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It may be a city of ancient ruins, historic churches and age-old monuments, but Rome is far from past it. The Eternal City is bursting with life and full of things for people of all ages to see and do. 20-somethings in particular should check out this list of essential activities for young people in Rome.
Starring in your very own Audrey Hepburn moment and exploring the city by scooter is a must for any 20-something visiting Rome. Not only does this retro mode of transport afford sightseers the freedom to choose their own itinerary and cover more ground more quickly, it also has the added benefit of sidestepping the patchy public transport system entirely. Bonus points if it’s a Vespa.
American-style pancakes are hard to come by in Rome while the full-English is pretty much non-existent. With breakfast a traditionally sweet affair, a cappuccino and cornetto is often the hangover cure of choice for many young Romans. The cappuccino provides a decent caffeine hit without the bitterness of an espresso (which may be too much for delicate stomachs to handle), while the cornetto supplies fat and sugar to help replenish energy levels.
While most language schools are looking for qualified teachers, any mother tongue speaker can help eager Italians brush up on their English language skills. Many expats and international students earn a little pocket money by giving private lessons or conversation practice. For those with zero teaching experience, a language exchange is the way to go.
Learn how to make pasta like an Italian with one of the many cooking classes on offer throughout the city. Discover how to recreate your favourite dish at home, whether it’s pasta, pizza or tiramisù.
After visiting Galleria Borghese and the important artworks on display there, go for a change of pace and hire a bike to explore the surrounding gardens. More specifically, a four-person bike. Aside from one or two hilly sections, most of the park is flat making this a fun and easy way to get around.
Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, informally known as the piazzetta (little piazza), is a popular meeting place for young people in Rome. Get there early-ish to ensure a seat at the base of the fountain and mix with the locals over a glass or two of cheap, but full-flavoured wine. (This summer the mayor banned drinking outside after 10pm, although enforcement of the rule appears infrequent if non-existent, so be aware).
S.S. Lazio might have been around for longer (27 years longer to be precise), but A.S. Roma fans are quick to claim their club as the one true football team of Rome. The Roma-Lazio rivalry is one of the most entrenched in the sport so newcomers should quickly choose their tribe, sky blue or yellow and red.
Rome’s central location makes it ideal for daytripping. Head to Tivoli for stunning Renaissance gardens, Orvieto for an ornate Gothic cathedral or any of the Castelli Romani for local delicacies. With many lovely beaches less than an hour’s journey from Rome, spending a day at the seaside is also a must.
For big name concerts head to Auditorium Parco della Musica, PalaLottomatica and the Circus Maximus. For smaller artists and local bands take a trip to the bars and clubs of Pigneto and San Lorenzo.
Cutting through the centre of Rome is the Tevere, or Tiber river. Historically, the river would regularly flood which eventually led to the construction of embankments to protect the city. Known as the lungotevere, the high stone walls also shield the river from the chaos of the city, making it a scenic spot to take a leisurely walk or even work out.
If the designer shops of Via dei Condotti and the surrounding Spanish Steps area will blow the budget, then check out the vintage shops of Monti instead. Find high quality leather bags and shoes at King Size, branded vintage items at Pulp, and items by the kilo at Pifebo.
Portable, tasty and budget friendly, street food is a great choice for the young traveller. Supplì, trapizzini, porchetta-stuffed sandwiches and pizza by the slice are just a few dishes on the street food menu in Rome.
As the second highest hill in the city, the Gianicolo, or Janiculum, offers one of the best panoramas of Rome. Head there at sunset to see a captivating golden glow descend on the skyline, shortly followed by an enchanting emerald glow as the lights of the nearby Fontana dell’Acqua Paola are switched on. A perfect date-night spot.
When impending deadlines loom, head to Anticafé, (or another of Rome’s internet cafes and co-working spaces) to get the job done. At Anticafé, students, freelancers and entrepreneurs pay by the hour for a modern yet cosy, and most importantly quiet working space. Coffee, tea, pastries and other snacks are all included in the hourly rate.
While making mistakes is an essential part of learning any new language, some errors are more embarrassing than others. Unfortunately, avoiding those ‘ground-swallow-me-up’ moments is almost impossible for Italian learners; especially when scopare means ‘to sweep’ but is also a vulgar word for having sex. Beware of false friends too; preservativo doesn’t mean preservative (that would be consvervante) but rather ‘condom’.
As warm summer evenings arrive in Rome, different sites across the city transform into open-air cinemas. See a film under the stars at Isola Tiberina, a tiny island on the river, or catch a showing at Casa del Cinema in the leafy setting of Villa Borghese. Alternatively, seek out one of the screens that pop up in piazzas across Rome, with Piazza San Cosimato in Trastevere the most popular.
Hidden behind some of the most ordinary-looking doors across Rome are secret speakeasy bars. Serving up inventive cocktails in exclusive settings, these underground bars often require a password so check online beforehand.
The luxury boutiques of Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada might not be the best places to shop for the budget-conscious, but that’s not to say they’re not worth a visit. Partake in a little window-shopping and decide what to buy when fame and fortune do eventually appear.
As evening descends on the Trastevere neighbourhood, so does Rome’s young crowd. By night-time, the area is packed with Romans, tourists and international students, all in search of a good time. Grab a beer or bottle of wine and hang out in Piazza Trilussa, or try out some of the district’s best bars.
Whether it’s traditional leather bags, artisanal ceramics or handmade jewellery, Rome has many boutiques and independent stores offering top quality Italian craftsmanship. Invest in a statement piece now and it will serve you for years to come.