Enjoy Rome City Guide – Things to do in Rome
Note: the following text is originally written in English, in other languages is an automatic translation
Romans take their food very seriously indeed, which isn’t to say that you can’t eat badly in Rome; areas around the major tourist sites and the major piazzas are littered with over-priced and poor quality cafes and restaurants which rely on the constant stream of tourists, and don’t bother about repeat custom. Universal rules apply; avoid anywhere where the menu is in five languages, and which has someone enticing you in at the door.
Ristorante indicates a restaurant of a certain level (of price if not always of quality), Trattorie or Osterie are usually more informal and Pizzerie are self-explanatory. On the menu antipasto is a starter, a primo piatto is the first course of pasta, rice, or soup, while the secondo is a meat or fish dish. Contorni are vegetables, usually ordered separately from the secondo. Dolce is the dessert or pudding course. The traditional Italian meal comprises all of these elements, although you are not required to work your way through it all unless you wish; go for any combination you like.
On your bill there will be a bread/cover charge (pane/coperto), usually €1 or €2 per person. No service charge will (or at least should) be added on the bill, by law service is included in the menu prices. If you have had good service feel free to add a tip, it will always be appreciated, but there is no obligation. Between €1 and €5 is common.
The Roman fast food is pizza al taglio, slices of pizza sold at take-away joints, and sold by weight. Takeaway pizza places often also sell snacks such as supplì, rice balls rolled around a piece of mozzarella and fried.
Bakeries (forno) usually sell pizza bianca, a flat white bread dressed with salt, oil and rosemary, and pizza rossa, pizza bread with tomato sauce.
Alimentari (delicatessens) and supermarket deli counters will make you a panino (sandwich) if you ask, just point out the bread you’d like, and which ham, salami, and/or cheese you’d like in it and they’ll do the rest.
Coffee and cafes
The ubiquitous snack bars are where coffee is taken, usually standing up at the bar. If there are tables you are expected to sit down and wait to be served. Bear in mind that the price will be higher if you sit down. If you order un caffè you will get an espresso, for a longer coffee ask for a caffè americano. Caffè macchiato and cappuccino are easy, as is a caffè latte (although ask for latte on its own and you’ll get a perplexed look and a glass of milk). Tea is usually served black with lemon, if you want milk specify “con latte“. A spremuta di arancia is freshly squeezed (there and then) orange juice, and a cornetto is a pastry, usually with jam (marmellata), custard (crema), or Nutella.
Rome has two football (soccer) teams, Roma (www.asromacalcio.it) and Lazio (www.sslazio.it). Roma play in red and yellow and Lazio in blue and white, and they share the 80,000 seat Stadio Olimpico, north of the Vatican, for home games. When they play each other the rivalry is palpable, and tickets for important games sell out quickly.
If you would like to go to a game tickets can be bought either from www.listicket.it, or from the teams’ official merchandising stores. Tickets vary dramatically in price, even the cheaper ones offer a reasonable view. And bear in mind the Curva (the curve, behind the goal), is where the hardest-bitten of fans congregate, and where it gets noisiest. If you would prefer not to be in the middle of the action, and to actually sit down, go for the more expensive tribune. Tickets are personal and non-transferable, when buying them you will need the names and dates of birth of anyone else you are buying tickets for. You will need to take photo ID to the stadium on the day of the match.
For tickets and official merchandise:
AS Roma Store, Piazza Colonna 360, www.asromastore.it.
Original Fans Lazio, Via Farini 34 (near Termini).
Over the last decade, since Italy joined the Six Nations Rugby Championship, the game has become ever more popular. Home games are played at the intimate Stadio Flaminio (capacity 24,000), on Viale Tiziano, north of Piazzale Flaminio. For tickets see www.federugby.it. The local rugby side is RDS Roma, who play league matches at the Stadio Tre Fontane (Metro: EUR Magliana).
To prix or not to prix
Plans are afoot for the creation of a Formula 1 Grand Prix in Rome, set to get going in 2012. The circuit will wend its way through the wide streets of EUR, south of the city centre. After a buzz of discussion at the end of 2009, all has gone quiet on the subject. So will it actually happen? That’s anyone’s guess.
All the big labels are in the shopping streets between piazza di Spagna and via del Corso, clustered around via dei Condotti. Between the Vatican and piazza del Popolo, via Cola di Rienzo is also home to some of the more famous labels.
More alternative shops can be found around Campo de’Fiori, especially on via Giubbonari. For vintage and chic boutiques try via del Governo Vecchio near the piazza Navona, and via del Boschetto and via Panisperna in the Monti area.
Campo de’Fiori – the main open-air produce market in the centro storico.
Piazza Testaccio – authentic neighbourhood market in the Testaccio area. The northern side has shoe stalls which often have last season’s styles at bargain prices.
Via Sannio- just outside the ancient city walls by San Giovanni, it can be a good spot to find bargain leather goods.
Porta Portese – along the via Portuense, from Porta Portese to via Ettore Rolli, Rome’s largest flea market boasts quite a lot of junk, but persist and the occasional bargain appears. Watch your belongings.
Non-EU citizens who spend at least €155 in the same shop on the same day can claim back the IVA which is taxed at 20%. If this applies to you ask the assistant in the shop for a receipt with a description of the items purchased and a “tax free cheque”. This should be handed in at the airport when leaving the EU (no more than 90 days later). For more information see www.globalrefund.com.
Most non-Italian films shown in Rome are dubbed into Italian; for those which haven’t been dubbed look for versione originale (usually abbreviated to v.o. in listings).
Cinemas which regularly show films in the original language (usually English) include:
Metropolitan, via del Corso 7 (near piazza del Popolo). +39 063 200 933
Nuovo Olimpia, via in Lucina 16g (just off via del Corso). +39 06 686 1068
Warner Village Moderno, piazza della Repubblica. +39 06 4777 9111
For an authentic Italian opera experience try the Teatro dell’Opera, piazza Beniamino Gigli 7 (Metro: Repubblica) www.operaroma.it. Since 1937 the summer season of the Rome Opera has been in the splendid setting of the Baths of Caracalla. See the website to check performances and buy tickets.