Tips & tricks: Rome

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Heya foodies,
Today I will share with you some of the things we’ve learned when visiting Rome. There are some things you should avoid and some things you definitely shouldn’t: so I thought I’d write about my experiences! If there’s anything you think I should add, feel free to let me know.

First of all you want to pay attention to the prices of coffee for example. We met another Dutch couple who learned this the hard way when they paid six euros (!) per cappuccino, while it would have cost them around €1,10 if they would’ve drank it at the bar! You see, some restaurants (especially near tourist attractions or large plazas) employ a so-called “table service fee”. You not only pay extra for the service but because you keep a table occupied as well. Another example: hot chocolate at “News Café” would cost you €3 at the bar and €5,50 when sitting at a table. However, they have a very clear menu stating the difference, which I believe is really fair of them to do for tourists like me. Also, some restaurants will state the additional table service fee on the menu. If you want to save that extra money, be smart like the Romans do: order your coffee at the bar, and drink it while standing.

Something we learned the hard way: never, ever buy something on a main plaza. Even though it was very cold outside I wanted to have ice cream (yes, I am aware that I sometimes sound like a toddler) so we walked around for quite some time to find a place. When we found one they only had a menu in Italian and I thought I understood that a small cone was €2,50, not that bad so we took a larger one. However, it probably stated the cone and the ice cream individually so we ended up paying €19 for 2 cones…. Oops.

Same goes for restaurants: because they are located in a place where many tourists will come anyway they can A. charge the highest prices for their food, B. serve food of a rather low quality and C. charge you extra because of their location as well. If you want to take my advice: go away from the main roads and find those lovely restaurants in small streets, where they cook like a true Italian grandmother.

More money saving tips! Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. When we went to the Colosseum we found out that because we were European citizens in the age of 18-25, we only had to pay €23 for two tickets, while it would’ve cost us €32 if we wouldn’t have asked. For the Sistine Chapel we received a 50% discount because we were students (and able to show our student ID), which saved us €16. Not bad, eh?

If you want the full Italian experience: eat around 20.30. At this time restaurants will be nice and full, giving a way nicer vibe than when you are sitting alone of course. Also, follow the Italians! When we were searching for a place to eat we would usually look for a place with many Italians and many customers in general, as this is usually a good sign. Don’t let yourself be distracted by the looks of the restaurant as this usually says absolutely nothing about the quality: we’ve seen very fancy looking restaurants with the worst reviews, and we’ve had the best food at the places that were not that attractive from the outside. 

Expect to walk a lot! Rome does have a bus system as well as metros, but they don’t always take you to where you need to go and more importantly the buses always seemed to be extremely overcrowded. Even in January! Also, you get to see so much lovely buildings and restaurants when walking, because you can take a shortcut through the smaller streets. Recommendation!

Be careful when crossing the street, as cars drive by very fast. Also, if you want to cross the street or plan to rent a bike just be bold: cars won’t stop for a cross walk unless you make them stop.

When you order a coffee at a bar, expect it to be drinkable. I don’t know why but the cappuccinos are never really hot… Probably because the average businessman just quickly drinks it and then goes back to work, as we’ve seen many times. By the way if you’d like to try what is supposedly the best coffee in Rome, visit Tazza d’ Oro located very close by the Pantheon. I found more good places for coffee at this website. 

Also, when you order a soft drink such as coke, expect to receive a can even when you’re in a restaurant.

Well I think that’ll be all for now, if you have anything you’d like to share feel free to do so.
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