Amyleigh. Winchester, England.
An archaeologist & RE specialist with an abundance of love for makeup, nature & architecture photography, comics, taxidermy & a good cuppa.
When in Rome: Dos and Don'ts
I hate to say it (but maybe some of you will be pleased) but my posts covering my trip to Rome have finally come to an end! If you couldn't tell by the obscene amount of posts I've made, I had a brilliant time on my first holiday with Matt and I thought Rome was a beautiful city to visit and explore. To end this series of travel posts, I thought it would be a great idea to give you a little run down of some do's and don't's that I think are insightful little things I wish I had known before we visited. These things are mostly minor, but had I have known some of them before visiting, it would have made the trip even more smooth sailing than it was. I've also included some things that I just personally think helps when staying in Rome so if you're planning a trip there, hopefully my advice will help!
- Save money by making packed lunch/having dinner at home 1 night. If you happen to be staying in an Air BnB place or anywhere with access to a kitchen, I'd strongly suggest making a packed lunch if you plan to spend all day out and about. Rome isn't ridiculously expensive, but when I think about our trip, all of my spending money was spent on food and entry into museums etc. so having the option to have a cheaper meal shouldn't be sniffed at. We didn't really eat at lunch time as we had quite big breakfasts every morning and found the midday heat put us off eating, but we did have dinner at our flat one night which was a nice quiet change to a busy restaurant and Matt's cooking was just as tasty!
- Take enough money for extra allowances such as taxis, bus, metro & daily person charge. This one depends on what sort of person you are when it comes to city breaks. Matt & I walked everywhere and the only time we paid for a taxi was back to the airport when we were leaving. The buses and metros are relatively cheap though (cheaper than the general UK prices it seems) so if you were to use them, you don't need to have a lot stashed away, but it is worth working into your budget if you think you're going to use them. About an hour away on the train, you can visit the Italian coast which we didn't get a chance to do, but if you fancied that, it's a reasonable price for a train ticket and again, just something to bear in mind. Depending on how your accommodation works, you might have to pay a daily person charge when staying in the city. It wasn't a lot of money but again, it's worth checking and worth working into your spending money.
- Plan where you are going for the day (even if its only roughly). Matt & I took the "let's just see where our feet takes us" approach and I personally like that as it means you don't stress yourself out about timings or where you need to be. However one thing we did do each evening/morning was plan a rough destination. For example, we decided to go to Trastevere one day as we wanted to check out the Santa Maria in Trastevere (which you can read about here!) so we wandered around the area too. Rome is separated into districts and pretty much each district has something of interest for tourists whether it be a museum, ruins, a park etc. so aiming to go to a specific area each day works really well!
- Make sure to pack appropriate clothing for a Roman Catholic country. I know this one might seem obvious, but it can honestly be overlooked so easily and I almost forgot about this myself! Depending on what time of year you're visiting Rome, it can hit up to 40 degrees and wearing clothing can be pretty unbearable but if you're planning to visit St. Peter's Basilica or any of the other 1983752 basilicas in the city, you need to wear appropriate clothing. That's not saying you need to be fully covered from head to toe, but shorts with your booty hanging out or deep plunging necklines shouldn't be worn in holy places out of respect. A good idea for ladies in particular is to always keep a lightweight thin chiffon/cotton scarf in your bag everyday as usually basilicas have a sign asking that the shoulders be covered upon entering so this is a quick easy way to make sure you won't be asked to leave or refused entry. It's also just a way to be respectful to those using the church!
- Be hard faced and don't give into people coaxing you into their establishments or people begging for money. I feel quite harsh typing that but you will have a lot of people trying to convince you to come into their restaurants and it's totally okay to say no. Most people are used to this happening and will just tell you to enjoy your day, but for those who are pushy, it's okay to brush them off. Secondly, there is a lot of people begging in Rome. A lot of people appear to be/are disabled and they will be quite forceful with asking for money. At first this upset me a little and I considered giving people money but you just can't afford to. People are very pushy, some are rude, and some are just out-right inappropriate so you need to be hard faced and not phased by it all the best you can. Seeing a group of women grabbing men's hands who were walking home from work and trying to make these men touch them in exchange for money was bad enough, but when I saw a 10 year old girl added into the mix doing it, I realised I needed to act like I didn't care and not give money.
- Nap during the midday heat. This only really applies if you go during the summer months (especially July/August time!) but midday can be excruciatingly hot. Between 12-3pm it's a good idea to either go indoors into a museum/somewhere well conditioned and just chill out for a few hours or retreat back to your hotel room/flat etc. and just rest!
- Head to St. Peter's Square on Sunday to see the Pope. This isn't really a thing you *need* to do, but walking by St. Peter's Square when the Pope was addressing the Roman citizens was a once in a lifetime thing. Hearing him speak to his people and seeing just how many people were there was wonderful and humbling so I'd recommend it even if you're just passing by and catch a glimpse!
- See the city by day and night. You're bound to do this anyway, but seeing the same areas both during the day and during the evening can seem like two completely different places and brings different charms to your attention.
- Don't buy water, save your money using fountains. This was a wee hint from our Air BnB host and it was the best little insider we were told. Although the fountains are dotted around Rome, I don't think we would have necessarily used them if we weren't told in advance they were safe to use. A lot of the fountains themselves are beautiful to look at but the water from them is ice cold and so tasty. You can taste the rich minerals with each mouthful and refilling your bottle keeps you hydrated in the insane heat and prevents you from wasting money. Some places can charge up to 5 euros for a normal 500ml bottle of water just because they know you will need to buy it at some point if you don't have any so don't be sucked into spending - use the fountains!
- Don't leave sightseeing to chance. As I mentioned in previous posts, some things are better off booked in advance and others aren't needed. For example, our trip to the Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum would have taken a lot longer if we had booked in advance as the queue to pick up tickets was a lot longer and slow moving compared to the one for instantly going to buy tickets at the office. However if you're thinking about visiting the Vatican Museums, you really need to book in advance if you don't want to spend around 4 hours waiting outside in the boiling hot sun on a busy street corner. Booking stuff online is easy enough and all you need to do is print off your ticket receipts, pack them in your case and hand luggage and you're good to go! You can skip the queue then just show your receipt to the ticket office and that's it!
- Don't just go to whatever restaurant is nearest - read up on where you're going to be and therefore where you'll be eating. Although Rome proved to me you can't judge a good restaurant by the decor or by how many customers are in it, I'd definitely recommend having a little check about where is good to eat. If you're staying in an Air BnB place, ask the host where they would recommend in different areas and if you get chatting to any other locals - ask them too! There's a lot of tourist trap places that promise 3 course deals for super cheap but as you can probably guess, the food isn't authentic, it isn't tasty, and it will be a big waste of money. I did a little post on some places Matt & I loved during our visit, but you really do need to have a little check.
- Don't go without a hat, sunglasses and sun protection. Again this one is pretty obvious, but I didn't take a hat and regretted it for the whole holiday. There's plenty of cheap stalls selling various hats and parasols whilst you're there but if you want your own style, just remember to pack one. Like I've said, the sun can get intense and giving your scalp a break from it can help you stay sane.
- Don't wear silly shoes or fake leather. Another little 'silly' one but it's worth mentioning that in the heat, you really need to have good shoes on. Obviously if you're planning to walk everywhere like Matt & I did, you will want comfy shoes on as you can end up walking for miles and miles each day, but the heat of the sun and the pavements can cause havoc on cheap shoes. I took a cheap comfy pair of gladiator sandals with me and they genuinely melted a little bit when I was waiting to get into St. Peter's Basilica - I had "made in India | Size 3" printed on the tops of my feet for most of the holiday!
- Don't take pictures in the Sistine Chapel. My last 'Don't' is a very basic one but I think it's really important. If you visit the Sistine Chapel, it will undoubtedly be very busy and there will be a lot of security walking around through the crowds and there will also be a warning broadcast over some speakers about not taking pictures or talking. The chapel was so busy when visited but I couldn't believe how many people were being just plain rude. The Sistine has become a huge tourist attraction but at the end of the day, it is still an extremely religious place that, whether you're religious or not, whether you're Catholic or not, deserves a level of respect. When you are told to not take photos are talk over and over again, you should abide by the few rules they have and just enjoy the moment of being there. Also, after seeing one girl next to me take some photos and then be removed by a police guard in *the* most aggressive manner, I would say a photo of the chapel just isn't worth it.
And then that's it! These aren't hard and fast rules but I do hope they might help some of you if you're ever travelling to Rome - which you certainly should like, as soon as possible!