Between TripAdvisor and Travel + Leisure, there's not much we can share that hasn't been expounded upon already. If you're looking for places to stay, visit and eat, we'll leave you to the advice of experts. Instead, our travel guide shares tips and observations to help on how to be an eco-friendly traveller.
All roads lead to Rome, the Eternal City. The city is literally built on ancient ruins, scattered throughout the city for your enjoyment. Old and new come together in the most beautiful and intriguing way. The food, the architecture and the history have something for every traveller. If you're heading over to this charming city, here are a few ways to make your trip more full.
- The local water is 100% drinkable and delicious. To get your fill, you can turn on the tap or look for le fontanelle, like the one pictured above, around the city. They're essentially little fountains that have a constant flow of water. Look for signs by fountains that say acqua potabile as those are safe to drink from. An excellent perk to help stay hydrated after long days of sightseeing.
- Strolls along the winding and hilly streets reveal that Romans don't partake in a big shopping culture like some other European cities. Chain clothing stores were rare which makes shopping at smaller stores or, better yet, taking a break from shopping easier.
- Speaking of chain stores, Starbucks isn't a thing here though coffee is everywhere. In fact, Rome may be the farthest I'd ever been from Starbucks, which was a pleasant surprise. This speaks volumes about the pride Italians have of their coffee. Coffee is to be savored in one spot. It's not an afterthought or a beverage mindlessly imbibed on the go. Every cup of coffee I had was delicious and I personally believe Italy brews the best coffee anywhere.
- Pack a reusable tote. Plastic bags aren't a given when you shop and they cost a few extra cents. The good news is that the plastic bags are generally 100% biodegradable. Some stores offer reusable totes when you're at checkout. was offered a bright, patterned cloth bag with padded straps that I adore and shop with now that I'm home again.
- Small food stores are common. We may be accustomed to supermarkets but Romans tend to do their food shopping at small neighborhood grocers, bursting with fresh produce. In fact, these smaller stores boasted a fresher selection of produce and without the excessive plastic wrapping like the fruits and veggies found at the supermarket.
- At restaurants, it is far more common to eat in rather than take away. Food tastes better when eaten at the table and also helps reduce plastic waste. Portion sizes were also perfect. The Italians have a structured way of ordering (antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni, dolce, oh boy) but don't feel pressure to order every course. Order as you wish and for the hunger level you're sating. This can be a source of stress for those who aren't accustomed to this way of dining but it's your holiday and you should do what makes you happy.
- A local custom in Italy is riposo, the afternoon closing of shops, bars and restaurants. If you plan to explore or rest, stock up on snacks like fruit, nuts or a sandwich. Jet lag and a later dinner time can do a number and make you ravenous.
- Wear comfortable shoes. (Life's too short for bad shoes.) You will be on your feet for much of the day. The city offers so much beauty that can only be accessed from moving around town. The Vatican alone offers over 9 miles of art, one of the biggest collections on the planet.
- Public transportation is super helpful if you're trying to make it across town quickly. They have various unlimited use passes. The unlimited bus and metro day pass was just 7 euro. It's a steal with buses and trains running most hours of the day and well into the night. It lets you jump around town just like a local.
- When traveling over longer distances by bus, train or plane, bring along delicious and healthful food options like bananas, oranges and apples. They travel well and can provide a juicy dose of energy and nourishment.
- The best souvenirs for loved ones aren't plastic knick knacks made in China. The best gifts from travels abroad are the memories! But for those who aren't able to travel with you, local items that are of actual use make great gifts. Italy offers gorgeous goodies like truffle oil, funky pastas, dried local mushrooms, organic olive oil, balsamic vinegar, polenta, spices, soaps, beans, wine, cookies, candy and a handmade Pinocchio toy. One tip before you buy animal and plant food products, do read up on what's ok to bring back before buying.
The trip to Italy was splendid and we hope your visit will be too. These reflections are, of course, based on my last visit. No two trips are identical so I'd love to hear your Rome observations and for those heading to historic Rome, we'd be happy to answer any questions.