So now that you’ve made the decision to go to Rome, bought the plane ticket and booked the hotel or Airbnb, here are some things you should know. If you have booked an Airbnb do not be alarmed if your host asks you for your passport number. I was caught off guard by this as I have never been asked this before. Obviously, I didn’t just offer up my passport, I asked the host what the reason was for needing this information. The response that she gave me is something that I confirmed with some research and also reviewing the forum on the Airbnb website about this very topic. The reason that the host asks for that information is that they then have to present it to the police. This is a rule that all hosts have to follow by law and if they don’t they are liable to incur some hefty penalties. Now not every host is the same but the majority of them would probably be asking for this information. This does not only apply to Italy but other European countries as well.
While you are in Rome you should know that everything you probably have planned to see is within walking distance. Now when I say walking distance I mean that most iconic locations are within a 25-45 minute walk of each other, some even less. The location of your hotel or Airbnb will determine a lot if you take public transit to get around or if you just walk everywhere. I stayed at an Airbnb about a 10-minute walk from Vatican City (I will post the link to the Airbnb at the end). There were a couple of non-tourist restaurants and coffee bars within a 5-10 minute walk and I was only about a 50-minute walk from the Colosseum. During that 10-minute walk towards Vatican City and during the 50-minute walk to the Colosseum you pass a ridiculous amount of restaurants and Gelato shops. Food is everywhere!
If you do choose to walk everywhere then you should know that pedestrian crossing is pretty different. There aren’t many stop signs or pedestrian lights unless you are at major intersections. What you will mainly encounter are white lines on the ground that is where pedestrians should be crossing and then you just start crossing and stick out your hand to have these cars who are coming at full speeds stop to let you pass. It is everyday life over there and I looked like a complete tourist as I was puzzled as to how I would cross while all these cars were zooming by and then I saw a local couple just start crossing and stick their hand out so cars could stop. Really interesting stuff.
Non hai bisogno di parlare Italiano. According to Google translate, that means you don’t need to speak Italian. In Rome 98% of the places, you will visit, eat at or randomly walk in to will have someone who speaks English. I didn’t have to speak Italian at all while I was there and the two places that I needed to speak Italian were on food tours that took us to the very classic Italian locations that had not been taken over by the tourist. Now if you want to learn some words then go right ahead but trust me you don’t need it. At least not in Rome.
The last topic I want to cover has to do with the bathrooms. I read many travel blogs before heading to Rome and a very high majority of them all injected me with a sort of uneasiness. Many talked about how the bathroom situation is very poor over there and how it is difficult to find a public bathroom and that when you do find one they are usually very dirty and have broken toilet seats etc. Some even had pictures and stories of where you would have to do your business as a male in a literal hole in the ground. That last one seemed pretty extreme for such a popular location for tourists. Others would advise that you not pass by a McDonalds without using the bathroom. All of these stories added a sense of dread to my trip as I am lactose intolerant and I knew I would be consuming a lot of dairy products. Let me tell you what I discovered. Public bathrooms basically are non-existent but there is a restaurant at every corner and if you need to use the bathroom just pony up anywhere between 1-3 euros and they will allow you to use their facilities. Most big tourist attractions like the Colosseum (you have to pay to use) and Vatican museum have bathrooms available. The condition of the bathrooms is not at all what I was expecting after having read the other blogs. Granted they were still different in structure and size and I would still recommend using your own travel wipes as opposed to the toilet paper provided. In the end, we all experience it in our own way.
Small cars, small elevators, small streets but big hearts. Rome is a wonderful place filled with many fascinating locations and stories. Be sure to follow our blog or check back for the next post where I will talk about the must-see locations.