ROME

There is more than just the Vatican Museums!

Many people come to Rome and rush to see the Colosseum, Roman Forum, line up for the Vatican for hours…

You can make your Roman holiday much more enjoyable and stress-free if you book your Vatican City tour and get more of your visit to the Sistine Chapel or you get a guided tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum for an easy-going stroll among the Ancient Rome ruins.

However, as you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day and there is much more to see. Even if you’re staying just few days, you should get a couple of hours and visit one of the hidden gems of Rome.

If you think that it’s hidden and you have to search for it, that’s not true.

For example, if you stroll down from the Vatican toward Trastevere (having the river Tiber on your left hand side) after less than 1 mile you will notice a marvelous palace surrounded by a fabulous garden. That’s where you will discover something that will leave you breathless. That is Villa Farnese.



Villa Farnese, dating from the XV century, was almost completely painted by Raffaello. The Villa was commissioned and owned by a Chigi family (family of merchants and bankers) whose member, Agostino, wanted to leave a legacy of his passion for art and culture.

For about 2 years in a row, Raphael has dedicated his time to the decoration of the Villa. He wasn’t alone working in this huge villa, but most of the frescoes are his own.

Raphael decided to adapt his paintings to every room, in order for every fresco to narrate the story of each room. Hence, there are many hidden messages with which Raffaello wanted to add his personal touch to every story-painting.

 

It is a hidden gem, as you would never think that this building, artistically and historically, has a huge importance for the history of Rome and Italy. Also, imagine to spend a couple of hours in a place where one of the masterminds of Renaissance art has spent more than 2 years creating this unbelievable artistic legacy.

The opening hours of Villa Farnesina are from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm and on the second Sunday of the month from 9 am to 5 pm.

The ticket costs only 6€ adults and 5€ reduced.

After visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel with the Michelangelo’s masterpiece, take some time and pay a visit to this marvelous place. You will also have a discount by showing the Vatican Museums ticket (within 7 days of your Vatican visit).

Put Villa Farnesina on your check list and you won’t regret it!

Have you written a postcard lately?

As a tour-operator we get a feedback from our clients through Tripadvisor, Facebook, email, Whatsapp etc. However, it happens sometimes that we get a postcard from clients who had a nice experience with us and would like to say “thank you” for the service we offered them. It’s a heart-warming moment when we open the envelope and find wonderful words for our guides.

Sending and receiving a postcard today doesn’t happen so often. In the high-tech era we are living in, we are not used to receive this long-distance-traveling thoughts anymore, but when it happens it transmits us a lot of motivation, warmth and kindness.

This time our guide Emanuele got the postcard for the Vatican Tour he did recently and our clients wanted to remember him and the whole City Lights team by writing some warm and kind words. Such a nice surprise for all of us!!!

And what about you? Have you tried to write and send a postcard lately and did you see the reaction of who received it? Lets keep this “old-school” habits alive!!!!

Who was Giordano Bruno?

In 1600 the 17th February was Ash Wednesday and on this day Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake.

He was a Dominican friar, mathematician, poet and philosopher. Born in Nola (near Napoli) and died in Rome in 1600.

During his life, his studies and research were focused on history, philosophy, theology, astronomy and mathematics (to mention just a few) and therefore he was an eclectic scholar with various interests.

With his research he raised many doubts about the some deeply established scientific and religious ideas. While this today could be called the freedom of expression, Giordano Bruno was seen as a heretic and blasphemous person.

The Inquisition accused him of several charges and he was burned in Rome in Campo de’ Fiori hanging upside down while his “tongue was imprisoned because of his wicked words”.

Particularly from the 19th century on he was celebrated as a martyr of science and considered as a pioneer of free thought.

At the end of the 19th century, a statue was erected in his honor, exactly on the spot where he was burned in Campo de’ Fiori in Rome. Now the square hosts one of the most famous city markets. Next time you visit Rome and the market you should raise your eyes to the huge statue watching all of us.

When is the best time to visit the Vatican?

If you’re planning a visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel and you have few days available, here is short “guide” for the best day to organize your Vatican City tour.

Whether you are going to join one of the so-called “Vatican tour skip the line” or you decide to go on your own, it is always useful to know a little bit more about the crowds at the Vatican.

St Peter’s line

The time of the year:

The low season in Rome starts every year at the beginning of November until around 20th December, when the Christmas period starts, and it finishes on the 6th January. The high season every year starts around Easter and finishes at the end of October.

However, during the high season, the crowd flow can vary and it could be helpful to know when you could encounter more or less people accessing the Vatican Museums.

Days:

  • Monday is one of the busiest days for the Vatican Museums as they are closed on Sundays. A lot of people don’t know about the closure day of the Vatican Museums and they leave the Vatican City tour as (the best and) the last on the check-list. Therefore, since early morning you will find people queuing at the entrance. If you have no choice you can join one of our “beat the crowds” solutions like the Early Vatican Tour with privileged access
  • Tuesday can be a quiet day for the Vatican Museums and it can be a good choice for a visit. However, always check the Vatican calendar to see if there is any special ceremonies or Vatican City holidays when they close the Museums.
  • Wednesday is the day of the Pope’s Audience. So if you are not planning to attend the Audience at the St Peters Square, this is the perfect time to visit the Vatican Museums. You should go in the morning and you will probably have a chance to see what is like when the Vatican Museums are almost empty.
  • Thursday is not a particularly busy day for the Vatican except for the days when there is a holiday or some special ceremony in the Vatican.
  • Friday can be considered one of the busiest days for the Vatican City. At any time you go, you will find crowds accessing the Museums. This is also because of the “long-weekend” holiday travelers.
  • Saturday, together with Monday, is the busiest day at the Vatican. On Sundays the Vatican is closed and on Saturdays, at any time during the high season, you will always find a long line at the entrance.

In case you’ve already purchased or you’re planning to arrange a Vatican City tour, please keep in mind that all the guided tours organized by City Lights Tours are skip-the-line-tours. This means that you will skip the line at any time. The above-mentioned list can help you to organize your Vatican City tour better and to choose the day when there are less visitors inside the Museums.

Also in order to avoid the “big crowd” entering the Museums, you can always choose to join the Early morning Vatican tour that will allow you to enter one hour earlier than the general public.

 

 

 

 

Monet is in Rome! 19th Oct 2017- 11th Feb 2018

From 19th October 2017 until 11th February 2018 Rome will host the exhibition of the best Monet artworks.

The visitors will have the pleasure to admire 60 works of the father of the Impressionism. The collection belongs to the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris and it has been organized by Gruppo Arthemisia. These masterpieces were the personal collection of the artist, who kept all the paintings in his home in Giverny.

Through these works, it is possible to understand Monet’s artistic intensity and to recognize multiple aspects of his work.

Monet’s most beautiful works will be exposed

from 19th Oct 2017 until 11th Feb 2018

in Vittoriano – Altare della Patria.

It is possible to buy tickets on-line here.

Check also how to obtain discounts, to hire a guide or to get an audio-guide.

Don’t miss it!

Ciampino Airport gets connected with the City Centre of Rome

When you are visiting a city for the first time it can be very confusing to organize an affordable transport from the airport.

Fiumicino airport in Rome is easily connected to the city centre by a train that departs every 20 minutes.

However, many low-cost airlines are landing to the Ciampino airport and the connection with the city centre was very tricky.

From now you have Rome public transport company ATAC that will provide a bus line that will connect Ciampino Airport to the Laurentina Metro Station. And it will cost only 1.50€pp!!

The tickets can be purchased inside Ciampino Airport at the Tourist Info Point (PIT). Also, for those who already bought the Roma Pass on-line, they can use it for this journey instead of buying a new bus ticket.

The line that will bring you to Laurentina Metro station is n°720 and you can find it at the bus stop n°4 in front of the Ciampino Metro Station.

The bus will be running every 20 minutes from 5.30am to 11.30pm.

Once you get to the city center and you don’t know where to go, what to see first, whether to take a tour or not, just let us know and we will be happy to give you our best tips and offers 🙂

Rome by Night!!

If you think Rome by day is amazing, Rome by night transforms info a magical city.   The lights, the energy and the sights of people sitting outside at cafes and restaurants enjoying the Eternal City!  You will often find live music and entertainment in the Piazzas and Squares.

 

 

rome by night

The Pantheon

 

 

rome by night2

Trevi Foutain

 

rome by night3

St. Peter’s Square

 

rome by night4

Colosseum

rome by night5

Piazza Navona

Liberation Day in Italy!!

Liberation Day is a national holiday in Italy that is annually celebrated on April 25. It marks the fall of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic and the end of the Nazi occupation in Italy in 1945, towards the end of the second World War.

Liberation Day Italy

Liberation Day (Festa della Liberazione) remembers Italians who fought against the Nazis and Mussolini’s troops during World War II. The day honors those who served in the Italian Resistance. Marching bands, music concerts, food festivals, political rallies, and other public gatherings take place in many places in Italy.

The Italian flag is usually seen in parades to celebrate Liberation Day. The song ‘Bella Ciao’ is also played often around this time of the year, as it was sung by the Italian resistance during World War II.

liberation day 2

When in Italy… have a cup of coffee

It will probably happen that while on holidays in Italy and in between a stroll in the Roman Forum or a visit to the Sistine Chapel you would like to enjoy a little bit more of Italian culture. You will more likely find a nice Italian bar and order a cappuccino. It that happens in the morning, that will be perfectly normal. However, if you sit down at 5pm and you order a cappuccino, the barman will immediately know that you’re not a local. In Italy to order a cappuccino after 11.30am is quite a heresy.

That’s why is would be useful to read this short and comprehensive guide of how to “have a coffee” in Italy.

First of all, if you order a “coffee” in Italy you will be served a small cup of espresso that you are usually supposed to drink at the counter. This is the “only” coffee you will get.

However, there are many other alternatives that in the land of most famous coffee producers you can find.

So please follow with attention, so you don’t end up ordering a “frappucino with cinnamon and cream”.

Cappuccino is a “morning/breakfast” drink. It’s a coffee in a large cup with hot foamed milk. There are variations of cappuccino that you can ask for and mostly they are: with cocoa on top, not too hot (ital. tiepido) and light cappuccino (which means with just a little bit of coffee).

Caffè-latte is also a breakfast drink and it is usually served in a glass. It is, exactly, a full glass of milk with the foam on top and a cup of espresso in it.

Marocchino is something that you can have any time of the day and it will be served in a cup little bit bigger than an espresso. It is composed of espresso, a sprinkle of cocoa, a spoonful of frothed milk and cocoa on top. The original recipe includes liquid chocolate spread on the inside of the cup.

marocchino

 Latte macchiato is mostly milk with just a “drop” of a coffee and it is lighter in terms of quantity of coffee than caffè- latte. It is usually served in a big glass.

And finally his Majesty, Espresso, that you can order at any time of the day. It can be ristretto – shortor even macchiato, with a drop of cold or hot milk.

You also have the choice of caffè americano, caffè decaf, espresso ristretto (short), espresso corretto (coffee with a drop of liquor in it)

Coffee time in Italian culture can be any time of the day and it is a moment that you share with friends, colleagues or it can be an excuse to invite somebody you like out. Prendere un caffè is, in general, a very easy way to take a break from work or meet someone without too much commitment. There are many ways in which coffee is tangled with Italian culture and traditions, so much that there is a whole “philosophy” of “having a coffee” in Italy. In some parts of Italy you will be served coffee with a glass of water, while in other parts (especially in Naples) they say you shouldn’t have any water after you had the cup of coffee. That’s because you should keep the delicious coffee taste in your mouth.

The “coffee culture” in Italy explains why some Italian brands became so famous all around the world. The first espresso machine was actually invented in Turin in 1884. Shortly after that Lavazza brand was created in Turin in 1895. In 1933, the same year when the first moka pot was invented, Illy caffè brand was born.

Probably the origin of this big cultural imprint that the coffee has on the Italian culture is also the historical fact that the first coffeehouse to open in Europe was in Venice in 1654.

However, in Italy there are many historical places where you still can learn a lot about the local culture and where you can discover some more variations of coffee.

While In Turin and touring the Piazza Castello and Egyptian Museums you should not miss a caffe at Bicerin or while strolling down between Piazza Castello you should stop in Piazza San Carlo and have a delicious marocchino at the bar San Carlo.

Caffè San Carlo, Turin

 In Venice, after your tour at the St Marco’s Basilica or the visit to the Dodge’s Palace you should have a seat in Florian’s Caffe located right on the Piazza San Marco. Here you will have the feeling of being transported in another era. This caffè bar was there side 1720 and you can see the pictures of some famous people who used to hang out here.

A little bit more recent, but shrouded by almost the same historical/misterious veil is caffè Camparino just right next to the Duomo in Milan.   After you finish visiting Leonardo’s Last Supper you should have a seat in Jamaica Bar. This café is a meeting point of all the famous artists, artisans, students of the nearby Academy and famous journalists. You will feel a mix of modern and bohemian atmosphere and this will be a cherry on top after you visit this beautiful part of Milan called Brera. While in Rome you should pay a visit to the Antico Caffè Greco, just few meters from the Spanish Steps. Together with a delicious coffee you will have a chance to visit one of the most beautiful private art collections inside this historical bar. The price you will pay for coffee, by tacit agreement, will include also the visit to the art collection.

Antico Caffè Greco, Rome

A little bit more affordable is Caffè Sant’Eustachio, near the Pathneon, where just after to cross the doorstep you will smell the scent of coffee beans from all over the world. In Naples, coffee is has deeper roots than anywhere else in Italy. It’s not by chance that there is a caffè called caffè napoletano and it’s made in a particular pot that you  can still find in some shops in Naples. Therefore, while visit the Piazza del Plebiscito, you must stop at the Gran Caffè Gambrinus. The bar was founded after the union of all Italian regions, but during the Belle Epoque it gains a wider attention of the people of Naples and European aristocratic and artistic personalities.

Gran Caffè Gambrinus, Naples

Whether you are an art lover or passionate about the local culture and traditions or even a foodie, just choose your coffee bar carefully, because otherwise you will miss much more than a good cup od coffee.

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