Hello, friends! My name is Karen. I’ve lived in the Eternal City for five years and have seen it through the eyes of a tourist, a student and a worker.
More importantly, I see if through the eyes of a devoted admirer, aware of its flaws but fascinated by its beauty. My mantra, in this and other cities, is to live life with open eyes and to make the most out of any city in which you live or to which you visit: to live like a tourist. And thus, my blog.
Must Do in Rome
Bike the Appia Antica
When they said all roads lead to Rome, they surely included the Appia Antica, one of the longest and most important roads of the ancient republic.
If walking around the city isn’t enough exercise for you, you can rent a bike on the Appia Antica and practically go as long as you want. The original road was over 130 miles! In the first six miles, you can stop and visit the Catacombs of San Callisto and San Sebastiano, ancient crypts located outside of the city walls.
Opera at the Terme di Caracalla
In the summer time, the city uses the Baths of Caracalla as a backdrop to an open air opera house. Even if opera isn’t your cup of tea, I think there is rarely a visitor that wouldn’t be impressed by a combination of sitting in the open air of a Roman evening, listening to Puccini’s music with orange-lit ruins of an ancient bathhouse in the background.
Must Go in Rome
The Pantheon at Night
Take in the View from the Gianicolo
Must Eat in Rome
Cacio e Pepe
Though famous for prosciutto, porchetta and a variety of other pork dishes, as a vegetarian I can only recommend that which I know. So a Roman classic to try: cacio e pepe.
This dish of pasta with cheese and cracked black pepper may sound boring, but it is a reminder of how wonderful simplicity can be. Try it with a side of cicoria (chicory) if you want to add some greens.
Fiori di Zucca
Cheap travel tips for Rome
Cultural Tips for Traveling in Rome
There are a lot of cultural norms when it comes to caffé. Coffee shops are called Bars in Italy. Having a coffee at the banco (at the bar) costs less than sitting down (for everyone, not just tourists). Thanks to Starbucks, you probably know that the basic Italian coffee is espresso.
So if you want that, you just ask for a caffé. An Americano is just watered-dow espresso; it is not filtered coffee. If you want a caffelatte, it is important not to shorten it and ask for a latte because this will land you with a class of milk.
Coffee is usually served warm, not boiling like in the U.S., which is normal and easier for drinking at the bar. Italians will almost NEVER order anything but a caffé in the afternoon, particularly after a meal. However, they have gotten used to serving cappuccinos to foreigners at almost any time of day.
Just be prepared for a weird look. The one exception? After 3:00am, when cappuccinos become appropriate again coming home from a club or late-night party. Stopping for a cornetto (Italian croissant) and cappuccino is a late-night tradition. La Sorchetta on Via Cernaia is one famous place for this.
Thanks so much, Karen! Have you ever been to Rome? Any tips to add?
P.S. How to live out of a suitcase – glamorously
Enjoyed reading this.
Biking is one of the best (and good) options in Europe.
I have always thought it was funny that coffee shops are called bars but it's like having a Cheers the size of a broom closet and a Starbucks rolled into one.
I stumbled into the Pantheon one night. They were having a free concert with a quintet of French Horns. Such beautiful place and the acoustics were stunning.
Hi there, I wanted to stop by and say hello! I hope you are well and keep doing your thang <3
Small correction! I just learned that the Gianicolo is not one of the "seven hills of Rome." It is just another hill. 🙂 I stand corrected! Regardless, it is still worth the visit.
My friends are leaving for Rome and I had to suggest this blog. Grazie mille!
I was in Rome as a student from January to May 2012. I miss it everyday! For another side trip, we loved going out to Ostia Lido for a day at the beach. The train only cost a euro or two and the atmosphere was wonderful!
Our school was near the Giancolo Hill, and the views are incredible. It was one of my favorite spots, any time of the day.
I wrote a blog about my time in Rome and all of Europe. Check it out if you want!
I wish I knew about the Appia Antica before I went to Rome those many years ago as a naive college student. It looks like an awesome way to see the sights!