Useful Apps for Visiting Rome

All roads lead to Rome, but once you get there … how do you get to the Colosseum? When is it open? How much does it cost? And where can you get something good to eat afterwards?

When planning a trip to Rome, research used to mean reading guidebooks.  While I’m still a lover of books, as soon as you buy a guidebook, something in it is already out of date.  Plus, there’s the portability issue.  For these reasons, I’ve become a big believer in apps.  Fortunately for the visitor to Rome, there are a lot of good English-language apps all about the Eternal City available for a fraction of the price (or weight!) of a guidebook — and some are free, too! We’ve jotted down several of our favorites below, but we’ve also got many more on one of our Pinterest boards.

General apps about visting Rome

Rome: Dream of Italy* by “Dream of Italy” Editor Kathy McCabe and her team of contributors is a highly informative first stop for planning your trip to the Eternal City, from sights, to dining, to shopping, and much more.

Rome Insider’s Guide by Flaminia Chapman is a fun and quirky guide with interesting trivia on top of some very useful information on what to see and do in Rome.  It’s led us to some places we never knew about.

A free Rome app with handy offline maps is Ulmon Rome Travel App.  It also has a metro map, and a guide that links to more detailed information from Wikipedia.  This one is a great deal since it’s currently free.

Foodie apps

There are two great apps for all things food and drink in Rome that I frequently use.  They’re also particularly helpful if we are out and about and looking for a good place to go.

Katie Parla’s Rome, by food and wine guru Katie Parla of the terrific blog*

Eat Rome by Elizabeth Minchilli, author of multiple books about Italy and an Italian food expert.

Fun stuff apps

Near The Spanish Steps Apartment is the wonderful large park around Villa Borghese.  I love this park — walking in it is one of the most relaxing things about the city, and it’s a great way to burn off that last meal.  The only drawback is the signage in the park is not the best.  Here’s the solution: a free app with a handy map of the park, and a point of interest list that can steer you to museums in the park, bike rentals, the lake, monuments, and public restrooms.

Currently “free for a limited time” is the Musei in Commune (“MiC”) app, which lists 20 museums in Rome, including museum photos, locations, opening times, and current exhibits.  The app also links to the internet to get live walking directions to your selected destination.  Definitely worth the download!

One caveat about apps: you may want to look for ones that work when offline.  Or, turn off the roaming and data functions on your phone.  Otherwise, you may incur roaming and data charges.

Here’s another caveat (well, more like an admission): as much as I like the convenience of apps, I still usually carry a guidebook… and I almost always carry a map when out and about in Rome.  Even after all these years, I will occasionally find myself lost.  For guests of The Spanish Steps Apartment, we have you covered: the apartment’s library is stocked with a multitude of guidebooks, as well as maps, for your use.  In addition to a music library, the apartment iPod has several of the apps noted above if you want to check them out before buying your own.

* Full disclosure: We are recommended by and by the Dream of Italy Rome app.