Rome is an excellent choice for an exciting city break. We spent our days wandering down mysterious cobblestone streets, marveling at the treasures of the Vatican, gorging ourselves on pizza and pasta, and basking in the sun next to ancient ruins. However, there were a few annoyances that we quickly learned to avoid.
1. Beware of the Umbrella SellersWe walked from our hotel towards the Colosseum, and the clouds started to swell threateningly with rain.
As soon as it started to drizzle, annoyingly persistent roving umbrella sellers would come out from nowhere, like worms appearing from the damp pavement, and approach us every 2 minutes trying to sell us colorful umbrellas and plastic ponchos. Lee was stubborn in his resolve to not be ripped off by them, and so he eventually ended up looking like this!
If you really don’t want to buy an umbrella, avoid eye-contact and just keep walking. In fact, it’s almost worth carrying an umbrella around with you so that they don’t ask.
2. Don’t Get Too Friendly With Street Performers
This kindly fellow gave me a huge smile and grabbed my hand, spun me around and embraced me for a happy photo. However, a few minutes later our smiles were gone as he asked us to pay him for the photo he had just insisted that we take! We ended up giving him five Euros out of guilt, but the whole situation was awkward. It’s fun to watch these performers, but remember that they are always looking for a clever way to take your money! Donate to them if you like, but if you don’t want to be forced into it then keep your distance.
3. Check the Menu before You Go Inside the Restaurant
In Rome, the food and drink will make you feel like you have died and gone to culinary heaven. However, if you are on a travel budget you can find yourself in financial hell if you are not careful about which restaurant you end up in. We somewhat carelessly sat down at one particular outdoor dining patio and Lee ordered a “large” beer. We weren’t prepared for what came next. This beer was not just large, it was MASSIVE. We could have drowned an ancient Roman gladiator in that beer mug. The price? Sixteen Euros! Oooooops…
4. Look Both WaysI have never been close to death so many times in one day than while walking around in Rome. When crossing a street, you take your life in your own hands because people drive crazy there. We also saw some ridiculous parking. This is the view from our hotel room. All of these cars are parked. How many parking errors can you spot?
5. If You’re Claustrophobic, Don’t Take the Bus
When we took public transport to visit the Vatican, we got on the bus as one normally would. We then waited for the bus doors to shut and the vehicle to start moving. However, this did not happen and instead more and more people pushed and shoved their way onto the bus. When it seemed like there could not be room for another person, they squished and squeezed a little bit more. If you are uncomfortable with people in your “personal bubble”, be warned.
Despite these five things, Rome is an awesome city, and we had an amazing time. These little quirks only added to the adventure. Have you ever been to Rome? What would be your advice for first-time travelers there?