Top 10 travel tips for surviving Rome!

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Last week we had the first five, this week, five more!

6.  Don’t just look, cross.

Those of you who have visited Rome will have noticed the strange phenomena of the zebra crossings.  They exist.  They are there, but they don’t seem to work.  That is, you can stand at the edge of them forever without anyone stopping.  This is because Roman drivers expect you to take the first step…….Daunting as that may seem, once you put a foot on the crossing, the traffic will come to a stop.  They won’t slow which can be quite nervewracking as you watch them racing toward you, however they do always manage to stop in plenty of time to let you cross safely.

7.  Always have a plan B.

Museums, police stations, taxis, shops and restaurants open and shut based on a number of reasons besides the usual.  E.g. a football match, a strike (very common in Rome), mourning (also very common), a friend has dropped in for a chat, traffic jams, doctors visits, government decree, someone had a late night, too hot, too cold, and tiredness.   Therefore what is written in the guide book or online does not always correspond with the reality in-situ.  Owners operate and open things at will, Labour laws are not always predictable (grocers – Alimentari – are shut Thursday afternoons, Hairdressers all day Mondays, most retail shops are shut Saturday afternoons in the summer and Monday mornings in the Winter).  I once turned up at a cinema for a long awaited film, after having checked online, to be told that a completely different film was playing.  In response to my gentle questioning about the incongruency i was un-gently told that he didn’t write what was online so how was he supposed to know what was there……….

8.  Lunch like a roman.

In my favourite restaurant I was once observing an irate tourist couple who had come in for lunch.  They were becoming more and more enraged wtih the amount of time their meal was taking, making trips in to hassle the waiter and asking for them to hurry up.  They eventually left without eating, assuming that somehow they had been treated unfairly because they were foreign.  The owner came out shortly afterward with a huge, steaming plate of freshly cooked pasta, and lamenting nationalities that didn’t know how to take time over lunch.  Romans have quick and skimpy breakfasts (sometimes two to tide them over), and light and late dinners, so that due honor can be given to the sacred Roman lunch hour (or two).  Restaurants are packed at lunch time and therefore service is often long, however no Roman ever wants to rush over this minimum three course meal.  Expect to take your time, enjoy it, and when in Rome…….

9.  Siesta

This naturally follows on from Tip 8.  The city of Rome is very quiet from 2 – 4 pm, many places are shut, and in the summer the city is deserted at this time (of everyone except tourists).  You won’t miss out on anything by going home and having a kip.  City life will be buzzing and everything open from 5.00 pm until 7.30 – 8.00pm at night.  Having a rest in the middle of the day will help you survive Rome, and help you make the most of it during its most entertaining hours.  You will also understand where they get their energy from and why dinner is so late…………   

10.  Remember that ice cream is an anti-depressant

Why do think Romans are always eating it, any time of day or night, in any season?  Why do you think there is one every 200 metres or so?  Why are their always crowds outside of them?  Whatever happens in your life, whatever stress you are suffering, can all be alleviated by taking time out to have an ice-cream.  The Italian kind any way.  Make sure you have some every day you are there and all your ills will melt away.  I promise.

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