Know Before You Go
Most tourists want that ‘off the beaten track’ experience when visiting a new place; they might pour over articles, travel blogs or speak to people who have been to get a feel for what to expect before visiting. We’ve spoken to the locals to get some recommendations and top tips to share to make your trip to Rome seamless. 1. Ciao Most locals in Rome will understand basic English, however, it’s always courteous to learn a few useful Italian phrases before you go to make communicating a bit easier. Buy a pocket book of key phrases, such as how to say hello and goodbye, how to order in a restaurant and how to ask for directions, as a start. Even if you get something wrong, just by showing the effort will be more than most people! 2. Local dishes It’s common assumption that dishes in Italy consist only of pizza and pasta, and variations of – but don’t rule out other delicacies that dominate menus across Rome. The Italians are known for their fresh ingredients and locally sourced produce that make their food so healthy so you can forget lashings of butter and processed snacks. From imaginative aperitivi, to anything fritti, another one of the best things to try in Rome is arancini, tomato rice balls with mozzarella, or Bucatini, spaghetti with a hole through the middle. 3. Hidden Gems Veer off the tourist track and look down the cobbled side streets for hidden gems when looking for places to eat. Often you’ll find great family run tavernas that serve traditional Roman food at a snip of the price of a touristy restaurant on the main street. The menus will be understated but delicious all the same and you’ll always be served with a smile! It’s also where your key phrases will come in handy... 4. Queuing Many cultures are respectable queue-formers and will wait patiently and in an orderly fashion before getting into a busy attraction. Not the Italians. You can forget all rules when it comes to waiting in line – it’s each to their own in this dog-eat-dog queuing system. One of the great things about the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card is that you can dodge the queues at some of the busiest attractions, such as the Vatican Museums (which can save you up to 4 hours in the busy months) and the Coliseum, too. 5. Drinking Drinking in Italy is a civilised affair and you’ll often find most Italians drinking conservatively at both lunch and dinner. Producing some of the best wine in the world, Moscato, Chianti, Amarone and Prosecco all herald from this country so you’ll be sure to find some of the best wine bars suitably stocked around the city. Spend a day tasting the different varieties, from red, to white, sparking and maybe even some limoncello, too, a zesty liqueur usually taken after dinner as a palette cleanser. Cheers! 6. Walking Rome is a relatively small city and most of it can be explored on foot. Although the Metro system is easy to use and cheap, we would always recommend bringing good walking shoes and exploring on foot. This way you’ll see more of the city and get a real off-the-beaten-track experience. Don’t be afraid to get lost and interact with the locals to really see the Rome not in the guidebooks. And whatever you do – avoid the taxis, they can spot a tourist a mile off and you’ll leave with considerably lighter pockets! 7. Green spaces For a city so full of ancient ruins, you might be surprised to learn that there are a considerable number of green spaces in the city, too. The city boasts three huge parks – the favourite being Villa Borghese, not forgetting Villa Ada and Villa Doria Pamphili, as well as hidden gardens which offer secluded spots for picnicking, people watching or gazing over the cityscape. The Rose Garden up on the Aventine Hill is a particular favourite, as well as the Orange Garden which offers a stunning panorama over Rome, too. 8. Street Art The street art scene is Rome isn’t one of its main features but the trend is certainly growing as the hipster population are becoming bolder at self-expression. Typically in the student area of San Lorenzo you can find vibrant murals along via degli Ausoni and via dei Sabelli. Or head out to Ostiense, an up and coming area for street artists and home to the Outdoor Festival and 999 Contemporary who invite big shot street artists to the city to create works of art legally. 9. Street Eats We don’t mean stalls and markets, we meet eating on the street. It’s very common in Rome to find the locals dining out with a taglio of pizza bought from an understated pizzeria and a cold bottle of Peroni. With rows and rows of rectangular pizza, you can pick how much you want and they’ll slice it up for you. Whether you fancy trying something a bit different, be it a white pizza without the tomato, or a truffle and vegetable inspired combo, take your pick and set to the street with your very own picnic. 10. Cinema Culture If you’re a movie buff, not only will you be able to recreate famous movie scenes at iconic locations across the city from the Spanish Steps, to the Coliseum, but a few miles out of central Rome you’ll find a whole district dedicated to filmmaking, Cinecittà (which literally means cinema city). These film studios have filmed over 3000 films, including the classic La Dolce Vita, so we’d recommend joining in a tour of the sets and exhibitions to learn about Italian movie culture.