Home Away from Home
We visit Italy a lot. We have been fortunate enough to have obtained frequent flyer tickets several times now. Each time we go, I throw a coin in Trevi Fountain so that we can return again some day. When we first flew to Italy for free, we discovered we could fly to Egypt for less than $200 at the time. It has now become a habit that we fly to a further destination from Italy each time we go now. Never have we seen prices like that again, but when going as far as Oman, it is nice to be that much closer and comming from a more comparable time zone.
What to Do
We might be a bit unusual for visitors, but we have taken the early train from Rome to Florence. It has one stop along the way, and then I think it continues on to Venice. It is not expensive if you go to the ticket office at the Termini (main train station) in Rome.
We have also taken the train out to Ostia Antica for a day trip as well as Frascati to visit a friend, but have also rented a car from the Fiumicino Airport and driven south to Ostia Antica, Herculaneum, Vesuvius, and Pompeii. Bus tours are something we have tried twice. We took a trip to Capri for the day. It made the day easier when someone else figures out how to get us to the seaport, on to the ferry, to the island, into the Blue Grotto, and then to the top to sightsee or shop. We have also taken a tour bus to Tivoli for my birthday because I did not want to worry about a thing that afternoon and decided it was someone else's turn to take the wheel.
Where to Stay
We find it easier to rent an apartment when we go to Rome. We use Under the Roman Sun each time we go. We have had the cutest little studio with an amazing view one time, and an apartment with a private terrace inside a quiet courtyard another time. Both were on Via Babuino, which we like for convenience and safety. We have two subway stations, one on each side, and a cab stand at the Piazza del Popolo. We go to the local grocery market or to Campo Fiori to purchase what we need for food for the week, and stuff it in the tourist tote bag I bought once in Florence to carry back all of the items we had purchased on our day trip to that city. For some reason, Bertolli has a mushroom cream sauce in Italy that they do not have here. I am addicted to it. (Yes, I wrote to them about this).
We have stayed in hotels a few times. When in Rome, we always try to return to the Hotel Richmond. The people remember us, and we get one of those fancy decorative rooms with the high ceilings and a view of ruins. it is also a short walk to the Colosseum as well as the subway stop for the Colosseum.
Useful iPhone Apps
For iPhone applications, while in Rome, we used Rome Metro from http://www.invasivecode.com. At the time, it helped us put the route together, but it did not tell us which direction to get on once we got to each station, which would have been nice, but we did not suffer without this desired feature. This got us to Ostia Antica as well as many other parts of Rome.