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Five Things to do in Rome the Tourist Book Left Out

Updated on March 26, 2013

Ok, everybody knows about the Colliseum, the Forum and St. Peter's Basilica. But if you really want to experience what Rome is all about, try these five things on your next vacation:

La via Appia
La via Appia

1. Bike the via Appia

The world's first highway, the Appian Way, or via Appia, was built during the Roman Empire to connect Rome with the Brundisium, in the south of Italy. When the rebellion of Spartacus was put down by the consul Crassus, he lined this famous road for miles with crucified slaves who were defeated, warning anybody who came to Rome what happens when you dissent. It became common for wealthy families to make their mark on the Appian Way by constructing alters and graves along the sides. The road finishes with the Gate of St. Sebastian, a massive entrance to the city build in the Aurelian Walls. Today, it is possible to bike along the via Appia (although you probably don't want to go all the way to Naples). Bike rentals are cheap, and with this you can enter the city as the Romans did 2,000 years ago (stopping for a delicious pannino along the way of course).

Gran cafè speciale... can't beat it.
Gran cafè speciale... can't beat it.

2. Get a coffee at Sant'Eustachio.

Located in the heart of the city, Sant'Eustachio is recognized by Americans and Italians alike as the best coffee in Italy. You can choose from (among other things) the basic cafè, an espresso, or the gran cafè speciale, which is a bit bigger and includes whipped cream and cocoa (as they say, when in Rome).

Sun setting over the Janiculum.
Sun setting over the Janiculum.

3. Climb the Janiculum

The Janiculum, or Gianicolo, is one of the seven hills that Rome was founded on. Just a step outside the historic center, climbing the Janiculum provides undoubtedly the best view of Rome. Featuring a giant monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi and a very tranquil, scenic path on the top, the hill is a great place to go after a long day of sightseeing, relax and watch the sun set over the city. You can reach the top easily by bus, or you can hike it yourselves (very doable, it is not giant). Right next to the lively Trastevere neighborhood, a cold birra is always in reach.


4. Eat Pasta alla Griccia

Italian food is not just spaghetti and meatballs. In fact, that stereotype is completely false, as the only restaurants in which you will find meatballs in Rome (if it is even possible) are those built for tourists. But there is no myth to the excellence of Italian food, and Rome specifically has several specialties. The best of these, in my humble opinion, is pasta alla griccia. It is usually served with fettucini or rigatoni and has a cheesy sauce made with pecorino romano cheese, which is specific to the Lazio region of Italy, where Rome is located. It is a tad spicy for Italian cooking, but nothing overpowering, and also has pancetta, the italian version of bacon (don't be scared, they cook it completely differently than in America), which is common in Roman pasta dishes. Other Roman dishes to try are pasta alla carbonara (the most famous Roman pasta dish) and pasta all'amatriciana (delicious as well). You can find these dishes is most restaurants, although I might suggest going to the Trastevere or San Giovanni neighborhoods, as they are a bit more authentic, yet always beautiful.

A well-put together aperitivo.
A well-put together aperitivo.

5. Get an Aperitivo

In Italy, it is common to go out for an aperitivo, which is basically a buffet-style dinner that comes with a drink. These are found in certain pubs and restaurants, usually between certain hours (6 to 9 pm, for example). The beauty of it all is that it costs the same as a normal drink costs at a pub, so you basically get the buffet for free. All you do is ask for the aperitivo when you order, order a drink, and then have free range on the food. Depending on where you go, the food array and quality can be high or low, but it usually features some combination of pizza, sandwich bites, pasta, rice, etc. I personally recommend Friends, which has a location in the center (close to Sant'Eustachio) and also in Trastevere. If you want to get adventurous and go outside the center, there is Doppio Zero, which is by the Piramide metro stop, which is also great.

I hope everybody has a chance to experience Rome at least one time in their lives, it is truly an incredible place. Hopefully this has been informative for those who are either already here or are planning on making the trip!


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    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 

      4 years ago from California

      I've been to Rome twice, and I haven't done anything on your list! Just goes to show the Romans say, "Roma, non basta una vita"... Thanks for the hub, voted up.

    • profile image

      Andrew N 

      8 years ago

      What great suggestions, i definitely think its worth taking a look at this site its a guide to Rome written by people who have been to Rome! It's a great way to find out about those hidden gems!

    • Shinkicker profile image


      8 years ago from Scotland

      I'm in Italy working this summer. Hope to get to Rome at the end of the season. Thanks for the Hub

    • egiv profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Roffi - Of course; you could spend a year in Rome and still not see everything. However, for people with limited time in the eternal city, these are some great things to do that don't get as much attention as the Coliseum and St. Peter's. Thanks for the feedback.

    • Roffi Grandiosa profile image

      Roffi Grandiosa 

      9 years ago from Bandung, Indonesia

      been to rome, there's so many things to do there actually

    • prasetio30 profile image


      9 years ago from malang-indonesia

      thanks for share. I'll bookmark this information. great hub. it useful for us who like traveling.

    • egiv profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback and thanks for the Hubnuggets nomination!

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Rome. Good information. And Congratulations on being a HubNugget Wannabe.

      Good luck with the voting.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi egiv, congratulations for your Hubnugget Nomination. Someday I wish I can go to Rome and will do what you have suggested. :D

      Read, vote and promote your hub. To check the Hubnuggets and vote click here:

      Enjoy the Hubnuggets Fun all the way to Rome,

      Ripplemaker and the Hubnuggets Team

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Missed one through three on our last trip but agree on four and five. Nice hub!


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