- Currency – Italy uses the Euro (“€”).
- Reservations – Make reservations for museums, tours, and restaurants whenever possible. Check if there is A/C when booking your accommodations if you are traveling in the summer.
- Electronics – Standard voltage is 220V (U.S. uses 110V). Check your electronics to see if they are dual voltage. Don’t forget an adapter so your electronics will fit into the outlets.
- VAT (value added tax) – A 22% tax on most goods and services in Italy. If you live outside Europe, you may be eligible for a VAT refund. When shopping, ask the retailer for a VAT Refund Form (they may ask to see your passport). You’ll need to show your purchases, the form, and your receipts at customs on your way home.
- Patience is a virtue – Whether you’re waiting for your rental car or a check in a restaurant, being an upset customer usually gets you nowhere. Italians are extremely friendly, good natured, and live a slower paced life than typical Americans. The sooner you get on the Italian lifestyle, the more fun you’ll have!
- Tipping – It is considerate to leave a few euros or a 10-15% tip when eating out. There is no need to leave a tip if a service charge was added to the bill.
- Cover your shoulders – Bring a scarf to cover your shoulders when touring museums and churches (some require that your knees are covered as well).
- Beware of scams – While Italy is a safe country in general, pickpocketing is something to be aware of. Make sure your bags have zippers, keep your wallet tucked away, and walk with a purpose in crowds. In addition, be cautious of distractions used by pickpockets to take your belongings. These include shoving a map in your face (or a baby in your arms), a fake dropped wallet, bumping into you, creating a mock scene to grab your attention, and more.
- Take breaks – Remember to give yourself breaks throughout the day so you have time to do as the Romans do. Take time to sip a cappuccino at a cafe, stroll aimlessly through cobblestone streets with gelato in hand, and linger at dinner over one too many glasses of vino!
Getting Around Rome
- Walk – Rome is a very walkable city, so pack comfortable shoes and enjoy the charm waiting around every corner.
- Metro – There are two main metro lines (A and B) that go through the center of the city. The system is not extensive, but can be useful for certain destinations.
- Hop-on Hop-off Bus – A great option to see the major sights and orient yourself with the city. Make sure your bus has audio commentary.
- Uber &Taxis – Useful to and from the airport and train station.
- Rent a Vespa – Explore Rome like a local on a Vespa. Unless you’re very adventurous, we recommend joining a tour as the Italians are known to be fast drivers.
Tips for Sightseeing
- Get up Early – If you’re visiting during prime tourist season it is best to visit the major sights in the early morning and late evening if you want to avoid the crowds (i.e. Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Vatican, Colosseum, etc.).
- Book Ahead of Time – Purchase tickets in advance for major sites. We highly recommend getting the Early Access to the Vatican (the lines can be extremely long!).
- Night Tours – If you want to beat the heat on a visit during the summer, the Colosseum has night tours that help you avoid the direct sun.
- Tour Guides – Booking tour guides for certain sights can help you make the most of your experience and provide VIP access to skip the lines. We highly recommend booking a tour guide for the Colosseum and Roman Forum as it makes it easier to imagine all of the history among the ruins you are viewing.
Eating and Drinking in Rome
- Deciding on a Restaurant – It is usually best to be cautious of restaurants that have a picture menu. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have bad food, but this can be an indicator of a low quality, overpriced, bad service type of restaurant. In general, the best restaurants aren’t trying to hustle you in.
- The best gelato typically doesn’t have bright colors dyed by food coloring and piled high on display. The locally made, family owned, gelato is less showy (often in silver containers), but all about the taste! There is never too much gelato when it comes to Italy. Make it a point to find the best place in Rome!