La Citta Eterna… The Eternal City… Rome is a city filled with history, architecture, nightlife, food and culture – no doubt! We can all learn from various travel websites and magazines that when in Rome, we can expect great food, long lines at the Colosseo, busy bars, etc. but here are 5 tips and tricks I learned during my short visit that you might not have come across your guide books:
Don’t try to see all of Rome. Gordo was right; there is “so much Roma, so little time-a”.
Pick only a couple of must-sees. Spend enough time learning and truly getting to know them. There is so much history and culture in every piazza, cafe, and architectural wonder. Rushing through the sites won’t do them justice.
Stay alert. Yes, Rome is infamous for pickpockets so always keep an eye on your belongings. However, when I say “stay alert” I don’t mean just about theft; I mean, all the time – most especially when crossing the road. Rome doesn’t typically have pedestrian lights. Every now and then, there are pedestrian crossings marked with white lines. You, as a pedestrian, will have right of way at these crossings but cars and motor bikes tend to speed through so watch out. However, a lot of places don’t seem to have these so I found myself running across major roads. At night, it’s best to wear something reflective.
Share your meals. If you’re traveling with someone, share your pizza or your pasta. The servings are big enough. There is so much good food to try that it’s better to have a little bit of everything than stuff yourself with a big meal! Plus, sharing might help you save some money.
Allow yourself to get lost. Put your map away, check out a random street (of course, exercise caution), ask locals where to go for whatever you’re looking for (the best local arancino, wine, live entertainment…). There’s no better way to get to know the city than through the eyes of the locals.
Visit typically packed sites late in the evening to avoid the crowds. I find big group of tourists distracting. I had a swell time walking along the peaceful and beautifully lit Piazza Venezia, Colosseo and the Roman Forum late at night. When it’s quiet one can take time to reflect, relax and take in the beauty without having to worry about moving along or getting out of the way of tourists.
There you go. Enjoy Rome! Oh, and one more thing: if you’re planning to visit the Vatican, dedicate a separate day for that magnificent city/country!