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Five this week, five next week!
1. Don’t eat near a major monument.
If you can gaze out onto a major tourist attraction then the restaurant you are sitting in doesn’t need to do ANYTHING to attract trade. That includes cooking well. They also don’t need anyone to ever return, they have a steady supply of hundreds of customers daily. The chefs are not usually Italian but a much cheaper paid nationality (this is an issue because after living in Italy for seventeen years and travelling to over 30 countries I can guarantee you that NO ONE knows how to cook pasta like an Italian), neither is the wait staff, and the ingredients are the cheapest and least wholesome available. This particularly concerns me because GREAT, reasonably priced Italian food is usually just around the corner. Go where there is nothing to rely on but the cooking itself.
2. Don’t sit down.
If you drink your cappuccino or juice at the counter, like all the other Italians, it will cost you roughly a third of the price than if you sit down at a table and get waited on. I know its hard in a city that requires non stop walking to see the sights, but if you don’t want to get stung with exorbitant prices then eat/drink standing up and then go find some comfortable stone steps to sit on. (I should make my next blog “Where to sit down in Rome”)
3. Yes Rome gets cold.
Rome looks perennially hot to most of the world as it is usually sunny and does get very hot in the summer. We had some guests from Germany last December who went out gaily in the morning without coats, to bask in the sun, and enjoy the delights of a much warmer country than their own. They were back by lunchtime, crying and shivering, to stick their frozen heads under hot water showers. 5 degrees Celsius is cold, even when the sun is shining. You will need a serious, natural fibre coat (i.e. not Polyester like the kind of coats you can get away with wearing in Melbourne – the bone freezing humidity will be on you in a second), the longer the better. A hat will mean you can walk around for longer and still feel your ears. Gloves and scarves are necessary for any evening jaunts. Rome is a city where walking around and being outside is the only way to see most of it so you need to be insulated well. Cafes are often open to the elements and therefore not great places to warm up in.
4. Push back.
A lot of pushing goes on in Rome. Usually it is just crowds jostling you in popular piazzas or shopping streets, or old ladies elbowing you out of the way. But sometimes it is gypsies who use it as a technique, especially on public transport, to lean against you and feel where your wallet is, and then to take it. If you are getting pushed in a manner which to you seems excessive then push back, hard. It is the only way to keep them away from you and to send them the message that you are on to them. Romans will support you in this. Yelling is a good tactic too, even if they don’t understand your language, having the attention focussed on to them will stop them from pick pocketing you.
5. Drink free water.
Rome has an abundance of free, clean, water flowing out of ancient fountains. You will see these fountains on many street corners. The water continually flows out of them into a drain below. Fill up your water bottles or place your hands over the end of the spout so it comes out of the smaller hole further up and lower your head to drink as the Romans have been doing for over 2000 years before you. The water comes from underground springs, and is transported by aqueducts built by the Romans. Free running water for all Roman citizens was a gift from an Emperor to his people. The gift that keeps on giving…..