Rome: Back-Street Riches *With Rick Steves!*

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For this episode of Rick Steves Over Brunch, Chris Mitchell (travelingmitch) and I chat about the 2012 Rick Steves’ Europe episode “Rome: Back-Street Riches” – with Rick Steves!


We’ll talk about how much Italian food is too much, Rick’s philosophy on action shots, and the single best Rome travel tip you need to hear before hitting the city.



Listen to the Podcast Episode “Rome: Back-Street Riches”


Italy - Rome - Tiber River and the Castel Sant'Angeloand Caslte


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Rome Travel Tips

We chatted about so many great Rome travel tips during the episode, but here are some things you really need to know before getting to Rome.



Watch Out For Pick Pockets


Serbia - Belgrade - Day Bag Pacsafe
I use my Pacsafe Citysafe to help thwart pickpockets.


Pickpockets target tourists…and Italian pickpockets are some of the best at their “craft” in the world. Don’t let the idea of pickpockets ruin your trip, just be vigilant and prepared! 


I switched to using a Pacsafe Citysafe last summer. It costs me a little more than I would normally spend, but it has a bunch of anti-theft features that make traveling a little easier. It uses interlocking zippers, RFID technology, and extra snaps. None of these features are groundbreaking, but they add up to me being just a little more protected than the average tourist. 


Pickpockets look out for the easiest targets. Don’t be the easiest target, keep your eye on your stuff, and never leave your bag unattended in public!



Eat with the Seasons


Italy - Rome


Rome is one of the best food cities in the world, and you can’t go wrong if you find good local restaurants and trust the restauranteurs to show you the way. Eat with the seasons, so that you’re always eating food at its freshest and best. 


A great way to explore Rome’s food scene deeper is to go on a food tour, especially ones that get out of the main area and see smaller, off-beat neighborhoods in the city.



Get Out of the City and Explore Ostia Antica


Italy - Ostia Antica


When people think about preserved ancient Roman cities in Italy, people automatically think about Pompeii. While I love Pompeii, Ostia Antica should not be missed, and it’s a much easier day trip from Rome!


I have an entire guide on how to visit Ostia Antica from Rome, which includes transportation tips and times plus estimated costs. 


Trying to decide between a visit to Ostia Antica or Pompeii? Check out Pompeii or Ostia Antica: Which Ancient Roman City Should You Visit?


5 Things to Bring to Rome


Italy - Rome


  • Rick Steves Italy guidebook for your trip (duh!). It can be kind of a pain to find the major guidebooks once you arrive in Italy, or you’ll find them overpriced. I always like to pick mine up ahead of time.
  • An Unlocked Cell Phone so that you can use an Italian sim card while here to help navigate the trains.
  • Backup Charging Bank for your cell phone since you’ll be using it as a camera, GPS system, and general travel genie.
  • A Camera since Rome is super photogenic. I use a mix of my Nikon D810 and my Samsung8 smartphone these days. (Though many of these pics in this post were on my old Nikon D40).
  • A Great Day Bag so you can carry what you need with you (like your camera, snacks, water, sunscreen, cash, etc). My current favorite is the Pacsafe Citysafe, which is especially great for Italy because it has many anti-theft features.



More Rome Travel Resources


Italy - Rome - Stephanie


Here are some resources to help you plan your trip to Rome. First, we have two more episodes about Rome on this podcast, so check out the podcast page Rick Steves Over Brunch for more.


Next, check out my interview with Mike Duncan on the history of The Roman Forum along with my guide to visiting Ostia Antica from Rome.


If you love history memes, check out the Roman history section of my gigantic 250 Hilarious History Memes to Soothe Your Dark Soul.


Finally, check out my list of books to read before your vacation in Italy.



Where to Stay in Rome


Italy - Rome - Piazza Barberini - Triton Fountain


There are tons of hotels in Rome, but it can get confusing comparing value when thinking about all the different locations you can pick during your time here. I’m including recommendations for hotels and hostels in these three budget categories:


  • Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $25-35 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $70 for a double.
  • Mid-range: Around $75-125 USD per night
  • Luxury: Around $150 per night or more



Budget: Rome has a ton of hostels to choose from, but most of them are blessed with pretty bad reviews (even for hostels). For an affordable hostel dorm that people actually love staying in, pick New Generation Hostel Santa Maria Maggiore. Just a ten or fifteen-minute walk to the Coliseum and Termini Station, the hostel has a great location that will make your time in Rome easy. Complete with free wifi and shared kitchens, it will also help keep your overall costs down. Check the pricing, reviews, and availability here.


Mid-Range: For modern rooms and a fabulous location at a mid-range price, check out The Wesley Rome. Hotels in the city have gotten so much better since my first trip to Rome, and The Wesley is a great example. While the rooms are smaller than at some other hotels, the location can’t be beaten! It sells out very fast, so book your room here early. Check the pricing, reviews, and availability here.


Luxury: For a complete Roman luxury vacation, stay at the five-star Sina Bernini Bristol which is the iconic Roman hotel located behind the Bernini Triton fountain on Piazza Barberini. With a great location that’s walkable to most of Rome’s best sites, you’ll feel at home right in the heart of the city. After long days of exploring the city, you can retreat to the hotel’s sauna and Turkish bath. Check the pricing, reviews, and availability here.



Headed to Italy? Don’t Forget about Travel Insurance!

Before you leave for Italy make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’ll be hanging out in cities (like Rome…ahem) where tourists can be the victims of pickpockets. Italy is the only country I’ve been to (out of almost seventy) where I’ve had someone try to pick my pocket!


I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for two years, and I happily recommend them.  If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you’ll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what’s stolen or broken.


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Rick Steves Rome: Back-Street Riches

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