Check out these 8 Surprising Ways to Enjoy a Trip to Rome by Estrella Gomez of La Casabloga. As one of my favorite bloggers, I was excited to have her guest write this week! You can find her blog and information at the end.
Often times when visiting a big, well known city, such as Rome, the initial tendency is to prioritize visiting all the major sights and raved about restaurants. After all, who doesn’t want to see and taste what these cities are famous for? Unfortunately, this plan almost always leads into the most obvious tourist traps, longer than necessary lines, and worst of all, paying double at restaurants for less than mediocre food.
Don’t get me wrong, battling the crowds to see the Trevi Fountain and Coliseum are all worth the hassle as far as sightseeing in Rome goes. But there are plenty of other ways to make the most out of your stay in la citta eterna, ‘The Eternal City’, without all of the headaches.
1. Hang Out in a Garden of Oranges
Figuratively speaking…well, sort of. This park, located in the Testaccio area of Rome, is named Giardino degli Aranci (the Orange Garden). It’s popular among locals and visitors alike as it offers one of the best views in all the city, overlooking the Tiber River leading all the way to St. Peter’s Basilica. I have personally been here a handful of times and there is no better place to bring along a bottle of wine and watch as the sunset melts overtop of the city.
2. Peek Through the Most Famous Peephole in Rome
Yep-you read that right. A few steps down from the Giardino degli Aranci, you are sure to find a line of people standing outside an unassuming door, suspiciously crouching down to gaze into a keyhole, otherwise known as The Aventine Keyhole. On the other side of the keyhole, you will find…spoiler alert: a perfectly framed view of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Whether you go during the day or night, this is an off-the-beaten path attraction you do not want to miss!
3. Climb Up 551 Steps to the Most Amazing View
Okay, so I’m sure the “climbing 551 steps” part doesn’t sound too inviting, but I promise the end result is so worth it. When visiting one of Rome’s most famous sites, and one of the most important churches in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica, many people stick to the guided tours inside on the ground level. But the best way to see the beauty of the Basilica, from all angles, is to take the steps, all 551 of them-to the very top of the cupola (dome). The 360 degree view from the top of the cupola is not only the highest point in Rome but it offers glimpses of the city that are simply unmatched.
4. Take a Day Trip
One of my favorite things to do in Rome is to get away from the center of the city, and the crowds, by taking a day trip to a place that holds just as much historical value as the more famous center. A great place to visit, not far from the center of Rome is Ostia Antica, one of Rome’s most ancient ruins. These ruins are small enough to walk around in a few hours but you’ll be amazed by the frescoed bathhouses, still-standing theater, and apartment homes that used to belong to hundreds of people thousands of years ago.
5. Hang Out in a Rose Garden
When there is a FREE Rose Garden open to the public only 2 months out of the year, you just have to go. This garden, filled with an incredible assortment of roses, is popular among tourists and locals alike as it makes for the most beautiful place to just lounge around and take pictures (Insta-worthy? I think so!). Ironic enough, this field of pretty flowers wasn’t always so beautiful as it was the site of Rome’s Jewish cemeteries for centuries. One thing is for sure, the scent of roses and overwhelming selection to choose from will keep you busy all day.
6. Eat With a Local
I didn’t hear about this concept until recently, and fell in love with the idea as soon as I did! The great thing about eating with a local, is that it can be done in multiple cities (not just in Rome) with Bon Appetour. I recently did my first cooking class with Bon Appetour and we made the most amazing ricotta and orange ravioli from scratch. Of course the Roman restaurants are spectacular, but there is no better place to get the real authentic Rome experience than in the home of a Roman.
7. Take a Scooter Tour Around Rome
I know the streets of Rome can seem a bit chaotic but I promise, it’s not as scary as it looks. Especially when you are in the good hands (or should I say ‘good wheels’) of Scooteroma. I can confidently say there is no better way to explore the streets of Rome, than to zip your way around the city on a traditional Roman Vespa. Taking my first scooter tour with Scooteroma completely erased my fear of riding a Vespa. The experience was so enjoyable that I felt completely at ease during the entire ride. This way of exploring Rome is much better than the huge, ‘On and Off’ tour buses that are not nearly as adventurous.
8. Take Advantage of the Aperitivos
It’s easy to get caught up with a list of restaurants recommendations to try, especially when visiting somewhere for the first time. I am completely guilty of this, however I wish I would have known about the aperitivo option before I first vacationed in Italy as it would have saved me a lot more money in the long run. An aperitivo is when a restaurant or bar has the option of a “buffet” style dinner for a flat fee, including an alcoholic beverage. Most aperitivos in Italy range from €10-15 person and the spread of food they have is well worth it. I try to take advantage of this as much as I can.
I have only been living in Rome for 7 months and am constantly discovering new things to do here every day. What I especially love to discover, are the most obscure and unknown things to do, which are things you learn with time. Although most of the above are things to do specifically in Rome, you can still eat like a local and indulge in aperitivos like real Italians in any part of Italy! If you do visit any of these places, I am sure you will truly understand why Rome is one of the most unique cities in the world.
Have you been to Rome or Italy yet? Let me know below with a comment!
Estrella Gomez | La Casabloga
Estrella is a part-time lifestyle/travel blogger that has made Rome her home since summer 2016. Coming here on a whim after taking a once in a lifetime vacation in Italy circa 2015, she felt there was no better place to settle her passion for wanderlust than the Eternal City itself. She originally hails from the great state of South Carolina, but was previously living in Miami for the past 4 years before making the temporary move overseas. On her blog, you will find topics about living abroad, travels through Europe, and other lifestyle topics in hope to inspire others to ditch the 9-5 and pursue their own unique path…even if it leads them 10,000 miles away from home.