7 Insider tips for Rome!
After having lived and studied in Rome for five years, here are some tips on things to do in the Eternal City to discover the authentic Roman culture and make your stay special!
1) PEEP THROUGH THE AVENTIN KEYHOLE TO SEE THE ST. PETER’S BASILICA
Walk up the Aventin hill, away from the main tourist spots, and you will find a long white wall with a large green door leading to the ‘Priority of the Knights of Malta’, a religious order created in the Middle Ages and still active. Just look through the keyhole on the door and you will be amazed at what you can see: a stunning framed view of St. Peter’s Basilica at the end of a beautiful tree-lined path. It is incredible how the keyhole vista lines up perfectly with St. Peter’s cupola!
2) RENT A BIKE IN VILLA BORGHESE GARDENS
What better way to discover this huge amazing park than renting a bike? With its 148 acres of land, Villa Borghese is the third largest park in Rome and it is much more than a simple garden: statues, fountains, museums and various attractions are just few of the things that you will find there. It is hardly surprising that Villa Borghese is often described as “the Park of Museums”! There are three bike hire places: Viale Goethe, viale dell’Uccelliera and on viale Belle Arti. You can choose between normal bikes, two people tandem bicycles and even four people bicycles! Biking is the perfect way to get around the gardens and their amenities while having fun with your friends!
3) EAT PASTA FROM A CRISPY CHEESE BOWL
In the heart of the lively Trastevere neighborhood, there is a bustling restaurant called Roma Sparita, famous for its fantastic ‘Cacio e Pepe’ pasta, a typical Roman pasta dish with pecorino cheese and pepper. What may sound like a very simple dish, at Roma Sparita turns out to be amazing: creamy, delicious pasta served in a crispy parmesan bowl! Not only do you eat some tasty pasta but you also get to eat the entire bowl!!
4) FIND SOME GOOD BARGAINS AT PORTA PORTESE MARKET
Get lost in the largest Sunday flea market in Rome! Porta Portese is very popular with locals and it is very easy to bargain down prices. With thousands of stalls selling all sorts of items, you can find almost anything here: new and second-hand clothes, furnishings, books, bikes, antiques and much, much more. It is so big, busy and full of things that finding what you are looking for may be a real challenge, but it is absolutely worth the experience! Just watch out for pickpockets!
5) HAVE A DRINK AT BAR SAN CALISTO IN TRASTEVERE
Trastevere is one of the most vibrant and picturesque neighborhoods in Rome, particularly popular for its lively nightlife. Its charming narrow streets are filled with restaurants, bars and pubs that attract both tourists and locals. In a neighborhood that is said to be losing its Italian touch because of the increasing amount of visitors and international students, there is a bar that has not smartened itself up for tourists: Bar San Calisto. Simple, old-style, quintessential, San Calisto takes you back to what Italian bars used to be and you will love it for that! It has always been a popular meeting spot for many generations of Romans and it is always very crowded, especially at the weekend. There are a few tables outside the bar but they are rarely available, so people just tend to spill out into the cobbled street and stand with a bottle of Peroni beer in their hands. Yes, Peroni is the drink of choice at San Calisto, and you know why? You can get a large bottle of beer for just €2.50! So, forget about the bars that want to cater specifically for tourists and… do as the Romans do!
6) GO TO GIANICOLO HILL AT NIGHT
For the most breathtaking view of the entire city of Rome go to the top of the Gianicolo Hill: Rome will be laid out at your feet with its wonderful monuments and domes! Stunning during the day, this corner of Rome becomes magical at night. Admiring the Eternal City’s landmarks all lit up from this vantage point will really take your breath away! Don’t be surprised if you see lots of couples and lovers around: it’s one of the most romantic places in Rome!
7) ENJOY AN AUTHENTIC ITALIAN APERITIVO
Hungry, but don’t want to spend too much money on food? Take advantage of one of the most popular traditions throughout Italy: the aperitivo. For just €10 or even less, you can have some tasty food to go along with your drink. In some Roman bars you get so much food that you can really classify it as a dinner! Try “Fluid”, on Via del Governo Vecchio, for one of the largest aperitivo in Rome! Choose one of their fantastic cocktails (the one called Fluid is the BEST!) and head to the all-you-can-eat buffet, which includes different kinds of pasta, grilled vegetables, rice dishes, finger food, just to name a few. The bar has a very quirky décor, with a liquid under the glass floor that moves with every step you take and tables filled with the same ‘fluid’ – definitely worth seeing for yourself!