Rome is a city I hold dear in my heart. Most people know Rome as the very popular capital of Italy, and home of the Ancient Roman Colosseum; but Rome is much, much more than that. It captured the deep part of my senses, and took me on a journey back in time. It is a historical escape layered with authentic culture, and it created an experience that no number of tourists or selfie-stick salesmen can strip from it. I recommend Rome to all the history buffs, Julius Caesar lovers, culture appreciators, architecture feigns, coffee fanatics, self-proclaimed foodies, admirers of Italy, hopeless Romantics, adventure seekers, artists of all kinds, and last but certainly not least, gelato enthusiasts (me). Rome truly has something to offer for everyone.
With all that praise being said, there are some unfortunate events that can put a damper on your time there. I have experienced some of these ‘less than fortunate’ situations, and I made a list of the things that I think you should know before you go to Rome! These are little pieces of advice that will hopefully help you avoid bummer situations, and enhance the quality of your overall experience in Roma. So, take a seat, get comfortable, because without further ado, here is what to know before you travel to Rome:
If You Are Traveling from April – August Prepare for Heat
Yes, heat. I am from Florida, and it was so hot when I was in Rome that this is what I chose as my number one tip! As soon as you get off of your flight get ready for some heat. Stay hydrated, seek out shady spots, and dress to sweat. Ladies, sun dresses will be your new best friend. And men…. Shorts and tanks. Sunglasses. You’ll thank me later.
Book Your Sistine Chapel Ticket in Advance Online
Do you enjoy standing in lines for hours on end in the aforementioned scorching heat? If yes, then skip ahead to the next tip. If you are like me and long lines are the bane of your existence, then this tip is for you. You can skip the line to the Sistine Chapel Museum by ordering online here: Click on this link -> https://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do
And then select “admission tickets.”
Let me tell you it felt so good to pass the line, get our tickets scanned, and walk in to the (breathtaking) air-conditioned, Sistine Chapel Museum.
Get a Tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum
Usually I’m not a big advocate for tours. I like to discover things at my own pace, but this particular tour is so important. There is so much history within the walls of the Colosseum and Forum, which makes it incredible to have an expert explain it all to you. For example: within the forum, what may look like a half-broken pillar comes to life as your guide tells you that this spot is where Caesar held his councils. The tour I took was fairly cheap at $20 a person plus tip for a small group tour.
Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon are Best Late at Night
Going to these monuments past midnight is the best way to truly take in the sights without the crowds. Grab a bottle of wine, and make it a romantic experience!
Use AirBNB to Stay in a Great Location
Take your time on this one, and do some research. We stayed in an amazing and cute AirBNB with a balcony that had a view over Rome that looked even more spectacular when the sun was setting. It was just steps from the Trevi Fountain which was unfortunately closed for renovations (research, research, research). I don’t regret staying there though because it was within walking distance of all the main attractions, cheap, and I still threw a coin in Fontana di Trevi… see you soon Roma!
Roman Public Transportation Isn’t the Best
Trains in Rome are notoriously late, and although this wasn’t a problem for us there were plenty of other problems that left me with a bad impression. It was hot, sweaty, smelly, and crowded inside the train. Not to mention we had to hop off at a random stop one time because a guy was harassing me. Yeah. Not fun. That being said, the airport is far from the city center, and sometimes taking public transportation is unavoidable.
Bring Comfortable Footwear
How Italian women wear heels all day while carrying children is absolutely beyond me. Don’t sprain your ankle on the literally ancient crooked cobblestone streets. Do yourself a favor and wear some comfy shoes with support. I got a really cute pair of sandals with good support at Marshall’s, and really enjoyed them! They were breathable and comfortable to walk around in miles a day.
Bring a Water Bottle
Rome is filled with drinkable fountains that have cold refreshing water! Bring a water bottle along to fill up so you
stay hydrated. Water is often relatively pricey at restaurants and stores. I like this collapsible water bottle: Platypus SoftBottles with Closure Cap
Your Waiter Isn’t Ignoring You
Like other European countries, in Rome you have to ask for the bill after you are done eating – it won’t be offered to you. After you bring your food, your server is going to leave you alone to your meal, it isn’t rude, it’s just customary! So, if you need something, don’t be shy to go grab them!
No Cappuccinos After Dinner
On the subject of dining: one of my favorite part of Rome were the life-changing cappuccinos. However, you do not want to be ordering one after dinner because this would be breaking a major Italian Food Rule. If you are craving some caffeine, opt for a espresso so you don’t get an Italian side-eye.
Take a Stroll Away from the Touristy Areas
Cross the bridge away from the touristy attraction and stroll the streets in the Trastevere area. If you want to stop for lunch or dinner, make sure to make a reservation because it’s impossible to get a table without one.
See the Spanish Steps During Sunset
Take a seat and watch the beautiful gold, yellow, and orange hues of the sunset paint the Spanish steps. This is the perfect opportunity to take a photo, or grab a gelato and just relax.
Do Not Accept “Gifts” from People on the Street
This is a scam. They are going to offer you something as a ‘gift’ and demand money for it. Just don’t accept it. Keep walking, and ignore them.
Learn Some Background History About Rome Before You Go
Either at home or on the plane, taking a little bit of time to do some research really makes a world of different. Whether you want to read about the artwork in the Vatican Museum, about Ancient Rome’s reign, or other ancient monuments, you will be able to transport yourself back in time while walking on the old cobblestone steps. Rome really is like time traveling.
Get a Really Affordable Roundtrip Flight to Europe
Rome is truly a city unlike any other. It is hectic and busy but still has an essence about it that is calming and takes you to another world. I hope these tips help, and that you all enjoy or have enjoyed Rome