How to navigate Rome like a local

Rome, Italy is one of the top travel destinations in the whole world, and when you visit, it’s easy to tell why! With incredible history, food, culture, and people, the eternal city is a must add to every bucket list. My very first trip to Rome was back in February 2012 on a field trip with my Italian culture class with the Florence University of the Arts. It was freezing rain the whole drive down from Florence to Rome and we arrived with our favorite Italian professors Martina and Umberto to Rome just as it was getting dark out. We turned a corner and there, smack dab at the end of the road, was the coliseum. Even with gray skies, and wet heavy snowfall, this view was mesmerizing.

Over the years I have visited Rome dozens of times coming everywhere from the dead of winter to the middle of summer and each time I fall more and more in love with this enchanting city. From my years of experience I have compiled a list of the top things to see and do in this incredible city! Take what you will from my list and add others to make the perfect itinerary on your trip to Rome and you can truly conquer it like a local.

How to get around

  • Rome is a massive city with buses, trams, and a (not so well laid out but still functional) metro.
  • I recommend walking or take a taxi as much as you can as you really can hit all the major sights in an afternoon with good walking shoes!
  • If you’d like to take the metro try hopping on at the main train station (Roma Termini) and heading to the Vatican City or the Spanish Steps and enjoy the gorgeous walk

Where to stay

  • Trastevere: more local feel, tons of bars and restaurants right outside your door, across the river so not directly next to the Coliseum or Trevi Fountain but in a short walk you can be there!
  • Piazza Navona: my absolute favorite piazza in Rome. Three fountains and some of the best restaurants make up this magical spot and it’s fairly close to everything
  • Coliseum: There are tons of hotels between the main train station (Roma Termini) and the Coliseum, all are pretty posh and give you a good feeling of being in the center of it all. The train station area can get a little sketchy at night but if you are only there for one or two nights it’s easy to stay near the station and cab to the center in 5-10 minutes

Let’s talk food!

  • Baffetto due (awesome pesto)
  • Baccanale (I go every time I am in Rome. Right in the square and the best Cannelloni I have ever had)
  • Dar Poeta (pizza, amazing bruschetta. I am obsessed with the gorgonzola & honey bruschetta. Cheap liters of wine. Trastevere. Often times it’s super crowded, so if you can’t get a reservation, make sure to put your name on the list and grab a glass of wine nearby if you have time to wait!)
  • Da Agosto (Classic Italian)
  • GROM (in all main cities but some of my favorite gelato in Italy hands down)
  • Angelina (coffee shop & pastries by the Pantheon)
  • Scholars pub (if you are really ready for a beer and some English)
  • Check out the market on the river by Trastevere. They always have pop up restaurants and they’re delicious

What to see


  • Castel Sant Angelo (you can climb to the top & it’s right next to the Vatican)
  • St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican (you can also climb but the line has always been too long so I haven’t.  Definitely recommend it if the line is short)
  • Giardino degli aranci (more of a local spot)


  • Coliseum (get tickets beforehand and you can skip the line. Have them loaded on your phone or printed out. You can get into the Roman forum & the Coliseum with them)
  • Vatican City (On Sunday’s at noon the pope speaks and the museums are closed but you can hear the pope in the square. For the museums get tickets beforehand and skip the line. Head over early because if you’re late it’s hard to get in & the museum entrance is pretty far)
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Pantheon
  • Spanish Steps 
  • Via del corso (shopping street leading from the Piazza del Popolo to the Piazza Venezia)
  • Roman baths (near the train station, also needs tickets and can get those beforehand. Not as stunning as the forum if you’re on a time crunch but definitely interesting)
  • Piazza Navona (my favorite, 3 fountains, filled with tons of local artists during the day and GROM the gelato place is there!)

Whether pizza, pasta, views, or shopping are your thing, you’re in the perfect city in the world for your adventure! Enjoy your trip to Rome!


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