in the US—especially if the restaurant opts to add a cover charge to your bill. These can be costly (especially if you sit outside), but check the amount before sitting down: It must be stated on the menu.
4. Take public transportation to and from the airport
Airport connection choices from both Fiumicino and Ciampino airports are plentiful and it can be hard to know which option to choose.
Fiuimicino is connected by direct rail to Termini Station. Avoid the €24 round-trip fee for the Leonardo Express by opting for the regional train that leaves from the same platform. It stops at Ostiense and Trastevere before stopping at Tiburtina (connected to Metro line which will take you to Termini) and will cost you around €13 round-trip. Buy tickets at the same kiosk.
Ciampino does not have a direct rail route so you can take the Terravision Bus (around €14 round-trip), but a quicker and cheaper option is to take the shuttle bus to Ciampino station (€1 and around 6 minutes) and then take a train directly into Termini (€1 and 15 minutes). Ignore advice to catch the shuttle bus to Anagnina – it is neither a quick nor a convenient option.
5. Get your water for free
Strolling the cobbled streets is a wonderful and free way to spend an afternoon. Pop your head inside the churches as you pass by and you may just find a Caravaggio or Raphael hanging around. Visit the Pantheon and then sit by the fountain for a bit of people watching. And if you get hot and need a drink? Don’t buy overpriced water when you can put your head (or empty bottle) under one of the many water spouts that can be found all over the city.
So, readers, do you have any other tips for keeping it cheap in Rome? Leave a comment below!