Facts About Rome – What You Need To Know Before You Go

Rome is majestic, one of the world's great cities. We want you to have the best trip of your life when you visit, so we want to make you aware of a few facts about Rome that will make you time in the Eternal City even more special.

Like other major cities & visitor destinations, Rome is not without traveler's pitfalls, and so comes with the usual cautions — beware pickpockets, gypsies & purse snatchers; don't take taxis that don't look official; avoid restaurants that post tourist menus. To help you enjoy your time without worries, we present ten handy tips that will make you look (an feel!) more like a smooth European than an awkward tourist.

1. What to Wear in Rome

What to Wear in Rome

There is a dress code at the Vatican and virtually all other churches — no shorts, no shoulders, no hats.

If you're planning on visiting any church, chapel or crypt, you must cover up and dress modestly. Shoulders must be covered, shorts & skirts should be reach the knees. Many women carry a shawl or scarf for this purpose. Even men should adhere to this dress code, or face being turned away.

But, even so, Romans are stylish and always look good out in public. You don't want a big tattoo on your forehead that says "Turista", do you? So pack nice clothes and leave at home the fanny packs, sweats, tourist hats, and hiking boots. Quando a Roma… When in Rome…

2. Ciao !

Ciao is reserved for close friends, family and small children. Buon giorno or buona sera are the respectable greetings to use in restaurants, museums, and shops.

3. Cappuccino


Cappuccino is a morning drink — don't order it after lunch or dinner unless you want to look uncouth.

The Italians are sensible when it comes to beverages. Why would you want to ruin your digestion with a heavy, milky drink after a beautifully orchestrated meal? Italian cappuccinos are like their people — compact. Don't expect a 20-ounce, sugar-drenched coffee. Look forward to 4 to 8 ounces of cappuccino perfection.

4. No Toes, No Swimming

Don't even think about dipping your toes into the famous fountains of Rome. Strictly proibito — forbidden. It only happens in the movies.

5. Naturale or Frizzante ?

tap water

Don't ask for tap water at a restaurant.

Rome is full of public drinking fountains, called fontanelle spigot, where you can drink or fill your water bottle. After all, it was the Romans who engineered the aqueducts, and the water is safe, clean and fresh.

Maybe for this reason tap water is rarely served in restaurants. Your server will ask you if you prefer acqua naturale (still) or acqua frizzante (sparkling). Ordering bottled water is not a way to trap tourists but the cultural norm in Rome.

6. Selfies Proibito

No selfies in the Sistine Chapel. Photography is not permitted at all in the chapel and the guards are on watch. Actually, no selfies in Rome make for a good overall policy. Leave the sticks at home.

7. I, Gladiator


Avoid having your photo taken with a fake gladiator.

Walk by the Colosseum and you'll probably be approached by a costumed gladiator. They can be aggressive and have been known to take your photo and then demand payment to get your own camera back.

It's illegal for them to loiter in front of the Colosseum and ask for money, but it's a difficult operation to shut down. Just say no!

8. Parmesan? Don't Ask!

Don't ask for parmesan cheese. If you ask for parmesan for your seafood pasta or risotto your waiter might faint. It's just not done. Wait for the server to ask you if you'd like some cheese on your dish. If she offers, it's appropriate. If she doesn't, it's not. When in Rome…

9. Respecta da Football


Soccer is as revered as the church.…or somebody's Mama! Don't mess with it.

There are two home teams — Roma representing the city and Lazio representing the region. When in Rome try to get to a game to see the Italian national pastime. Just don't criticize or you might find yourself with cement shoes in the bottom of the Tiber River.

10. Pace yourself

Anthony Bourdain's best advice? Relax, you're in Rome. Sit, sip & stroll is the best way to see the city. Piazzas, fountains, hills, monuments and museums — don't be in a rush.

11. A Bonus…


Pedestrians do not have the right of way.

Let's just absorb that fact — pedestrians do not have the right of way.

Don't jaywalk. Pay careful attention to the pedestrian crossing signs. And always be on the lookout for a nun or priest, to use them as a safety shield when you cross.