Rome in high summer can be uncomfortably hot, but the Eternal City can offer a delightful long weekend break in the shorter and cooler days of autumn and winter.
OK, the current economic situation means a lot of belt-tightening for many travellers, but the trip need not cause you to stretch too far.
Flying to Rome has never been easier or cheaper. Like every other commodity, airline ticket prices have started to fall, giving the savvy tourist the option of flying from New York to Rome for about $800 (£440 or 570 €), while the low cost carriers such as RyanAir are practically giving away seats from London Stansted at £50, ($90 or 64 €) round trip.
Nearly all the luxury hotels in Rome offer special packages and, as I last week in relation to Paris, don’t hesitate to negotiate. Free upgrades, free spa use, free meals – these are all possibilities when hotels are feeling the pinch as much as the rest of us.
The Eden, for example, a chic hotel situated close to Rome’s Spanish Steps, has a winter offer that includes an upgrade depending on availability, a welcome gift and free admission to the Picasso exhibition until January 31st 2009.
The Westin Excelsior, another luxury Rome hotel, is offering what it calls its ‘Fall For Rome’ package, with a deluxe double room, American breakfast, free extra bed or cot for a child up to 12 and free access to the pool and Jacuzzi. This is available until the end of the year.
If you’re looking for a stay with something extra, consider Casa Howard, a designer B&B in two locations with individually decorated rooms. It feels less like a hotel, more like the pied-a-terre of a rich friend with a keen eye for style.
Rome is beautiful and historic, but has just earned an unwelcome label – the most dangerous city in Europe for traffic accidents. The London Daily Telegraph’s correspondent, Nick Squires, reports that more than 230 people died in accidents in 2006 in the Italian capital, ‘where motorists thunder down narrow cobbled alleyways, swerve around pedestrians on zebra crossings and disregard road signs.’
Renowned travel writer, Bill Bryson, had much to say on the subject, such as: “You turn any street corner in Rome and it looks like you just missed a parking competition for blind people.” And: “Romans park their cars the way I would park it if I’d just spilled a beaker of hydrochloric acid in my lap.”
So, take extra care on that special winter weekend, but relax and enjoy.
by Andy Moreton