When I was in Rome last summer, I kept peppering our guides with questions about things I should or shouldn’t be doing if I didn’t want to look like I had a giant “tourist” sign hanging over my head. Chances are, I’m not passing for a true Roman anytime soon but one of our tour guides from Overome offered to help me (and future tourists) out with a few tips on how to not look like a tourist in Rome. Here are her suggestions…
Conventional wisdom says, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do!” I’m sorry guys, but it’s just not that easy.
Look at me, I’m 31 years old and I was born in a small village in Central Italy, only 50 km south of Rome. I studied in Rome for many years and, as an art historian, the city and its beautiful treasures have always been my obsession. I’ve worked in Rome as a tour guide for the last 5 years and, three years ago, I decided to move to the Eternal City. I didn’t want to move to the suburbs; I was ready to pay the high rent just to feel “like a Roman.”
So now the Coliseum is just 15 minutes away from my apartment and my day starts with a “cappuccino” and a “cornetto” in a bar that’s right in front of Basilica St. John in Lateran. Nevertheless, I still don’t feel like a “native.” I think that there could be a special gene in the Romans’ DNA: if you don’t have it, well, don’t even try!
I know that, for a visitor, it is embarrassing to make a faux pas and stand out as a tourist, but it’s really hard to avoid this type of humiliation… or is it? If you’re coming to Rome and you want to try, just let us give you some easy tips to avoid looking like a “legal alien!”
Tips on How to Not Look Like a Tourist in Rome
1. GRAZIE, NOT GRACIAS!
Since Italians are much friendlier than the French (YES WE ARE!), speaking Italian doesn’t seem like the hardest thing to handle, so you try to start a conversation with a native because you know a couple of Italian words. Well, you might THINK you know those words but then you stop a Roman, because you might need help with your map, and that “Scusi” resounds in your mouth like “Excusas”, or perhaps your pizza has just arrived and you start with “Grazie!” but the pronunciation is the typical “non-Italian” gracias. Let me tell you two things: adding an “s” at the end of each word could work in Spain but not in Rome! Furthermore, the final “e” in the word “Grazie” should read as an “a” so that “Grazie” might sound like “gratze-a” or something like that.
2. HAVE A CAPPUCCINO — IN THE MORNING I worked in a restaurant for six years when I was a student. I still feel a shiver run down my spine when I think about all those tourists asking me for a cappuccino as an appetizer. Let’s make it clear: in Rome, you cannot mess with food. The Romans have a certain order to things, a sort of ancestral ritual that can’t be changed. So, if you like “cappuccino,” you may have it in the morning but NEVER in the afternoon or evening (which is even worse!)
Yes, lots of rules in Rome, but here at Slaylebrity we do what we want right? Why blend in when you can stand out.
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