Ten things to know before moving to Rome

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Try to avoid the stresses of Rome's public transport system. Metro photo: Shutterstock
12:32 CEST+02:00
Thinking of moving to Rome? The Local brings you ten tips on how to ease your way into La Dolce Vita.

Avoid the Vatican twice a week

The Vatican is always busy - even at dawn there are busloads of people descending on the Holy See. The area is manageable, however, except on two occasions each week.

Pope Francis makes a public appearance on Wednesdays and Sundays, drawing crowds of faithful from the world over. Unless you really, really, want to see the pontiff, stay away.

Live centrally to avoid public transport

Rome is not Paris or London. There are just two metro lines - a third under construction does not yet reach the centre - and the buses are woefully unreliable.

The metro's red 'A line' has fairly snazzy trains, whereas most of those on the blue 'B line' are filthy. Bands of thieves frequent some of the main metro stops. Many Romans avoid the daily stresses of public transport by driving, leading to chronic traffic problems.

All in all, investing in central living is well worth it. If this is out of the question, opt for a commute using one of the (relatively good) tram lines.

Don’t rely on free public wifi

Walking around Rome you’ll notice a number of signs offering free public wifi. Such internet options may also pop up on your phone or laptop, but don’t expect them to work or be reliable. A better option is to pay out for a smartphone contract, or scour the city for a (rare) cafe with internet.

Foreign foods are hard to find

After a while living in Rome, you may wish for a non-Italian dish. But quality international restaurants are hard to find in the Italian capital, when compared to many other European cities. Ask fellow foreigners for recommendations and prepare to be disappointed.

Esquilino market offers a range of Asian ingredients, for home cooking, while the shop Castroni offers a number of US food brands. But best of all, bring your own from home.

Play tourist in the evenings

Throngs of tourists file past Rome’s most famous sites during the daytime. But during the evening they head to dinner, leaving the locals to enjoy some of the Eternal City’s most stunning monuments.

The Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and the Pantheon are just some of the sites which are best viewed after sunset.

Visit top sites for free

A number of Rome’s top sites - including the Museum of Rome and Trajan's Market - are free on the first Sunday of the month.

Such a privilege is however often reserved for residents of Rome. Getting residency is certainly feasible for foreigners, but it’s a part of Italian bureaucracy which can take some time.

Leave your high heels at home

There is little point in trying to wear high heels in Rome. There are simply too many cobbles.

Unless you’re taking a taxi from door to door, you run the risk of getting caught between the cobbles or falling flat on your face. Stick to flats and save your ankles!

Don’t pay for water

Rome appears to have more water fountains than churches - they appear just about everywhere from side streets to public parks.

In the summer months the water will often be cooler than that running from your taps at home. Make the most of it!

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Don’t go to the nearest beach

Another advantage Rome has over other Italian cities, such as Milan and Florence, is that the seaside is just 30km away. But many Romans skip the beach at Ostia, which for right or wrong is deemed not up to their high standards.

Sabaudia and Santa Marinella are among the preferred seaside spots out of Rome, while those with a car will find a number of other options.

It really rains in Rome

Think Rome is the land of eternal sunshine? Think again.

The city can flicker from glorious blue skies to a ferocious storm in no time. Most Romans choose to stay indoors while the rain hammers down, often flooding streets (and occasionally the metro).

If you must go outside, arm yourself with a windproof umbrella and prepare to get drenched all the same.

Weather reports may help, but the best forecast comes from the umbrella sellers who take to the streets minutes before a downpour.

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