He circled a few different options on a map and asked us if we wanted something fancy, or more of what the real locals would eat. Naturally, we told him we wanted to eat like a local. He pointed at the map and said, "Then go to this place here. Mama in the kitchen. Can't beat it." Needless to say the food was amazing. I later learned that the place we went to was an "osteria," which basically means that the emphasis is placed more on simple, old-fashioned recipes that are of amazing quality and taste than the latest trend or ultra-fast service.
Since I knew we were going to be doing a lot of dining out, I noted tips which other Newbie Travelers to Rome could use:
1. There might be a "cover" or "service" charge on your bill. If the restaurant tells you on the menu that there will be one then that's how it is, but otherwise you are free to dispute.
2. If you want delicious, not-for-the-tourists food then use your head and ask a local.
3. Locals rarely tip, but tourists usually do. That's also just how it is. We left a few euros on the table each time just to be safe.
4. If a guy with a menu is standing outside a restaurant trying to almost physically push you inside, then that is probably not the place for you.
5. You will almost definitely pay for water and usually bread as well, though sometimes our bread was complimentary.
After eating, we went on our very first stroll around town. Something I immediately noticed was how well dressed everyone was. It's not just an Italian stereotype as it didn't matter if they were young or old, fat or skinny; their clothing was most always immaculate. The key to this was in the tailoring. Unless you're a mannequin, nothing off the rack at a clothing store is going to exactly fit your body. The difference couldn't be made more obvious then on the streets of Rome.
We spent most of our three short days in Rome walking around the city much like this. We stumbled upon the Castel Sant'Angelo, the Trevi Fountain, and the Forum. It's a unique experience to stand before buildings so old that when you reference their age you have to use B.C., a term that previously only seemed to exist in history textbooks.
To avoid the crowds and the heat we did much of our exploring at night, which actually made it all the more intimate and surreal. My favorite part of this trip was when we took an evening walk around the Colosseum. The structure that towered next to us was massive, chock-full with history, and it was ours if not just for a moment.
[All photos: Andy Miles]