A holiday in Rome will never be forgotten, and it has something to offer all kinds of travellers, from those on a tight budget, to honeymooning couples and those in search of the truly luxurious. It’s little wonder that they call it ‘The Eternal City’, as ancient historic sites like the Colosseum vie with the spiritual splendour of St. Peters and the Vatican, and high-class stores from the world’s leading designers as must-see destinations. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to forget the practical things, so here are six tips to help your Rome vacation run smoothly.
Look After Your Valuables
Rome is a bustling city with a population of around three million, and one where ancient narrow alleyways can be found as readily as wide-open boulevards. Like any major city, it has some opportune thieves, but with the right precautions, you and your belongings can be safe. Never carry large amounts of money on you and be careful not to flash the cash in a public place. You also shouldn’t carry luggage with expensive items with you, but that can be solved thanks to the luggage storage solutions available in Rome from Stasher; they have bag storage facilities across the city so you can leave them in complete safety while you enjoy the magnificent tourist hotspots.
Be Aware of Traffic
Traffic in Rome is different to anywhere else you’ve been, so you need to be on your guard at all times. Part of the charm of the city is the large number of people who ride Vespa scooters, a much loved Italian symbol, but they weave in and out of car traffic constantly, so have your break covered at all times. As a pedestrian, you need to be especially cautious at pedestrian crossings. Don’t assume that because the ‘safe to cross’ light is illuminated that it actually is to do so, as some Roman drivers take scant notice of red lights. Always look twice in all directions before proceeding to cross.
Eat Like the Locals
Rome has a vast number of fine restaurants offering the very best in delicious Italian cuisine, including 80 that feature in the Michelin guide to the world’s best restaurants, but some can be expensive. As you walk around the city, look for smaller eateries, known as trattorias, that seem popular with locals; that’s the best recommendation of them all. You’ll find exceptional food at a fraction of the price you’d pay in a celebrated restaurant, and you’ll also get an authentic Roman dining experience. Have a phrasebook or translation app handy, or learn a few useful phrases before traveling, and you’ll fit right in with the locals.
Be Aware of Meal Times as Well
Eating like the locals also means eating when the locals eat. If you’re used to eating supper around 6pm, then you may find that some restaurants in Rome aren’t even open by that time yet. That’s because most Italians get ready to eat at around 8-9-ish in the evening. This also means that restaurants stay open until much later as well, so you get the chance to enjoy fine dining well into the night if that’s more your speed.
Beware of Pickpockets
Pickpockets are a big issue in Rome and tons of pickpockets roam the city in search of unsuspecting tourists. They usually gather around crowded tourist spots that see a lot of traffic. Busy bus routes, like the 64 that goes to the Vatican, are also notorious for pickpocket activity. As an alternative, you could take the metro to Ottaviano instead as it is less crowded and isn’t as popular with tourists. Whatever the case, make sure that you stay as cautious as possible at all times and be very suspicious of anyone trying to randomly strike a conversation or distract you in any way.
Skip Some of the Usual Attractions
You’re probably aware that Rome is rife with tourists, but few actually realize how crowded it can get. You can easily wait for hours in line just to see the Coliseum, which can be pretty anticlimactic once you actually get to see it. And nobody wants to wait three hours in line just to see the Sistine Chapel for a few minutes. If you can, try to skip some of the usual tourist spots or get “skip the line” tickets instead. Sure, they might cost you a few Euros extra, but considering the money you’ve already spent, it’s a small price to pay if you want to enjoy everything Rome has to offer.
Rome is a city that will draw you back again and again, and you can enjoy it to the full when you don’t have to worry about where to store your baggage, where to eat, or how to cross the road. It’s an intoxicating city that for more than two millennia has transformed the world we live in, and whatever your age or budget, it can provide a real taste of luxury living. It’s what Italians call ‘la dolce vita’.