Me and B just got back from a very hot(!) long weekend in Rome, where I took him on a surprise trip for his 30th Birthday. Him usually being the organiser of trips (and a very organised organiser at that!) I was a tad worried doing it all myself, but had a good stab at it. This resulted in some good decisions but also some things I would have done differently looking back. I thought I would compile a few ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ for Rome, based on our holiday – which are obviously my opinions based on our trip; which may help some of you if you’re thinking of visiting beautiful Rome!
1. Do download the Ulmon Rome app. Ulmon do these free city map apps for all over the world (we used one for Barcelona and Amsterdam) which you can use offline to navigate yourself around. You can also mark everything from tourist sights to restaurants and bars straight onto the map so you can remember where you want to go. We lived by this app on holiday, and it is so easy to use – we wouldn’t of had a clue how to get around without it!
2. Do eat plenty of food! This is what we were both most excited about, when visiting Italy. We basically had a carb party, with pizza, pasta and risotto being the main foods devoured. The pizza we had were delicious, very thin and with minimal toppings – usually around €11-13. We both had carbonara one night which was good too. When you’re walking so much in the day, meal times are usually the thing you look forward to, and with so many restaurants to choose from it’s really down to the best prices. All the food is good!
3. Do go on guided tours. On the first Sunday of the month, it’s free to get into the Colosseum (which is usually €12), which is great, but not so great for the queues. The queue was snaking around nearly the whole of the Colosseum with a queue time of 2+ hours! Ridiculous. We really wanted to go inside so we ended up paying €15 to go on a guided English speaking tour, in a group of around 30 people. We didn’t have to queue at all, just went right in with our group and Italian tour guide Ariana (I remembered her name because of Ariana Grande!). We learnt so much about the Colosseum and the Forums and Ariana was really enthusiastic and dramatic with her story telling, making her fun to listen to. Everyone in our group seemed nice (a lot of Americans) and I think for only €15 it was totally worth it.
4. Do watch out for hidden costs. Meals were surprisingly cheap (like the previously mentioned Pizzas) but I think where they catch you out is with buying drinks. Alcohol was quite reasonable, with bottles of wine costing around €16-€20 at a restaurant, but soft drinks seemed to cost a bomb! One meal we forgot to look at drinks prices and ordered, and when the bill came it was revealed cans of coke were €5 each! Grr. Also if you get thirsty out and about there are small fire hydrant-looking water fountains everywhere which you can drink from for free.
5. Do have a go at haggling. I decided early on I wanted some cheap mirrored sunnies, and saw quite a lot of the crappy stalls were selling some. I found some fake Ray Bans I liked one night on a stall near where we were having dinner, and when the man said they were €20 I laughed and told him I’d seen some for €10 down the street (an obvious lie). I managed to talk him down to €10 eventually and walked away a happy (and smug) bunny! €20 my ass..
6. Do eat ALL the ice cream. I am missing it so much now that we’re back.. Weirdly the tastiest ice cream we had the whole trip (and we had a lot) was at the Rome airport coming back to the UK, but there are ice cream places errrrrrywhere and they’re all great.
1. Don’t get stuck in the wrong neighbourhood. Our hotel was in the area of Trastevere, which is the place to stay – but our hotel seemed to be so far out from all the main touristy bits, restaurants, shops and sights.. we felt a bit removed from it all. No one seemed to speak much English in the hotel and frankly they didn’t make us feel welcome at all. We wanted to eat somewhere close one night, and walking around the neighbourhood it literally seemed like a set from 28 Days Later, everything was so derelict and seemed abandoned and over grown. There was graffiti everywhere (which luckily made for cool pics) but we really didn’t feel safe, and got the tram back into the main city asap.
2. Don’t get tricked by street performers. Usually we’re good at keeping clear of these street performers but this ‘Gladiator’ literally cornered me by a tree to get my attention. He seemed very nice and funny and insisted on taking pics with us doing stupid poses (a sword to the willie was particularly funny though). I knew we were expected to give him some money, but as soon as the pics were taken he started pointing to something in his hand – a €20 bill! Errrrr are you having a laugh?! No way I was going to pay for some lame pics that took a minute of this guys time, on my OWN camera? Pfft. So I gave him a fiver and he blew up. He was so angry and kept repeating ‘No!’ and pointing at this clammy €20. I didn’t care, we’re not some stupid tourists, so I argued back and then just turned away and kept walking!
3. Don’t get caught out in the sun. The sky was a beautiful blue but oh my lordy lord, it was hot. Like boiling hot, sweaty mess hot. I can’t believe my makeup didn’t melt off my face really. Walking around in the heat all day was quite hard work at times, as it was so muggy. Make sure you wear sun screen, rest in the shade and bring a water bottle to fill up at the fountains. I also got some rather interesting tan lines in the heat thanks to having stroppy sandals on, and wearing my bag across my chest. One good thing about the heat though – an excuse to have another ice cream!
4. Don’t get sucked in to buying useless crap. There are street vendors everywhere trying to shove crappy products in your face for you to buy, which is annoying as hell. As soon as you give them any attention they will not let you leave without buying something from them – so just ignore ignore ignore! They will go to extremes such as putting their products on you – like a hat, or something in your hand. Just stay clear and say no with an angry face if they try and talk to you! (Mean but they gotta learn!)
5. Don’t fly with easy Jet. Like ever. Anywhere. Just don’t. They are shit. For my last three holidays I have flown with them, as obviously they’re the cheapest airline, but every single time our flights home have been delayed. We got back so late from Rome due to being delayed, and as you can imagine Rome airport isn’t the most entertaining of places.
6. Don’t forget about all the walking. Me and B are used to walking loads on holiday as we’ve been to Barca and Amsterdam together so far and walked our feet off. It’s different in the heat though (and harder) so just make sure you have comfy shoes and bring a few pairs to alternate. Mine got so dusty and dirty at places like the Colosseum, so you don’t want to have to wear them out again in the evening.
We really did have a great time in Rome and
I would recommend people to so see the amazing sights and definitely go for the delicious food!
I’m still dreaming of the pizzas… Domino’s you need to up your game asap!