6 Things to Know When In Rome

I think it’s safe to say many of us have dreamed of living out Lizzie McGuire’s Roman adventures at some point in our lives. Whether you are dying to explore a city teeming with history, shop at the most on trend stores in the world or just enjoy the best gelato in your life, Rome has a lot to offer. The city is gorgeous, of course, but like anywhere comes with its own unique set of quirks. During my first weeks abroad in Rome, I have learned a few things seldom discussed about the amazing place. Keep these things in mind when you head off for the adventure of a lifetime.


1.Not everyone speaks English

With English being such a common language for business, it’s easy to get in the mindset that you’ll be able to get by in your mother tongue as long as you stick to the big areas. But while it’s true that people in tourist areas will probably try to talk to you in English, this is more likely because they think you don’t speak Italian than because they boast dual fluency. According to Mango Languages, a language learning app that can teach you Italian, about 20% of Italians speak English. To communicate with the other 80% of the city, it’s probably best to look up some basic Italian phrases.


2. It’s not that easy to get around

Europe is often touted as an area where it’s simple and cheap to travel from country to country at the drop of a hat. Whoever spread this idea clearly didn’t spend too much of their time in Rome. In my two weeks here, I have yet to have a bus or train show up on time. Public transit may be cheap and plentiful, but don’t expect to get anywhere on a tight schedule. That being said, multiple discount airlines do make it easy to fly between countries, if you can make it to the airport on time.


3. People drive recklessly

I thought driving in Los Angeles looked scary before leaving for Italy, but the horrible traffic might actually be easier to deal with than the frankly dangerous way that people drive in Italy. The cars are smaller to jam them into smaller spots, and it seems like they use this advantage to cram themselves through traffic even when it’s not really their turn at all. The cobblestone streets that look like they should be pedestrian only will probably also have cars zooming up at any given moment. Watch where you’re walking and listen for cars even when you think they shouldn’t be around.


4. They don’t really have American style cafés​

You aren’t wrong if you think of Italy as a country filled with delicious coffee. But if you are expecting to spend all day sitting around in a café like you do in LMU’s Starbucks or Lions Den, you may need to think again. For one, you should be searching for bar’s when you want a coffee, as this is what coffee shops are more often referred to as. They are aptly named, because when you arrive, after paying for your coffee, you’ll push your way up to the bar to order your drink. Many people will stand at the bar to enjoy their coffee as well. If you are hoping to relax at a table, many coffee shops will charge you for this luxury.


5. Eating takes longer

Sure, there are fast food joints in Rome, being the metropole it is. But if you want authentic Italian food you will want to set aside longer than you would expect in a restaurant at home. Eating food here often involves lots of socializing and multiple courses. It’s not hard to find restaurants with a four course menu, and the Italian version of happy hour, aperitivo, comes with not only drinks but also a multitude of appetizer choices for the price of your drink. Any time you sit down for food or a drink, don’t expect to get somewhere quickly.


6. Stores take siesta

Siesta, a midday break period, is popular in quite a few areas of Europe. If you’re planning on doing some mid-day shopping, you’ll want to check the store hours, as it’s not uncommon to close after lunch and reopen a few hours later. The late hours of stores in Italy will probably make up for this break, but you’ll want to look up when to shop beforehand so that you aren’t surprised when you arrive to a closed door.


Like when visiting any country, learning a bit about Rome can make your experience even more enjoyable. With these things in mind you’ll know what to expect and therefore be able to enjoy all that this magnificent city has to offer.