Rome Wander

Travel Smart Tips: Rome

November 9, 2015
Travel Smart Tips: Rome

Rome. The Eternal City. The expensive city.

Most people, whether avid travelers, or once-in-a-lifetime trip takers, have Rome on their list. Perhaps it’s the history that summons you, or the air of romance and mystery portrayed in the oft alluded to Roman Holiday. Either way, whatever starry-eyed notion brings you to Rome, the reality of the city can sometimes rear it’s trash-littered head. Rome has a bit of a reputation. Corruption, pick-pocketing, price gouging, man-handling, inept public transportation, monuments closed without warning. You name it, someone visiting Rome has complained about it.

So, how do you fix all of that? You can’t. Rome is out of your control.

But, if you know how, you can easily make all that Rome has to offer work to your advantage. Traveling smart contributes to traveling safer and traveling cheaper no matter where you go in this world.

 Travel Smart Tips: Rome

Are you interested in seeing magnificent works of art, but less than enticed by entrance fees and long lines? Visit some of Rome’s 900+ churches! The entrance to most churches is free, including St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the largest church in the world. There you can see Michelangelo’s famous La Pieta, a jaw-droppingly beautiful marble statue depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Jesus. Other famous works of art in otherwise possibly overlooked churches include Renaissance master Caravaggio’s Calling of Saint MatthewSt. Matthew and the Angel, and the Martyrdom of St. Matthew at San Luigi dei Francesi; Michelangelo’s Christ Carrying the Cross at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva; and Caravaggio’s Martyrdom of St. Peter and Conversion of St. Paul,  Raphael’s Chigi Chapel, and many statues by Bernini at Santa Maria del Popolo. Each church has its own operating hours, and some can be quite idiosyncratic. Make sure to double-check before you make your plans.

Go for a walk. It’s really that simple. Every corner you turn, every small side street you walk down, can hide the most beautiful treasures, both big and small. Not to mention you’ll save the hassle of dealing with the public transportation system, an organization plagued by a reputation of running behind schedule, drivers striking without notice, and passengers left stranded.

Every random stroll in #Rome is free entry into a museum of hidden gems!

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the things you find walking back to your car after the bar.

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Are you getting thirsty on your walk around Rome? Carry an empty water bottle with you and fill it up at one of Rome’s many Nasoni, or public water fountains. These fountains, of which there are around 200, can be found throughout the historical center. The best part? This water is clean, drinkable, and free! Not to mention fresh! If you want to blend in with the locals, drink from the Nasoni  – it’s the same water coming through the taps in Roman homes! ACEA (manager of water services utilities) has a map of Nasoni locations throughout the historical center, which can be found here.

Many famous attractions in Rome offer free admission, including the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Trevi Fountain (among many others). But, if you happen to be in Rome on the first Sunday of any month, you are in luck! All public museums, monuments, and archaeological sites are free to all visitors! Choose wisely what you will see during that time, as some places, such as the Vatican Museum, are absolute madhouses. Others offer discounts after a certain time of the day, so make sure to double-check those places you’ve decided you want to go!

roman ruins and rain!

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Be smart about how you eat and drink! It seems like every other week a disgruntled tourist is posting a picture online of a receipt for four coffee’s and a gelato costing an astronomical amount. If you order a coffee, pastry, gelato, or anything else that is served at a bar and can be eaten standing up…stand up! The cost of the same item, when seated, can be triple. Not to mention, when seated, you have to pay a service charge (or coperto), which can range anywhere from 1-5 Euro per person. This rule of thumb applies even more so if you are near a famous attraction such as the Vatican Museums or the Colosseum. And if the menu doesn’t have prices? RUN.

Do as the students do and have aperitivo! Did you spend too much on that rockin’ purse and now you’re short on cash for dinner? Aperitivo is a pre-dinner drink (see some of my favorite Italian cocktails here) that typically comes with access to a full-fledged buffet of salads, pizzas, mini-sandwiches, and sweets (shall I go on?!). Some restaurants create a platter for you and serve it to you at your table, others are a bit more casual. In Rome, the price for what will become your favorite thing about Italy, commonly ranges from 9-15 Euro (drink and food). Have a drink, or two, and eat until your heart’s content…no need for dinner after!

aperitivo

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If you are looking for the perfect time of the year to travel to Rome, let me be brutally honest and tell you that summer is not that time. Overwhelmingly hot and humid, Rome becomes a dense and insanely crowded city during the months of June, July, and August. August is quite possibly the worst time to visit Rome, as the majority of Romans flee the city for the coast for the entire month. That means fewer people, yes, but fewer people that run the restaurants and stores, leaving many things permanently closed. The best time of the year to visit Rome is in the fall, when the temperature hovers between 62-72 degrees Fahrenheit (17-22 degrees Celsius) well into mid-November, and day trips outside of the city (perhaps a weekend in Tuscany), put you smack-dab into the middle of harvest time (new olive oil sampling, anyone?!).

grapes just chilling on the side of the road during my walk today.

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So, are you ready for your next trip to Rome? Keep these travel smart tips in mind and I promise you’ll leave feeling as if you’ve conquered the city, know the ins and outs, and can blend in with the locals (don’t wear flip-flops!).

A presto!

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43 Comments

  • Reply Shobha George November 10, 2015 at 3:56 am

    Thank you for these great tips!

    • Reply Emily November 14, 2015 at 11:35 am

      My pleasure! I hope they are helpful to you!

  • Reply Sabine - The Travelling Chilli November 10, 2015 at 7:09 am

    Rome is such an amazing city. I have visited the city on various occasions and in various times of the year. As you said, just walk around and discover awesome squares and little alleys. The nicest time I think is early morning when the city starts coming alive. Great tips!!
    Sabine – The Travelling Chilli recently posted…Top 10 Highlights of Southern NamibiaMy Profile

    • Reply Emily November 14, 2015 at 11:36 am

      I totally agree, Sabine! Early morning, when it’s peaceful and people are just starting to leave their homes is a wonderful time to wander. A little calm before the storm 🙂

  • Reply Dave (Silverbackpacker) November 10, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Rome is a great city for walking round. So much to see there as you have mentioned. The Vatican City was really crowded when we were there but very enjoyabel
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    • Reply Emily November 14, 2015 at 11:37 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Dave! Yes, the Vatican is quite possibly the most crowded attraction in Rome. Well worth it, at least once, in my opinion!

  • Reply christine November 11, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I always love some good tips!! Thanks!! 😉
    christine recently posted…Enjoy the perks of booking a club room at the Grand MillenniumMy Profile

    • Reply Emily November 14, 2015 at 11:37 am

      My pleasure, Christine! I hope they come in handy 🙂

  • Reply Prianka | Map Halves November 11, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Love these tips! Especially the idea of the aperitivo, I wonder if they have things like that in other parts of Europe. I really enjoy the pictures too, so I added you on IG (:
    Prianka | Map Halves recently posted…Where to find the Best Views of SingaporeMy Profile

    • Reply Emily November 14, 2015 at 11:38 am

      Thanks for the IG add, Prianka! Yes, aperitivo has become a way of life for me! Even if I’m at home…Italian cocktail before dinner? Yes, please!

  • Reply Lexi November 12, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Thanks for the tips, I’m hoping to make in to Europe in 2017 🙂
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    • Reply Emily November 14, 2015 at 11:39 am

      Thanks, Lexi! Good luck in your trip planning!

  • Reply Dean November 13, 2015 at 4:43 am

    Good tips and really interesting with the extra charges for sitting, and the aperitivo. Next time in Rome I will be a little wiser.
    Dean recently posted…Wales in ruins – a castle collectionMy Profile

    • Reply Emily November 14, 2015 at 11:40 am

      I feel like that’s a good slogan for Rome, Dean: Be a little wiser! If you know the small little things that don’t seem big but are really quite a nuisance, it will make your trip all the better!

  • Reply Claudia November 13, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I love Rome. It is by far my favorite city in the world and (I promise) it has nothing to do with the fact I am Italian. I totally agree with your recommendations. Rome can be very expensive but there are ways around it. Yes, walking is fantastic there and it is the best way to see the city (and the cheapest). Tourist spots are expensive and that is why it is actually good to ask receptionists at the hotel or hostel where to eat. Not to mention, tourist places have horrible food. One hint? If a place serves dinner at 5 or 6 pm (and you see people eating at that time) you know it is touristy. NO ITALIAN ever would eat pizza or pasta at that time of day. That is gelato time!
    Claudia recently posted…Ring of Fire or Circle of Hell? Crossing Dante’s Inferno on Mount BromoMy Profile

    • Reply Emily November 14, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Wow? Favorite city in the world? That’s quite an honor you’ve bestowed on Rome, Claudia 🙂 I absolutely love your tip, and agree with it one hundred percent. If people are sitting eating dinner a la American time, it’s a tourist trap FOR SURE.

  • Reply Jon @ jonistravelling.com November 13, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Great tips, Rome can seem a bit daunting but it’s possible to do it easily and cheaply (sort of). We went at the end of November and the weather was perfect for sightseeing and the sights weren’t completely overrun.
    Jon @ jonistravelling.com recently posted…Walking the Streets of the Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa, PeruMy Profile

    • Reply Emily November 14, 2015 at 11:44 am

      I’m glad you had a great time, Jon! You visited at the perfect time of the year, in my opinion.

  • Reply Damien November 14, 2015 at 1:47 am

    Thanks for these tips. I have yet to actually visit Rome (I chose Naples instead). I really like the pics from instagram that you used as well

    • Reply Emily November 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Thank you, Damien! I hope you enjoyed Naples.

  • Reply Natasha November 14, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    “Go for a walk” my favorite travel advice. It’s always the best way to discover something most travel books won’t cover. Random spots for relaxing and enjoying local culture, architecture and life! I can’t wait to visit Rome, there seems to be so many bloggers writing about it recently- it makes me jealous! haha. Thank you for the tips. ^.^
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    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:21 am

      My pleasure, Natasha! Yes, a walk is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the local culture. I hope you get to Rome sooner rather than later – a presto!

  • Reply Ynah CA November 15, 2015 at 8:04 am

    What i like about Rome is the architecture it feels like every single structure in the city reveals a great deal of history. But hey, Ggreat tips! This will come handy when i get to visit Rome someday.

    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:21 am

      Very, very true! Each building seems like it is one of a kind!

  • Reply Elizabeth November 15, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Good tips. We enjoyed wandering around just finding things! And the food! I am trying to find a reason to return!
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    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:21 am

      Thank you so much! Isn’t the food reason enough to return? 🙂

  • Reply Grietje | TravelGretl November 15, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Cool! Going to bring these tips when we’re going to Rome end of this month 😀

    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:22 am

      Awesome! I hope they are helpful to you. Enjoy Roma!

  • Reply evan kristine November 15, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Awesome tips! I really still think that the water fountain system in most cities in Italy is maginificent and saves a lot of money!
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    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Very true about the fountain systems – the best I’ve had is from the fountains in Turin. It literally tasted like it dropped off of a mountain glacier straight into my mouth.

  • Reply Nic from Roaming Renegades November 15, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Great tips, many of which I find to also be relevant to other places such as Paris. We might be taking a short trip to Rome in the new year so this will hopefully come in handy!
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    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Very true, Nic, these tips can apply to other cities! I hope you get to Rome – enjoy!

  • Reply Alli November 16, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you, thank you for this. When I was in Rome a few years back, I feel like I didn’t do or see anything. I honestly am scratching my head wondering what I did there, aside from seeing the Coloseum, That’s sad. I wish I read this post before going 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:26 am

      Oh, Alli, I’m so glad you said that! I wrote this post just for that reason – so people could feel like they really experienced the city. Because, Rome can be overwhelming and you feel like you ran yourself ragged but what did you do?! I hope you make it back someday 🙂

  • Reply Alexis November 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I have always wanted to go to Rome, but have put off Italy until I can spend a lot of time there…a week is just not going to cut it!

    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:26 am

      Very true – you definitely need more time!!

  • Reply Ale November 16, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Emily great post!! I’m Italian so it count doble!!! 🙂 You’r so right and happy to understand that you’ve taken the best of our eternal city!! 🙂

    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Grazie mille!

  • Reply Mary Charie | Two Monkeys Travel November 16, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    I’ve been to Rome just recently, really a special place. Though the transpo in a bit disappointing. Nevertheless, would go back there! <3
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    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Transportation is disappointing could be a BIT of an understatement. Haha

  • Reply Katharina November 16, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    First I wanted to say that I love the name of your Blog! I visited Rome a very long time ago with my school class. It was an amazing experience. And I really need to revisit it now that I am an adult. These tips are very useful. I will definitely keep them in mind. Wouldn’t want to pay extra for things I don’t need to. Thank you for sharing x Katharina I http://www.beautifullytravelled.com

    • Reply Emily November 17, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Thank you so much, Katharina! I’m glad you like it. I hope you get back to Rome 🙂

  • Reply Steph of Big World Small Pockets December 1, 2015 at 2:08 am

    Great tip about the aperitivo, a classic budget saver that keeps the pounds in the purse and not on the waist!
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