Rome's public transport might not sound super-sexy… but it's crucial to know about, at least if you don't want to spend a bundle on taxis. Catch me on Anthony Capozzoli's "How to Tour Italy" radio program (his 100th episode, and my third time on the show!), sharing tips and tricks to getting around Rome by metro, bus, and tram. You can tune into the episode here.
Want to know the best things to do in Rome—beyond seeing the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum? Then put away your guidebook. When they go beyond the main sites, too many books (and magazine articles, and television shows) provide the same tired, touristy list of things to do and places to go in Rome.
The problem: These places aren’t only overrun with tourist crowds, but often just don’t tick the box they’re supposed to.
Here are five of Rome’s most overhyped activities—and what to do instead.
1. Instead of having a coffee at Piazza del Popolo…
Don’t get me wrong: The large, obelisk-topped Piazza del Popolo is worth a stop. (Don’t miss the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, with its Caravaggio paintings). But it’s not where to go for a cup of coffee. The couple of cafes on the piazza are scams expensive (think €4.50 for an espresso) and the service is terrible—which is why you won’t see any locals there.
Until this week, I’d never seen a soccer game in Rome. I know. Shameful. But now, not only have I seen a Rome soccer game, but I’ve seen the Rome soccer game—the Rome derby, where Rome’s soccer teams, AS Roma and Lazio, duke it out. More importantly? I survived.
Want to head to a soccer game in Rome? Here are 7 things I learned at the Roma-Lazio game, and that you might want to know… especially if you’re as much of a soccer newbie as I am.
Here in Rome, all eyes have been on Pope Francis I since his March election. Curious about the new guy in charge of the Vatican? This weekend, there are plenty of chances to catch a glimpse of him—from the Good Friday Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum to the papal mass at St. Peter's Square on Sunday. For more (and on more events going on this Easter in Rome), check out my latest piece for BBC Travel.
No, I can’t promise you’ll meet the dark-eyed love of your life here. But if you’re already traveling with your sweetheart, you’re golden: Rome has to be one of the most romantic cities around.
Of course, lots of people tend to think that the most romantic spots are also the most famous (the Trevi Fountain, say, or the Spanish Steps). Call me jaded, but I think the 24/7 crowds and pushy rose-sellers kind of suck the romance out of them.
Want to find a spot that’s a little more tranquil… where you can actually grab a moment to yourself? Here are a few of my favorite, off-the-beaten-path romantic places in Rome.
People often have the impression that life in Rome is all about la dolce vita. By focusing just on food and travel, art and history, my blog, and others like it, encourage that idea.
But after four years of speaking to starry-eyed strangers about life in Italy, it’s time to come clean.
Living here can be over-the-top wonderful. There’s no arguing that it has some serious advantages over almost anywhere else. (The history! The food! The language!). Because I happen to adore those particular aspects of life, I’ve been the happiest here that I’ve ever been.
As we approach 2012’s end, I was pretty curious about which blog posts were the most popular on Revealed Rome this year. A little stats-checking proved to me that my readers are (unsurprisingly) big fans of Rome, especially when it comes to food, Christmas, shopping, and more!
Without further ado, here’s the list of the 12 most popular Revealed Rome posts in 2012… a couple of which surprised me! Do any surprise you?
#12: 5 Favorite Places for Food Near the Vatican: Oh lists, how I love thee. This one, on where to grab lunch in the food desert touristy area around the Vatican, was one of my first (semi-regular) “Five for Friday” posts—and one of the most popular.
#11: Rome’s Best Shopping Streets: Via del Boschetto: It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Rome’s shopping… when it’s done far, far away from chain-store-choked Via del Corso. One great alternative is this little street in Monti, near the Roman forum, which is chock-a-block with fantastic artisans and boutiques.
#10: How Safe is Rome, Really?: A question readers found even more pertinent in 2012 than in 2011 or 2010, when it was first published. Not sure what that says about Rome’s reputation. Or about crime in the world in general.
In honor of 2013 being, you know, the best year yet, I want to make it a little easier for anyone who wants to to pick my brain on travel to Italy.
From now until January 1 at midnight EST, my one-hour, one-on-one Italy travel chats are just $60. Get all of your burning questions answered, plus a follow-up email with what we spoke about, lists of restaurants and shops I recommend, and more!
Here are just some of the things clients have said about our chats:
“Thanks again for the consultation. It made all the difference for us. Whenever we were thinking outside of the box, we’d remind ourselves, “what did Mandy say about this?”” –Peter Graves, Phoenix, AZ, summer 2012 trip to Rome and Venice
“We loved all of your suggestions. Thanks so much for that suggestion [for a restaurant in Testaccio]—we never would have found it without you… We’re already discussing our next trip.” –Rachel Sussman, New York, N.Y., summer 2012 trip to Sicily and Rome
So don’t wait—buy your session now (just click the button below)! (You can also buy it now and use it at any point in the next year, so if you’re not yet sure what questions you’ll have or are only just starting to think about your Italy trip, it still makes sense to save and buy a session now).
I hope to speak to you in 2013! Tanti auguri di Buon Anno!
Looking for gifts from Italy while you’re in Rome? I’ve got you covered (just in time for the holidays)!
Here are some of my favorite shops in Rome for picking up the perfect present (maybe even for yourself…). Not only do these stores sell great gifts, but they’re all one-of-a-kind, too, unlike that J. Crew sweater that tens of thousands of people will unwrap on Christmas! Consider it just another perk of buying from artisanal and independent shops.
I paid a visit a week ago, and among the items I found were fantastically handpainted booties, elegant-looking jewelry made from (surprise!) medical tubing, and an ermine shrug that’s actually a stuffed animal ermine. Oh, and this handcrafted shawl/mini-jacket, which I couldn’t afford but could, at least, model for a moment. (Prices tend to be on the higher side—think €200 for a shrug like the one I’m wearing—but since the items are all handmade by some of Italy’s hippest designers and artists, it makes sense).
Looking for that perfect gift for travelers to Italy? Here’s help! (And don’t miss the rest of our gift guide for people who love Italy!).
Update: Don’t miss the 2014 version of this guide, online now!
The best Italy guidebooks, magazines, and apps
Personally, when it comes to figuring out where to go, I like seeing pictures. And that’s why the photo-heavy DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Italy is so great, especially if you want to give a gift to someone who’s just at the beginning stages of planning their Italy trip.
It’s less comprehensive on the information, though, so for someone who’s more sure about where they’re going, and wants to “dig in” to to the local culture and sights a little more, I’d recommend Lonely Planet or Rough Guide.