You are in one of the most romantic cities in the world but your other half isn’t.
Is this a problem? “Not at all!” would be my answer.
While of course I would have loved Neill to have been there to share with me all the wonderful things I did in Rome, being on my own did have some advantages.
Above: A particularly busy night by the Spanish Steps for a Vogue fashion show
For starters, travelling on your own gives you the flexibility to do exactly what you want, when you want and at the pace you want. The result is you get a lot more done and I was there to work after all although, I’ll admit, researching Rome’s food and wine didn’t really feel like work.
Secondly, I was far too busy to be lonely and I met lots of really interesting people so I had plenty of opportunities to chatter away to my heart’s content.
Did I feel safe in Rome?
Yes. I had it on good authority from someone living in Rome that it was safe for a lone woman to walk around central Rome at night on her own, assuming she wasn’t staggering around drunk, of course. I certainly felt perfectly safe on my own in the evenings.
The only thing that I had been warned about were the pickpockets, who ‘work’ in the day rather than at night, especially around the train stations and on the metro. Having fallen victim to them last time I had visited Italy I was very conscious of this. I knew first hand just how skilled a professional pickpocket was.
When I visited Bologna last July with Suzanne (from The Travel Bunny) we once walked into town along a quiet side street rather than the busier main route into town. When we reached our destination I took off my rucksack and found that all three zipped pockets were open. My phone was gone. We had seen no one else in the street and I had felt nothing.
Lesson learned, although I did still have a rucksack in Rome, I kept all my valuables zipped inside an inner pocket in a small handbag worn with the strap across my body so that the bag was in view at all times. Not fool-proof but a lot safer.
I’m pleased to say my phone was insured and I now have a replacement but it was still an upsetting experience. Luckily the police had an office in Bologna railway station, which was just the other side of the road from my hotel, so it was easy to report (which you have to do if you want to make a claim on your travel insurance).
On the plus side I did met some very nice Italian policemen so it wasn’t all bad.
I will admit that I’m not a fan of dining alone which I first had to do in a foreign land when I started photographing holiday homes in France and Italy. I remember one particular evening in Corsica sitting alone in my hotel’s alfresco restaurant on the top of a cliff looking out across the ocean at the setting sun thinking – this is just wrong to be somewhere so beautiful alone.
It was when I started travel writing that I discovered quite by accident a useful little tip. I started taking my notebook out whenever I was at a restaurant to jot down my thoughts about the experience, what I ate and so on. The restaurant staff always notice and usually assume I am a restaurant critic. Not only do I get great service but it makes it easier to strike up a conversation and find out more about the restaurant. This is exactly what happened last year when I visited Pigna, home to one of my favourite restaurants.
Another plus of being on your own is that you don’t have to frantically wave your arms about to stop everyone else from starting their meal so that you can photograph it. (Thank you Neill for your patience.) Instead you can photograph your meal to your heart’s content and then tuck-in.
Another option is to book yourself onto a food themed excursion. Viator have a great selection of food and wine walking tours in most cities including Rome. I’ve used them many times and always found them excellent. You can also book airport / hotel transfers through their site which is perfect for anyone shy of public transport in an unknown city.
The Rewards of Travelling Solo
While the thought to some may be daunting, travelling solo does wonders for your confidence and gives you a sense of freedom and adventure that you can only experience alone. There are certainly pros and cons of travelling alone but if you haven’t already tried it you really should. You don’t have to go the whole-hog with a round-the-world solo trip. You could just start off with a long weekend in one of the many beautiful cities of Europe (or closer to your home if you live outside of Europe). You might be surprised how liberating it is!
Of course in some cultures it is not acceptable for a woman to travel unaccompanied. If that is your experience I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this.
More Posts from Rome
Roman pizza and peaches in red wine
Learning to cook pizza in Rome including the recipe plus a simple dessert of peaches drenched in red wine.
The authentic taste of Rome!
Join me on a wonderful food tour of Rome including the oldest market, numerous tastings and where to find the best coffee and the best food souvenirs.
Pairing Italian Wine and Food
Learn the basics of wine tasting and pairing food and wine.
On a mission to discover Rome’s food and wine!
My arrival in Rome when I discover where to find the great gelato and how to tell if it is genuine artisan gelato plus I visit a cafe in a fashionable district of Rome where you can buy a plate of pasta with a glass of wine for just 4 euros.
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