How to ride the Tram 28 and why you shouldn't

There is a dirty secret within tourism and it's a secret shared by most tour guides and locals. We don’t like tourists!  Sounds strange, our economies depend on tourism and our jobs definitely depend on tourists, but let me explain. Think of your home city wherever it is, New York, California, London, Sydney and think of all the places you avoid just because of the tourists. Done it? Well, we feel exactly the same. Let's get one thing straight; it's not all tourists it's just ones that do incredible stupid or obnoxious things without even thinking about their surroundings.  Anti-Tourism Graffiti in Lisbon: Tourists Are Terrorists Photo Courtesy: Adam Lederer @ Flickr The Problem with the Tram 28, Lisbon ‘On the 1st of September (1901) the electric traction from Cais do Sodré to Algés will start functioning (…) It means: on  the 1st of September the Hospitals will have no beds available and the cemeteries will need to expand.’ O Imparcial, 25th August 1901.   It is fair to say that the opening of the first tram in Lisbon was not (at least at first) a popular move. Fear of the new technology and the risk to life it could cause meant that few people could be found who were not fearful that a thunderstorm could end up sending lightning bolts through every window in the city. Today though they are a much-loved icon. Providing small electrical trams that can twist and turn up the steepest and sharpest of hills. They go where the metro and modern articulated trams dare not tread. The problem is for many residents of Alfama, Graça and so on they are the only form of public transport accessible to them. The number 28 is one such tram, and its popularity amongst tourists is a real headache for the locals. The trams have a seating capacity of 20 and a standing capacity of around another 30, they arrive every ten minutes and in the summer the square of Martim Moniz will have lines of up to 2 hours long with tourists waiting to take the 28’s iconic winding route. Tram 28 infront of the Sé How to ride the Tram 28 1: Buy your tickets in advance You can buy tickets directly on the tram, but this costs you more and holds up the line. Instead, buy a daily travel pass for €6.90 when you arrive in Lisbon. These can be purchased at any Metro station in the city and are valid on all Metro, buses, trams, and ferries (find out more here). Alternatively, there is the Zapping option,  the Zapping cards can be bought at all metro stops and a few other places around the city for just 50 cents and can then be topped up with anything from €3 to €40 depending on the length of your stay. Each time you get on a tram or a bus simply look for the yellow box and tap your card against it, your balance will come up at this point, so if it is running low you can easily top it up again at any metro before getting caught short.   2: Don’t use the trams at rush hour   We get it your on holiday and you want to see as much as possible, but people need to get to work, so let them. Lisbon’s a slow city, take an extra coffee and pastel de nata and relax. Try not to use the trams between the hours of 8 am and 10 am and then from 5 pm till 7 pm. This way you will help ease congestion on a very old transport system. The 28 is standing room only from 8 am till 7 pm, so if you really must ride the 28 then take it in the late evening, it will be cooler and less crowded. Early summer lines for the tram 28 at Martim Moniz 3. Don’t ride the tram 28 We know that Rick Steeves says it's a must do and so Fodors, TimeOut and every other guide book under the sun, but there are currently 5 tram routes that use the beautiful old yellow trolley and some of their routes lead to beautiful neighborhoods often ignored by the hordes heading to Alfama and Castelo. Also, the 28 is a pickpockets dream so do be careful of your belongings. We particularly like the tram 25 and 18 which travel through fascinating areas like Estrela and Ajuda where you can visit the criminally under-visited royal palaces.  If your budget isn’t too tight you can splash out and pay €18 for a 24-hour hop on hop off historic tram pass. These are exactly the same as the public transport except they are painted red on the outside, but as you can’t see the outside when your inside, who cares? You will be guaranteed a seat, you won’t have your pocket picked like on the infamous 28 and you can jump on and off for 24 hours from validation of your ticket in all the historic quarters (Alfama, Comercio, Baixia, etc). You can buy tickets directly here Tram 28 in Alfama 4. Don't ride the tram! Do you really want to spend 3 hours of your holiday in the baking sun, followed by an hour crammed like sardines into an unairconditioned sweatbox? There's a much better option. Take a walking tour!! Our Alfama tour covers a huge section of the Tram 28's route, you'll learn more and you'll burn off some calories leaving more space for Ginjinha and a pastel de nata, and the one thing you will notice about our photos of the trams is we are never on them, Simple! All in all the trams of Lisbon are a must do, but be sensitive of the locals and use them at sensible times of day and take the stress off the 28. Tram 28 in Estrela If you want to learn more about the historic trams of Lisbon we strongly suggest a visit to the Carris museum. Here you have all the different trams from the last century that you can climb on and explore, and your €4 entry also covers a quick spin around the still in use work yards in one of the historic trams. More information can be found at    

The Women of Rome # 2

 Donna Olimpia Maidalchini Anyone who has ever read some of the more scandalous stories of the papacy has surely come across the name of Pope Joan, the likely legendary female figure, who, in the Middle Ages briefly occupied the throne of St. Peter. What fewer people are aware of is the extraordinary life of Donna Olimpia Maidalchini, the real and historical woman, who, in the early 17th century, became the closest advisor of Pope Innocent X, known as “La Papessa”, the female pope, or, more derogatorily, “La Pimpaccia”, woman of sin.     Olimpia’s life began ordinarily enough in 1591, in the town of Viterbo, just outside of Rome. She was one of three daughters and a son, born to a relatively modest family. Her father was a “condottieri” - essentially a mercenary military captain, and her mother was from a modest but respectable local family.  Olimpia’s father decided that she and her sisters would be destined for a life in the local convent, as it would save him from having to pay an enormous dowry for the girls, which would be better spent on the inheritance of the only son of the family. Olimpia though was rebellious and independent-minded from an early age: whilst undergoing instruction for taking holy orders, she accused the local priest of sexually harassing her. The incident led to such shame for the local prelate, that he had to resign, although, in reality, it was probably a story fabricated by the young Olimpia. At the time, women had few options to ensure their own emancipation and so, in this sense, Olimpia was simply taking control of her own destiny (and to be fair, the priest was later reinstated).  Once she had freedom from the convent, Olimpia had the freedom to pursue marriage and secured one with one of the wealthiest, elderly, landowners of the area in 1608. She was 16 years old.  Her first marriage lasted just three years, before her husband died, leaving her a free and wealthy widow. Find out about more of Rome's powerful women here Portrait of Donna Olimpia Maidalchini Lalupa (   Her Rise in Rome Olimpia undoubtedly had ambition and political savvy, so it was no surprise when she cropped up again 1612 by marrying Pamphilio Pamphilj, a man from one of Rome’s most prominent and prestigious families. As was typical at the time, Olimpia’s youth, fertility and wealth, with Pamphilio’s aristocratic breeding, made for the perfect match.  She wanted prestige and standing in society and, whilst his family was well respected, they desperately needed funds to line the family coffers. By 17th century standards, it was a match made in heaven.  This marriage lasted until 1639 when Olimpia was widowed again. Her connections to the Pamphilj family were not severed at this point though: by this time Olimpia was already 48 years old and beyond the point of remarriage by the norms of the day. But more importantly, her brother-in-law, Giambattista Pamphilj, was already a powerful cardinal, and on-track to even more.  By 1644, her brother-in-law was elected to the papacy and became Pope Innocent X. The pair already had a long and close family relationship and it seemed that Innocent X had already come to rely on her for advice by the time that he became pope. So, shortly after he was elected to the papacy Olimpia was bestowed with certain honors: including be being designated as his heir in his will in 1644, and being named the “Princess of San Martino”. These were certainly roles of prestige and she was definitely in a privileged position as a confidant to the pope, which she profited from.  Contemporary writers complained that all decisions, business, legal and political, were decided in her living room. According to one account, she convinced the pope that it was immoral for the Vatican to collect taxes from brothels, and instead, he sold her the right to collect the taxes. She even hung the Pamphilj family crest above the doors of her brothels so that local law enforcement would leave her establishments alone. Another piece of Roman gossip suggested that Bernini won the commission for the “Fountain of the Four Rivers” by appealing not to the pope, but to Olimpia, by presenting her with a silver model of the fountain. She then left the elaborate model in a place where she was sure that the pope would see it. Of course, once Innocent saw Bernini’s design he had no choice but choose him for the commission over his rival Borromini. Olimpia was also known to accompany the pope during official ceremonies and was even present when he opened the Jubilee year of 1650.  Bernini's founatian of the four rivers For more info on Bernini check out our Best of Rome Tour   Her Fall From Grace Needless to say such a brazen display of power from a woman at this time was branded as scandalous, and earned her the title of “la Papaessa”, or, more unflatteringly, “la Pimpaccia”. She was seen as the reigns behind the papacy, and some even suggested that in having such influence that she was, in fact, the pope’s mistress.   When Innocent X died on January 7th, in 1655, Olimpia’s power and position in Rome immediately soured. She was already an unpopular figure in Rome for the power that she wielded, and without the protection of her brother-in-law, her time in Rome had come to end. It is said that before she made her escape, she took two great chests full of silver and gold from under the pope’s bed and loaded them into her carriage. She then bid the city of Rome farewell. Olimpia returned to her estate at San Martino al Cimino, never to return to Rome again. She died two years later from the plague.    Olimpia was certainly fierce, and at times an unlikable woman, but her legacy was to be enduring. One of Rome’s most famous ghost stories even today tells the story of “la Pimpaccia”, the mistress of the Vatican. They say on the night of the death of the pope, on the 7th of January each year, Olimpia can be seen loading the crates of gold into her black carriage at the palace on Piazza Navona. She climbs aboard and the chariot tears away, pulled by four black steeds. The carriage races through the streets of Rome, leaving a trail of fire in its wake, Olimpia’s shrill laugh, ringing through the air. She makes her way towards Ponte Sisto and over the bridge towards the Gianicolo Hill, where the carriage is said to disappear through the gates of Hell. There are few men who have stories like that told about them more than 350 years after their death.     The supposed gates of hell, Rome Lalupa ( You can find out more about Olimpia and the other women of Rome by taking our 'Women's History of Rome' tour  

The Women Of Rome

Artemisia Gentileschi Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the great artists of the Baroque Age, an artist more than capable of holding her own next to some of the more famous giants of this period, like Caravaggio. Her canvases were bold and dynamic, portraying dramatic religious and historical scenes with realism and energy.  In her art, she revealed the lives of her female protagonists as so much more than passive objects of the male gaze. Artemisa’s heroines took centre stage, both literally and figuratively, and her art was in high demand during her own lifetime, even if she did fall into relative obscurity until recently.  Artemisia’s art is captivating in its own right, but for that art to be produced by a woman in the seventeenth century (a rare thing at the time) and by a woman whose own personal life story was marked by tragedy and violence, makes her an even more intriguing character.  'Self portrait as the allegory of painting' c. 1639 Early Life Artemisia was born in Rome in 1593, the eldest of five children, and the only daughter of Prudentia Montori and the painter, Orazio Gentileschi. Her father was a talented artist in his own right and was a contemporary and friend of Michelangelo da Merisi, better known as Caravaggio. Indeed, the two were so well acquainted that they ended up in court together in 1603, after they scrawled libels about a rival artist around the streets of the city. During his testimony, Orazio mentions Caravaggio visiting his studio in order to borrow some props for a painting project. Artemisia was about ten years old at the time of this trail, so we can only suppose that she met the great artist herself during her childhood. It was in this circle of artists that Artemisia was raised, and despite the handicap of her gender, she was the only one of her siblings to show any true aptitude for art - and so her father began to train her in the craft. Artemisia showed true talent from an early age, and despite her father’s initial reluctance to train his daughter (this was a male dominated profession after all), he eventually realised her potential and fostered her fast-developing skills. When Artemisia was still a teenager, her father wrote that she “become so skilled that I can venture to say that today she has no peer.” It’s from around this time that we have her earliest known signed work “Susanna and the Elders”, and it’s impossible not to see how accomplished she was even at an early age.  'Susanna and the Elders' c.1610 It is also around this time that Orazio decided to introduce Artemisia to one of his colleagues, Agostino Tassi, for further tuition in the art of perspective (professional art academies were a male-only arena at the time). The decision to have Tassi tutor Artemisia was to prove to be a tragic one: Tassi, who it seems was a volatile individual with a dark past, brutally raped Artemisia. She was just seventeen years old and a virgin at the time.  Rape and Trial For women in the seventeenth-century rape was not just a violent physical assault, but it was something that brought great shame on the family and particularly the woman, whose prospects of marriage could be destroyed as she was seen as tarnished, damaged goods. As a result, women were often forced to marry their rapists to conceal the shame. And so, when Orazio discovered what had happened to his daughter, instead of going to the authorities, it was agreed that Tassi would marry the young Artemisia. He agreed, and continued his sexual activity with the teenager, only to later to go back on his promise. It is only at this point, about nine months after the initial attack that her father decided to have Tassi arrested.  Orazio was already a well-known artist at the time, and due probably to his connection with Caravaggio, (who only a few years before had gone on the run as a fugitive for murder), there was huge public interest in the trial. What followed was a very public, sordid and humiliating seven-month trial, during which, the young Artemisia was forced to give evidence to restore her dignity.  'Judith and her maidservent' c.1620's Transcripts of the trial still exist, and they make for some seriously disturbing reading. Firstly, because the family allowed Tassi to continue sexual relations with Artemisia, he could not be tried for rape, only for taking her virginity. The onus was very much on Artemisia to prove what Tassi had done; she was questioned in excruciating detail about the event, her reputation was brought into question, with some witnesses claiming she was a whore who had slept with many men and that the home operated as a brothel. She was poked and prodded and even tortured during questioning to prove whether or not she was telling the truth. The judge in an of apparentnt “compassion” suggested that the “sibille” (the ropes tied around her fingers and progressively tightened as a form of torture), should be only loosely tied as Artemisia was only eighteen years old.  It also emerged during the trial that Tassi was an individual with a dark past: he could never have married Artemisia, as he was already married, although his wife had gone missing and was presumed dead at the hands of bandits hired by Tassi. It seems he forced himself on his sister-in-law and had also planned to steal several of Orazio’s paintings. In the end, the court found in favour of Artemisia, and they handed down a mild sentence to Tassi which some scholars believe was never enforced.  Florence The most important thing for Artemisia was that her reputation had been restored. However, the public attention that she had received during the trial, made staying in Rome impossible for her, so her family had her hastily married to a Florentine painter and the young Artemisia went to Florence start a new life.  It is when she left Rome that Artemisia truly began to develop her own voice as an artist and fostered friendships with some the most influential people of the time; she was known to correspond with Galileo and the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Artemisia’s brilliance was finally officially recognised when she became the first woman to be accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts of Florence. Her works of art became incredibly sought-after, and dukes, princes and even kings requested commissions from her. This allowed Artemisia tremendous freedom, allowing her to travel around Europe, from Florence to Venice, Naples and even London. She did return to Rome for a period, but eventually travelled further south, to Naples, which is where she lived the rest of days, dying sometime around 1656. 'Judith beheading Holofernes' c. 1620   Her art fell out of favour in the 18th and 19th centuries but was rediscovered during the 20th century and recent exhibitions in Rome and London have thrust Artemisia into the spotlight again. Like Caravaggio, the dramatic events of Artemisia’s early life sometimes overshadow her artistic achievements and undoubtedly her experience of rape influenced and informed her work to some degree - but it would be a mistake to see all of her art through the lens of a victim. Artemisia was a talented artist before the rape and trial and she continued to be after. Away from the place that held such painful memories, she blossomed, creating striking and original compositions that placed women firmly in the foreground - of the roughly sixty paintings that we have attributed to Artemisia, about 40 feature women prominently. Artemisia overcame personal tragedy and excelled in a field that was traditionally a man’s world, and she did it on her own terms.  You find out more about Artemisia, and the women who have shaped Rome's history on our 'Womens History of Rome Tour'. Rachel Emerson @thelittleandorinha

The History of Valentine's Day

ROMA-AMOR Paris might be known as the ‘City of Love’, but Rome spelled backward is love, or more appropriately to use an old Latin pun, Roma spelled backward is Amor - or love. So where better than to celebrate Valentine’s day than in the city where it all began; where we can trace this holiday all the way back to its Pagan roots almost 3000 years ago? Hint - it involves naked Romans, whips and lots of partying. Valentine’s today might be a saccharine and commercialised Hallmark holiday that has you reaching for the nearest sick-bag, but if you look back to ancient Rome it was actually a pretty wild festival. The holiday's origins lie in the pagan festival of ‘Lupercalia’, celebrated on the ides of February (so 15th rather than 14th, but don’t try and use that as an excuse if you forget). The exact origins and practices of this holiday are obscure, but what we do know is that it was a fertility festival to herald in the coming of springtime. The name ‘Lupercalia’ come from the Latin ‘Lupa’ or wolf, and so links to the wolf who suckled the twins Romulus and Remus. But enough of the origin story because this holiday had some pretty raunchy rituals. Pagan Origins The ceremony started at the Lupercal cave in the area around the Roman Forum and Palatine hill, where there was an animal sacrifice. Then the two ‘Luperci’ (young men), were anointed with blood and milk. An elaborate feast followed, after which the Luperci would make whips from the sacrificed animal skin and run through the city naked (or near-naked) slapping the backsides of young women (who would line up to make sure they were struck). But why? Well, we aren’t quite sure, but most historians think it had something to do with fertility (If archaeologists think something was for ceremonial purposes, it’s actually a secret code for “we don’t understand”). Either way, this holiday sounds like more fun than a bunch of roses and a box of chocolates. Christianisation  Amazingly this loopy Lupercalia festival continued even after the legalisation of Christianity and was only abolished in the 5th Century CE. Just goes to show how much the Romans love a bit of slap ’n’ tickle. In the 5th Century, the Pope replaced Lupercalia with the feast of St. Valentine on February 14th. There are several legends surrounding the saint and it is likely there was more than one St. Valentine, but the most common story goes as follows: In the 3rd Century CE, Emperor Claudius Gothicus forbade his soldiers from marrying, believing that they would fight better if they didn’t have a family to think about. According to legend, the soldiers would come to Valentine who would marry them in secret. As with any good martyrdom story, Valentine is discovered and imprisoned for his crimes. He was martyred (by beheading) on the 14th February (not exactly lucky in love) and then buried in the Christian catacombs on Via Flaminia, near the Ponte Milvio. Over the centuries, the saint's relics have hopped and skipped their way around a few different Roman churches, and are now found in Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Well, his head is anyway, the rest of him was sent to Dublin (the things we will do for a sip of the black stuff). Today St. Valentine is known as the patron saint of engaged couples, love, and marriages. It seems that some of our modern symbols of Valentine's day are associated with its ancient past as well. Some have suggested that the use of red and white are actually a nod to the racy traditions of the Lupercalia, symbolising the red blood and white milk that was used during the ceremony. And what of the traditional Valentine's day card, often signed mysteriously “from your Valentine”? Well according to one tradition St. Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter.  He converted her to Christianity and miraculously cured her blindness. As he was being sent to his execution he handed her a farewell letter signed “from your Valentine”. Oh and the roses? Well, they are the traditional flower associated with St. Valentine, the red symbolising the blood he shed for the Church. Things to do in Rome -Valentines edition If you are celebrating Valentine’s day in Rome you can go ahead and check out our ‘Top things to do in Rome for Valentine’s Day’ by clicking the blue link. Alternatively, you can sign up to our Best of Rome tour or our any of our Colosseum tours, where you can hear this story and more from your very own Rogue Historian. 

Top Things to do in Rome - Valentine's day

Things to Do In Rome Valentine’s Day If you have taken the plunge and decided to splash out on a weekend in Rome this Valentine’s Day then this is The Rogue’s top list of things to do while here for your romantic getaway. Be warned: this is not your usual list, there are some slightly off-beat ‘romantic’ suggestions! The Lupercal Cave  Alas, you cannot wander right inside the Lupercal Cave today. It was only rediscovered in 2007, much to the excitement of archaeologists and is still buried deep beneath the Palatine Hill. You can, however, head down to the Roman Forum and imagine what the scene must have been like 2,000 years ago, as the Romans celebrated “Lupercalia”, the ancient precursor to our modern Valentine’s day.  It was definitely a more raunchy festival for the Romans; if you’d been passing by back then you’d have witnessed naked guys with whips dashing through the Forum slapping passing girls on their backsides! Just don’t be tempted to recreate the ancient festival yourself, as the local authorities probably aren’t as liberal as they were in the ancient world. If you’re struggling with your imagination then join our Private tours of the Colosseum and Roman Forum and our guides will bring it all to life for you by telling you this and even more riskué stories of what happened here in the heart of ancient Rome. Santa Maria in Cosmedin   If you want to stay true to the roots of Valentine’s Day then it’s worth heading over to the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, where the skull of St. Valentine rests today - okay it’s a bit of a macabre Valentine’s activity, but we are The Rogue Historians!  The church itself is worth a visit alone for its beautiful medieval religious architecture and stunning Cosmatesque marble floor. You can pay homage to St. Valentine in a small chapel on the left of the church, where his skull can be found wearing a floral crown sitting in a reliquary. Besides the more obvious Valentine’s connection there is the chance to check out the “Bocca della Verita”. This Medieval curiosity actually dates back to the ancient world and was likely to be a sewer cap cover of sorts, with his grotesque face representing a local river deity, Oceanus. It was later recycled by the Medieval Romans and used as a kind of honesty trial: those who told a lie with their hand in the mouth of the beast would have their hand snapped off! The legend may date to the Middle Ages, but was popularised in the modern imagination by the iconic film of the Dolce Vita era, “Roman Holiday”, when Gregory Peck’s character tricked Audrey Hepburn by using the ancient Roman legend. Little known fact: Gregory Peck went off script in this scene and Audrey Hepburn’s reaction of horror was 100% genuine! Alas, today this part of the church has become a bit of a tourist trap - with scores of tourists lining up eager to recreate their ‘Roman Holiday’ moment, a 2€ fee for the privilege, and a very strict one photo policy. This particular stop is a hard pass for us, but you can always peak at it through the railings on your way out of the church. But if its an absolute must we can happily accomodate your Roman holiday fancies on our 'Best of Rome Private Tour'. Ponte Milvio You may have heard of the tradition of lover’s attaching small padlocks to the railings of bridges or gates to symbolise the strength of their love. The more modern take on this tradition actually took off in Rome at Ponte Milvio in the early 2000s after the publication of the immensely popular Italian novel “I want you” ( Ho Voglia di Te) by Federico Moccia. It’s a well-chosen spot, given that it’s close to where St. Valentine was originally buried in the 3rd century CE. The Ponte Milvio might be a bit off the beaten track for some tourist itineraries - it’s located in the north of the city away from most of the more major tourist attractions but is worth trek if you want to check out the lesser visited sites of the Foro Italico Olympic complex and the fantastic MAXXI modern art museum designed by Zaha Hadid.   Gianicolo   This next spot is close to The Rogue Historians’ heart. The original ‘Rogues’ had their first date on this, the tallest of Rome’s hills and some of our friends have even popped the question here. Yes, it’s a bit of a cliche ‘romantic’ spot amongst the locals and it’s not exactly off the beaten track even for tourists, but it’s well known for a good reason: the view over the Eternal City is simply spectacular. During the day you can wander through the gardens on the hill and try to pick out the city’s most famous landmarks on the horizon, before checking out the daily firing of the cannon - which has been fired every day at midday since 1904, with a brief interruption during WWII. The Rogues can attest to the accuracy and power of the Gianicolo’s cannon: we used to live in the neighborhood directly below it and the windows of our apartment would rattle every day at 12:00! Flowers and Chocolates   If a trip to Rome isn’t enough of a Valentine’s gift and you still feel you’ve just got to splash out and do the whole flowers and chocolate thing, then the Rogues have you covered.  For flowers you should head to Campo dei Fiori - today it’s best known for being a fruit and vegetable market, but there are still a few kiosks at the end of the piazza selling seasonal bouquets that attest to the square’s original use as a ‘field of flowers’. If chocolates are more your thing then make a beeline to ‘Confetteria Moriondo e Gargilio’. These charming chocolatiers have been making chocolates and other sweet treats since the 19th century, and they were the official confectioners to the Royal House of Savoy back in the day. they moved to Rome from Turin after the reunification of Italy in the 19th century and set up a gorgeous little jewel of a shop that looks like a traditional tea room. But don’t take our word for it; the famous Roman poet Trilussa loved their sweet treats so much he felt compelled to immortalise it in verse! So there you go, a few suggestions from the Rogues. And if you find yourself alone then don't worry just join one of our group tours and you are sure to meet like-minded people, plus whats better than self-development through education anyway? Happy Valentine's day Rogues!

Best Bars for 6Nations Weekends

6 Nations season is rolling around again and that means only one thing: which away games are you going to? Well for Welsh and Irish fans of the game, they have the opportunity to head to Rome off-season to enjoy the match and maybe squeeze in a bit of culture.  With certain Irish airlines raising flight prices by 280% for the weekend of the 6 Nations games its important to know how to make the most of your time in Rome. Many of Romes museums are free for ticket holders (List of free museums here) and The Rogue Historians are offering a 25% discount on all tours over the two weekends. Apart from all the cultural gems of the city, come kick-off you will need to know the best rugby bars in Rome. So without further hesitation here are The Rogue Historian’s five favourite bars for 6 Nations weekends.   Abbey Theatre Located just around the corner from Piazza Navona, don’t be surprised if you find a Rogue Historian or two in the Abbey, this is our home bar after all. Our name was born here after a long night of drinking, and Natasha behind the bar designed our bearded logo that is still in use today. The front bar is the place to be but the restaurant out back is always bouncing on big weekends.  Mike on the main bar during the day is an institution in his own right, after running numerous pubs back in Dublin he can now be found propping up the wrong side of the bar most days and always creates a great atmosphere for a good day time session.   Scholars Lounge Owned by Declan Crean and Celestino Cucchiarelli, Scholars can hold claim to being the most famous pub in Italy. It was the winner of a Gold medal from the Irish Whiskey Awards in 2015 and in 2016 was voted Europe’s best Irish pub at a ceremony at the Mansion House in Dublin. Situated right next door to the Piazza Venezia and the Vittoriano monument, Scholars is probably the most centrally located bar in Rome. It is the largest Irish pub in Rome, spread over two rooms and two floors with multiple screens throughout. With the largest collection of whiskeys in Italy and a huge array of beers on tap there is bound to be something for everyone, and with Martin Castrogiovanni among the regulars, its rugby pedigree is hard to argue with.   Drunken ship  Located in the far corner of Campo Di Fiori, the Drunken Ship is a regular hangout of local rugby players thanks in no small part to the popularity of Irish barman and rugby player Dave Houston. Dave has played Rugby for over a decade in Italy now, and whichever bar he works in seems to become a mecca for the local players. Guaranteed to be a good atmosphere no matter what the result since the Italians are used to getting a good hammering anyway. With plenty of outdoor space and screens indoors and out The Drunken Ship could be the perfect spot if the February weather holds.   Finnegans Located a stones throw from the Roman Forum, Finnegans is always jammed with a mix of locals and foreigners. Finnegans is a popular haunt for many of the tour guides in the city due to its proximity to the Forum where so many of us finish our days in desperate search of the black stuff. Staff are always friendly and there is even a pool table in the back, a rare find in Rome these days. Probably the smallest of the bars we recommend so make sure to head there early for the games.   Shamrock Pub  This one’s a bit of a cheat as we are lumping two bars into one. Shamrock pub and Shamrock Irish pub are less than five minutes away from each other. One is located just south-east of the Colosseum and the other north-west of the Colosseum. Most of the year this pub wouldn’t make our list of top bars in Rome but during the 6 Nations this all changes and the Shamrock becomes one of our favourite places to hang out in the city, and who doesn’t want to stumble out of the bar at 2am to be greeted by the brightly illuminated site of the Colosseum?   Uno Due This one is a wild card as at the time of writing this pub has only been open 1 day. The pub is located in between the Abbey and Scholars creating a nice straight line of rugby-centric bars and is the brainchild of three well-known names from the Italian rugby world: Claudio Perruzza, Fabio Ongaro and Salvatore Perugini. Originally we were sad to hear of its opening as it is replacing The Perfect Bun one of our favourite burger joints in the city, but with an emphasis on craft beers, pub food, rugby and a  closing time we are fully behind this venture to be a huge success. Especially since opening 3 days before the start of the 6 Nations the entire Italian rugby team turned out for the grand opening.    Around the City Don’t forget that 6 Nations ticket holders get free entry into a whole host of the city’s museums, including the Capitoline and the Doria Pamphilji, so be sure to get some culture in between drinking sessions, or maybe even go the whole way and book a tour of the Vatican or Colosseum with the Rogue Historians.