Rome Travel Tips
Official Language: Italian
Time Zone: Central European Time (6 Hours ahead of EST)
Population: 4 Million
Rome Travel Tips
Passports are necessary for U.S. citizens.
Rome is a wonderful city to visit anytime of year. If cold weather is an issue for you, then visit Rome during the spring and summer. If you want to save money and see fewer tourists, then visit Rome during the winter and fall.
Currency is the Euro with major credit cards accepted by most establishments. Time in Rome is six hours ahead of New York City. Italian is the official language and some English is spoken by locals. Hotels have the most expensive rates on phone calls, so purchase a phone card for your international calls. The post offices are located throughout the city. The Vatican City Post Office offers special stamps and some of the best delivery times to the U.S. Post office hours are Monday-Friday 8:30am-7pm and Saturday 8:30am-6pm.
Banks are open from 8:35am-1:35pm and 3pm-4pm (Monday-Friday). ATMs are plentiful and the most convenient way to get Euros. Some ATMs may only accept PIN numbers with 4 digits.
Most large stores are open 3:30pm-7:30pm (Monday), 10am-1pm and 3:30pm-7pm (Tuesday-Saturday).
Electricity is different than the U.S., so bring an adapter for your digital camera and smartphone.
Major Holidays in Rome are New Year’s Day, Easter, Easter Monday, Liberation Day, Labor Day, Assumption Day, All Saints’ Day, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Christmas and Santo Stefano. For specific dates, go to the Italian Government Tourist Board website.
Speaking to Italians
Bring an Italian Phrasebook with you. You will use the Italian equivalent for the following English words/phrases often so memorize their Italian pronunciation before your trip:
Sir, Madame, Hello, Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, Goodbye, I don’t understand, Where is?, How much?, Do you speak English?
Charm and good manners are appreciated by Italians. You are expected to greet small shop owners and elderly people. The more you use (Sir, Madame, Hello, Please, Thank You, Excuse Me), the more help you’ll receive. If you start every interaction in Italian, then follow with English using a pleasant voice, you will receive assistance from most Italians when they understand English.
Use the Internet or WhatsApp for inexpensive communication with home. If you want to save money, don’t call the U.S. using your hotel’s phone service, unless it’s an emergency.
Most Rome hotel rooms are small compared to America, so pack accordingly. Air conditioning is not available in many older hotels. English language television stations are limited. Confirm that the breakfast buffet is included in your room price before going to the breakfast room.
Always clarify if the bathroom is located inside of the room when reserving budget accommodations. It is common for bathrooms to be located down the hallway.
Confirm the hotel’s cancellation policy in advance and get the cancellation in writing to avoid possible cancellation fees at a later date.
Money and Valuables
Bring at least one ATM card and credit card from the U.S. Use the ATM card to get Euros, since they usually have a better rate than many currency exchange offices. Your ATM card should have a code of 4 digits. Cash is more commonly accepted than credit cards at many business establishments. Exchange dollars into small bills (5 Euros, 10 Euros and coins), since you need small change when out and about.
Locals don’t wear money belts. If you choose to wear a money belt, you stand out as a tourist. Also, wear your money belt around the waist or neck as it is meant to be used. If you don’t use a money belt, place your money in hidden pockets or deep inside your bag, so that it’s hard for pickpockets. Put only things that you are willing to lose in your visible pockets.
When walking around Rome, carry little cash, a credit card, a driver’s license and a copy of your passport with you for identification. It’s easier to replace a stolen driver’s license than a U.S. passport.
Store your passport, extra money, plane ticket, list of credit card/ATM card customer service phone numbers and other valuables in the locked hotel safe.
Clothes and Packing
Pack a compact umbrella, magnifier for reading maps, and expandable bag for souvenirs/gifts. The expandable bag is great for last minute repacking at the airport, since the Italians have stricter weight limits than the U.S.
When shopping for clothes in Rome, the sizes are smaller than the U.S. A petite sister who wears a size 4 in the U.S. had problems getting one hip into some clothes.
Find the nearest grocery store and consider purchasing food for a picnic. Also, stock up on your favorite drinks, so that you don’t need to buy the expensive drinks in your hotel’s mini-bar.
When dining with a mixed party of men and women, the men are usually addressed and served first.
Tipping in restaurants is typically 10-15%, but a service gratuity is often included. Ask your waiter beforehand, if paying by credit card.
Men & Safety
Before leaving the U.S., find out if your health insurance covers an unexpected doctor visit in Rome and the locations of the hospitals covered in Rome by your health insurance.
Depending on where you live in America, black women may notice a significant increase in the number of sisters dating European men compared to the U.S.
Public display of affection among couples is more common than the U.S.
Compared to major U.S. cities, Rome is safer. But you should use common sense when walking around. Sisters traveling alone should assume they are traveling in a major U.S. city and take the necessary precautions. Pickpockets don’t fit a profile. Anyone can pick your pocket, so use care when in tourist attraction areas and on public transportation. Seek travel help only from official train station agents, tourist office, tour bus drivers, airport information desk, airline employees, and hotel desk clerks.
A Sister’s Story
When two single women visited Rome, they found the men to be a bit aggressive. Many men stared and smiled. Also, they avoided walking near the red light area of Rome that has many African prostitutes.
If it’s raining, run into a cafe and relax. Don’t get frustrated trying to read maps in the rain. Before leaving your hotel, check the weather report. Rome can have sunshine and rain on the same day.
Rome uses military time or the 24 hour clock and dates are written day/month/year, so don’t get confused by the difference.
Bring plenty of anti-bacterial wipes.
Have a general understanding of the Metric System; its used for everything.
Always have change for the public bathrooms (.50 to 1 euro).
If you are a shopper, end of February is a good time to visit for sales.