Saturday, September 27, 2014

Some Tips for Seeing Rome

Rome, the Eternal City: it's filled with art, history,and Italians!  To navigate this city well do your homework. Here are a few of my best tips, not necessarily in any order.

  • Research what you want to see, then make a workable plan.  Rome can be exhausting, it's noisy, and chaotic, but it's worth all of that.  
  • Hire private licensed guides for the big stuff.  This will save you time in line, and will also save you the headache of trying to figure out where you are and which way to go. All licensed guides have passed tests. they know their stuff, and they get front of the line privileges at the Colosseum, Vatican museums, and other historical places.  The groups are usually no more than 6 to 8 people and it is worth every penny. 
  • The companies I've used have been, and  Context is a bit more high end, giving you art historians at the Vatican museums, and Archaeologists at the Colosseum---well worth the money.  The Roman guy hires licensed guides as well, and all are passionate about their subjects.
  • Don't plan too much in one day if you don't have to. Remember that eating here is also something that needs to be savored just like the sights.  Maybe do a tour in the morning, lunch, a rest period (be Italian for goodness sake) and then an evening tour/or walk-about if time is short.  If you can plan one tour per day, that's the best of all worlds, because there are so many places to walk and experience.

  • Download apps and find great blogs.  My favorite is  Elizabeth is an author, married to an Italian, and her blog has lots of great info, but for the best info, download her app Eat Rome.  (If you are going to Florence and Venice she has done those apps as well---can't wait for her book Eat Rome)  Every restaurant recommendation has been spot on.
  • Download Viber to your smart phone to keep in touch with home.  Free text, and phone calls from WIFI
  • I like to rent a short term apartment while I'm here.  Rental agencies abound, as well as,, and  The benefits?  You can spread out, you have a place to come back to and have a rest, and your are living with the locals.  

  • Download the Uber app for your smart phone.  The cars are clean, the drivers are courteous and they can cost less than taking a cab, plus you don't have to worry about having enough cash on hand; it's all done electronically and NO TIPS.  
  • Use public transportation if it's close.  The Metro here is a great deal and easy to navigate;        3 Euro for an all day pass.  It goes to a lot of attractions: the Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain (which is covered in scaffolding right now), Piazza del Popolo, St. Peter's, and Eataly

  • OK, Americani, this is how the rest of the world sees us:  overweight, wearing shorts and tank tops into sacred places, baseball caps, sneakers, no style, and arguing with shop keepers and wait staff because they don't speak YOUR language---it's THEIR country, make an effort. A simple buon giorno,buona sera, and Grazie, are all appreciated.  You are a guest here, act like one. 
  • What to pack:  If you are planning to have dinner with the Pope or Prime Minister then by all means pack that suit or cocktail attire.  Pack light, you will be buying things to take home, and that suitcase will get heavier and heavier as your trip goes on. For the most part, Italians dress casually, when they are outside of work, but they have style, so no running shoes at dinner, but find some comfortable walking shoes (Ecco, Munro, Mephisto, Dansko, Clarks, Aldo) and definitely pack them. Pick a neutral wardrobe color, black/grey/beige, and then accent with color--maybe a gorgeous silk scarf, cashmere sweater, or Murano glass necklace.   Cobblestones are hard on the knees/hips/and feet so be careful and watch your step---last year I broke my leg on uneven pavement, walked around on it for 2 weeks, went home and was put into a boot till I left to come back to Italy.  Learn from my mistakes. 
  • I tell people that the treasure of Italy isn't the art, history, culture, food, olive oil or wine, it's the people.  Make an effort to know them, and you'll find that treasure.  Buona Notte from Rome.

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