Here are our tips on the 10 don’ts in Rome. Follow these suggestions and you will enjoy a perfect time in Rome.
Visiting sights without reservation
This is our most important advice: most sights you cannot visit without reservation!
You need a reservation for all museums. In the high season, reservations at many museums are sold out weeks in advance. The Colosseum and the Vatican Museums are particularly popular. You have to load your tickets on your mobile phone because many museums no longer accept paper tickets.
St. Peter’s admission is free, but there are almost always long queues at the security check. You can bypass the queues when booking a tour or audioguide.
Without a reservation, you risk to see the sights only from the outside. A spontaneous visit is not possible and you always have to reserve online.
On foot and haphazardly through Rome
One of the biggest mistakes many tourists make is to cover most of Rome’s routes on foot. The reasons are manifold: you don’t know the bus connections, the public transport is not reliable and in the city center many monuments can be reached only on foot.
The center of Rome is not very big. Nevertheless, many miles come together in the course of the day if you run haphazardly through Rome.
Do not wear beach clothes in the city. When visiting religious sites and the catacombs, shoulders and knees must be covered. A light shawl is enough. Provide adequate sun protection with a hat or umbrella.
Do not drape yourself with jewelery and photoequipment, and do not make visible where your documents and valuables are. Here you can find more details for your security.
Wear good footwear and no high heels if you do not want to give an acrobatic insert on the Roman stone pavement.
Don’t buy at snack vans
Do not buy beverages, sandwiches or ice cream at the snack vans, which are around the tourist attractions. The drinks are overpriced and the ice cream is an industrial product. You can fill your water bottles at the numerous drinking water fountains in the city, for eating and for sandwiches you will find enough places and for the ice we advise you to visit a good ice cream parlor.
Don’t jump into the wells
Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni shot mythical scenes in the Trevi Fountain for the film La Dolce Vita. That is forbidden today!
Even if it is very hot, you must not get into the wells or put your feet in it. It always comes back to hefty fines.
Don’t immortalize yourself in the monuments
You hear again and again that tourists are caught engraving their initials in the Coliseum or on other monuments or breaking out pieces as a souvenir. They damage the monuments and risk high penalties!
Don’t order double espresso and cappuccino after lunch
Don’t order a double espresso. The coffee is strong enough and the people around you will react with incomprehension. In Rome you simply order a café (espresso) or a macchiato (pronounced makkiato – with milk), latte macchiato (a glass of warm milk with an espresso in it) or a cappuccino. After lunch you don’t drink a cappuccino in Rome, but a café. The idea of finishing a good meal with a large milk coffee filles the Romans with horror.
Don’t go to tourist restaurants
Restaurants which expose plastic samples of their dishes are not necessarily a good recommendation. If there are many locals or priests in the restaurant, this is usually a sign of quality.
The tables at the large squares are also expensive. At the Piazza Navona or at the Pantheon, a café at the table can sometimes cost 5 euros or more, at the bar it costs around one euro. Be sure to check the price list before ordering anything. Read also ripp-off in Rome
Certain motives may not be photographed and drones are prohibited
You are not allowed to photograph a military or police from near. You should not overly take photos of infrastructures such as airports, train stations or metro stations. You may also be prohibited from photographing with a tripod.
At the Colosseum or at the Castel Sant’Angelo one often encounters showmen dressed up as legionnaires or gladiators. They charge a high price and it often comes to dispute. If you want to take pictures of them, make sure you agree the price of the photo in advance.
Frequently tourists want to photograph monuments and squares from above and use drones to do so. Unfortunately this is not possible. Since the Holy Year in 2015, the use of drones in Rome is prohibited for security reasons. The authorities are reacting hard. The drones are confiscated and there is a criminal complaint.
Don’t allow to be approached by strangers
In Rome there are many street hawkers. Some come directly to you to offer their goods. They stretch out their hands and ask where you came from. Just keep going and ignore them.
Another trick is supposed students inviting you to a signature collection. Once you become involved, you will be asked for a donation, and in the worst case, your purse will disappear. Here you will find more information on pickpockets and trick thieves in Rome.