Going solo in Rome

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.

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!

Dining Alone

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!

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.

Expedia in Rome, all thoughts are my own ans as always I give my honest opinions.

54 thoughts on “Going solo in Rome

  1. Mark Surrey

    Hi Kat,

    Great blog and judging by the images it seems like you really did have a great time exploring and enjoying Rome. I never been to Rome yet, but its still included in my list of places and countries to travel. I have always wanted to travel solo. I guess I kinda have that scary feeling to travel alone. I have been traveling to places and other countries with friends, the last destination place were in was in Greece. Most of them have traveled solo and they re assure me that traveling solo was indeed one of the best experiences they have.

    Reply
  2. Rachel

    Hi Kate,

    Haha, yes you probably have a point there – I’d love to see more of Europe, so that would possibly be a much wiser option ;)

    Rachel x

    Reply
  3. Rachel

    Hi Kat,

    Travelling alone is something I have yet to experience, but after reading your post I think I may well have to take the plunge!

    I’m thinking of visiting Brazil next year, so if I do go alone I think I’ll be investing in some pacsafe gear – especially after hearing about your pick-pocket incident :(

    Rachel x

    Reply
  4. Paul
    Twitter:

    Nice post. I used to be very wary of travelling alone. Not so much because of safety, but because it was something unknown – how fun could it be, not being able to share your experiences with anyone? I did it once though, in Scotland, and it was great.

    I do love travelling with others, but as you say there are many positives to travelling alone. The ability to do things on your schedule alone, to engage in self reflection, to really get into the place that you’re visiting. Of course, being able to take photos of food knowing that you’re not annoying anyone is nice too :)
    Paul recently posted..Ho Chi Minh City Food GuideMy Profile

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  5. Pingback: Ode to the lady traveller: Why we need the #WeGoSolo movement

  6. Richard
    Twitter:

    Oh no – I’m sorry you had your rucksack broken into in Bologna. I think Rome Termini station is the most threatening place I’ve been to – it seemed full of people looking for bags to steal.

    Reply
    • Kathryn Burrington
      Twitter:
      Post author

      Hi Larissa, yes I was impressed with how they did it, despite being very upset. What surprised me was how we didn’t even see anyone. I expected pickpockets to work in busy, overcrowded areas. The Pacsafe range does look very good and worth investing in I think. Thanks for popping by, Kat

      Reply
  7. Pingback: On a mission to discover Rome’s food and wine!

  8. Pingback: Pairing Italian Wine and Food

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  10. Kelly

    What a lovely post. Shame about your phone. I have been facing the ‘eating alone in a beautiful place’ problem for years. When it comes down to it I think to myself, “What is worse- having a sandwich for tea and being comfortable, or having a beautiful meal, in a beautiful place, alone?” Common sense always prevails, but it’s not always easy! I read once, from another travel blog, if you are ever feeling uncomfortable, just remind yourself that you are a travel journalist doing research. Always helps me, even though I don’t quite have that title yet!

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Going solo in Rome « goodthingsfromitaly

  12. Murissa

    Loved this post!
    I enjoyed Italy but found Rome to be very overwhelming as a vast city. It was my first time traveling to Europe and I went with my boyfriend. I am willing to give it a second chance though!

    I have yet to really travel solo. My sister and I are thinking of going to France next year but then again I do wonder if it is worth experiencing alone as our tastes and intentions of traveling differ. Something to think about.

    Murissa
    Murissa recently posted..Therapy Vineyards: Freudian SipsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Kathryn Burrington
      Twitter:
      Post author

      Thanks Murissa. So glad you are coming back to Europe. France is a beautiful country. Where were you thinking of going and for how long?

      If you are worried about being over whelmed again maybe you should compromise – go over together, find your feet and then split up and depending on how long you are going for you could always meet up again, catch-up and then go off on your own again!

      Reply
  13. Elaine Cremin
    Twitter:

    Hi Kathryn, I loved your blog on Rome. I lived there many years ago and since then I try my best to go back every year. When I went to live there originally, I went alone and it was such a fantastic place to meet people. Something about travelling alone certainly does give you that confidence to get out there and meet new people. Rome is one of the most captivating places in the world in my opinion and one day soon, I plan to go back to write a book there. It’s an inspirational place and while my heart really does belong at home in Ireland, at least once a year or more, it belongs in Rome. Thanks for this, it’s triggered some nice memories.

    Reply
  14. travellingbag

    I have started making myself do more ‘solo travel’ lately.Even, as you say, if it’s only a short distance from home. The more you do it, the more you begin to enjoy it. There are always some places and experiences though that you wish you could share.
    travellingbag recently posted..Exciting changes!!My Profile

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  15. Anita Mac

    Funny – I normally enjoy solo travel (many of the same reasons you suggested), but for some reason, I found Rome a little overwhelming this time and was craving someone to share it with! I did feel quite safe and had no backpack – only a camera bag – so I had no pickpocket issues as my hand was always on my camera bag. Somehow, I felt Rome was a place I just wanted to share with someone else! While I enjoyed wandering around and visiting some of the traditional sites – I am looking forward to another trip – with my partner! After all – with so many amazing restaurants to choose from – two dishes can be better than one!
    Anita Mac recently posted..The Magic of Ermita de San Nicolas on the Camino de SantiagoMy Profile

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  16. Julie Dawn Fox
    Twitter:

    You’re so right about taking a notebook to restaurants if you have to dine alone. I used to bury my head in a book but scribbling in a notebook is an entirely different experience. I use the time to reflect on the day and make notes while I can still remember them, as well as to take notes about the restaurant.

    And yes, it makes it much easier to take photos without your fellow diners groaning in impatience :)
    Julie Dawn Fox recently posted..Travel Theme: On display in PortugalMy Profile

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