Navigate Rome like a Pro
Kordai, Rome, Spring 2017
May 2, 2017

So after my four months in Rome, naturally, I’ve found my favorite grocery store, favorite study spot, cafe, restaurant, etc. It’s insanely easy to gravitate towards the more tourist-y attractions that are scattered all around Rome. But that’s the total opposite of what you want to do! You’re studying abroad to delve into the culture full-force and to NOT do what the average person would do. You’re beyond that. So, here are some of my favorite spots to go to and some helpful tips to stray away from those pricy tourist traps.

A mosaic at a local park

Favorite Grocery Store:
Everyone is going to scream at you “Go to Conads!” Although it is a prominent food chain and easy to find there are some better options if you’re looking for slightly cheaper food and larger quantities of it! I would recommend “Todis Supermercato.” For packaged items, like oatmeal and rice, you are able to find larger quantities at the same price that Conad’s offers. This is going to save you so much, because honestly I go through the Conad’s size oatmeal in a week. That’s usually how long grocery items will last (so imagine how small they are). For pre-packaged items, that don’t perish so quickly, you definitely want to find larger quantities so you don’t have to make a dash to the grocery store at an odd hour (preferably not during siesta hour).

A snapshot of Roma

Best Place to Get Cheap (and good) wine:
Take the 8 Tram up towards Roma Trastevere and get off at San Giovanni di Dio. You’ll see an outdoor market across the street, literally straight across. Enter anywhere you like and look for a woman strictly selling wine. She has huge barrels at her station, so she’s kind of hard to miss (go straight to the fish side of the market and she’ll be near the back corner). This lady sells wine as if it was water. You bring an empty water bottle (or you can buy one there) and she’ll fill it up for you. A one liter bottle costs about 2 euro. She has a pretty big selection, so I rolled the dice and got a different selection each time.

Every corner is so picturesque

Favorite Restaurant:
Before coming to Rome, I was on the quest for the best Carbonara. About a month into my stay, I realized that I didn’t even try some yet! The main pasta dish is “Cacio e Pepe,” so that’s the main dish I was sinking my teeth into (a cheesy pasta with black pepper). I asked SAI’s Brie where to get the best Carbonara. She got some help from Marco, and actually sent me a list of the pasta places. (I’ve since lost the list but I can assure you this restaurant will make up for it).

Ironically, the restaurant is called La Carbonara ( Via Panisperna, 214, 00184 Roma). The menu has more to offer than just that. There’s an array of antipasti, prime, secondi, and deserts. On top of that, each dish is less than 10 euros! It’s a fabulous traditional style restaurant that can be easily reached by taking the “H” bus.

Good advice to follow would be to never eat somewhere that’s located on a main street. If you turn right or left into any alleyway you’ll be surprised at how many restaurants you’ll find!

Every corner is so picturesque

Favorite Study Spot:
Unfortunately, cafes here aren’t meant for studying. Staying for 3+ hours at a cafe slowly sipping your coffee is unheard of. You eat and then leave, it’s as simple as that. Because spring semester here was super cold, I tried to find some quiet and relaxing spots inside. So far, my favorite would actually have to be the study room across from the library at the Guarini Campus. It’s modern looking, equipped with computers, and a lofty space that has just enough light coming in. This is the space I usually went to if I was trying to get away from my apartment.

An apartment complex

Random Tips:
Try not to spend all your money at Via de la Corso. Instead visit the Porta Portese Flea Market. It’s the largest flea market in Rome and is bound to have what you’re looking for at the fraction of the price. Seriously, there are leather goods, vintage Levi’s & Doc Martens, sunglasses, and the little trinkets you’re hoping to buy as presents for friends and family back home.

– Kordai is a spring 2017 SAI Rome student from Saint Mary’s College of California.

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SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.