Rome is the most magical places I have ever been to (aside from Disneyland, of course) because there is a new adventure waiting for you no matter what direction you turn. I personally did not study abroad in Rome, but I did spend some time there before I started my semester in Florence. Each day was filled with phenomenal tours and unlimited amounts of pasta carbonara—truly the things that dreams are made of. But, when it comes to studying abroad, there’s so much more time to explore the nooks and crannies of the city and live like a local. In order to make the most comprehensive list of how to spend your semester, I consulted students who studied abroad in Rome for their must-sees and must-dos. From tourist destinations to hidden hole-in-the-walls, keep reading to learn about all the places you should “Rome” into (sorry) during your time in Italy’s capital.
- Mó Mó Republic: In the mood for some light bites? Davide Di Tardo, a fourth-year student at The Sapienza University of Rome, says Mó Mó Republic is a great place for apericena (the time between happy hour and dinner). Here, you get a drink and access to a buffet of appetizers for €10—sounds like a pretty fair deal if I do say so myself.
- Forno Campo de’Fiori: Who doesn’t love pizza? George Washington University junior Gabriella Morrone says her favorite spot for a quick slice was Forno Campo de’Fiori. Her recommendations? The pizza bianca and the pizza rosa.
- Suppli: Gabriella also recommends Suppli for those looking to try traditional Roman street food. She was obsessed with the arancini (fried rice balls filled with meat, cheese, peas, and tomato sauce) and also loved the store’s fresh pasta dishes.
- I Dolci do Nonna Vincenza: While Italians tend to stay away from the traditional all-out American breakfast, they make a mean pastry. Ariana Dolce, a junior at Columbia College Chicago go-to brekkie spot was I Dolci do Nonna Vincenza. Not only do they serve heavenly pastries and coffee but “the best squeezed orange juice you’ll ever have.”
- Gelato: You can’t go to Rome (or Italy for that matter) and not get gelato at least once. You just can’t. Thankfully, there is an abundance of places to pick up a scoop or two of this sweet treat in Rome. Davide cites the chains Gelateria La Romana and Venchi as his favorites while Gabriella says her favorites were Frigidarium and Gelateria del Teatro. University of Alabama grad Jordan Miller says she was basically obsessed with Gelarmony, “It’s the best gelato I had; I got it every single day.”
Attractions You Shouldn’t Miss
- Trevi Fountain: Even though it’s a little off the beaten path, the Trevi Fountain is worth the search according to University of Rhode Island senior Maddy Schulte. “It was truly stunning and I wouldn’t have missed seeing it,” she said. Bring some change so you can make a wish like Lizzie and Gordo did at the beginning of the Lizzie Mcguire Movie.
- Villa Borghese: If you’re craving a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, take a stroll through one of Rome’s many parks—like the beautiful Villa Borghese. “It’s a giant park and it’s stunning!” Rachel O’Donnell, a senior at The University of Texas, says “It’s like Grant Park in Chicago or Central Park in New York—a slice of greenery in the city!”
- Historical Destinations: Rome is jam-packed with ancient history so visiting a handful of ruins is a must. Gabriella recommends the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Castel Sant’Angelo. If you’re looking to see some historical artifacts and artwork, Depaul University junior Megan Levonyak recommends the Capitoline Museum as well.
- Vatican City: A trip to Rome would be incomplete without a visit to this city inside a city—Ariana says she absolutely loved the Vatican. From sneaking a photo of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to wandering through the endless halls and gardens of the Vatican Museum, there are plenty of activities to keep any art lover or history buff happy. And make sure to spend time in St. Peter’s Basilica and Square—Maddy would recommend it to anyone studying in Rome.
Where To Go Shopping
- Via del Corso: The first place that comes to Davide’s mind when thinking about shopping is Via del Corso. This main drag offers stores ranging from Euro-chains like Zara to specialty shops selling handmade Italian leather goods. Wander down the cross streets to find the luxury brands’ boutiques—Fendi Flagship store, anyone?
- Trastevere: If you’re in the mood for a tourist-free shopping environment venture to Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood. Erica Force, a Columbia College Chicago senior, recommends this area because it boasts a handful of vintage stores and boutiques with a true Roman feel.“Trastevere was definitely my favorite for authentic shops because it’s a lot more local than touristy,” she said.
- Malls: Need to beat the heat? Davide recommends shopping at one of Rome’s malls instead of its busy streets. He suggests the Porta di Roma or Euroma2 but there’s also the Centro Commerciale to check out as well.
- Markets: In search of weekend plans? Both Rachel and Ariana rave about the cute shops and market in Campo de Fiori. Gabriella also advises heading to the Porta Portese Market, Rome’s largest street market. This tradition flea market has everything from clothes to books but, it’s only open on Sundays.
How To Get Around
- Walking: When in Rome, do as the Romans do and walk—it’s the most popular way to get around. University of Rhode Island senior Bonnie Buchetto says, “I liked to walk around Rome because you get lost in the best way.”
- Metro: Not in the mood to walk? Megan says, “The subways are great and easy to use and definitely useful.” Here’s a list of some key stops on Line A:
- Cipro-Musei Vaticani: The closest stop to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums.
- Ottaviano-San Pietro: This station is a few minute’s walk from St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square.
- Spagna: Great for visiting Villa Borghese and Piazza di Spagna.
- Barberini: Fontana di Trevi: This station is only a few minutes away from the Trevi Fountain. It is also the closest station to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.
- Google Maps: Google maps will help you easily navigate the city. It can give you walking and driving directions in addition to public transportation connections. If you don’t want to use up all of your data, I would suggest getting your directions in a place where you have WiFi. Once you have the route pulled up, simply screenshot the step-by-step directions so that they’re stored in your photo library for reference if you get lost.
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Opening image by Monica San Luis.