My local tips in Rome
All roads lead to Rome. And when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
We all know this saying and I dare to say it is the best travel advice your can get! Experiencing a destination like a local is the only way you can really feel the atmosphere of a place. And when it comes to Rome, you can trust me – I lived there for a year following that philosophy. And it was the best decision ever!
Basic tip – avoid tourist menu’s, seek small backstreet restaurants, don’t go right at rush hour for dinner (that is around 20:30).
So how do you make the most of your short trip to Rome and enjoy it like a local – just eat where normal people do. Avoiding tourist traps in the Eternal city is harder than you can imagine – almost every restaurant in the central area is one. You need to go to small streets just behind the main one to find the most delicious pizza ever.
Restaurant Il Leoncino
This is the case with Il Leoncino – just behind some of the most expensive shops in Rome you’ll find a small and typical as it gets Roman pizzeria filled with local visitors only. No fancy interior, fusion menu or anything like that. Everyone knows everyone here, the pizza comes with no more than 2-3 ingredients and the dough is the lightest you can find around. The open kitchen gives you a full view of what is happening with your dinner – and you will have your order served in less than 10 minutes. Price of a pizza – less than 10€.
If you are craving for fresh seafood, keep in mind that Italy is the place to get the cheapest fish that just came out of the water. But most local restaurants will charge crazy price for a small dish. This is why you need to go to Fishmarket Trastevere – a small market-like place where you choose the fish, get it measured and tell them how to cook it. Then you sit on the table and enjoy a glass of wine with tuna carpaccio or crab salad.
They offer squid, clams, mussels, at least 5 types of local fish – all fresh from today’s catch. The atmosphere is lively and noisy – just like Rome itself. No reservations accepted and you might need to wait a bit for a table. Totally worth it. The price of a full 3 course dinner – 20€ a person.
Those are just 2 of my favorite local places. Usually there are no tourist there, although in the center of the city. More spots you can find on my expert bucket on City is Yours.
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Useful tips: Rome
- Go to Trastevere for nice cheap dinner and great bars.
- QBar in Trastevere offers 200 types of rum from around the world. Get a shot!
- Testaccio and San Lorenzo quartiers are where the students go. This means party and cheap bars.
- For lunch get a “pizza al taglio” a long oval pizza cut with scissors. Any other type is for tourists. Get a couple of small bites from different tastes and indulge.
- Eat ice cream as much as possible. Try different and strange tastes.
- If visiting during the colder season, get some roasted chestnuts.