Jacquelyn O’Malley is a student at The College of New Jersey and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jackie will soon be studying abroad in Florence, Italy on the ISA Summer 3 program.
We just left Rome yesterday, and it was an amazing trip! We toured many places east of the Tiber River, and having our own personal tour guide made it much more worthwhile.
I have to admit, sometimes I wished I had my own personal tour guide on the western side of the Tiber River because that was where our Hotel Ripa was located. So in this post, I will serve as your personal tour guide to the not-so-touristy-side of the Tiber.
Tip #1: Wear Flats!
Almost all of the streets here are made of cobblestone, and no matter how skilled you are at walking in heels, these streets will probably take you down. Somehow all of the Italian women have mastered the art of walking in heels on cobblestone, but trust me it’s not likely that you’ll master it in two days.
Tip #2: Try to refrain from shopping if you’re on a tight budget
It was very tempting to go shopping in the small outdoor markets because they had very pretty jewelry, clothing and shoes. But once I got to Florence, I was so glad I saved my money. At every street corner in Florence there are plenty of shops and stands that have much better deals and more unique products.
Tip #3: Find a cafe with free wifi
At Hotel Ripa, you are required to pay 5 Euro for a half hour of internet time on your laptop or phone. It may seem cheap, but I tend to stay on the internet a lot longer than I usually anticipate, especially when I wanted to get in touch with friends and family at home. If you make a right out of Hotel Ripa, there are many cafes that offer free wifi. One of my favorites was “Barlelli’s” which had great pastries, sandwiches, cappuccino and drinks at night.
Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to socialize with the locals
I’m sure my friends here can agree that our favorite night was at a small restaurant next to Barlelli’s. We began talking to our friendly waiter, who helped us learn more Italian. By the end of our dinner, we were conversing with another waiter and even the chef! They loved hearing about America, and we were just as fascinated with their stories about Rome. The next morning we ran into them at a cafe, and it was really nice to know we made friends with the locals!