I visited Rome just for a short few days in June 2012, but came away from the city with a very cool impression. Rome isn’t just ancient art & history, but actually had quite a hip reputation. These were some of my favorite things to do in Rome. I’ll be updating and adding to this soon.
People-watching in Rome
This is probably the easiest city in the world for people-watching. Rome is famous for all its public spaces where kids, students, families and young couples always seem to congregate. From the Spanish steps to tiny piazzas hidden between streets, if there are any sort of steps or stairs you’ll likely see someone sitting on them. Fountains are particularly popular—especially in the summer.
Nightlife in Rome
- Trastevere – Viccolo de Cinque street between the Ponte Sisto and Ponte Garibaldi bridges is crowded and lively on the weekends. Cheap food, people drinking on the bridges, on the church steps — you’re sure to have some fun if you hang out in Trastevere.
- San Lorenzo – Just a ten minute walk down via Marsala. It’s near the University so lots of young trendy folks around. There is a club or two and plenty cheap foods. Try the pizza at Formula One!
- Campo de Fiori - Lonely Planet describes this plaza as the place where you’re most likely to find drunk Romans. With street buskers and heaps of restaurants, it was a cool area to hang out in the evening but it still felt a bit too touristic. Better to visit this square to mark it off your “been there, done that” list, and then head over to Trastevere where all the real locals are.
Who knew Rome could be so gay-friendly?!
- Glamda – weekly gay/straight-friendly party during the summer. It’s at an outdoor club and the music is better than what you’d usually get at a gay club night. Drinks are kind of expensive, but the atmosphere is fun.
- Gay street – There’s an entire street of gay bars and clubs. Coming Out is a popular one. I didn’t get the chance to visit and heard mixed reviews about the bar, but the street is a quick and easy way to find some gay nightlife in Rome.
Eating out in Rome
- Take a food tour — I went on a 3-hour walking tour through Testaccio—a great little neighborhood south of the Colosseum. It was one of the best food tours I’ve had and was the best way to get introduced to the city that loves to eat!
- Cantina & Cucina — Full of hipsters, no joke. Vegetarian-friendly menu.
- Formula One pizza in San Lorenzo — best pizza in Rome? I thought so! Plus the whole place was packed full of students at nearly midnight.
- 0km market near the Roman forum — Get lunch at one of the stands! There are hot meals in the back corner, otherwise cheese and fruit sampling throughout.
- Testaccio food market — One of Rome’s oldest markets, this place is so spectacularly hyper-local with some of Rome’s oldest Italians :)
- Water is everywhere. And thank god for it, because it is HOT. There’s even an app for finding the nearest free water spout!
- Fileta di Bacala — near Campo de Fiori, grab a fileta di bacala (fried cod fish) for just 4.50. You’ll see the giant line/queue outside or else just walk in and go straight to the back near the kitchen and ask the woman standing over the giant vat of boiling oil for some fried fish!
Gelato in Rome
- Learn to tell the difference (3 steps) – Best way to do this is by asking people :)
- Gelateria de Teatro – Arguably one of Rome’s best gelatos. They’ve even got some unique flavors like “chocolate with red wine”.
- Sora Mirella la Grattachecca – Tired of gelato? Get shaved ice (a sno cone) at this Roman institution. It’s at one end of the Ponte Cestio bridge. The shaved ice comes with a bit of fruit on top and the ice is made fresh. So refreshing!
Public Transportation in Rome
- Easy to use, though maybe doesn’t run on time
- Bus 64 is useful if you’re staying near Termini – will hit the major destinations and save you a lot of time
- Buy a metro card. It gets hot and you won’t want to be outside for long periods of time.
Sightseeing in Rome
- Take a walking food tour through Rome with Eating Italy Food Tours. I took the tour on my first day visiting Rome and it was without a doubt one of the best things I did in the city. It was a brilliant introduction to Rome and I highly recommend it! View their website for more testimonials.
- When in Rome tour of the Vatican Museum
- St Peters is amazing, breathtaking, a million other words impossible to describe its massive beauty. (And I mean massive, the building is gigantic). I didn’t take a tour but instead wandered around myself, slowly taking it all in. The highlights are the Pieta & Bernini’s Baldacchino.
- Pantheon is a must-see. It’s free and the dome is amazing on the inside.
- Cemetery with Keats grave (also Keats/Shelly Memorial near Trevi, closed Sundays)
Souvenirs in Rome
- Trast t-shirts
- Sexy priests calendar
- Don’t take the ancient artifacts!
- Print on t-shirts
- Heart Rome
- Browsing Rome
- Trenitalia for buying train tickets, often cheaper if you buy online