Five things to do in Rome: that’s a bit of a challenge. Not because there is nothing to do in Rome. In contrary. If you would spent a long weekend in Rome and you would do five things in five minutes you still wouldn’t have time enough to see it all. If you love history, architecture, archaeology, art, religion (there is a church on almost every street corner) and food Rome is the place to be.
There are so many archaeological sites the Roman government has stopped exploring them all. For year they are trying to build a third metro line. Every time they are digging they come across another, not yet discovered old city. There are so many they just bury them again and try another track for the metro line.
An amazing and dirty city
I think it’s one of those cities that is amazing to visit. Not to live in. It’s not just my own impression, it’s what some Romans have told me as well. Living here for a couple of weeks I have to admit that it’s a dirty city. Trash on the streets everywhere. Graphite, smoking people, rats (they are outnumbering the famous Roman cats), an everlasting noise of cars, scooters, horns and sirens and all the pollution that comes with 24 hours of traffic a day.
Vagrants with trolleys are roaming the streets in the morning; searching the dumpsters for anything that is still worth some money. Only the African beggars still hold on to their dignity. Well dressed they stand outside supermarkets, grocery stores and pasticcerias holding up their baseball caps to collect some money. To look cool they have one baseball cap on their had and another in their hand.
Rome is as beautiful as expensive. Life in Italy is expensive anyway. Groceries are way more expensive than for instance the Netherlands. Except of course for a coffee or a pasticcini. Because the city is so expensive I selected five things to do in Rome for a low budget. Four of them have to do with food. Sorry, but Italy is food.
Five things to do in Rome on a low budget
If you love big crowds, small, lively streets have a stroll over Piazza Navona in the city center. It will remind you a bit of Place du Tetre in Paris. The square is filled with painters and streets hawkers, trying to earns some money. It’s decorated with three fountains. The eye catching one was made by Bernini and is called the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (fountain of the four rivers: Nile, Ganges, Danube and Plate). If you like carefully you will see that one of the statues is holding his hand in front of his eyes. It’s the figure that stands closes to Chiesa di Sant’Agnese. This building was created by Borromini; Bernini’s big rival in those days. The story goes that the figure of the Nile finds Borromini’s work so awe-full he’s ‘protecting’ his eyes so he doesn’t have to look at it.
Roman pizzas go by the meter. They are not round, like for instance the pizzas you get in the Netherlands, but rectangular. If you want a slice, it will be cut off with a pair of scissors for you. You decide how big you want to have it. Everything is possible, because you don’t pay by slice, but by weight.
You won’t have to search for a pizzeria. Wherever you go, there will be a pizzeria. Restaurants, take-a-ways and some disguised as ice cream shops, bakeries of bars.
Breakfast with pasticcini
Romans love sweets and they love their ice creams. I know Italians are famous for it, but in Rome it looks like you can’t go anywhere without running into an ice cream shop. The only thing that outnumbers the ice cream shops and the pizzerias are the pasticcerias. Pasticcerias are bakeries. Some sell actual bread. Well mostly focaccia; the flat, white and salty Italian breads which don’t fill you up. Most of them however just sell sweets. Cakes and pastries in all colors, tastes and shapes. All with their own name.
The standard Roman breakfast is Maritozzi with cappuccino. A Maritozzi is a kind of donut with cream inside. But you can try out all the other sweets as well for breakfast. Nobody will look strange at you. In the morning all the shelves in the pasticcerias are packed, in the evening everything is sold<
If you like health food, you will have a hard time in Rome. Pizza and pasta are still the main dishes: gluten and carbs. Italians love their meat. Eating in restaurants can be a crime. Preparing your own food in your apartment as well. You’ll find whole grain pasta in the supermarket, but if you eat gluten and dairy free you won’t appreciate shopping in Rome.<
A nice exception to the rule is Ecosazio; a juice bar and organic food place. You can eat there, get take-a-way or delivery. The juice bar is close to the Vatican, so if that’s on your list for Rome it’s a nice stop. (You can check out here five things to do in Vatican City.)
Relax with yoga at Damo
Rome is one of the noisiest cities I know. I did the RoPa-run (running form Rotterdam to Paris) and ran to Paris in the middle of the night. The streets were deserted. Even when we got closer to the Eiffel tower; where the finish line was. Normally parks are a good option to be away from the big crowds and noise, but in Rome you can here the sirens, the cars and all the honking even in the parks. So if you want to escape from it, chill out with some yoga. Damo is a beautiful place, where it actually gets quiet. The school is outside the city center, but the area is pretty nice and the classes are relaxed. Next to yoga there are Tai Chi and martial arts classes.
You’ll find the rest of my travel stories on my travel / countries page.