Rome, Italy

Travellers must always familiarise themselves with the local area, cultures and customs. By reading this guide, you’ll be better prepared and be able to enjoy your trip with less hassle.

It is incredibly important to have your wits about you whenever travelling to a new location.

There are, of course, always levels of risk but we hope that this guide gives you a better understanding of what to look out for and how to minimise it.

Travelling anywhere in the world has its own fair share of risk attached and travelling to Paris is no different. Many large cities throughout the world are prone to pickpockets and scams especially concerning tourists.

It is always advisable to get travel insurance to insure your belongings in case of loss or theft. Travel insurance is also advised in the event that you get ill or injured whilst travelling and you need emergency care. Company 1 & Company 2 both offer competitive rates for Travel Insurance.

Emergency Number – 112

Time Zone – GMT+1
Currency – Euro (€)
Population – 2.8 million
Size – 1,285 km²
GDP – $121.5 billion

Visas

Most visitors of European nationality will not be required to get a visa to enter Italy due to the Freedom of Movement. Some other countries such as the US, Canada, Brazil & Argentina will have visa-free entry for 90 days. To check whether you need a visa to enter the UK, please check here.

Money

What is the currency?

The currency used in Paris is the Euro (€). Denominations include €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 & €5 and coins including denominations of €1 and €2 and €0.50, €0.20, €0.10, €0.05, €0.02 and €0.01 cents.

Where can I get it?

The easiest way to get money in Rome is via the ATM machines located around the city, although you may want to check the exchange rate charged by your bank first.

It’s generally not recommended to exchange in Italy as they offer pretty poor exchange rates to those changing Pounds Sterling or Dollars. It’s best to change your money before you arrive.

How do I exchange it?

The majority of Italian banks will only change money for their own customers. Instead, you will need to go to an exchange booth at the airports, the Termini train station or the Vatican. There are also official change booths at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and Piazza di Spagna.

If you prefer to buy your Euros before you travel and need a reliable and trustworthy company then we recommend XXX

You can check exchange rates here

Tips & Gratuities

In Italy, service is always included in the menu prices. It’s customary to leave an additional 5%–10% tip, or a couple of euros, for the waiter, depending on the quality of service.

Some restaurants may also add an extra charge for the diner ware and extras (tablecloth, silverware, plates, bread, etc.), this is normal. But check your bill.

For tipping taxi drivers, it is acceptable if you round up to the nearest euro, minimum €0.50. Give a barber €1–€1.50 and a hairdresser’s assistant €1.50–€4 for a shampoo or cut, depending on the type of establishment and the final bill; 5%–10% is a fair guideline.

On private sightseeing tours, tipping your guides 10% is customary. In museums and other places of interest where admission is free, a contribution is expected; give anything from €0.50 to €1 for one or two people, more if the guardian has been especially helpful.

In hotels, give the portiere (concierge) about 15% of his bill for services, or €2.50–€5 if he has been generally helpful.

Average costs

Pint of Lager (Average Cost) – €4.50
Glass of Wine 125ml (Average Cost) – €3.61

The Law

Even though Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, you won’t be able to fly a drone over its famous landmarks, People found flying a drone can be fined up to €516 Euros and jailed for up to two years.

Stopping for lunch? Refrain from eating on the steps of monuments/churches. 

There has been a lot of talk about this measure, which was recently launched in Florence, too. In Rome the issue is much more serious: trash and half-eaten sandwiches have often been found around the Forum!

Of course, it has to do with preventing littering, but this norm was also conceived to keep pests such as rats, squirrels, seagulls and pigeons from feasting on scraps.

This one targets specifically those who use the local landmarks as their kitchen table. Nothing will happen to you if you’re blissfully eating gelato and walking at the same time, or if you stop to have a break at one of Rome’s parks.

Fines range between €25 – €500.

Do not be tempted to jump into any of the water fountains.

It’s one of the most serious offences in Rome, and for good reason: many of the city fountains are made by the likes of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, so they’re proper works of art.

While the average fine for this particular illegal behaviour amounts to €450 Euros, officials can – at their discretion – even deport the perpetrator from the city, with an “ASBO” (“anti-social behaviour order”) of a maximum of 60 days for repeat offenders.

It is also illegal to drink out of glass bottles after 10pm. Drinking in public is frowned upon by Romans.

As a matter of fact the new regulation is geared more towards those littering and leaving a mess of broken bottles or glasses in their wake: as a result, after 10PM glass containers can no longer be sold or used in public areas – only plastic containers will be allowed.

In the same vein, pub crawls, once so popular in Rome, have been made illegal.

Fines for those drinking outside from glass containers amount to €150 Euros on average, with more penalties for the establishments selling alcohol

Safety

Reliable Numbers

In an emergency, contact the police, ambulance, or fire department on 112. This number is free to call – only use it in a genuine emergency.

  • Only use registered taxis or a reputable company that can track you such as Uber
  • Try to avoid walking alone at night. Keep to well-lit main roads
  • Beware of wearing headphones – they reduce awareness of your surroundings.
  • In Paris, cars drive on the right. To ensure you cross roads safely, only use designated crossings, only cross when the green light is showing.

Staying safe in bars and restaurants

It is paramount that travellers who are in unfamiliar cities are extra vigilant when in late night venues.

  • Make sure you keep your property out of sight and safely under the table.
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  • Check up on your friends by phone or text to make sure they got home safely and vice-versa.

Petty Theft

Petty theft can occur in Rome as it can anywhere else in the world. The key here is to be prepared before your travel.

  • Don’t leave your bag unattended anywhere in Rome – this can lead to a security alert
  • Keep your purse or wallet close to your body and don’t carry too much cash.
  • When using an ATM, check that no one is looking over your shoulder and that the ATM hasn’t been tampered with. Cover the keypad so no one else can see your PIN number.
  • Keep your mobile phone, MP3 player, camera, and other gadgets out of sight in your pocket or handbag when not in use.
  • Record details of your electronic serial numbers (ESNs).
  • Inform your service provider and police if your phone or other valuables are stolen or lost. Dial 112 for the police

Scams

Don’t be fooled by scam artists in Rome. There are a number of sophisticated scams which have been reported by travellers. Remember, if it seems to good to be true, it usually is.

Below are some of the most popular scams in Rome that you should be aware of.

The Glamorous Man
This scam involves a glamorous man (or woman) who approaches you. He’s lost, he’s late and he desperately needs directions. It’s amazing that he asks you for directions to probably the one place you know in the city.

He’s so grateful that he offers you a designer coat – he works for Versace or Gucci. All he needs now is just a bit of cash to fill up on petrol. He’s being driving around and he’s almost run out. He seems so nice, he’s given you a free coat, so of course, you fork out a few euro.

Bus 64
Bus 64 is a prime pickpocket route. It goes to many of the city’s most visited sites and is often full of distracted tourists.

You don’t need to avoid the bus, you just need to be aware of what’s going on around you. The only ‘tell’ the pickpockets may have is a jacket draped over their arm to disguise their wandering hands. Keep your valuables zipped up and where you can see them.

No Menus
When you’ve been walking around all day, all you want is a big fat bowl of pasta and a carafe of the house wine. When you finally find a restaurant, choose a spot and sit down, you might be surprised to hear they’ve run out of menus.

This is the part where you should leave. If you don’t you’ll more than likely get the bill and it will be double what you expected to pay. By this point you cant argue because you ordered it. So you have to cough up.

Check your coins
Italy changed from the lira to the euro in 2002.

The 500 lira coin is remarkably similar to the 2 euro coin.

Areas to Avoid

Although Rome is incredibly safe and sticking to the tourist areas should not cause you any problems, there are reports of travellers feeling uncomfortable around Termini train station at night.

Terror Alert

There are isolated cases of domestic terrorism in Italy.

Attacks carried out by the extreme left-wing and secessionist groups have generally been aimed at official Italian targets, mainly in the form of small bombs and incendiary devices. The Italian authorities have made a number of arrests of individuals with links to Daesh and other extremist groups.

Travellers should not allow terrorism to deter them from visiting such beautiful cities but it is paramount that they remain vigilant and note local advice.

Language

Popular Phrases

The Italians will be very happy to help tourists and even more so if they attempt to speak to them in Italian.

We recommend brushing up on your Italian speaking skills by using this handy Italian phrasebook.

Common phrases to use and perfect on your visit are:

Buon giorno – Good morning
Buona sera – Good evening
Ciao — Hello
Grazie — Thank you
Prego — You’re welcome
Scusa — Excuse me (informal)
Arrivederci — Until we see each other again (informal)
Sì — Yes
No — No
Per favore — Please
Parla inglese? — Do you speak English?
Non parlo italiano. — I don’t speak Italian

Books to read

The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization
Was the fall of Rome a great catastrophe that cast the West into darkness for centuries to come? Or, as scholars argue today, was there no crisis at all, but simply a peaceful blending of barbarians into Roman culture, an essentially positive transformation?

Up-to-date and brilliantly written, combining a lively narrative with the latest research and thirty illustrations, this superb volume reclaims the drama, the violence, and the tragedy of the fall of Rome.

Rome – City in Terror: The Nazi Occupation 1943–44
From the street fighting that heralded the German occupation to the Gestapo repression that followed, this is the gripping story of the German occupation of Rome from the Italian armistice in September 1943 until the Allied liberation of the city on June 5, 1944.

The Gestapo wasted no time enforcing an iron grip on the city once the occupation was in place. They swiftly eliminated the Carabinieri, the Italian paramilitary force, rounded up thousands of Italians to build extensive defensive lines across Italy, and, at 5am one morning, arrested more than 1,000 Roman Jews and sent them to Auschwitz.

This is the compelling story of an Eternal City brought low, of the terror and hardship of occupation, and of the disparate army of partisan fighters, displaced aristocrats, Vatican priests, Allied POWs, and ordinary citizens who battled for the liberation of Rome.

Rome the Second Time: 15 Itineraries That Don’t Go to the Coliseum
Designed for the tourist seeking a fresh, authentic, Roman experience, this intimate, stimulating guide explores Rome’s splendid modern architecture, its bustling close-in neighborhoods, and its rivers, magnificent fountains, and aqueducts.

Innovative chapters feature cultural and artistic Rome, including art galleries, jazz clubs, film locations, and rooftop bars–even places that offer a sumptuous (and free) “vernissage” of wine and hors d’oeuvres.

ascend a little-known holy Roman road on the city’s outskirts; spend an evening in the out-of-the-way, artsy neighborhood of Pigneto; enjoy a trattoria where only Italians eat; and, among the book’s many informative, creative “sidebars,” find in one the troubling story of Rome’s Jewish community, and in another locate sites in “Angels & Demons.”

Summary

Of course, much of what we have covered is common sense. But now you should be aware of the risks posed to tourists whilst visiting Rome.

As one of the worlds most popular tourist destinations, it is worth remembering that the city relies on tourists and therefore police carry out foot patrols throughout the city to ensure the safety of tourists and the local population.

As we have already highlighted, please ensure that you have valid travel insurance that covers you for loss, theft and medical cover in the event that something happens to you or your family.

So now that you are equipped with this information, please enjoy Rome and let us know how you got on by tagging us at #totalguide.

 

If you believe we have missed some information that may help other travellers, please let us know at info@total.guide