After you’ve seen the Vatican Museums and the Coliseum, and taken a stroll around the historic city center, you may feel you’re ready for a taste of the true Eternal City. That’s right, it’s time to venture off the beaten path and mix it with the locals, and there are so many fascinating places to do just that. And why not? As they say, when in Rome…
Enjoy a real caffeine fix
The Romans love nothing more than to stop at one of the nearest nondescript, coffee shops-come-tobacconists to grab a quick caffeine fix. Typically, the locals drink their coffee while standing up at one of the hundreds of unassuming hole-in-the-wall style shops, where you’ll find fantastic brews at very affordable prices. You don’t pay for the tables and you’ll be served in local fashion, upright among the pastries and cigarettes. One of the best places to try is the Sant’Eustachio Il Café around the corner from the Pantheon, which seems to be packed with locals 24/7.
Visit the Torpignattara District
This multicultural neighborhood is always busy with dozens of cultural activities going on. Some of the most notable points of interest are the Wunderkammern Art Gallery, which is famed for its street art exhibitions and public art for the neighborhood. Then there’s the old Acquedotto Alessandrino; and the rationalist building of the ex-Cinema Impero, now on its way to refurbishment, is well worth a look for the old-style restaurants serving up the most authentic Roman cuisine around. Finally, there’s the Villa De Sanctis, a beautiful park with catacombs and a mausoleum both from the 4th century. This entire district is characterized by its village-like atmosphere, and is a melting pot of communities from all corners of the world.
Shop for food like a local
If you’re looking for things to do in Rome with locals, forget the plates of pasta and pizza for a day and head off to one of the many mercati rionale (local markets) around the city. One great resource for such markets is WithLocals.com, which offers a ton of information on where the locals do their shopping. One of the most famous is Nuovo Mercato Rionale Esquilino, which has existed since the 1880s, and is home to everything from unpronounceable local vegetables to Chinese noodles and all manner of canned and tinned foods. Just get ready to bargain like a local, because prices are never listed, then go an enjoy a picnic in the nearby park.
Stop at the Anti-Cafe
This is the one and only coffee shop where you won’t pay for what you eat or drink. Instead, you pay for the time you stay there. As such, the Anti-Cafe has become a favorite of freelancers who appreciate the constant refills and snacks that help them stay focused. As well as facilities for digital nomads, there are free magazines and board games for patrons to enjoy.