How to Experience Rome like a Roman

How to Experience Rome like a Roman

Rome, the Eternal City. It is eternal for many reasons… eternal beauty, eternal excitement, eternal cobblestones and chaos… It's easy to think that Rome is all crumbling ruins and endless plates of pasta, but how do you really fit in?   


1. Relax

Romans have a very relaxed attitude to life, winter or summer, despite their crazy, fast driving and propensity to yell - everything. Time doesn't really exist here, the moment is to be enjoyed, and nobody gets ruffled at a late bus. Because no matter what, you will still get to where you are going, and it doesn't matter if you are half an hour late- because everyone else is.


2. Be Prepared to Stand on Public Transport

This is not an ignorant attitude to public health and safety, it is just how it is. Buses and trams rattle - so much that your head might ring, but remember- you’re travelling over ancient cobblestones that chariots may have traversed. It is an unique experience,and something Romans take completely in their stride.


3. Coffee 

There is no use complaining you miss Starbucks- this is the home of espresso. Each Roman has ‘their’ best way of making/drinking coffee - try them all! when going in to a ‘bar’ (coffee shop), pay for your coffee at the cash register, then hand the receipt to the barrister at the bar. Stand, down your coffee and leave. Coffee is business in Rome, take it seriously and taste it seriously… And enjoy it, seriously!


4. Weather 

In summer, it is hot. Humid and stifling, with no relief day or night. Romans do not like air conditioning, they prefer to be outdoors, and indoors, at best what you can hope for is a fan. Dress accordingly and carry a fan, drink a lot of water, and look forward to a shower after every outing… In winter, it is cold. The days might be bright and sunshine, but the air is cold. Romans do like heating, so respite can be enjoyed indoors, otherwise let winter be an excuse to wear fabulous hats. Romans do! Also, umbrellas are essential. Romans never, never get caught out in the rain, they have a sixth sense about this. So, if you don’t want to stand out because of not being able to detect that it will, in fact, rain at precisely 4.40pm today, check the weather ahead of time and carry a brolly. 


5. Food

Pasta is a first course. Salad comes later with your second dish- which is usually simply a piece of meat. Remember to order the salad/vegetable accompaniment! Romans have a beautifully, rustic and straight forward approach to food- not usually more than four ingredients per dish, because it is about the quality of the ingredients. Take the time to enjoy this simplified attitude to food, and notice your inner foodie jump for joy!


6. Hand Gestures

Now, this one is tricky. Romans really are as expressive as their reputation, and their sign language is a highly developed communication device. Best to watch and learn before diving in. The ruder the gesture, the easier it is to understand, so best to learn quick and not repeat if you want to make friends. The gestures of happiness are little more subtle, however a smile really, really goes along way in Rome. If you go about with a pleasant expression on your face, it is likely someone will strike up a conversation with you almost anywhere, will be happy to give you advice, and sometimes even a compliment! Romans can be very generous if you appear to be a welcoming party, so smile!


The Eternal City isn't too hard to crack, and you will find you can assimilate easily if you open your heart and eyes to the uniqueness of the city and its inhabitants. The people of Rome are proud of their idiosyncrasies, and the history of their culture. It is like visiting a protected historical site in almost all aspects, so why not take the Roman way all the way?


By Jade Rudnyckyj


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