Home » Best Tips for Rome – What You Need to Know Before Traveling

Best Tips for Rome – What You Need to Know Before Traveling


Rome – the eternal city – pulsates with history, art, fashion, and, naturally, Italian cuisine. Are you planning a trip to this oasis of culture? This guide equips you with essential advice and useful information for traveling to Rome. While Italy’s capital may not differ significantly from other major European cities, it’s still wise to prepare your trip thoroughly. Get ready for a successful trip to Rome with the help of these tips!

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Best Time to Travel


Rome is an eternal city in what comes to the time of your visit, too. You can explore it regardless of the season. While the four seasons do influence the weather, the variations are significantly milder than in many other countries (like Northern Europe). Snow is a rare occurrence in Rome, last happening in 2018. Choose your travel time based on the type of weather and atmosphere you enjoy the most. Spring and fall typically offer the most pleasant conditions for exploring Rome.

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Spring

April to June is an ideal time to visit Rome. Temperatures rise comfortably, and blooming parks and blossoming vegetation add color to the city. The peak of tourist crowds has not yet reached its zenith.

Summer

July and August mark the hottest period in Rome, with temperatures soaring to around +30 degrees Celsius. This is the peak holiday season for European travelers, as August is the most common vacation month. Consequently, Rome becomes crowded with tourists during the summer season. Some of the city’s businesses may be closed as locals go on vacation, too. If you plan to visit Rome in the summer, I recommend allotting extra time for your trip. The high influx of tourists can slow the pace of moving around in the city significantly, affecting the ease of getting around and visiting attractions.

Autumn

September and October are excellent months to visit Rome following the favorable spring season. The temperature remains comfortable while the peak of the tourist masses starts to subside. While Northern Europe experiences autumn rains and temperatures approaching zero, Rome still enjoys summer-like temperatures of over +20 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the city hosts numerous events and festivals, making the autumn season an intriguing time to visit.

Winter

November to February is generally a quieter period in Rome, allowing you to experience the city at a more relaxed pace. Winter brings cooler temperatures, especially in the evenings and at night. Shorter queues at attractions and lower prices for flights and hotels make the winter season particularly appealing for budget travelers.

I prefer to travel during the off-season to avoid large crowds and long queues. I’ve been to Rome at the end of November (2017) and mid-February (2024), and I can recommend both times. From my experience, a city break in a major city during the peak summer season can be an exhausting and even unpleasant experience. Therefore, I cannot blatantly recommend July or August, even though you might be able to capture some pretty and summery holiday photos during that time. (Or not, considering all the crowds in the background and waking up at 5 AM trying to avoid them.)

Ideal Length of Trip


As a city break destination, Rome is a great option for a long weekend getaway. However, it can easily accommodate a longer vacation, as well. There are plenty of day trip alternatives in the surrounding areas within convenient train rides. Hence, whether you plan on making a short visit or spending an extended holiday, you can always find something to do in Rome.

The ideal length of your trip depends on personal preferences and how much time you want to dedicate to exploring the various attractions in Rome. It’s important to schedule the duration of your trip well, so you can enjoy the city without feeling rushed. Therefore, I recommend getting familiar with the city’s attractions in advance. Make a list of the must-visit places, and plan the length of your trip accordingly.

You can find the top picks of attractions in my Rome Quick Guide.

Short Getaway

A short 3-4 day trip provides the opportunity to see Rome’s main attractions, such as the Colosseum, Vatican, and Pantheon, while also enjoying the abundance of the local cuisine. This timeframe is excellent for quick city getaways and extended weekends.

My first trip to Rome was an extended weekend getaway in 2017. My mother and I flew to Rome early on Thursday morning and back home to Helsinki on Sunday evening. This was just the right length of the trip to visit the main attractions, go shopping, and enjoy Italian food at our own pace without rushing.

During the short four-day trip, you can easily visit the traditional attractions in the city center, such as the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Via del Corso, the Trevi Fountain, and a few churches. Each, The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Vatican take almost a full day to visit.

A weekend trip to Rome is suitable for those visiting the city for the first time and those who have visited multiple times. It is also ideal for individuals not particularly interested in delving deeper into historical sites or art beyond the main attractions. A short getaway provides a perfect escape from daily life. Rome is well-suited for a romantic retreat, too.

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A Week Long Holiday

A trip of about 5-7 days allows for more time to immerse oneself in Rome’s culture, explore different neighborhoods, go shopping, and enjoy a more relaxed pace. You can take day trips to nearby areas and immerse yourself in local life. Even with a week in Rome, there’s rarely a dull moment.

We took a 7-night trip to Rome with my spouse in winter 2024. The timeframe allowed us to explore the city extensively. I recommend a week-long trip if you’re interested in delving into several art galleries, museums, and monuments, or if you want to make 1-3 day trips elsewhere. I had planned day trips into our schedule, but in the end, we found so many interesting places in the city center that the excursions were postponed for another time.

A one-week trip to Rome is especially suitable for travelers who want to dive deeper into Rome’s museums and cultural offerings or make day trips to other cities and nearby areas. In a week, you can see a lot. Even if you stay around the city center only, you still won’t be able to cover everything worth seeing during this time.

Longer Stay

If you want to experience Rome more thoroughly and make more excursions to nearby areas, consider a 10-day or two-week trip. During this timeframe, you can dedicate more time to the abundant art galleries and the long history of Rome. You will also have more room in the schedule to visit other cities, enjoying a leisurely journey.

From a sustainable traveling perspective, I would recommend a longer stay in Rome when you wish to visit numerous historical sites and art galleries. The city and its surrounding areas offer an abundance of attractions. Therefore, I would prefer to make one extended trip to the Rome area rather than several short ones. Rome seems to affect many people in a peculiar way making them always want to return. Every time when you must return home, it feels like there’s still something that remain unseen.

Airports


In Rome, there are two international airports. When booking flights and transportation in Rome, remember to check from which airport your flight departs.

Leonardo da Vinci – Fiumicino Airport (FCO) is Rome’s main international airport. It is located approximately 30 km southwest of the city center. Fiumicino handles a considerable number of international flights. The airport features shops and restaurants, and there are smooth connections to the center of Rome.

Ciampino – G.B. Pastine Airport (CIA) is the other airport in Rome, located approximately 15 km south of the city center. Ciampino is notably used by budget airlines. There are various transportation options available from the airport to the city center.

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To & From Airport

Both of Rome’s airports have good and relatively fast transportation connections to the city center. Plan and decide your transportation method considering which option best suits your travel needs. I recommend planning your airport transfer and route in advance, at least for the arrival day.

Train

The Leonardo Express runs from Fiumicino Airport to the city center’s Termini station in about 32 minutes. Trains depart approximately every 15 minutes and the ticket costs €14 per person. Also, regional trains to other Rome train stations depart every 15-30 minutes. Additional information and schedules can be found here.

From Ciampino, you can also reach the center of Rome relatively quickly by train. Buses depart from the front of the airport to the nearest train station every 20 minutes. Additional information and schedules can be found here.

Taxi

Airport taxis are a convenient option, especially if you have a lot of luggage, are traveling with children, or your destination is not close to train stations. Taxis have a fixed price of 50€ for trips between the center and Fiumicino Airport. The fixed price from Ciampino to the center is 31€. The drive from Fiumicino takes approximately 25-40 minutes, depending on traffic (and the driver), and slightly less from Ciampino. Taxi stands can be found right outside the arrivals terminal at both airports.

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Uber

Because a license is required for taxi driving, all Uber rides are official taxis In Italy. If the taxi queue at the airport is long, I recommend ordering a car through Uber, which usually has a waiting time of just a few minutes.

Note that at Fiumicino, the Uber pickup point is not in front of the arrivals hall but in front of the departures hall. These halls are located on top of each other, with arrivals on the lower floor and departures on the upper floor.

Therefore, upon arriving in the arrivals hall, look for the stairs, go up one floor, and exit through the main doors. The pickup points are marked with the word “TAXI” written on the ground. The Uber app will likely also sen you a picture of the pickup location.

Bus

Several bus companies offer scheduled and shuttle bus services from the airport to the city. Learn more about Fiumicino’s bus connections here and Ciampino’s bus connections here.

Car Rental

Renting a car can be a good option if you plan to explore the surroundings of Rome extensively and stay farther away from the city center. Otherwise, driving in Rome, especially in the city center, is strongly discouraged. Find a list of car rental companies at Fiumicino here, and at Ciampino here.

Visa and Travel Documents


Italy, and thus Rome, is part of the Schengen Area. A separate Schengen visa is not required if you are an EU citizen or a citizen of a country that follows visa-free rules in the Schengen Area. Most nationalities do not need a visa for short trips to Rome. However, you should always check the country-specific visa exemption and any restrictions in advance.

European Union citizens and those having a residence permit in the EU do not need a visa or a separate residence permit for Italy when the visit is for tourism and lasts less than 90 days.

American citizens traveling to Rome for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days within 180 days generally do not require a visa. Always check the latest travel advisories and entry requirements before your trip. While a visa is not required for short visits, entry conditions can change and it’s crucial to stay informed. For any specific or up-to-date details, it’s recommended to contact the nearest Italian embassy or consulate or check their official website.

The official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Italy can be found here.

Passport and Identity Card

You can travel to Rome with a passport or a valid and accepted European Union ID card. Ensure that your travel documents are valid for the entire journey. Please note that depending on the country, airport, and airline, you may be required to present a passport instead of an ID card for flights even if you are traveling only within the Schengen Area.

Although you might be allowed to travel from your home country to Italy without showing your passport at the airport, it may be randomly required for the return flight. Schengen member states also have the right to change their practices at any time, as has happened, for example, during the Covid-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine

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Travel Insurance

Insurance is not required for entry into Italy, but it is always advisable to have travel insurance just in case. It can cover unexpected situations such as illnesses, accidents, or the loss of luggage. Carefully review the insurance terms and choose the option that suits you best. Some credit card companies, such as Mastercard and American Express, offer insurance attached to their cards, which may cover costs such as trip cancellations and lost luggage. It is recommended to save the insurance document and the insurance company’s phone number on your phone, as well as print a copy and take it with you on the trip.

Currency and Payments


Euro (EUR) is the official currency of Italy and Rome. Euro banknotes and coins are widely used in shops, restaurants, and other services. Handling transactions in cash and with payment cards is easy in Rome. There are plenty of ATMs in the city where you can withdraw cash. They generally accept international debit and credit cards.

The most widely accepted credit cards in Rome are Visa and MasterCard. Diners Club and American Express are also accepted, but the situation may vary. Make sure that your card is activated for international use before your trip. With the impact of the pandemic, contactless payment terminals have become more common in Rome. Therefore, contactless payments with smartphones and credit cards are convenient and fast in almost all major establishments.

Although most places accept debit and credit cards, I recommend carrying some cash with you. Especially in smaller shops, markets, and local restaurants, you may find that card payment devices are not available. Additionally, there might be connectivity issues with card terminals, so card payments may not always be possible.

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Language and Common Phrases


In Rome, as in the rest of Italy, the official language is Italian. Many Romans can speak at least some English, especially in tourist areas. However, locals greatly appreciate the effort to use the Italian language. With simple Italian phrases, you can make an impression and facilitate communication. Locals appreciate your attempt to use their language, even if you mainly speak English. Here are some common words and phrases that can be useful:

  • Ciao = Hello
  • Arrivederci = Goodbye
  • Buongiorno = Good morning/day
  • Buona Sera = Good afternoon/evening
  • Grazie = Thank You
  • Prego = You’re welcome/Please
  • Sì = Yes
  • No = No
  • Aiuto = Help
  • Parla inglese? = Do you speak English?
  • Dove è…? = Where is…?
  • Il conto, prego = Bill, please
  • Colazione = Breakfast
  • Cena = Dinner
  • Buon appetito = Enjoy your meal
  • Ho bisogno di un medico = I need a (medical) doctor
  • Quanto costa? = How much (sthg costs)?
  • Il bagno = WC
tips rome

Water


tips rome
One of the water fountains is located next to the Trevi Fountain and is known as the “Lovers Fountain” (Fontana degli Innamorati). However, this is not a “nasoni”, as they resemble more like a traditional water post.


Tap water is safe to drink in Rome. The city’s water system adheres to strict health standards. The tap water is generally high quality and tastes good. You can confidently fill your water bottle directly from the tap and use it as drinking water. I recommend packing your reusable water bottle.

If you have a sensitive stomach or visit areas where water supply may vary, you can always purchase bottled water. Bottled water is widely available in stores and kiosks. Don’t forget to recycle or return the empty bottles properly.

Remember to use the free drinking fountains which can be found throughout the city, known as “nasoni” (translates as “big noses”). The fountains are a legacy of the ancient emperors who wanted to provide citizens with free and fresh water.

Nasonis are convenient and environmentally friendly options for maintaining hydration during your travels. Keep an eye out in the city to find the nearest water source. You can also download the Waidy app on your phone, which shows the locations of all 2500 water fountains.

Moving Around


The traffic in Rome is lively and diverse. The city offers a wide public transportation network, including the metro, buses, trams, and local trains. The metro is a fast way to travel long distances, while buses and trams cover different neighborhoods extensively. Rome’s transportation network provides convenient ways to move between attractions. However, be prepared for traffic jams, especially in the city center. To immerse yourself in the city’s atmosphere, consider partaking in the locals’ way of getting around.

Public Transportation

The two metro lines, A and B, cover most of Rome. The metro is a fast and efficient way to travel long distances.

Rome’s bus and tram system extensively covers the city, including areas not reached by the metro. Buses are a good option for shorter trips, especially outside the historical city center.

Several local train connections connect the city center and the surrounding areas of Rome, taking travelers to nearby towns and attractions easily.

Public transportation in Rome is managed by a company called Atac. You can review routes and ticket prices on Atac’s website here. The Roma Pass typically includes free use of public transportation during the validity period of the pass. You can purchase the Roma Pass here.

You can purchase tickets for public transportation at kiosks, metro stations, or vending machines. Tickets are generally valid for various modes of transportation for a specific duration. Remember to check when your ticket expires and validate it before boarding the transportation. Using an unvalidated or expired ticket may result in significant fines.

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Taxi

Taxis are available throughout the city center. They are a convenient alternative, especially late at night or when you want comfort and swiftness. In the mornings and during the day the city center can get congested. The streets, especially in the old town, are filled with pedestrians. Therefore, a taxi ride may take longer than estimated during rush hours.

There are several ZTL (Zona a Traffico Limitato) areas in the old town of Rome. These are restricted traffic zones and streets where motor vehicles are prohibited without a special permit. If the starting point or destination is in such an area, the taxi will not drive directly to that location but will stop at the nearest possible spot.

It’s not customary to hail a taxi on the street In Italy, unlike in America. Instead, you must always make an order. I recommend using Uber to book a taxi since all rides ordered through the app in Rome are official taxis. Additionally, payment and the cost of the ride can be conveniently and reliably determined through the app. This eliminates the need for price negotiation with the driver. (Read; chances to get overcharged are lower)

Walking

Many of Rome’s attractions are within walking distance of each other, especially in the historic city center. Walking is an excellent, and often the quickest way to get around the city. Narrow alleys, ancient monuments, and charming piazzas make walking a delightful experience. You’re sure to see something beautiful wherever you look. By walking from one place to another, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the small nooks and crannies of the old city and stumble upon charming cafes.

Bikes and Electric Scooters

Several companies offer bicycle rentals in Rome. Cycling can be a fun way to explore the city, especially in parks like Villa Borghese. However, riding a bike on the busiest central streets can be a challenging and frustrating experience because of the crowds. There are no bike lanes.

Electric scooters such as Bird and Lime are also available in Rome. Riding an electric scooter on a sidewalk is prohibited. Speed limits are set on the scooters. They can be parked only in designated areas.

You don’t see many people riding electric scooters in the historical city center. Possibly because, like cycling, it could be challenging and uncomfortable. This is not only due to the crowds but also because most streets and roads are uneven and bumpy. (If you ever rode one of those beasts, you know what I’m talking about here!)

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Car Rental

Renting a car can be a good option if you plan to explore broader areas around Rome or embark on a road trip. In this case, I recommend picking up the rental car outside the city center and starting your journey from there. If you intend to take a day trip to another city, I recommend checking first if there is a suitable train connection. I highly recommend favoring the train instead of driving for various reasons. While Italy is not a bad destination for a road trip, you want to avoid driving in the central area of Rome as much as possible.

If you plan to stay only in the central area, renting a car is unnecessary and inconvenient. I cannot recommend it in any way. In Rome, traffic is extremely hectic and fast-paced compared to smaller cities (like ones in Nordic countries).

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The driving style is pretty aggressive in Rome. After accelerating quickly, cars then make abrupt stops when needed. You can hear the honking constantly. The emergency vehicles are everywhere, all the time (and they are loud). In the historic center, many streets are also restricted from driving completely, or during certain times of the day.

In addition, parking challenges in the city are substantial. There are few parking garages in the vicinity of the old city center. You can see that the cars parked on the streets are often dented. In some places, they are parked so close back to back that the ones in the middle cannot be moved. Most attractions do not have any parking areas.

Telecommunications and Internet


The mobile phone networks are well-functioning, and most international mobile operators cover the city area In Rome. However, before your trip ensure that your operator provides reasonable rates for international calls and mobile data usage in Italy.

You can find Wi-Fi connections available in many hotels, restaurants, cafes, and public spaces. You can use these free or paid Wi-Fi connections when you want to save your mobile data.

If you plan to stay longer in Rome or travel extensively in Italy, consider getting a local SIM card or an e-SIM. Several local operators offer affordable data packages and phone plans.

Health and Vaccinations


Rome is generally a safe destination in terms of health. The city has high-quality healthcare services, and there are plenty of pharmacies where you can purchase basic supplies and over-the-counter medications. However, I recommend bringing along important prescription medications from your home country.

Before traveling to Rome, ensure that your routine vaccinations are valid. These typically include the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and the tetanus and diphtheria vaccine (Td). Consider getting booster shots for these basic vaccines if yours has expired.

Depending on the travel season, consider taking the influenza vaccine, particularly if you are in the high-risk group. Additionally, vaccinations for hepatitis A and B are recommended, especially if you plan to dine in local restaurants.

During the summer, very high temperatures can be experienced in Rome, so drink plenty of water. Don’t forget the sunscreen. Avoid excessive sun exposure, especially in the midday. To protect yourself from the sun with appropriate headwear might be a good idea.

Follow normal hygiene practices, such as washing hands before meals. I recommend carrying a small hand sanitizer bottle in your bag or pocket, as handwashing facilities may not be properly maintained everywhere. It doesn’t hurt to keep clean tissues or handkerchiefs in your pocket either.

Safety


Rome is generally a safe travel destination. Before your trip, check for any travel advisories and follow them. It’s important to adhere to basic safety guidelines in any big city. Always be aware of your surroundings. Avoid moving through secluded alleys and sketchy-looking areas, especially in the evenings and when traveling alone.

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In the historic center of Rome, you will normally find a significant presence of police officers and carabinieri, semi-military law enforcement officers. You will also discover some heavily armed military forces guarding the city. In addition, anti-terrorism measures have been implemented, including placing various barriers to ensure the safety of crowds.

When moving around the city, avoid buying anything from sketchy-looking street vendors, and don’t stop to talk to them. Even if you’re complimented as “Cleopatra” or something similar. Many pushy sellers ask where you come from and use it as an opener for further discussion, only to ask you for money at some point. Or even worse, to distract you while somebody else empties your pockets.

If someone offers you anything “for free,” don’t take it into your hands or answer the questions. You might become a scam victim in a situation that leads to a potential dispute. Decline requests for joint photos with street artists if you don’t want to pay for them.

Respect local laws and customs. Do not climb monuments or statues as it is most likely strictly forbidden. Damaging historically invaluable monuments, such as the Colosseum, can result in imprisonment and fines of up to 15,000 euros. Feeding pigeons and other birds is also prohibited by law in Italy.

Beware of pickpockets

Be especially careful with your valuables, such as your phone, wallet, passport, and camera. Pickpocketing is common in crowded places and public transportation in Rome. Avoid keeping anything valuable in your jacket or pants pockets. Not even in your chest pocket. I recommend using a sling bag which can be worn in your armpit or on the front side of your body. This type of bag you can keep close to your body and hide it under your jacket. I recommend this for men and this for women.

Keep an eye on your belongings even when you sit down, and don’t leave them unattended, especially in restaurants or cafes. Avoid placing your phone or wallet on the restaurant table, specifically outdoors. Do not hand your credit card to anyone; always make payments yourself, preferably using contactless payment methods. Have copies of your passport and other important documents separate from the originals and ensure they are easily accessible when needed. At least have photos of your passport saved on your phone.

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Traffic

The traffic in Rome is busy, especially in the city center. Cars and motorcycles travel at high speeds even within the downtown area. Always cross major roads at designated crosswalks and follow traffic lights. Italians do not necessarily adhere to the “pedestrian has the right of way” concept. This can surprise you if you are accustomed to it in other countries. Even at a crosswalk, cars may not stop for you immediately. It’s often better to wait until traffic slows down and cross the road with other pedestrians. If you suddenly jump onto the road or hinder traffic while crossing, you will be honked at.

The streets in the historical city center are very narrow. Cars, motorcycles, and mopeds share them with pedestrians. Be cautious wherever you move; a vehicle might just appear behind you seemingly out of nowhere. Always look around when crossing any street.

The 1-1.5m wide sidewalks easily become congested. In passing situations, you may find yourself stepping briefly on the driveway. Always remain alert when walking on the road where cars drive. Don’t assume anyone will slow down for you.

The old streets of Rome don’t have a modern surface. In the historic center (where the main attractions are located), the streets are paved with cobblestones or other types of stone. Therefore, the surfaces of the streets are extremely uneven. When walking, one must exercise additional caution everywhere to avoid tripping and spraining.

Therefore, please pay attention to your choice of footwear. Rome is not a suitable place for high heels. It’s simply impossible to tackle the old streets with them. In addition, cobblestones can scratch, or even snap the heels, ruining your shoes. (Believe me, when you see someone trying it, you can’t help but feel sorry for them). Pack only flat and firmly fitting shoes for your trip.

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A typical street in the historic city center.

Use Official Taxis Only

Taxis are regulated and require authorization In Italy. All official taxis with a license are white and have a “TAXI” sign on the roof. The front doors are decorated with the coat of arms of Rome. The taxi license number with the text “Comune di Roma” is visible on the doors, the rear of the car, and inside the vehicle. Avoid unlicensed taxis. Unfortunately, especially around the airport, you may encounter unauthorized “taxi drivers” offering transportation services without the necessary permits. These drivers usually charge higher fares and might lack the required insurance.

Tipping


In Rome, leaving a tip is not mandatory, but it is greatly appreciated. Service staff, including waiters and employees in other service industries, receive proper wages without relying on tips. In Italy, tips do not form the main part of the service personnel’s income, like in the United States. Instead, tips are considered bonuses on top of the base salary, like in Finland and other Nordic countries.

Tipping is common and even expected in many customer service roles in Rome. While tipping is not obligatory, it does express gratitude for good service. How much you should tip may vary slightly based on local customs and your budget. In general, tipping is a part of the local culture. I recommend adding the tips to the calculations when budgeting for your trip to Rome.

Commonly you should tip around 10% of the total bill in a restaurant. In some restaurants, the service charge may be included in the bill. Hence, check this before tipping. The service charge is often indicated on the menu card as “coperto” or “servizio” and can be either a fixed amount or a percentage of the total bill. In cafes and bars, you can leave a small tip, such as a rounded sum or a few extra coins, especially if the service has been excellent.

For taxi drivers, you can round up the fare or leave a couple of extra euros. You can also ask the driver to round the fare to the next whole euro amount. You may leave a small tip for hotel staff, such as room service or cleaning, as well as porters assisting with luggage. In guided tours or excursions, it’s a good practice to tip the guide, especially if the service has been excellent.

Culture and Manners


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Romans have a rich culture, with a history of thousands of years. When visiting Rome, respecting the local culture and adhering to good manners are important. Roman etiquette flourishes as a blend of traditions and historical roots harmonized with modern life.

Romans take pride in their traditions. Courtesy and hospitality are essential values. By respecting the local culture, you help the locals maintain a positive attitude towards tourists and create a more enjoyable travel experience.

Italians are known for their passionate conversations. However, excessive loudness, swearing, drunkenness, and provocative behavior in public places are considered impolite. Queueing is a common practice in Italy. So it’s good etiquette to wait your turn, for example, when using public transportation or visiting attractions.

In conversations with or around locals, it’s polite to avoid making generalizations about criminality in Italy, corruption, or mafia, as well as fascism and Italy’s involvement in World War II.

Italians usually greet each other with kisses on cheeks, especially among friends and family. Handshaking is also a common greeting. Although many Romans speak English, locals greatly appreciate it if you greet and thank them in Italian. The concept of time in Italy can be a bit flexible, but try to be punctual, especially for scheduled meetings or restaurant reservations.

Café Culture

Coffee is often enjoyed while standing at the bar counter, and it’s customary to pay immediately after ordering or before. Different cafeterias may have varying practices regarding service and payment. Commonly, different types of services have varying prices.

In general, coffee is the cheapest when you consume it while standing at the bar counter, and more expensive when served at the table by a waiter. Sometimes, you place and pay the order at the counter and have it served to the table. In other places, you place the order at the counter, pick it up yourself, and pay when leaving. If the service flow at a cafe is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask the staff how you should place an order and make the payment. Remember to specify whether you want to enjoy your order at a table or while standing.

tips rome
tips rome

Dress Code and Religious Sites

Neat and modest attire is widely appreciated, especially when visiting churches and other religious sites in Rome. In the peak of the summer season, be prepared for high temperatures and the scorching sun. However, remember that revealing clothing with a lot of skin exposure may not be considered appropriate.

In Roman Catholic churches, you may be restricted from entering when wearing shorts or a sleeveless top. At least the shoulders and knees should be covered. Hence, it is a good idea to keep a scarf in your bag for situations when you might need more coverage. Men should always remove their hats indoors, especially in churches and when eating.

Respect religious sites and remember, churches are primarily places for religious ceremonies, not tourist attractions or entertainment. When visiting churches and religious places, maintain silence and respect the spiritual significance of the location. Visiting and taking pictures in churches is forbidden during religious ceremonies, such as services, prayers, or private family events. However, anyone is usually free to participate in services held in churches.

Opening Times

In Italy, the siesta is known as “riposo.” Shops, churches, and many restaurants close for approximately three hours in the middle of the day. During riposo, Italians return home, rest, and spend time with their families. For Italians, riposo signifies a home-cooked meal and family time.

I recommend to plan your activities and meals accordingly, considering that most places are closed during the midday break. However, museums and galleries often make an exception, but it’s still important to carefully check their opening hours. Some museums close relatively early, and some may be entirely closed on certain weekdays, usually Mondays or Tuesdays.

Restaurants

Restaurant opening hours can vary depending on the focus of each establishment. For example, restaurants that serve breakfast and lunch, may close in the afternoon and remain closed for the rest of the day.

Restaurants that focus on dinner service might be open during lunchtime, close for riposo, and reopen later in the evening, usually around 6-7 PM. Dinner restaurants typically serve until around midnight. Locals often have dinner around 9 PM or later.

You probably want to make a reservation in advance in popular restaurants, especially for the evening service. This ensures your spot and helps to avoid unnecessary waiting times. Unlike some cultures where restaurants may have multiple seatings, in Italy it’s common to expect a party to occupy the table for the entire evening.

A dinner in Italy typically consists of four courses. Keep in mind that portion sizes are adapted accordingly. It’s not conventional to request alterations or changes to dishes, on the contrary, it is considered disrespectful. If you have allergies or specific dietary requirements, discuss them with the waiter individually.

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Enjoy Your Trip!


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