In the beginning of August my two best friends from middle school and I spontaneously decided to pack our suitcases and go on a low-budget trip to Rome. Since we all had visited the city before, we really wanted to experience Rome in a more local way and do things off the beaten touristy track. Although it was a bit hard to avoid all the touristy sights, we still managed to see the city in an entirely new light.. In this blog post I am going to share with you my favorite things we did in Rome and I would strongly recommend you doing at least a few if visiting the Italian capital.
1. Explore the local districts of the city – Apart from its beautiful center, Rome has many other neighborhoods such as Trappicino, San Lorenzo and etc.. They are often underestimated or unknown by most tourists. My personal favorite district was Trastevere. Situated on the other side of the river, Trastevere is full with small boutiques, local restaurants and bars, and breathtaking historical buildings. While we were there we also walked around the Botanical garden, which unfortunately didn’t have such a wide variety of plants, but was still a nice place for wandering around and taking cool pictures.
2. Do your sightseeing at night – As you know Rome has become one of the most preferred and common tourist destinations in the world. Due to its many historical sights the capital is filled with tourists all year round. If you are a person who dislikes crowded and hectic places, but still want to explore the ancient sights, then going on a night trip through the city is your savior. After sun dawn, at around 11/12 at night, most of the tourists are already exhausted from their long day of sightseeing and go back to their hotel rooms. At this time the streets get emptier and you can really get a close look of some of Rome’s most famous sights. All the buildings and monuments are lit up nicely and in my opinion look even better than during the day. If you are not a night owl and care about your good night sleep, another good time to avoid the touristy crowds, is really early in the morning.
3. Simply wander – The city is full with small streets and hidden corners, so don’t be scared to get lost. When wandering in the small streets without a guided way you never know what you might find. What my girls and I loved to do was to sneak in some of the buildings when the door was open and sit at the patio of the building, if of course there was one. And even if at some moment you feel too lost, don’t worry about asking a local to show you the way. Italians are known to be very friendly and warm, so I am sure that they would love to help you.
4. Eat – You already are aware that Italian cuisine is awarded to be one of the best and most adored in the world. When staying in its capital, you shall forget about dieting and truly enjoy all the food choices you have. Wherever you turn around you can smell and taste amazing and reasonably priced pasta, pizza and gelato.
5. Start your morning at a local cafe – Another very common thing you will find everywhere around Rome is good coffee. To be honest, the best coffee is not at a fancy cafe or at a hipster trendy café. If you really want to sip on some real Italian espresso, go to your next door cafe and enjoy your 80 cent coffee alongside some delicious homemade pastry.
6. Grab a drink and hang out in Piazza Madonna dei Monti – Rione Monti is a very trendy neighborhood among young Romans. There, the locals like to shop in the alternative boutiques or hang out with their friends after work or on the weekends. After the sun sets down, the small square turns into a vibrant meeting point for creative and stylish people. My girlfriends and I decided to walk around Monti and eat some pizza and pasta at local Italian restaurant. After fulfilling our stomachs with delicious Italian goodness we went to buy some ice-cream from “Fatamorgana”(outrageous flavors) and sat with a bottle of wine at the piazza. While drinking my wine and chatting with my girlfriends, for just a moment I felt as if I was living in some kind of parallel perfect world.
7. Rent a bike – my best friend is a really big fan of biking in general, so when she heard that we have a bike rental place just a few blocks away from our airbnb, she just couldn’t miss that opportunity. At first I was a bit skeptical to ride a bike in Rome, because most of the streets are very small and crowded and also there aren’t many special biking routes. Surprisingly, at the end of the day, I was actually happy with the whole biking experience. Not only that it saved us time and money from going to one point to another, but we also rode along the river, where there were not as many people and you could get a beautiful look of the city. If you don’t feel sure in your biking skills, you could also sign up for a guided biking tour!
Places we ate at: Frigidarium – Rome’s first gelateria
Ginger – great place for a healthy meal
Fatamorgana – extraordinary and non-traditional ice-cream flavors
Bonci Pizzarium – most famous pizza place in Rome and a definitive must on your foodie list
Obica – mozzarella bar – great place for cocktails and finger food
That’s all from our small vacation in Rome. Hope this non-touristy tips really help experience the city in a whole new and exciting way.