Travel tips by lee625


             TRAVEL TIPS

  -   If you are hunting for a great airfare deal for Rome and your internet searches are
      proving unproductive, stop in at STA Travel on University Avenue (across from the
      University Bookstore; also, you can head to for the same deals).
      Student airfares are available from travel agents such as STA which can save you some
      money, particularly if you are interested in traveling immediately before or after the
      program, and you can also have more freedom with changing your plane ticket (if you
      decide to stay longer, for example) but you need to look at the terms of your flight –
      some, depending on the airline, have just one fee, others have a fee and the change in
      the price of the ticket, others cannot be changed at all. Also available at STA Travel is
      the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), a valuable purchase as it can get you
      some good discounts at museums internationally . . . and in Seattle too! (make sure to
      bring a UW student ID to apply for your ISIC). Some places in Italy don't take the ISIC,
      but in places like the UK and Germany you can get into operas or plays at student
      prices (10-15 British pounds instead of 60, which is a HUGE difference, and you can see
      the big London shows!) The card costs $26, so it really is a deal.

  -   When you are booking your flights, it might be important to consider which airlines
      with which you will fly, because some have stricter carry-on policies than others. For
      example, if you fly British Air, flight restrictions in the UK make it so that if you
      change planes in the UK, you can only have ONE carry on item, rather than two.
       Making connections in Paris, however, can be more hectic in my experience, but you
      get two pieces of carry on (you will likely have to change terminals at either airport.)
       There are many cities where you can have your layover--Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, and
    London are some of the bigger hubs. Direct flights from the East coast (New York,
    Boston, Atlanta) are available, but they are usually more expensive.

-   Italy is served by two major international airports: Rome's "Leonardo da Vinci Airport",
    also called "Fiumicino" (abbreviated "FCO") as it is located in the town of Fiumicino. If
    you are arriving from another European destination, you may arrive at Rome's other
    airport, Ciampino. Ciampino is used by some smaller airlines, such as RyanAir and

-   If you are wondering how much to pack, pack light! Remember that anything you
    bring, you lug through the airport, through customs (and most likely over cobblestone
    streets when you arrive in Rome). Bring only the essentials.

-   When you pack your belongings, please keep in mind that airlines occasionally lose
    luggage for a few days. Come prepared for 3 days without your bags, bringing
    essential belongings in your carry-on to avoid any problems (e.g., prescription
    medications, jewelry, etc.).

-   If you are bringing any prescription medications, make sure to carry with you a
    photocopy of your prescription with you. This is helpful in case you are stopped at
    customs for any reason, as well as if you need to replace any prescription while in

-   Before you depart the United States, it is advisable to convert a portion of US currency
    into Euros for use once upon the ground in Europe. There are ATMs ("Bancomats") in
    airports, train stations, banks, and many other places, and most U.S. debit cards work
    in the majority of the ATMs in Italy, but sometimes carrying a bit of the currency can
    help if you’ve had a long flight and need to pay for your shuttle to the Rome Center
    before a bancomat is made available to you.

-   When you arrive in Rome, you will need to choose your mode of transport from the
    airport to the Rome Center. One option is to take the train from the airport (FCO) to
    Rome, which leaves about every half hour. One of these is an express train to Rome's
    major train station, "Termini". The other is an inexpensive local train which stops at
    Travestevere. Travestevere is much nearer to the U.W. Rome Center than Termini.
    For more information on getting from the Fiumicino airport to the UW Rome Center,
    visit the UW Rome Center website at

-   the UW Rome Center is your first destination in Italy unless you overnight in a hotel. It
    is located on the Campo dei Fiori ("field of flowers") near the Tiber River ("Fiume
    Tevere") in one of the best locations for exploring and enjoying the major sites inside
    the old city walls and the Vatican. It's a short walk to the lovely Piazza Navona and the
    Pantheon. If you need to overnight in Rome, there are several hotels near the Palazzo
    Pio (e.g., the Albergo del Sole and the Albergo Lunetta) that have some relatively
    inexpensive hotel rates and, if you are feeling a bit more explorative, other
    inexpensive options are relatively close.

-   The UW Rome Center is located on the third floor of the Palazzo Pio -- in Piazza del
    Biscione 95, 00186 Roma -- at the east end of the Campo dei Fiori. Office hours are
    Monday through Friday, 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (8.30 to 17.00). So, on the first day of
     our program (Monday, March 30th), you can report to the Rome Center any time after
     8:30 to collect your keys.

 -   When you collect your keys, some one will give you a map with clearly outlined
     directions to your apartment. Hold on to this map because it will be helpful as you
     get your bearings for the first few days, and the reverse side of this map typically lists
     important emergency numbers (police, fire, closest hospital, etc.). To be safe, it
     would be good to post at least one of these in your apartment for reference.

 -   You may leave luggage at the Rome Center before and after your program dates. If
     you get to Rome early, you can drop off your luggage there and then travel lighter
     until the check-in date at the start of the program and there shouldn't be a problem.
      When we check out of the apartments, we are welcome to leave any luggage there
     (this is handy as we will likely check out of our apartments and then travel at the end
     of the program, so it is nice not to have to bring everything along, particularly if you
     have a return US flight out of Rome.) They can store the luggage while you travel
     after the program, even if it is for several weeks, but you need to plan for the pickup
     as you will not have the building keys after the program and the center is only
     open on weekdays during business hours, so keep that in mind if you want to come
     back to Rome on a Saturday and fly out on a Sunday, for example.

When in Rome:
 -   When it comes time to withdraw money in Rome, make sure to seek out an ATM rather
     than a money exchange location. Again, most US bank ATM cards work in Italian
     bancomats (e.g., Bank of America, Chase; this is something to check with your
     individual banks) and though ATM fees are higher than in the U.S. (a fee you should
     check with your bank prior to departure because they vary drastically!), they are a far
     better way to get cash than the money exchange booths. To save yourself from
     excessive fees, it is best to track your spending once you arrive and determine how
     few times you can withdraw funds without withdrawing painfully large sums (you do
     not want to carry around tons of Euro!).

 -   The Rome Center has 11 computers in their lab, to be shared by an average of 60
     students, plus a wireless service. There is a large demand for desktops, and though
     academic work should take priority over personal mail, the computer lab tends to be a
     noisy, distracting location. With this in mind, it is best to bring your laptop if you have
     access to one, as the entire Rome Center had access to wireless internet, giving you
     greater opportunity to find quiet workspace.

 -   It is important to also consider cell phone access while in Rome. Having a cell phone is
     required. It’s helpful not only when communicating with friends and family but also
     particularly when navigating crowded landmarks or traveling large distances, when
     people can get distracted and separated from the group. When seeking out a cell
     phone, you have two options. First, if you have an internationally compatible cell
     phone serviced by AT&T or T-Mobile, you can go to a TIM Store in Rome and buy a TIM
     card to put in your phone for about 5 Euros. Once this is put into your phone, you will
     then have an Italian cell phone number, and thus can use this for local and
     international calls at better rates and reception, buying additional minutes as needed.
      Second, if you would prefer to rent a phone, there are many options for rental plans
      available to you on arrival. Remember, however, cell phones can be a little expensive
      if not used judiciously (unlike the U.S., local phone calls are charged by the minute
      throughout Europe, about 30 cents per minute to mobile phones), so for long phone
      conversations with loved ones back in the US, you might want to explore a Skype

  -   If you rely on a hairdryer, don’t pack one: Electricity is 220V (not 110V) and 50-cycle
      (not 60 cycle), so US hair dryers will tend to short out Italian sockets. With this in
      mind, it is best to leave your appliances at home and invest in a cheap version in
      Italy, or ensure you have purchased a converter adaptor to prevent damage.

  -   Even if your appliance or laptop runs on 220V, U.S. plugs will not fit into Italian
      sockets. You need a small adapter designed particularly for southern Europe ($3 in the

Traveling around and beyond Rome:
  -   The website for the train system is and is available in English.
       You can use it to look up trains when traveling in Italy or if you are going from Rome
      to Paris, for example, and they will give you the standard fares. For traveling to
      locations outside of Italy, you can also see the sections on the Eurail pass and flights,
      which may be cheaper options.

  -   Trains are the best way to get around Italy. There are 3 types of trains--the Eurostar,
      which is the fastest and most expensive, the Intercity (longer travel times but less
      expensive) and the Regionale (it is slow since it stops at every stop but is very cheap.)
       I did notice that there were significantly fewer Intercity trains last year than there
      had been in the past, so you may be looking mostly at a choice between the Eurostar
      and the Regionale. The Eurostar will only stop in major cities (Naples, Rome, Venice,
      Florence, Bologna, Milan, Turin, etc.) but is very comfortable and guarantees you a
      seat. On the Intercity you have the option of reserving a seat or not, and you cannot
      reserve seats on the Regionale, so if the train is crowded you may be standing (this is
      rare, but a possibility.) They are also a bit less cleanly (think city bus or subway) and
      do not necessarily have bathrooms on the train. That said, they pretty convenient and
      get you where you need to go, so do not be deterred by any means! You can get a
      good idea of prices and times by plugging in cities and dates. (Rome to Florence on
      the Eurostar, for example, is about 30 euro each way, but 15 euro each way on the
      Regionale, though there are about three extra hours of travel each way on the

  -   If you are planning train travel across Europe, you might want to investigate a Eurail
      pass. While not as cost-effective for travel within Italy, it can help reduce the cost of
      cross-country train travel!

  -   Tickets for other trains (e.g., intercity, diretto, rapido in order of speed) are sold
      undated. They can be used any time, but if you want a reserved seat then you must
      request it separately. You **must** date-stamp your ticket BEFORE entering the
      train using yellow machines near the tracks. The conductor can issue a large fine if
      you board a train without a dated ticket.

  -   Rome has an extensive system of subways and busses. Buy tickets/tokens for busses at
      tobacco ("tabacchi") shops, train stations, and some newsstands. Tickets for the bus or
      metro cost 1 euro each. They need to be validated on the bus. You may not buy Rome
      bus tickets on the bus. If a fare-inspector finds you traveling on the bus without a
      ticket, you will receive a huge fine -- on the spot.

  -   If traveling across Europe, you might also want to consider a discount airline. Traveling
      by plane can be cheaper than train when you go outside of the country. Ryanair and
      Easyjet are two low-cost airlines and both fly out of Italy from a number of locations.
       They do use smaller airports, however, so instead of flying from Florence to
      Barcelona, for example, you fly from Pisa to Girona. Trains and/or busses are
      provided to get you from the airports to the main cities, but flights are often VERY
      early in the morning or late at night, so be aware of how early or late these run.

  -   In terms of personal safety in Rome, it is important to use common sense about where
      you go and what you do. There is no need to be scared - violent crime is rare, with the
      most common problem being robberies and pick-pocketing especially in train stations,
      near crowded public sites, on busses used by tourists (number 64 is infamous) and on
      large streets. Pickpockets are pros, and many work with accomplices to distract you.
      People who look like tourists are magnets. (This applies to many other large cities in
      Italy and elsewhere!) With this in mind, conduct yourself in a smart manner: carry only
      the essentials and enough cash for the day (passports, credit cards, etc. should be
      stored in a safe place - preferably secured in your apartment!); be mindful of your
      backpacks/bags, in particular the position of zippers, which can be opened, and
      exposed straps, which can be cut. Always be aware of your surroundings, and, if
      possible, always travel in groups, particularly if you are out after dark.

  -   In case you should lose your passport or essentials, it is a good idea to keep a copy of
      your passport, or any other ID cards you carry, along with a record of your credit card
      numbers (including customer service numbers) in a secure location in your apartment.
      That way, if something should get lost, you can act quickly to replace your documents
      and reduce the stress that such a loss can toll.

In GENERAL . . .

  -   Italians are generally cheerful and helpful, though they aren't always fast to show it in
      tourist-inundated areas. A key to getting help in many situations is showing that you
      are trying to communicate in the local language - the gesture of trying to
      communicate verbally is deeply appreciated. Even a warm “ciao” followed by English
      can garner the assistance of an Italian. And, most Italians are helpful, not critical,
      when you try new Italian phrases, so feel free to try your italiano!

  -   Italians dress fashionably. Dress is informal but never sloppy, so leave your sweats and
      flip flops at home (or, at least in your Roman apartment!). That being said, make sure
      that you pack for comfort, with shoes that can withstand hours on cobblestones and a
      wardrobe that accommodates chilly, rainy April days and hot, steamy late May-early
      June days. Layering is always a great option (remember, you always must keep your
      shoulders covered when entering a church!), and if you want to invest in shoes that
      would last, I would recommend Dansko clogs (indestructible) for the early part of the
      trip and then Birkenstock sandals for the warmer weather (a little classier than flip
      flops and always comfortable!).

  -   When packing, try to bring as little as possible. A lot of shampoos, soaps, film, etc.
      can be found in our Roman neighborhood, so unless you are in need of a particular
      product, save yourself some suitcase room for souvenirs and your course readers and
      “buy local.”

  -   Traditional business hours are mornings and evenings with a 3-hour midday break from
      1 to 4 PM. Most stores close Saturday afternoon and Sunday except where there are
      tourists, so keep this in mind if you are in need of any particulars.

  -   Health concerns can arise unexpectedly at any time, and while we all hope that we
      will all stay healthy during our time in Rome, it is important to know if you have
      appropriate insurance coverage while you are abroad. Check your home policy - you
      may be covered abroad. Note that various types of medical insurance coverage are
      available through UW, including emergency flights to the U.S. for care (Note - Italian
      medical facilities are excellent.) You will still want to make sure that you have health
      insurance coverage during the period that you spend abroad. It is strongly
      recommended to purchase the UW Study Abroad insurance –

  -   In case of illness in Rome, the Rome Center can help with unexpected medical
      problems. They are familiar with who best to contact in case of illness, so feel
      comfortable asking them for help. Your program directors and TA can also serve as a
      primary point of contact if you ever need medical assistance.

  -   For general medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, allergy control medicines, etc.
      these are MUCH cheaper in the U.S., so it is probably best to pack a modest supply of
      what you will need. Again, if you are carrying any prescription medications, make sure
      to carry a copy of your prescription in case any one at customs asks.


  Maps: Streetwise Rome or Artwise Rome are great detailed maps of the city. They are
  laminated and easy to pull out and fold back up again. Artwise Rome is particularly useful
  for our purposes, but Streetwise Rome gives you the option to look up any street if you
  are referencing an address. Both versions can be purchased at the U Bookstore.

  If you are getting excited about Rome and want to immerse yourself a little early, here
  are some past suggested films and books that make for a great Italian-themed evening!

  Films (all are available with at least subtitles, if not dubbing, in English):
  - Cinema Paradiso
  - La Finestra Di Fronte
  - La Meglio Gioventu (The Best of Youth--this may be a bit harder to find in English and
    is 6 hours long, but is a great movie and will help fill you in on Italian history--by
    following two brothers--from the '60's to 2003 or so.)
-   Johnny Stecchino (funny!!!)
-   La Vita E Bella (Life Is Beautiful)
-   Luna e l'altra (funny and cute)
-   La Dolce Vita
-   L'Ultimo Baccio (The Last Kiss--there was an American version made recently, so be
    aware of which one you pick up.)
-   Mediterraneo
-   Pane e Tulipane (Bread and Tulips--one of my favorites!)
-   La Ciociara (A slightly darker film, but a good film--with Sophia Loren)
-   8 1/2 (Really, anything by Fellini)
-   Giorni e Nuvole

Books (in English):
- Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as a Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and
   Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany, by Bill Buford (This book is
   hilarious and gives you a good idea about the Italian lifestyle!)
- The Decameron, by Giovanni Bocaccio
- An entertaining and somewhat racy classic, literally!
- La Commedia, By Dante
- Enough said?
- Il giardino dei Finzi Contini (The Garden of the Finzi Conitni), by Giorgio Bassani (A
   classic--set around WWII, and also a movie!!!)
- A Room With A View, by E.M. Forster (also a classic, but by an english author)
- Under the Tuscan Sun, By Frances Mayes (also a fun movie, but the book gives all the
- The Memoirs of Hadrian, by Marguerite Yourcenar (Available in the Rome Center
- Magnificent Corpses: Searching Through Europe for St. Peter's Head, St. Claire's
   Heart, St. Stephen's Hand, and Other Saints' Relics, by Anneli Rufus (a cheesy but fun
   read about the prevalence and reverence for relics! Available in the Rome Center
   Library too!)

    Authors (all works not necessarily, but probably, available in English):
    - Italo Calvino
    - Natalia Ginzburg
    - Alessandro Manzoni (I Promessi             - Anna Maria Ortese
       Sposi!)                                   - Luigi Pirandello (Sei Personaggi
    - Giacomo Leopardi                               in Cerca d'Autore is great!)
    - Giovanni Verga (La Lupa, in                - Umberto Eco

Written and Updated by: Alexis Ertzner, Alexis Culotta, Lauren Easterling

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