So you’re heading to the Eternal City. Congrats! (Can I join you?) You’re in for one fantastically romantic, ancient, memorable time. This is Rome that we’re talking about! Let me say that again…ROME… and you shouldn’t miss any of the true Italian nuances this gem of a city offers. It’s easy to fall victim to the tourist traps that are set out for first time travelers visiting Italy. That’s where I’m here to help! After spending six weeks living in Rome, I’ve finally gotten around to listing twelve remarkably beautiful and truly Italian experiences to have while in the Eternal City.
TRASTEVEREOrange hued homes, laundry out to dry, street performers playing accordion while Rome’s working people walk arm in arm to their late night dinner. This is where you can truly experience Rome for what it really is… an Italian metropolis, not a tourist trap.
THE VATICAN AT NIGHT One of the most memorable sights I’ve seen in my life. Walking up to the gigantic, overwhelmingly white and marble lined figure of the Vatican against the dark night sky brought tears to my eyes. Yes, tears! Empty and a little haunting without the usual crowd of a thousand tourists, the Vatican at night is a sight to behold.
A QUICK ESPRESSO EVERY MORNING When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Say no to syrupy, overly sugared concoctions. Say yes to espresso (“ess-press-oh”). Order your miniature cup every morning and sip it quickly while standing at the bar, like all true Romans do.
EARLY MORNING MARKETS AT CAMPO DI FIORI Want to see market the way the old world does it? Wake up any Saturday morning, head to any larger piazza in Rome and you’re in for a good time. Legit olive oils and seriously fresh produce combined with bargaining and yelling. It’s a good time if you’ve had already had your espresso!
APERITIVO Why do an early dinner when there’s this wonderful creation called aperitivo where drinks are cheap and fresh, delicious snacks come free? From 5 to 8 pm, most bars and restaurants offer special prices on their aperitivo drinks. I’m telling you right now say yes to an Aperol Spritze! Take in the passers by, sip your drinks, munch away and then carry on into the night.
CONQUERING THE CONFUSION THAT IS TERMINI STATION Day trips out of Rome as simply the best, because almost all trains make a stop in good ol’ Termini. However, maneuvering your way through this maze of a place is a not a simple fete. Gypsies offering you “assistance,” last minute changes in departing stations, speaking broken Italian to order a snack to eat for your ride and dragging around your luggage can cause some serious headaches. The moment you realize you’ve mastered this place is the moment you can truly feel Roman-esque!
THE EMPTY RUINS WITH A BOTTLE OF WINE Or what I lovingly called cat paradise. Yes, there are many stray alley cats that live in the Roman ruins. But seriously… bring an uncorked bottle around dusk and watch the place empty while you have the mystically ancient place to yourself.
THE TIBER RIVER It’s by no means the cleanest river in Europe, but it does boast some beautiful bridges and picturesque views. Sit with your lover on a stone bridge, kiss your happy hearts out and show the Romans that you’re not too prude to show some PDA.
THE SWELTERING MIDSUMMER HEAT What can I say… it’s a right of passage.
SHOE SHOPPING AT VIA DEL CORSO Bring your Euros and a comfortable pair of shoes to hit the pavement in. It’s time to shop for some Italian leather goodness. Buy a pair of strategically high and thick heeled pumps (that’s the only way you’re going to survive the cobblestone streets, ladies). Squeeze into the tiniest little store fronts you’ve ever seen and leave with absolutely no buyer’s remorse. When else can you buy true Italian leather shoes?
PASSEGGIATA Before and after your dinner, take a long and slow stroll through the Roman streets arm in arm. During this time, speed is not a virtue… but awareness is. Take in every person passing by. The Italians are renown for their ability to observe.
A NEARLY LIFE CHANGING, MOUTHWATERING MEAL AT: Dar Poeta (pizza heaven) Osteria der Belli (pasta alle vongole heaven), Spirito di Vino (dessert and cheese plate heaven), Salumeria Roscioli (meat and cheese heaven), Roma Sparita (cacio e pepe heaven), Osteria del Anima (pear pasta heaven). Thank me later!
SLOW, LATE ROMAN NIGHTS Lose track of time. Enjoy your night fully, wherever you are and in whatever you are doing.