I know I’m not alone in being vulnerable to the travel bug. When it hits there is always the weighing of choosing an old favorite versus exploring one of the places on your bucket list. Recently I was faced with this choice and the decision was easy. Go with an old favorite, go to Rome.
Several factors conspired to make the choice an obvious one. In the end I was rewarded by the decision, which is not always the case. Thomas Wolfe reminded us all that You Can’t Go Home Again. The world is changing so fast that I’m starting to feel that you can’t return to anyplace.
In the past decade I have been moved to remove a handful of places off of my list of favorites. If I’m being honest I was a little afraid that I may have to do the same to Rome. Luckily my fears were unfounded. Italy’s capital city is as good as ever and for my money remains Europe’s best major city to visit. I’m already scheming for a return visit…
I could bore you for hours with a laundry list of must-try bars, restaurants, attractions, wine recommendations, and accommodations. However, there hundreds of sites dedicated to this task. What I would like to do is to set the mood if I could and offer my top ten tips for being a visitor to Rome.
Top Ten Rome Holiday Tips
- Walk (a lot) – bring comfortable shoes and be prepared to burn some shoe leather. There is nothing like a walk in Rome. The streets were laid out as the city grew. Here you are free of a boring grid dreamed by some twisted urban planner. In Rome you don’t know what you will find around each corner. Sure it’s tough to keep your bearings but so what? Get lost – I recommend getting lost so you will have the joy of stumbling upon a small piazza you never imagined.
- Go in to the churches – unless there is an event taking place you are welcome in most any church. Be quite and respectful of course and be prepared to be floored by the majesty and beauty.
- Relax – the Italians are not in a rush, nor should you be. When in Rome… Wine should help.
- No cappuccino after 11AM – This is not an official rule and they will make it for you but you will be silently marked. After 11 get a simple café (espresso) or better yet a café with an Amaro.
- It’s okay to plan your day around meals – if you are a BevX reader then chances are that you spend a good deal of your time thinking about what you eat and drink. When in Rome you will want to make plenty of time to enjoy both food, wine, and cocktails.
- Skip the fast grab pizza by-the-slice places that populate the tourist zones. This stuff always looks better than it tastes and i will just fill you up and take away stomach space reserved for something good. (Besides, I got really sick eating at one of these damn places.)
- Enoteca (Wine bars) – The old tradition of the enoteca was created to give visitors to Italy’s many regions a chance to taste the local wines at cheap prices before buying. Today these are most often restaurants with a heavy wine focus. You can spend your entire trip in enotecas and leave a happier individual.
- Pasta is a course – not dinner. The Italians eat pasta as a course, which is a great idea. The portions are sensible in Rome so having a pasta course isn’t like having two dinners. If you are dining with someone (I hope you are) you can always split a pasta course after your starters and before the main (secondo).
- Tipping is not expected in Rome – do it anyway because this is what good people do and a little good karma never hurt anyone.
See Rome’s many attractions – they are amazing. I have been known to visit a place without ever getting close to seeing the top tourists attraction. Tourist attractions are filled with tourists and I’m too busy trying to become a local. However, in Rome the sites are beyond compare. Everyone on the planet has seen images of Colosseum and have likely seen the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Pantheon, and so on. In Rome these sites are incorporated into the city. You will round a corner of a narrow cobblestone street to find yourself standing in from of the Pantheon. It’s really a thrill.