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Do Rome Like A Local
Do Rome Like A Local
Rome has been luring British tourists hungry for sun, spaghetti and ancient monuments for decades. Whether it's grabbing a gelato by the Spanish Steps à la Audrey in Roman Holiday, or living the high life of The Talented Mr Ripley, the old school, cinematic glamour of the Italian capital reels us in every time. But the Eternal City is changing – its antiquities have been restored but new laws on public eating mean you can no longer chow down on a slice of pizza as you wander around. Rome's mayor has even outlawed throwing coins in the Trevi Fountain. There goes our chance of a summer romance... Now that Rome's typical tourist destinations are losing their lustre, more and more visitors are finding their own path. Navigating the gladiator re-enactments and selfie sticks can be tricky but stick with it – beyond the tourist traps, the city is now a vibrant hub of culture, food and music, worlds away from its storied past. It's enough to make you go all La Dolce Vita. To help guide you around these less familiar areas, we’ve put together a list of 20 of the best ways to do Rome like a local. Click through to discover where to eat, drink, dance and see great art. Read More:https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/rome-travel-tips-food-bars
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19 items, updated Feb. 2019
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57 reviews
Rome, Italy
Attraction
Neighbourhoods
Refinery29 There's so much more to Rome's art scene than museums and classical architecture. The Ostiense district has gone from disused industrial area to a living gallery, boasting work from some of the best street artists in Europe. Grab a gelato and set out down Via del Porto Fluviale where famous graffiti artist BLU has transformed a former barracks into a piece on immigration. Since his tagging of the entire building, refugees have made it their home. From there, wander to the Wall Of Fame on Via dei Magazzini Generali, where you can see the faces of artist JBRock's favourite celebrities, from Biggie Smalls to Frida Kahlo. Then head to Via del Commercio, where the remains of Rome's former gasworks form the backdrop to several amazing pieces of street art. Cameras at the ready.
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677 reviews
Rome, Italy
Attraction
Architectural BuildingsGardens
Refinery29 If you peep through this ordinary-looking keyhole, in an ordinary-looking door high on Rome's Aventine hill, you'll see one of the city's worst-kept secrets. The alignment of this particular doorway means that, with one glance through the keyhole, you can see the hidden garden of The Knights of Malta (the original crusaders who built this holy site), the roofline of Vatican City and the famous dome of St. Peter's Basilica. Part of the reason this view is "secret" is because it is so stunning, it really has to be seen to be believed.
1 Helpful vote26 Saves
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2,084 reviews
Rome, Italy
Restaurant
$$ItalianBarWine BarRomana
Refinery29 Holiday nightlife used to be so simple. Remember when all we wanted was a round of sambucas for under €5 and to find our way to the local strip? Now we're after something slightly more sophisticated, it can be difficult to find somewhere that will forgive our stumbling attempts to say "grazie" and isn't a total tourist trap. Luckily, there's Ai Tre Scalini – on any given night, a happy mix of locals and visitors spill out onto the streets, enjoying a glass of wine and delicious southern Italian comfort food. It's the perfect spot to experience Rome's local nightlife – without a bar crawl in sight.
1 Helpful vote19 Saves
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518 reviews
Rome, Italy
Accommodation
Refinery29 Generator Rome is leading the way in redefining luxury on a budget. Gone are the days when a great price meant bland, beige hallways and sleeping in a room the size of a shoebox. True, you won't find mini bars, travel-size toiletries or pillow mints here. What you will find, though, is a real bar packed with vintage furniture and great drinks deals; power showers in every room; a roof terrace with an amazing view over the city; and rooms starting at €40 a night. Although it is technically a hostel, there's not a booze cruise or rep in sight – think chic aperitivo evenings instead. What's more, most of the rooms are private (the largest dorm is only four beds) and are complete with ensuite bathrooms, boutique toiletries and designer furniture. With walls covered in murals from local artists, a café frequented by students discussing art history, and a super-cool bar, this is the perfect spot to kick off your trip in style.
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2,481 reviews
Rome, Italy
Restaurant
$$ItalianMediterraneanRomana
Refinery29 In between the tourist-trap restaurants around the historic Pantheon, you can find one of the best meals in Rome – if you know where to look. Antica Trattoria da Pietro al Pantheon looks unremarkable from the outside but inside it's a different story. Barely pausing from his long conversations with the regulars, the owner will welcome you into his antique-stuffed restaurant and tempt you with dishes as he passes your table. They're all seasonal and utterly irresistible but you can't leave without trying a (huge) plate of homemade pasta, or the stuffed and fried courgette flowers. And don't be scared of the house wine, sold by the litre – it's delicious and only costs a few euros. What's Italian for 'bargain'?
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2,474 reviews
Rome, Italy
Restaurant
$$ItalianPizzaSeafood
Refinery29 If you're a foodie but hate walking, we have the place for you. In a former canteen for Rome's railway workers there now stands a stunning, three-storey food market where you can find everything from arancini to newly baked bread. Homemade pasta is piled high with truffles at shockingly low prices, and you can even meet the man who grows the artichokes served in their salads. Or just take a seat at one of the elegant tables and tuck in to pizza and prosecco while you watch the world go by and try to decide what to have for dessert.
1 Helpful vote43 Saves
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324 reviews
Rome, Italy
Restaurant
$$$$ItalianMediterranean
Refinery29 Even without the chi-chi location on top of a five-star hotel, Minerva Roof Garden is a cut above your local Spoons. From the terracotta tiled terrace, you can watch as the sun sets over Rome and the stars twinkle above the city. Despite its definitely glitzy atmosphere, the staff are more than welcoming, plying you with free snacks during aperitivo hour and bashing out classics on the bar's grand piano. If you're looking to raise a glass to something special while you're in Rome, you couldn't choose a better spot.
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461 reviews
Rome, Italy
Attraction
Vespa Scooter & Moped Tours
Refinery29 If you've only got a short time in Rome, or are just after the full Roman Holiday experience, you can't do better than a tour with Scooteroma. Jump on the back of one of their Vespas and you'll be transported on a totally unique tour of the city, tailored just for you and the sites you most want to see. It doesn't come cheap – usually around €200 per person – but in the four hours you'll spend zipping around Rome, you'll see more of the Eternal City than you thought possible. Once you've taken a left at the Colosseum and revved past the Vatican, you'll feel more at home here than Audrey ever did.
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2,968 reviews
Rome, Italy
Restaurant
$
Refinery29 What the Flake 99 is to the UK, gelato is to Italy (somehow we feel they're getting the better deal here). You can find great ice cream on almost any street in Rome but for a true gelateria experience head to Fassi, which has been family-run since 1880 and still serves up some of the best scoops in the city. Take a break from the heat in the cool, marble shopfront and choose from dozens of flavours of fresh, handmade gelato. Certainly a cut above Mr. Whippy.
1 Helpful vote24 Saves
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1 review
Rome, Italy
Attraction
Cinemas
Refinery29 One thing that any Roman would want you to know is that Rome is mainly built on, well, Rome. There are so many archeological treasures hidden under the city that even building a basement can turn up a treasure trove. That's what happened when IMAX tried to build a cinema next to the Trevi Fountain – there turned out to be a perfectly preserved Roman villa, right where they wanted to put the projector. Undeterred, the Italian National Cinema Institute turned the site into a museum, adding a small cinema which shows the best in classic Italian and world cinema, totally free. Loved by locals, this is a great place to take a break from sightseeing but still experience something you'd never find outside Italy.
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1,286 reviews
Rome, Italy
Restaurant
$ItalianPizzaFast food
Refinery29 If you're after great pizza in Rome, don't look for it in a restaurant. Real Romans like their pizza on the go, from bakeries which have been serving up sheets of delicious dough for generations. Antico Forno Roscioli is always packed with locals picking up a slice for the road or sharing fresh foccacia at one of their tables. Nip in to refuel while you're seeing the sights, or stay a while to sample a few slices and meet some true Italians while you're at it.
1 Helpful vote30 Saves
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468 reviews
Rome, Italy
Attraction
Architectural BuildingsGardens
Refinery29 Better known for its packed streets, Rome actually has some of Europe's most beautiful parks. To escape the city heat, most tourists end up in Villa Borghese, filled with selfie stick-sellers and walking tours – which is why most locals prefer Villa Doria Pamphilj. Just 10 minutes outside central Rome, this park has acres of green space, its own Renaissance villa and gorgeous places to walk and cycle. Pack a picnic and take a stroll through the formal gardens, or head off on your own to find the Roman ruins around the edge of the park.
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693 reviews
Rome, Italy
Attraction
Antique Shops
Refinery29 Bright and early every Sunday morning, Romans flock to Porta Portese to browse vintage furniture, Murano lamps and antique embroideries. When we say early, we mean early: the market opens at 7am and is pretty much done by 1pm, when locals have headed to lunch at one of the nearby trattorias. But if you can get yourself up in time (perhaps with the help of an espresso or two), you're sure to be rewarded. This flea market is the largest in Rome and has a huge selection, from the utterly chic to cheap and cheerful. Porta Portese can be packed with bargain hunters so be prepared to haggle, and keep your valuables safe at all times. Maybe lay off the Saturday night prosecco, too – no one likes to haggle with a hangover.
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1,200 reviews
Rome, Italy
Restaurant
$$ItalianMediterranean
Refinery29 Aperitivo is possibly the best Italian invention since the ice cream cone. From around 7pm-9pm, almost every bar in Rome has aperitivo hour, which sometimes includes drink offers but mostly is about free platters of delicious Italian nibbles. Romans use this time to get together over a few Negronis, unwind and indulge in a few pre-dinner treats. Necci Dal 1924 is one of the best places to get involved – nestled in the lovely Pigneto neighbourhood, the large outdoor garden is strung with fairy lights and a haven for hardworking Romans keen to chill out. Find a spot, grab a cocktail, and break bread with some locals.
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39 reviews
Rome, Italy
Restaurant
$$Italian
Refinery29 In case you haven't heard (or seen The Godfather), organised crime was once very powerful in Italy. The mafia is now long gone, which is lucky for visitors to Rome – not just because there's less chance of inciting the wrath of a Don, but because of the Casa del Jazz. Now one of the best live jazz venues in Rome, this 1920s villa and park was once owned by mob boss Arturo Osio but was seized by the city of Rome in one of the country's biggest mafia takedowns. Today it hosts an ever-changing programme of concerts, screenings and festivals where you can relax and enjoy the benefits of organised crime, without the illegal activity.
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5,830 reviews
Rome, Italy
Restaurant
$$ItalianRomanaLazio
Refinery29 Cacio e pepe is Rome's most famous pasta dish and possibly the world's best combination of cheese and carbs. We're huge fans of the dish at Refinery29 (you can even see us tucking into some in London here). In Rome, when you order cacio e pepe at Felice a Testaccio, they'll make it right at your table. They've been serving pasta for over 80 years, and are among the best in the city – but word is definitely out, so make sure to book ahead to avoid the crowds of locals vying for their lunchtime pasta.
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1,063 reviews
Rome, Italy
Attraction
Speciality Museums
Refinery29 Rome has been a hub of art and culture for millennia but, until recently, it wasn't known for art from this century. This has all changed since Maxxi opened its doors. A huge cultural campus just outside central Rome, this giant Zaha Hadid-designed building is a work of art in itself. Inside, exhibitions celebrate contemporary art and architecture, revealing a side of Rome's cultural life that those tourists who stick to B.C. cultural attractions never see.
1 Helpful vote7 Saves
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2,018 reviews
Rome, Italy
Restaurant
$$$$ItalianCafeEuropean
Refinery29 Almost every café, bar and restaurant in Rome will tell you it's the oldest around, but Antico Caffè Greco has some serious history to back it up. Since opening in 1760, it's served espresso to Keats, Hans Christian Andersen, Goethe and Casanova (among others), and you can still find writers scribbling away in its art deco interior. The coffee here is expensive, admittedly, but it's among the best in the city. Enjoy with a piece of homemade tiramisu.
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849 reviews
Lido di Ostia, Italy
Attraction
Piers & Boardwalks
Refinery29 If it feels like there are only tourists in Rome, that's probably because the locals are at the beach. Every weekend from June to September, modern Romans desert the Spanish Steps and take the metro to the capital's very own beach, Ostia. Beach culture in Italy is totally unique, with beach clubs owning the sand from the street to the sea. Prices vary hugely depending on the poshness of the club and the time of year but €10-15 will get you a lounger, umbrella and towel, plus extras like showers, bars and WiFi. Or take your towel to one of the few public beaches and soak up some rays the Italian way.
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