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 the experience with me, travelling to Rome alone did have some advantages.
Above: A particularly busy night by the Spanish Steps for a Vogue fashion show
Travelling to Italy alone gives you the flexibility to do exactly what you want, when you want and at the pace you want. The result is you can fit a lot more of what you want to see into your trip.
Did I feel safe in Rome alone?
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’ve travelled to Italy alone a few times and I’ve always felt perfectly safe on my own in the evenings.
The only thing that I had been warned about was 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 meet some very nice Italian policemen so it wasn’t all bad.
Recommended for you: Things to do in Rome
Tips for visiting Rome alone
- Join a group walking tour and avoid eating alone by making it a food-themed tour. I love the sound of this street food tour and walking tours are a great way to meet other people.
- Take a plate, spoon, knife and fork, corkscrew and bottle stopper so you can enjoy a feast of local food and wine in your hotel room. Check out the next section for more on this.
The rest of these tips apply to everyone, whether you’re travelling alone in Rome or not.
- Avoid the crowds and longest queues at major attractions as well as the hottest months by travelling in spring, autumn or even winter.
- Buy a joint ticket for the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum but don’t buy it at the Colosseum, as that is the most popular of the three, instead, pop round the corner to either of the other two attractions and buy your ticket there where the queues will be shorter.
- Better still, buy a Roma Pass from free use of the city’s public transport and to save money on major attractions.
- Stay hydrated and refill your water bottle at the water fountains or nasoni as they called here, meaning nose. There’s over 2,500 of them dotted around the city. Not only will you save money but you’ll save the world from a few more plastic bottles.
- Scams to avoid include:
- If you see a rose on the ground don’t pick it up, you’ll be asked to pay for it.
- Don’t pose with a gladiator for a photo unless you want to pay for it.
- Likewise, if someone fills your hand with grain and then calls over the pigeons!
- Look out for pickpockets on Bus Route 64. They may have a jacket draped over their arm to disguise their wandering hand.
- If someone gives you a free ticket for a nightclub the drinks will probably cost an absolute fortune.
- I found the taxis fine in Rome and was never overcharged, however, others haven’t been so lucky. Always agree on a price before getting in a taxi and make sure it includes your luggage and any other people with you.
- If someone asks if you want a taxi, say no. Even if you do. They will take you to an unofficial taxi that will charge you more.
My friend Suzanne also has some great tips for visiting Rome.
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 for a travel blogger 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. Admittedly, that isn’t a problem for most people but travel bloggers are a bred apart.
Another option is to book yourself onto a food-themed excursion as mentioned earlier. Viator has 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.
It’s also worth considering eating in your hotel room if you really hate eating alone in public. You can pick up some fabulous cold cuts, cheeses and fruit from a local market such as Campo de Fiori and pizzas and pastries from a local bakery. My favourite is Antico Forno Marco Roscioli, on Via dei Chiavari (just around the corner from the market). As well as a vast array of breads and other sweet and savoury baked goods they have a renowned pizza counter. Pizza bianca (a type of pizza that comes without any toppings, not even tomato). It’s surprisingly good. Really good!
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. Here are my solo travel tips and my experience of travelling to Rome 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 at how liberating it is!
Looking for a hotel in Rome? Compare prices for hotels in Rome on TripAdvisor.
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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