Benvenuto! You have just landed in Italy. The sun is shining and you are stuck in a noisy traffic jam: welcome to Rome! To enjoy this beautiful city, you should know at least these 10 practical tips for visiting Rome, to go around the city as if you were a local. This basic list will make your holiday peaceful and memorable.
Water Fountains in Rome
Rome is full of ‘nasoni‘ (‘big noses’) – public fountains that distribute cool water for free. Unfortunately, you might be told that this water is not drinkable by vendors trying to sell you expensive bottles of water, but don’t trust them! The water from Rome’s public fountains is healthy, and available 24/7. Especially when traveling with kids, it’s convenient to pack a disposable, collapsible water bottle that fits easily in purses and backpacks and can be folded up when not in use. We like the Platypus soft bottles.
Sampietrini: Roman Cobblestones
The ancient cobblestones paving the streets of Rome with are called sampietrini. Avoid wearing high to go out when visiting Rome. The space between the cobblestones makes them dangerous. Consider wearing wedge heals instead for a dressy occasion. For daytime, nice city fashion sneakers are perfect for parents and kids. If you are wearing sandals, avoid flat souls and choose a nice walking sandal with an arch and solid straps instead.
What to Wear in Rome?
See above for shoes! Remember that in Rome, when entering a church, women are required to Cover knees and shoulders, otherwise church officials might ask you to exit the building. This is a cultural matter of respect. For an easy solution, bring a scarf or something similar when walking around the city, just in case.
In general, wear comfortable city clothes, and avoid wearing athletic wear.
It is illegal to buy fake designer goods, like purses and sunglasses, from the street sellers. Even if they are found throughout the heart of the city and so it may seem okay, the police can give you a fine as the buyer.
Be careful not to take pictures with people dressed as Roman soldiers around the Colosseum and Forum. They will approach you in a friendly way, asking if you would like to take a picture with them but beware, it is not free! Usually, they will ask for a payment of around 20 euro a person. Just say “No, grazie.”
Taxis in Rome
Be sure to take only registered taxis in Rome. Taxis licensed by Rome City Council are white and have a sign bearing the word “TAXI” on their roofs. The symbol of Rome City Council is clearly visible on the front doors and the license inside the back left side.
Hailing a taxi from the street is not allowed while in Rome. It’s necessary to find a taxi from one of the taxi line located throughout the city. If you are at Termini train station, where there is often a long line to take a taxi, just cross the street, walk some meters (5 minutes) and call a taxi by phone. It’s an easy way to skip the line! Phone: 063570; 060609; 060645. You can also request a taxi in Rome using the AppTaxi app. The app is not always completely reliable, but when it does work, it is helpful. Many places in the city are walkable and you may not need to take a taxi as with traffic, walking may be faster!
Restaurants in Rome
Casual Rome restaurants are called “trattorie.” They have a loyal clientele and don’t need to invest too much in decor or upgrades. The food is genuine and simple. Finer dining establishments are called “ristorante.” It is polite to make a reservation at a trattoria or a restaurant, and advisable for any popular restaurant. Keep in mind that most restaurants in Rome typically open for dinner around 7 pm.
Of course, pizzerias, cafes, and bakeries are great spots for simple, delicious casual dining that is especially family friendly. You can also find small places serving Roman street food such as handheld sandwiches and “suppli” – fried rice balls filled with cheeses and meat.
Picnics in Rome
Eating food sitting on public monuments or church steps is not allowed in Rome (for example, in the Spanish Steps), and will incur a fine. There are lots of great spots for a picnic in Rome, however! Read our tips for picnics in Rome.
Rome Safety Tips
In general, Rome’s historical city center is safe. Here are the main things to have in mind to ensure a safe trip.
- Keep a low profile and be mindful of pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas like the metro, train stations and tourist hotspots.
- Take care of your belongings, including your passport and money, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Be cautious when using ATMs, and only use ATMs located inside banks or well-lit public areas. Cover the keypad when entering your PIN.
- If you have valuables, keep them in a hotel safe or a money belt worn under your clothing.
- Familiarize yourself with local emergency numbers and have a plan in case of an emergency (general emergency, dial 112; ambulance, dial 118; police, dial 113).