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Free and Almost Free
Rome may be on the fast track to becoming one of the most expensive cities in Europe, however, in compensation, there is a slew of free and inexpensive things to do in the Città Eterna that won’t break the bank. For a quick look at low-cost activities, check out the Comune di Roma’s tourism website (www.turismoroma.it) for great ideas.
Budget Boosters: Art and Archaeological Sites
On Valentine's Day (February 14), the Italian Ministry for Culture hosts its annual Innamorati dell'Arte, or "In Love with Art," campaign, where lovers or people in pairs can take advantage of two-for-one admission prices at all state-run museums and archaeological sites. Also sponsored by the Ministry for Culture, during Settimana della Cultura, or Cultural Week (typically held in April and May), many of the major archaeological sites and museums in and around Rome waive their entrance fees. Check out www.beniculturali.it for exact dates and listings. It usually costs €15 to visit the Vatican Museums, but on the last Sunday of nearly every month you can get in free. Make sure to bring comfy shoes, as the wait in line can be a bit overwhelming!
If you're up for seeing a flick, head over to the Casa del Cinema (Largo Marcello Mastroianni 1, near Villa Borghese). The movie theater, sponsored by the City of Rome, has free showings daily. See www.casadelcinema.it for listings.
Looking for a cheap movie night? The Nuovo Olimpia Cinema (Via in Lucina 16) near Piazza di Spagna often shows movies in English and, on Wednesday nights, tickets are just €6. Also on Wednesday nights, the Cinema Alcazar in Trastevere (Via Merry del Val 14) screens movies at €6 a ticket. Monday nights at the Nuovo Sacher Cinema (Largo Ascianghi 1), operated by noted actor Nanni Moretti, movies in English are €7 a person.
Econo-Tips: Music and Performances
Every year on May 1, Italy's Labor Day, hundreds of thousands of people gather for the free concert held in Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano. Headliners are usually Italian rock bands, but occasionally folk troupes perform as well. During the summer (mid-June through August), one of Rome's loveliest parks, Villa Ada, hosts its annual Roma Incontro il Mondo–"Rome Meets the World"—concert series. Concerts are held nightly, with ticket prices ranging €5 to €13. Check www.villaada.org for details.
The aperitivo hour allows you to dine out, sort of, in some of Rome's trendiest and finest establishments without breaking the bank. It’s like the Italian version of “happy hour,” except that the focus is on food and friends, not alcohol. Here's how it works: for the price of a drink (usually €6 to €10), you can feast on an all-you-can-eat buffet. Hipsters and artsy bohemians head to Freni e Frizioni in Trastevere (Via del Politeama 4) or to its sumptuous sister bar Societè Lutecè in the centro storico (Vicolo di Montevecchio 17). A posh scene can be found at Salotto 42 (Piazza di Pietra 42) and Fluid (Via Governo Vecchio 46), where the spread includes veggies, pastas, and finger food. Momart Café in the Piazza Bologna district attracts a young Italian college crowd (Viale XXI Aprile 19) thanks to its wonderful wood-oven pizza.
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