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Get over to the Jewish Quarter and enjoy some fabulous food. Also, you must visit the Spanish Steps (get there early on Sat morning for market day), the Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Spagna, the Roman baths (they're everywhere - just look for them), the Coliseum and the surrounding ruins, and visit a handful of the Piazzas to enjoy a cup of espresso or a beer while taking in the sights. Be forewarned - the espresso is very Italian! It'll straighten your shorts.
Go down the side streets and look for the little restaurants where the locals eat. These are where you'll find the most authentic Italian food. Navigating in Rome is a piece of cake so walk instead of taking a taxi. Most folks don't speak a lick of english over there so hopefully you know some Italian.
When walking around, you might find yourself the center of attention by a gaggle of kids. MIND YOUR POCKETS AND PERSONAL BELONGINGS! The piazzas and tourist areas are frequented by these little professional theives - and they're quick.
I wish I knew Venice but I don't. Rome is a great city and you should have a blast!
As for places to stay there's a little hotel down a side street within a stone's throw of the top of the Spanish Steps. Great place and the staff spoke some english when I was there last. I'll see if I can find the name of it for you.
-Don't consume anything on St. Mark's square. Too expensive, even if it`s one of the world's very best places.
-If you want to visit the St Mark's cathedral (and you should), go there early in the morning, when there are fewer tourists.
-Don't believe anything you read in guides. But there is a Venice architecture guide by Guido Zucconi: "Venice. An architectural guide Venice" (white with the Duke's palace on it) which is quote good and only has few errors. Will give you a better understanding of the epochs
-Get a good map, there is a yellow-orange one from "Studio FMB Bologna" which is the 2nd best map. For newbies orientation can be hard.
-Essentials: Go visit the "Scuola Grande di San Rocco", the Frari church, the "Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista", Skip Palazzo Grassi, go in the Ca' Rezzonico instead. Visit Palazzo Mocenigo museum at San Stae, will give you a better understanding of that building type (the Ca'Rezzonico is not "normal")
-if you are the romantic guy/gal, go for the cimitery and/or ghetto in the evening.
-stay more then four days. If not, you won't at all understand anything.
-don't buy masks ;)
-Get a three-day or weekly ticket for the boats. Use the boat lines 52 (north) and 82 (Giudecca canal) to take trips around the city.
-never ever apply any normative esthetic rules on this city (rotten looking houses, badly smelling empty canals...). Accept everything as it is, or you won't understand anything.
bull--Thanks for the sticky; nice gallery. What exactly is it I shouldn't believe in the travel guides? And why the frequent trips for you?
Accept everything as it is, or you won't understand anything.
Excellent advice for all travelers, and one of the hardest things to do! :)