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Here we are with Part 2 of our Tips for Visiting Rome! We focused on food (it is Rome and you need to eat), safety aka how to not get your wallet stolen and where to stay (Spoiler: We recommend Trastevere). So here is the long awaited, much anticipated (or not at all) Part 2 for Tips for Visiting Rome.
DO NOT EVER EAT ITALIAN FOOD BY TERMINI TRAIN STATION. If you eat in Termini it won’t be great Italian food but it won’t be the worst food you have ever eaten. However, if you eat Italian food outside the train station, it probably will be the worst meal of your life. I made this mistake once and I paid for it with plastic, fused and crunchy noodles. I am not sure how that happens but it did. There is good ethnic food near Termini however, so if you must eat or die try to find a Chinese, Ethiopian or Indian restaurant.
Avoid restaurants that have a tourist menu generally. Most touristy restaurants will have a tourist menu and it may seem like a good deal especially when you have been sightseeing all day. However there are many other fantastic restaurants that will give you a much more authentic experience than what you will find at a tourist restaurant. Now there are exceptions to the rule (Carlo Menta, see below) but in general the farther away you are from a major site the less you will see tourist menus and the better meal you will have.
Another note of restaurants is if it has a neon sign, walk away. Italian restaurants in Italy are not as flashy and kitschy as some you see in the states so if you see neon there are probably better restaurants out there.
When you are looking for an authentic Roman restaurant a good rule of thumb is to look at the prices of the food. If the pizza is over 10e and pasta is more than 15e and it is not a fancy restaurant than it is way overpriced. You can get fantastic pizza at a sit down restaurant in Rome for 3euros (check out Carlo Menta in Trastevere), so there is no sense paying 20euros for a margherita pizza.
Alleys are good, you always find the best food down alleys in Rome. Go explore and eat!
If you plan on staying in Rome for a few days and you are on a budget take my advice and just stay in a hotel or airBnB or couch surf. It is worth it to pay the price for a hotel or a room on airbnb because the hostels are awful in Rome and way too expensive (take it from me, I lived in Roman hostels for over a month). They are small, dirty rooms, and entirely overpriced. The only upside is that they are all close to Termini Station which the only station connected to both metro lines. But that means there are a lot of tourists and a lot of pickpockets.
Rome is a very safe city with almost no violent crime, however there are pickpockets all over the city. The best advice we can give is for men to carry their wallet in their front pocket and for women to carry a bag with a zipper and a strap that can be worn across the body. Keep an eye on your stuff when entering and exiting public transportation and keep a hand over your pocket or purse.
Keep your passport in a safe or at the concierge desk but keep other forms of ID on you. It is always good to keep some form of ID on you but make sure, in case your wallet is stolen, that it is something replaceable and not a hinderance to your return home or the rest of your travels. I have had my passport stolen and it was a pain to get it replaced, and I did not even need it rush delivered.
Also mainly carry cash in your wallet. Almost all places in Rome operate solely on cash and if your wallet is stolen, then they have only stolen cash and not your credit cards. Just leave them with your passport. Do not be me (Ashley)! I had my passport, all my cards and my iPod stolen because I was extremely careless and distracted and now there is an Ashley who lives in LA who recently got a DUI, so ya, lesson learned the hard way.
(Also these are just precautions, most people are not robbed in the city and hardly anyone is as foolish as I was that night. So just keep these in mind!)
Stay in Trastevere. Trastevere is one of the more authentic neighborhoods in Rome. Trastevere is one of the medieval sections of Rome and it is characterized by the twisting brick medieval streets and fantastic restaurants. The area also has fantastic nightlife as well, beginning with the aperitivo hour and ending with a night out on the steps of Trastevere hanging out with the locals.
Also you can check out our Rome City Guide and Part 1 of our Tips for Visiting Rome for more information on restaurants, tours, and other advice we have picked up along the way! And always feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about Rome or want some recommendations!