A local’s guide to Rome
- By Erica Firpo
- Photos by Ginevra Sammartino
Rome is beautiful chaos and contradictions, and this should absolutely be expected from a city whose thousands of years of history and personalities have formed its pulsating present. You first get a hint of its noncommittal nature while driving into the city from the airport, passing fields with roaming sheep. The highway flows into an austere neighborhood designed in the 1930s, where every building was intended to be a monument. And then the chaos begins: Congested neighborhoods snake up the Tiber River leading to the centro storico (historic center), where Baroque palaces and churches fight with ancient monuments for a little elbow room.
There is no patience, and there shouldn’t be. This is Rome, where anything goes. The energy can be overwhelming. Keep walking around; eventually, you’ll realize that Rome is not quite as big as you thought — geographically and socially. Everyone knows everyone. If you visit the same places and piazzas a few times, you’ll find that they know you, too.
Meet Erica Firpo
Erica has lived in Rome since 2004, but she has been visiting the Eternal City since she was a child, thanks to her Roman mother and grandparents. Philadelphia is her hometown, Los Angeles is where she started her career and Rome is the end-all, be-all. She loves piazza life but misses backyard barbecues.
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Explore more of Rome
- Nobody nurses their morning caffe. Drink it fast, and then go.
- The word “piacere” (or “pleased” to meet you, pronounced pee-ah-CHAIR-ray) and a smile go a long way.
- Once you sit down at a restaurant (and unless told otherwise), the table is yours for the rest of the evening. Basta.