I have to choose Italy as my favourite place to visit. It is a repeat destination for me.
I love the Old World Charm of Italy. Charming little streets! Gelato! Pasta and Pizza! History! The Cinque Terre!
If you only had one European chance I would say go to Italy.
HOW TO GET AROUND
The way I prefer to get around in Italy is by train. The high speed trains can get you from point A to point B fast and efficiently.
The downside is that you can not venture out into the countryside as easy. You are pretty much limited to the cities and small towns.
That being said, there is SO much to see in the cities and towns that you might consider planning another visit to Italy to rent a vehicle and explore the country regions. Remember the streets are very narrow in many towns with a lot of one ways. Navigation can be a nightmare. In larger cities like Rome the traffic looks like a real circus.
If you are in good shape Italy is a great walking country. Choose a place to stay within walking distance of the train stations or metro stops. You can also take a taxi if the distance is too far.
I would advise staying near a public transit stop for ease of getting around large cities like Rome.
SNAP EASY TIP: YOU MUST STAMP your ticket before entering the trains, stamp in machine on bus or tram when you enter. If not, you can be fined heavily. For trains there are boxes on the platform for you stamp your ticket. This is hard to remember but you must.
You can buy a metro ticket or pass and have access to the buses, trams and metro in Rome. There are time activated tickets good for 75 minutes from time stamped. Day passes. 3 Day passes. Week passes. You can choose the best pass for your stay. Be sure and check the expiry time on your pass. 24 hour ticket expires at midnight of the day it was stamped. So actually not a 24 hour ticket. More like a day ticket.
SNAP EASY TIP: If you are going on 3 or less rides per day and your travel for each ride will be completed in 75 minutes, then a day pass is not the most cost effective. If you are taking over 3-75 minute trips then a day pass would be justified. If you are not sure then it is less worrisome to purchase the day pass.
Beware….in Italy there are many transportation strikes. Check this site if you are expecting to travel on a certain day. Many times the strike is for certain hours.
Use official metered white or yellow taxis. There are non official taxis at the airport hawking your business.
There are taxi stands around Rome. They are lined up and you take the next available one. It is almost impossible to “hail” a taxi.
Most places you stay can arrange for a fixed price to pick you up or take you to the airport. However, in the city, it is best to use the metered cabs.
WHERE TO STAY
Good areas to stay for walking:
We stayed in the Jewish Ghetto area and in Trastevre area. These are both great areas if you are into walking. The Jewish Ghetto is within easy walking distance of all the major spots to visit.
Trastevere is the area across the river from the Jewish Ghetto. You can walk if you are staying close to the river. If staying further into the area, the #8 Tram runs down the main street of Trastevere and ends in the Jewish Ghetto. From there you can walk. Also you can catch the metro from Trastevere to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.