Rome is a city bustling with chaos and contradictions. It is modern while also steeped in ancient historicity. It welcomes cultures from across the world yet it holds on to its values and traditions passed down through generations. It is, to put it simply, a world in itself. And if you really want to know Rome up close and personal, like a local does, then here is a handy guide to touring the Eternal City.
1. Put up locally
If you really want to understand what Rome is all about, you need to avoid staying at the common tourist haunts like places near the Vatican or those near the airport. All you will be able to experience are the calls of hawkers selling rosaries and holy water or those selling post cards, souvenirs and selfie-sticks. Instead, sign up for a bed and breakfast arrangement or a small inn in any of Rome’s beautiful neighbourhoods to experience living off the commercial tourist circuit.
2. Dine like the locals do
Eating at a cafeteria, “tavola calda,” that locals prefer to dine at is one of the best decisions you will have made on your trip to Rome. This is because most of the famous restaurants that tourists throng to for food are expensive and not truly authentic. They cater to international standards and that is not really how Italians dine. Moreover, Italians have very specific culinary cultural habits right down to what time they take their espresso. So, eating at a less expensive and slightly shabby restaurant might just fetch you the best slice of pizza or the most sumptuous pasta you have eaten and give you an insight into the local culinary habits.
3. Discard the bottle of water
Instead get used to drinking water from the many fountains, “fontanella,” you find around the city. Locals are averse to the idea of drinking bottled water while tourists make the mistake of spending a fortune on bottled water. Instead, make the conscious decision to tour the city with a reusable bottle and take advantage of the ancient fountains and faucets strewn across the city that ensure the availability of the purest and coldest drinking water in Rome.
4. Learn a smattering of Italian
The best way to communicate effectively with locals, whether you are in the metro or asking for directions to the closest cafeteria, is to speak their language. That is how you will build an affinity to Roman culture and earn the appreciation and respect of the locals you come in contact with. A the very least, knowing a few key words like “si” for yes, ‘per favore” for please and “grazie” for thank you can take you a long way.
5. Explore beyond Rome
A visit to Vatican City and the Colosseum is something every tourist does. But what you can certainly do differently is travel by local transport and visit places outside the bounds of the city centre. Breathtaking places like Ostia Antica and Tivoli are great getaways to reach by shuttle buses or the metro and they are the usual haunts for locals too. Also, you will be rewarded with a great view of the beach if you travel a little further down to Ostia. Amusement parks like Rainbow Magicland and Zoomarine Theme Park are great places to take your children to. Make sure you wear your walking shoes while touring the cobbled streets of Rome and carry a hat to keep the sun from your eyes. And if you want to truly enjoy the best family tours in Rome, do not forget to sign up for Maximus tours of Rome.