If you’ve made it to this article, then you're likely either planning a trip or a study abroad semester to Rome. Rome is a city like no other and has so much to offer; however, there are four main things to know before deciding to go to Rome. Having knowledge of these four tips and tricks prior to your trip will definitely prove to be beneficial in the long run.
1. Italian cuisine is everywhere!
Italian life truly differs from the American life you are probably used to. There are very few fast food chains, limited opportunities for take out, or “takeaway,” as they refer to it, and less people speak English than you would expect. Yes, there are McDonalds locations at the major tourist attractions, but the lack of diversity in food options is a factor. Look on the bright side though – you are going to be eating some of the best Italian food in the world! There are so many restaurants to discover, and they all feature great and authentic options. Restaurants in Italy have a “coperta” rather than tipping the waiter or waitress, so you do not need to tip. In fact, some may find it insulting when given a tip and will return the spare change to you. It is also true that some restaurants have glasses of wine that are cheaper than water! Italian restaurants do not give out tap water for free. You will have to drop Euros for bottled water, so when in doubt, try the featured house wine. Nine out of ten times it is worth it.
2. The Italian breakfast is drastically different from American breakfast.
A big food-related adjustment you will have to make will be giving up the large American breakfast that you are likely used to. Italian breakfasts typically consist of grabbing a pastry and a 1-euro espresso to go on your way to school or work. True Italians run with this lifestyle, so many places do not serve the typical American breakfast staples. Thankfully, Homebaked, an American restaurant ran by a man from Buffalo, NY, is just around the corner from the American University of Rome. This place feels just like home and features all of the classic breakfasts you are used to. Ranging from eggs, pancakes, French toast, bacon, and bagels, Homebaked has it all. You really never realize how much you become accustomed to something until it is gone!
3. Italians do drink, but not to get drunk.
You may be surprised to hear this if you know that the drinking age in Italy is lower than the drinking age in the US. However, in Rome, drinking is a social activity and is a main part of a typical Italian meal. As previously mentioned, wine is often cheaper than purchasing a bottle of water at a restaurant. It is also an experience to try a different kind of wine at each meal and to pair a particular glass with a dish. It is an American custom to drink hard liquor to get drunk, so Italians can easily identify who is not of their kind.
4. Don’t be afraid to explore new places
Many times it is easy to open up our Quick Lists to pick a spot for lunch or dinner, but its also a good opportunity to explore! There are an endless amount of restaurants in the city and you will see many on each and every street, especially in Trastevere. Take a chance, and try somewhere new. There is no better place to enjoy some authentic Italian food, so take advantage of the opportunities presented to you. Most locations have consistently fresh supplies of ingredients. Also, Rome is known for its cacio e pepe dish, which is a pasta dish with a pecorino cheese and pepper sauce. It is delicious, (so definitely check out Roscioli for this dish. They have the best cacio e pepe out there)!