Traveling abroad contains countless positive aspects, and exploring the riches of Rome is one of them. As strange as it may sound though, there are times when adventuring requires blending into a crowd; it’s worth Doing as the Romans Do to experience an authenticity that can’t be captured on a postcard.
If ducking under the radar isn’t your cup of vino however, then puff out your chest and follow these 10 surefire ways to stand out as a tourist in the Eternal City.
1.Drink a cappuccino after lunch
In Rome, caffeine is not only sipped as a pick-me-up, but also aids the body’s ability to break down food. The cappuccino, with its frothy halo and promises of a productive day, is enjoyed in the morning; its foamy crown of milk is used to gently fill an empty stomach. The same can be said of a caffé latte or latte macchiato.
However, Romans believe that the same milk which nudged lo stomaco awake in the early light of day, wreaks digestive havoc when encountering heavier meals after breakfast. To make it clear that you’re a newcomer to Rome, order a cappuccino after lunch and and take the stares in stride.
2. Order a large coffee
Unlike the cup sizes that major franchises offer their customers (some of which could easily accommodate a fish), servings in Rome are comparatively diminutive. When it comes to a cappuccino for example, think about the general parameters of a tea cup. An espresso (or in Italian, caffé), comes even smaller, and is enjoyed from a receptacle quite similar to the size of a shot glass.
As a culture, Romans commonly drink coffee while standing, and their caffeine portions reflect that quick process.
3. Ask for weird stuff in your large coffee
This is the last reference to caffeine, promise! However, the involved coffee combinations found in cafes outside of Italy don’t exist in Rome. Anything further than a dash of cocoa powder is close to blasphemy. Want to become best friends with your local barista? Request a 24 oz vanilla-decaf-diet-mochaccino.
4. Don’t make any effort to learn Italian
Whether you’re passing through for the weekend, or have already received keys for your new apartment, speaking even a few words of Italian is more than just practical, it’s also polite. Romans are generous hosts, and become even more so when they feel their culture is being respected.
Understandably, not everyone is a born linguist. However, obeying the simple niceties of a ‘ciao’ and a ‘grazie’ can get you far.
5. Make your dinner reservation for as early as possible
While many cultures plan to have dinner before 7 p.m., visitors in Rome should add about two hours to that time when eating out. While restaurants may start serving food at around 7:30 p.m., it’s common for locals to sit down from 9p.m. onwards.
Parents, don’t be alarmed when you see children keeping up with the adults around them. Italian restaurants are extremely kid-friendly, so your tiny humans will be able scamper around and stretch their legs if they get restless.
6. When eating spaghetti, search frantically for a spoon
Indulging in a hearty spaghetti dish isn’t only delicious, but it’s an opportunity to practice your fork-twirling skills. Romans, like other Italians, don’t use a spoon to command spaghetti to their will. Rather, they use the bottom of their plate or bowl to coil this elongated pasta.
7. Give the bus driver your ticket
When using the Roman bus system, tickets are validated by the holder via a small machine upon boarding. Don’t try and take advantage of this trust system, however.
Surprise checks do happen by transportation officials (commonly referred to as A.T.A.C, as they’re part of the city’s municipal transit network: Agenzia del Trasporto Autoferrotranviario del Comune di Roma.
Try saying that three times fast). Fines start from €50 for unvalidated tickets, and can go up to whopping €150 for non-ticket holders.
8. Say ‘Grazzy’
Italian is a phonetic language, meaning each letter is pronounced in a given word. Grazie is enunciated as gra-tzi-eh, as opposed to the common mispronunciation of ‘grazzy’. If you can roll your R’s, even better. This reference may be splitting hairs, but you’ll surely impress if you can express your thanks like a local.
9. Flaunt your flip-flops in the winter
While some of you may have the robust constitution for such a look during the colder months, you will certainly be side-eyed when gallivanting down the cobblestones. Perhaps even interrogated. Although Rome doesn’t claim to be the fashion center of the world (leave that to Milan), its approach deals more with the practicalities of avoiding illness.
Throughout the year, it is also ill-advised to sit directly below the stream of air conditioning, as the chill may seep into your shoulders and make you sick.
10. Take pictures with the gladiators
Let’s face it, history’s gladiators still capture the imagination, and Russell Crowe’s performance certainly helped romanticise these warrior-like figures. Nowadays, you can find modern men dressed up as gladiators, and posing for pictures with passersby outside of major architectural sites.
The fee is at their discretion, and their common victims are unsuspecting tourists. If you’d like to separate yourself from the locals, then saunter up to your nearest gladiatore and pay for a selfie.
11. Don’t take a tour with Joy of Rome
Want to learn more insider information about Roman culture? Then do it with us! We are local guides, raised and born in Rome and all specialized in Art History and Archaeology! Visit Joy of Rome’s main site to discover our tours for family , curious and pros!