If you are traveling around Europe or simply planning a weekend getaway, Italy, with its monumental architecture, delicious food and great vines is always a good choice. This beautiful country in the South of Europe is so diverse that everyone can find something of their taste there.
If food is important part of your traveling experience, then Tuscany is the perfect region to spend some time in while sampling authentic local dishes and fine wines. Venice is ideal for your perfect romantic trip. The canals and winding back streets are a great place to get lost in for the whole afternoon.
But there is one city that brings most of the tourists in Italy and that is, you can probably guess- Rome. Rome is not only the capital of Italy, but it was also the capital of the old Roman Empire. Just in the center of Rome it is located the smallest country in the world and the capital of the Catholicism- Vatican. Rome combines all of the amazing things about the country and gives you an insight into the history of one of the biggest empires in history. The saying goes “All roads lead to Rome”, and if the road takes you to Rome as well, here are a certain things you need to be aware of to fully enjoy your time in this magnificent city.
1. getting there
photo by: Pablo Daniel Fernandez, IG: @coco.fernandezz
Rome airport Fiumicino or Leonardo da Vinci airport is the airport you will be flying to if you are coming by plane. The airport is situated 16 miles southwest of Rome and it is linked to the city center by train or road. The best and the cheapest way to get to the city center is to take a shuttle bus that costs 8 euros. You can buy tickets on the bus or get them online beforehand. Try to avoid taxis whenever you can. Although there is a law which forbids taxi drivers from overcharging you for airport transfers, there are still some drivers who don’t play by the rules and who will try to get more from your wallet.
If you’re already travelling around Europe, you shouldn’t bother flying to Rome, especially if you have some extra time on your hands. Traveling by bus is the cheapest way to get around Europe and this way of travelling also gives you an opportunity to see a bit more of the country which makes your travel experience even better.
2. take tours
I don’t always go for guided tours when I’m travelling. It feels a little restrictive and I prefer to find my own way around. Exploring the city on your own, stumbling across things while getting lost is definitely the most fun and exciting way of getting to know a new destination. However, in some cases, taking the tour is not only well worth it, but even more, desirable. The Vatican, in particular, gets incredibly busy and you’re going to be waiting for ages to get inside. With a tour, you’ll get privilege entry. You can read more here about the great Vatican tours on offer. The other sites should be fine to visit on your own depending on what time of day you go but my advice is always to take a free walking tour on your first day to get the orientation of the city.
3. always buy house wine
“When in Rome, do as Romans do.” And Romans do drink a lot of great wine! You’re not going to visit Italy without sampling some of the incredible wine on offer, but you also don’t want to blow your entire budget in the first couple of days on expensive bottles. The good news is, you don’t have to. Buying cheap wine in Rome isn’t like buying cheap wine back at home, it’ll probably still be a lot better than the stuff you normally drink. In restaurants always order the house wine , it’s just as good as the other stuff and way cheaper.
4. avoid eating in the center
You’re not going to be short of great places to eat in Rome but like in every popular city, there are plenty of tourist traps that you want to avoid. In the center of the city, a lot of places are just capitalizing the popularity of the city and good location. Why people even go there, you might wonder. Usually these restaurants are in the most central location in the city offering amazing views of some of the best attractions in the city and what you are paying for is the view, not the quality of food. Ask any of the locals and they’ll most definitely tell you that they never eat in any of these places right in the center. But you don’t need to walk a lot to find a decent dining experience. If you move only 5 minutes outside of the center, you can already find the real, authentic restaurants that serve delicious Italian food. The best way to find great places to eat is to ask the locals for their recommendations.
5. get used to italian dinner time
If you usually eat dinner around 6 o’clock, you’re going to be in for a bit of a shock once you get to Rome. In Italy, people don’t eat until at least 8 in the evening and most restaurants aren’t going to be open before that. If you’re too hungry to wait that long, most of the bars will offer small snacks so you can make it until dinner. But the kitchen stays open well past 10 pm so you’re not in any rush. Take it easy and enjoy the Mediterranean way.
Each city has its downsides and in Rome, it’s the pickpockets. There are a lot of tourists carrying large amounts of cash so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of criminals looking to get their hands on it. That’s why you need to be extra vigilant when walking around the city. Famous tourist attractions like the Pantheon or the Colosseum are dangerous areas for obvious reasons. Huge crowds walking around with cameras and phones in their hands make the perfect victims so pickpocketers are going to be out in full force. In places like this I like to use a travel wallet that you can strap to your chest under your clothes. You can keep some cash in your pocket and then put the rest in there. That way, if you do get hit, you’re not going to lose it all.
With bearing this few things in mind, you are ready to enjoy this beautiful city in the best way.