[Travel Advice] Rome (as a local)

Random Observation/Comment #354: Italians and Chinese are very similar with family values and their love of food. Maybe that’s every big family conversation.

see lemons pompei

Things To Eat:

  • Pasta pasta pasta, Gelato, Pasta pasta pasta, Cappuccino.
  • For those that need liquid courage in the morning, get a corrected espresso. It’s corrected with Bailey’s or whisky. It’s awesome.
  • If you like chocolate coffee smoothies, order a Crema Di Cafe. It’s the best thing ever. (I recently found out they only sell it at Eataly under Cremespresso).
  • Pasta is super fresh made by a guy that has been making it for the past 3 generations every morning.
  • Gelato is everywhere and basically trumps any American attempt to make it.
  • Cremolato is freaking amazing. It’s a fresh icy made with real fruit. Always get the whip cream because that’s also made fresh (like everything else) and non sweetened
  • Meat and cheese – just get it because it’s amazing.
  • The calamari, octopus, and mussels taste different. It’s more tender and slightly more briny, which I feel has a truer taste to seafood. Do not order the lobster in Italy because it’s just not as good.
  • Locals don’t drink alcohol often, and if they do, it’s not excessively. Their wine is fantastic and beer is refreshing, but if you want to be a local, don’t order seconds or thirds.

Things You Should Know:

  • You will eat 7 meals a day and 5 of them will be dessert
  • Laws are vaguely followed by locals; especially traffic ones
  • There’s no A/C anywhere because they don’t like recycled air
  • Breakfast is also dessert, but you’ll probably be forced to eat it
  • “Si Pronto!” is better than “Hello” over the phone. I’m going to start answering the phone with “Yes! Ready!”
  • Americans are the scapegoat for everything. If you are with locals, they will use the fact that they are with Americans to request special treatment. In most cases, locals will nod in agreement and do the thing you asked for.
  • There’s a visible hierarchy of rightness. Usually the eldest female is correct about most decisions. The mothers will tell you what to do and you have no say in doing it.
  • Brian is always wrong. Brian is usually “El Hefe Boss” when it comes to travel. He is papa bear with planning events and making final decisions. In Italy, however, his opinion is completely ignored and he is ordered as the baby of the family. Brian basically lives under the bus in Italy.
  • Anna is always right. Anna is incredible. She commands all and walks with swagger and power. When she speaks, her voice is sweet, but the tone is like a mother that has already decided for you. It’s not “I think you’ve had a long flight and we can meet up later after you settle at the apt.” but rather “You’re going to take a nap and we will meet in two hours.”
  • In a local household, if you’re a man, do not do dishes or step into the kitchen unless you’re asking for more food. Don’t even get out of the chair unless you’re going to the bathroom. (Sorry, I am such a bad Italian)
  • In a local household, if you’re a woman, Sorry – you’re probably going to be put to work.
  • In America, 100 years is old. In Italy, 100 miles is far.
  • Don’t feel bad for not tipping. It’s a different culture and normally weird if people tip between locals.
  • Food is often shared family style and it’s good to try new things.
  • Daily routine is as follows: coffee and dessert from 10-11, lunch at 1, siesta at 2, coffee and Gelato at 4, dinner at 9, more Gelato at 11.
  • Following Brian’s advice, real Italians do not wear shorts. Since Brian is wrong, however, remember to pack shorts so you don’t die of heat
  • If you want to mail something, do it at the Vatican. Don’t trust Italian normal mail because they probably just throw it in a river somewhere.
  • Do not drive in Rome, and if you do, avoid traffic circles because those are just mayhem. I’d say similar things about New York City driving.

I absolutely loved being the token Japanese sushi chef Francesco Chinatown (don’t worry about it). My newly found friends Anna, Fillipo, and Antonio showed all of us restaurants, sights, and scenes only locals would show others. If someone from out of town asked me to give them the local experience of NYC, I’d show them rooftop bars, fried-everything restaurants, and weekend plunders (Improv everywhere, comedy clubs, jazz festivals, Shakespeare in the park, and whatever crazy stuff New Yorkers do because they have an amazing imagination and too much time on their hands). The equivalent of that was shown to me in Rome and Pompeii, and I am tremendously grateful. I hope they come to NYC so I can return the favor. Thank you for making the trip one of the most memorable.

~See Lemons Love Italy as a Local