Whenever you travel abroad, you may stand out as a tourist. This can sometimes make you the target for pickpockets and taxi drivers who may want to rip you off and you may also bear the brunt of rude customer service staff. Here are 10 tips on how to blend in Rome, act like a Roman instead of sticking out as a tourist.
1) Walk with confidence across pedestrian crossings
There are many streets where there are no lights for pedestrian crossings. If you want to get to the other side of the road, you will just have to wait for a space in the traffic and use the crossing. Otherwise you will be waiting for hours for the cars to stop, there is no “red” or “green man” giving you permission to cross.
2) Haggle on price
If you are shopping at one of the markets, do not just accept the advertised price. You will probably stand out as being a foreigner and the vendors will expect you to pay the asking price. However, when in Rome, do as the Romans and haggle, get a good deal for your purchase.
3) Do not speak to anyone in the street
Unless of course you know them or they are in uniform. There are many people that may come up to asking you for directions or asking you other questions. They are distracting you while someone else may try to take your wallet. Do not be fooled, simply walk away with your bags untouched.
4) Stand up when drinking coffee
There are many coffee shops in Rome where people come in for their morning coffee. However, to sit down with a coffee can work out far more expensive. Some cappuccinos are only 1.20 euro when standing but 3.00 euros when sitting. Coffees are not taken away in a paper cup as in the US or UK, stand by the coffee bar and practice your Italian with the barista.
5) Do not drink cappuccino after 12
Cappuccinos are morning drinks only. If you want a coffee after lunch, you will have to order an espresso. You will certainly get some strange looks if asking for a cappuccino in the afternoon.
6) Hire a moped
If you are in Rome for more than a week and are travelling a lot throughout the city, it may be worth hiring a moped. Due to the Roman ruins, the metro does not stretch to the other side of the Tiber river. Buses can take a long time especially in traffic.
7) Do not form an orderly queue for the bus
This is the complete opposite as in the UK where people line up as they arrive at the bus stop. In Rome, as soon as the bus arrives, hop on it, do not wait for other people to get on before you.
8) Learn some Italian
You do not need to be fluent before you come to Rome, but it is probably better if you know a few expressions or words. It will certainly go a long way. Learn the basics such as “thank you, please, where is, how much is”. If you can speak Spanish, you will be able to communicate with others rather than if you just spoke English.
9) Rent out an apartment
Staying in Rome hotels can work out expensive. There are many places that now offer the opportunity to rent short term apartments in Rome. This will allow you to really live like a Roman, cook your own traditional Italian meals, have some friends round for drinks and relax in not just one bedroom but a lounge too.
10) Support the Italians
If you are in Italy during the football or rugby world cup, go and watch the games. The Circo Massimo in the south of the city, a short walk away from the Colosseum is a great place to view the match. Piazza del Popolo is another venue north of the city to watch the big games. There are no drinks sold on site, but there are many food and drink stands nearby.