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Many people liken their time in Rome to a love affair: it’s an incredibly romantic city that seduces you at every twist and turn with its show-stopping architecture, small-town charm and colourful chaos. And like any love affair, it’s painful to part ways with the city. Here are 15 things you’re sure to miss when you bid farewell to the Eternal City.
Pasta every day is the norm here in Rome, not the exception. We know carbohydrates are addictive but it’s really hard to leave Italy behind and forego daily pasta. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find Roman classics outside of Rome: amatriciana, carbonara, gricia and cacio e pepe are menu staples here and the ultimate comfort foods.
With so many parks, terraces and bridges, Rome has incredible vantage points to watch the sun set over the city – views that you take for granted when you live here but that you sorely miss when you leave. Where else can you see St. Peter’s dome light up at twilight?
Rome has perfected the art of integrating layers of history into the fabric of daily life. Ancient columns provide support for medieval buildings that sit in a piazza with Baroque fountains and contemporary Japanese fusion joints. Everywhere you look, ancient history meets the modern era and it’s hard for other cities to compete.
Rome has some of the world’s most important archeological sites, monuments and art that have been lauded throughout the centuries. From the Colosseum and the Pantheon to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps – not to mention St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel – Rome is chock full of incredible cultural heritage everywhere you look.
Although Rome is an expansive city made up of dozens of neighbourhoods, getting lost down its winding streets will make you feel like you’re in a rural village. Uneven cobblestone streets, artisan workshops and rustic trattorie have withstood the test of time and Rome’s penchant for tradition and antiquity is present throughout the city.
Like most Italians, Romans are warm and friendly and love to strike up conversations with strangers. One of the best parts of living in Rome is being a local at a nearby coffee shop and chatting with the barman while he prepares your morning cappuccino – just the way you like it. When you leave Rome, you’ll realize how lucky you were to get personal service and attention from your neighbours.
On that note, you’ll also miss paying only €1 for the most tantalizing coffee on earth. Coffee is an important ritual in Italy and affordable for everyone; like pizza and gelato, it is a social equaliser. Italians go to their local bar two or three times a day for coffee and the low price point means everyone can take part in this habit.
Italian food is famous for being simple, comforting and delicious. Like elsewhere in the country, food in Rome has its traditions set in ‘cucina povera’, or poor cuisine, using local, seasonal ingredients and perfecting them into dishes that are much more than the sum of their parts. For instance, a simple pasta with sautéed artichokes is mouthwateringly tasty because the pasta is only prepared when artichokes are in season, guaranteeing a flavourful dish.
House wine, like checkered tablecloths, is a staple at Rome’s many traditional trattorias. It is inexpensive, abundant and often half-way decent, complimenting the classic Roman pastas such as amatriciana and carbonara. Like coffee, house wine is an equaliser and can be enjoyed by locals and tourists no matter what their budget.
Italians are famed for spending leisurely afternoons at the dining table and in Rome this practice often happens even at lunch. The Italian work day extends late into the evening so a fair amount of time is allocated for a proper lunch break, which sees many Romans enjoying multiple courses and bonding with their colleagues in the middle of the day.
Situated right in the centre of the Italian peninsula, Rome is equidistant to all of Italy’s main attractions which can be reached with a day trip or overnight stay. It only takes one and a half hours to get to both Florence and Naples, three hours to reach Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast, and four hours to get to Venice. Bonus: trains are extremely affordable.
Rome is blessed with a balmy Mediterranean climate, meaning plentiful sunshine and warm weather for most of the year. This is conducive to enjoying many of the city’s parks and outdoor attractions, dining al fresco and wandering around the very walkable city.
Rome has numerous villa parks that provide green oases away from the hustle and bustle of the historic centre. For some shade and tranquility, head to Villa Borghese, Villa Doria Pamphili or Villa Ada and enjoy natural scenery, elegant villas and art immersed within each park.
Rome’s ubiquitous stone pines, prominent within the ancient Appia Antica, St. Peter’s Square and the city’s numerous parks, are a symbol of the city. With a thin trunk and wide-spread canopies, they provide shade and add a beautiful natural touch to the city’s urban landscape.