6 tips for discovering Rome without acting like a tourist

You might be in Rome for tourism but, as a general rule, being seen by locals as a tourist is something best avoided.

Now, let’s take a minute to define the word “tourist”: according to the Merriam-Webster, a tourist is “one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture”. Although a slight interest for local culture should be implicit in touring, the sheer meaning of the word “tourist” implies a confining sense of transience. And for a person who’s really interested in getting to know Italian Language and Culture, this is something to avoid or, at least, to limit.

Our aim is to help you find your way while discovering the best of Italian Culture, at the same time experiencing Italy as a local: that is why we’ve prepared a short vademecum of things you DON’T want to do when touring, living or studying in Italy, unless you want to be considered one of the many tourists that every day pass through the Bel Paese.

Touring

Let’s get down to basics: Rome (as well as Italy) is a treasure chest so full of hidden gems not even locals are able to discover them all in a lifetime. Of course, the Colosseum, S. Pietro and the Trevi Fountain (which btw is not a bathtub) are sights which are too important to miss, but why not spice up your stay in Rome a little by venturing to the almost forgotten but unimaginably important small churches, or Rome’s fascinating borgate with their outstanding variety of street art masterpieces? There’s a tour for everyone, if you search hard enough.

On the road & in the streets

The streets of Rome, brilliantly sang by artists such as Bob Dylan, are certainly a place of breathtaking beauty: you can find a glimpse of the glorious past of the city on every street corner, and yet the whole city is immersed in a mellow, decadent atmosphere. But once on the road, you have to learn how to watch your step, as traffic can be really wild and it’s not unusual to spot packs of tourists lined up on the sidewalk, waiting for the right moment to cross the street.

Now, I’ll try to put this simply: crossing the streets in Rome requires some skills. We call it “the pigeon technique” (la tattica del piccione): if you have to cross, just do it, provided there’s a reasonable distance between the upcoming cars and your body. Drivers will eventually stop, especially if you are bold enough to fearlessly look into their eyes as you would do with an attacking animal. And there you go: you will be on the other side without even noticing, and actually feel more self-confident than ever. It’s the law of the jungle, folks!

The same cannot be said for bikers (and bike tours): you really have to be reckless to ride a bike in the city center without the supervision of a local. Rome is simply not equipped for cycling, except for certain areas. If you really want to experience Rome on two wheels, make friends with a local and let himor her help you.

Eating & drinking

Yes, I know you came to Italy mainly for the food. Who doesn’t? Even Italians travel all along the country to taste local delicacies. But remember: food in Italy is a serious matter, and Italians tend to get really bitchy about their meals (and the way you might want to experience them). Obvious advice and common sense aside (avoid tourist traps, eat local and with locals), if you really want to prevent astonished looks from the locals you should follow these simple rules:

Cappuccino CAN NOT be the happy ending of your meal. It is something we consume strictly before 12pm, specifically for breakfast. Ordering a cappuccino at a restaurant is like buying a computer from a furniture store. The restaurateur might give you what you want, but you will break his\her heart. Do you really want that?

Pizza in Rome is thin and provides just a limited variety of toppings. Beware of odd variants unless you are in a pizzeria which is famous among locals for its creativity.

– Never pay more than 8€ for your pizza margherita. In Italy good food can be extremely cheap: you can get a decent Italian wine for 10€ and fill yourself up with 15€ in a pizzeria (supplì included). Although you shouldn’t drink wine with pizza: for that we have Peroni.

– Remember that spaghetti bolognese IS NOT A THING IN ITALY. They can literally kick you out of the restaurant, if the owner is in a bad mood.

Dresscode

This is a bit of a sore subject. Italians are widely known for their loose approach to PDOA, their open display of emotions and their genuineness and yet, if you really want to blend in, you should remember that Rome is not Miami nor LA, and that Romans tend to consider people going around the city in Bermudas and flip-flops as quirky but a little disturbing. Plus, as Louis CK used to say, every big city is basically a huge pile of dirt, and Rome is no exception: knowing this, do you still want to go around wearing flip-flops?

Everyone has his or her own style, but looking around you to see what locals do is always a good strategy and a matter of common sense when in a foreign country. This applies especially to Rome, the privileged destination of millions of tourists every year.

Nightlife

Binge drinking, in Italy, can be a thing when it comes to depressed medium-sized suburban towns, but drinking only to get pissed is really something Italians don’t do – although the average age for the first sip of alcohol in Italy is approximately 6. So forget about your night out at a club downing one shot after another: if you do this in Rome, you’ve been caught in a tourist trap. For further information, take a look at this very instructive video. Knowledge is power. 🙂

Italian language

And here we are, in our area of expertise. As Italian language teachers, we wouldn’t dare to criticise the happy ones who try to learn and speak Italian: every effort is indeed appreciated, even if it is just an impromptu. Italian people, on the other hand, tend to be annoyed by very few and specific things, such as the mispronounciation of grazie (which is often spelled “grazy” by anglo-american speakers) or the ridicolous outcomes of expressions such as buongiorno (see picture for lulz). That said, if you really want to fit in, learning some basic expressions (and practice your pronunciation) in Italian language is definitely a good move, although in Italy you will always find someone who will be able to help you using alternative forms of communication, such as Italian hand gestures. 🙂

Originally poste on www.kappalanguageschool.com.

What I learned in Italy

To honor to my sixth month here in Rome (which sadly will be also my last) I would like to share with you today some VERY informal thoughts on what I learned in Italy. I will take you back to 11 August 2016, the day I arrived here in the beautiful Rome. The sun was shining and it was a summer day like all others in Italy so the streets of Rome were full of Romans (surprise! They don’t go on vacation that much: Rome is a really busy town), which brings us to the first thing you should learn in Italy:

  • it’s REALLY important to learn the language and make an effort to practice it on the streets and in stores with locals. Not everyone is able to speak English and, as you will figure out, a lot of things are only available in Italian, although, especially in the city center, you will find amusing examples of broken English. For that purpose, certain internet pages packed with Italian Language lessons and exercises are a blessing. Or you can always do it the old fashioned way and learn Italian by joining an Italian Language Course (as I did, and my Italian is so good that I am still writing articles in English! :P).

Being installed in my new home for this six months, I had to go out for grocery shopping, which I know is not the most fashionable shopping you can do but it has to be done. Anyway, this brings us to the second thing I learned:

  • when in Italy, you should get to know your local Italian cuisine – because no, there isn’t just ONE Italian cuisine. Not all of the food that you are familiar with in your home country will be available in the supermarkets, that’s why it is important to learn how to cook with the food that is available in Italy. The Italian cuisine is more than only pasta or pizza: make the best out of it and join an Italian Cooking Class where you will also be able to practice Italian and make new friends which share with you the disgrace of being totally incompetent in preparing a decent Italian dish.

Last but not last there is the thing that I enjoyed the most here:

  • learn how to appreciate Italian culture. It’s maybe quite different from yours and it the difference can be disorienting at first but, believe me, these people really know how to live. The culture of having an aperitivo after work with your friends, enjoying a good meal for (at least) a couple of hours, having a walk through the city center or just spending your afternoon while doing nothing and drinking espresso should be included in the world heritage list. The Italian culture is about the importance of family and friends in your life and that’s what will make your new Italian friends the unforgettable ones. Or, at least, this is what happened to me!

 

Arrivederci Roma, alla prossima avventura! xoxoxo

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

A shopaholic guide to the Eternal City

Italians are famous for their fashion, the most famous luxury brands in this world are born there. Brands as D&G, Versace, Giorgio Armani etc. are becoming the cultural heritage of this country. Of course, you already know streets like Via Condotti, Via Cola di Rienzo or Via del Corso. All these streets are famous for their luxury stores and are easy to find in every tourist guide to Rome.

Now that you know mostly all the Italian words you need for your shopping adventure, in this article you will find all information to “shop till you drop” in the best shopping areas of Rome.

1. Centro commerciale Porta di Roma

portediroma-1024x768So, let’s start with a low profile: Porta di Roma is the biggest shopping center of Rome, located outside the city center. It’s the perfect mix of luxury stores and middle segment stores. You can find Michael Kors and Massimo Dutti in this shopping center, but also Footlocker and Pull&Bear. This commercial center doesn’t only have clothes stores, it also includes a cinema, restaurants, bars and an arena for live shows. Also on rainy Sundays, you can enjoy this completely covered shopping dream, although locking yourself down in a shopping mall might not be your best option when in the Eternal City (even if it’s raining outside).

Website: http://it.club-onlyou.com/PORTA-DI-ROMA
How to reach: Bus line 80 from Piazza Venezia or Bus line 38 from Termini station

2. Monti area

lol_negozio_livelli_0006_a_mrf0197The Monti neighborhood is a young and dynamic (although proudly historic) area with all kind of shops in small and cozy streets. In Monti you will find second-hand stores, handmade clothes stores, vintage stores and alternative style stores. Also, you will be able to visit boutiques with the newest fashion for a reasonable price (or at least more reasonable than other areas of the city center!). Monti is also a good neighborhood to learn Italian: here you can find the best Italian Language School in Rome 8-), surrounded by shops, restaurants and bars to spend your pranzo time and practice Italian with locals.

How to reach: Bus line 64, 40 direction Termini (stop: Nazionale- Palazzo Esposizioni) or Metro Cavour (blue line)

3. Porta Portese Flea market

porta-portese-2A milestone for every respectable visit of Rome, this market takes place every Sunday morning in the neighborhood of Trastevere. Here you will find a nice and inspirational mix of second-hand clothing, handmade jewelry, makeup, food, antiques and all kind of souvenirs that you ever wanted to have and you won’t find in one of the many dreary traps for tourists scattered all over the city center. Take your time and browse all rows and stalls of this crowded market: here you will for sure find something unique that will make your day.

How to reach: Tram 8 Largo Argentina to Trastevere station from there you will reach the market in just a few minutes of walking

4. Via Condotti

natale-in-via-condottiYes I know, I was supposed to skip this part but… come on, it’s Via Condotti! This is the shopping area where you can find BVLGARI next to Prada with on the other side Gucci and Tiffany’s and co. There is a store of almost every kind of luxury brand that exists in this world. While have your shopping overdose, you can stop by for a coffee at the historic Caffé Greco or continue towards the magnificent Piazza di Spagna and have a tea at Babington’s, the oldest tea saloon in the city. Also all around the piazza you will find luxury brands like Nespresso and Aqua di Parma. Although this area is mainly occupied by renown brands, on a deeper look you will also find particular and elegant local stores. Prices aren’t properly affordable, but taking a look is completely free

How to reach: Metro A Spagna or by walking as a sidestreet of via del Corso.

These were just my own favorite places to go, but of course there is much more to discover in Rome. To me, as a shopaholic, Rome is really a heaven because there are all of my favorite brands. If you like shopping and the biggest brands of the world Rome is your place to be and of course if there will ever be an official Roma shopping route, I will let you guys know! For now, let’s grab your shopping bags and follow your heart (or your wallet). Divertitevi!

confessions-of-a-shopaholic-quotes-1_large

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Archaeology in Rome: three not-to-be-missed experiences

For centuries Rome has been the capital of the Roman Empire, impressing people from all over the world with its magnificence and its stunning melting pot of cultures and artistic styles. When you visit Rome you should make sure to admire at least a spark of this art and make some time to travel back in history. There are so many archeological sites worthy to be seen in Rome, and some of them are so famous that they don’t really need any introduction. This is why we will try to advise you with three very peculiar landmarks in which archeology and modern technology work together in creating a unique and unforgettable experience.

1. Palazzo Valentini

Palazzo Valentini

Palazzo Valentini is the place where archaeologists found a miracle. Beneath this beautiful house, which you can see from the street,  archaeological remains of ancient Roman houses were found. These remains were discovered far under the street level, but the staff of Palazzo Valentini makes it now possible for you to visit this sheer piece of ancient beauty. Deep under the ground with a fully audio-visual light show you will see a complete reconstruction of all the remains underneath the Palazzo Valentini. It’s a fully guided tour in the dark, which can be taken in English, Italian (and this would be the best option, so start learning Italian!), German, Spanish and French.

Website: http://www.palazzovalentini.it/domus-romane/index.html#scavi
How to reach: By walk from Piazza Venezia

2. L’Ara com’era

L'Ara com'era - Interctive Ara Pacis

Every Friday and Saturday, after 8:30pm, you will be able to experience the solemn and breath-taking atmosphere of the Ara Pacis as it was in the period of its construction. With the help of augmented reality you will travel in time and see colors and images lost in the centuries and now recovered in this amazing interactive exhibition.

Website: http://en.arapacis.it/mostre_ed_eventi/eventi/l_ara_com_era
How to reach: By walk from Piazza Venezia

3. Viaggio nei Fori

Viaggio nei Fori foro di Augusto

Viaggio nei Fori is a fully audiovisual experience where you can see how the Roman Forum was at the time of the Roman Empire. The Forums are the same as you can see by day, but the dark and the audiovisual experience give you the chance to transcend the mere touristic point of view and experience shapes and colors of the Forum that once was. You have two options: going to the Forum of August, which can be only seen while seating on a big stand, or visiting the Forum of Caesar, which can be discovered by walking through it. Both of the Forums are very interesting and are perfectly animated so you get a realistic view on how they looked like in the time of the Roman Empire.

Website: http://www.viaggioneifori.it/en/
How to reach: By walk from Piazza Venezia

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

(Italian) boys, boys, boys

When I moved to Rome as an expat, everyone I knew was daydreaming about “the Italian boys”. Italian boys are more a category of spirit than an actual group of people: you know, those guys that know how to love and teach you how to be loved, that take their special one on romantic dates at least twice a week and are still frozen in time with all their gentlemen manners. Their black hair and clear brown eyes and their accents, if anything, can only make you fall in love even more. In my 4th month of living in Rome, I will give you my experiences with Italian boys in the city center of this wonderful city!

First of all, when in Rome you should get used to the Italian words bella or bellissima, since it is very common to get this kind of compliments, even from strangers. In Rome even on the worst hairday ever you will get compliments on your looks! And that, indeed, is one proof of the fact that #ITALIANSDOBETTER.

ruth-orkin-italian-men-stare

The acts of Italian boys are funny and sweet: they are always trying to get a smile on your face. I can give you more than hundred examples of this, but here are just the ones that I remember the most. Let’s start with some funny “icebreaking” sentences I heard like: “Do you have a passport to heaven, because you are an angel for sure” or “Your eyes are like the most beautiful Italian rivers, I used to be a sailor so let me sail you” or “I know you like Vespas and I have one, how about a ride right now”. Also, there are boys who show you acts instead of words like street musicians who serenade you on the street, waiters in restaurants that give you extra sweets and cakes by your coffee or taxi drivers who don’t let you pay the taxi ride.

nordstrom_mens_shop_daily_blog_anniversary_sale_expert_picks_andy_comer_marcello_mastroianni2Of course, these guys are just strangers, who mostly like to flirt with you. But since I happened to have an Italian boy as a flatmate, I can also tell you about how it is to have one as a friend and… well, Italian boys as friends are very friendly and aren’t different from the rest of the world (surprise!). The little difference for me was in the fact that they will make sure that you discover all wonderful experiences from their city/country and don’t make you miss Italian culture knowledge. Ask them about great restaurants, bars or activities etc. and they will be happy to advise you… and even if they speak English, their incredibly thick Italian accent turns every word they say in pure cuteness. When it comes to the famous “Italian hospitality“, I guess this is part of the package.

And what about you guys? If you want to share your experiences with Italy and Italian boys, feel free to comment (and share)!

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

“Cosa ti ha colpito di più dell’Italia?”

E’ quello che abbiamo chiesto ai nostri studenti di Italiano di livello B2, sperando che loro notassero aspetti della cultura italiana che noi nativi, anestetizzati dalla routine culturale, non siamo più in grado di evidenziare. Le risposte, a volte, sono sorprendenti! 😀

Italian Language Class - B2 levelDell’Italia mi hanno colpito tante cose. Ho visto che la gente si salutava con i baci, anche fra maschi e fra femmine.

L’altra cosa è quando ho visto il traffico, le persone non sono gentili. Non hanno pazienza, suonano il clacson e sempre usano il cellulare quando guidano.

La terza cosa che mi ha colpito è il cibo. Prima di venire in Italia non avevo mai visto così tanti tipi di formaggi e affettati freschi. E’ proprio vero che il cibo italiano è buonissimo come si dice nel mondo.

Joanna (Malesia)

Una cosa che mi ha colpito durante il mio soggiorno in Italia è il suono “boh” che a quanto pare è veramente fondamentale nel discorso italiano. Ho cercato una definizione su internet e risulta che la traduzione più semplice all’italiano “ufficiale” sarebbe: “non lo so”. Mi sembra un’espressione divertentissima e unica.

Ben (Inghilterra)

A cena fuori per praticare l'italiano!Una cosa strana è quando l’inverno le donne italiane mettono sopra il cappotto pesante e sotto mettono le calze leggere. Per me questa abitudine è strana, perché se hai freddo dovresti mettere i vestiti pesanti sia sopra che sotto.

Un’altra cosa che mi ha colpito molto è il saluto, perché [gli italiani] si baciano per salutare, sia la donna che l’uomo. Questa abitudine per noi cinesi è un po’ strana: i cinesi si stringono la mano.

Jing Xing (Cina)

Una cosa che mi ha colpito quando sono venuta in Italia è vedere i belli campi di girasole in Toscane. Il bel paesaggio lì è veramente qualcosa di particolare e stupendo, mai visto.

Evelyn (Brasile)

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Welcome back! A preview of what’s coming on this September

Aaaaand we’re back! It has been a long, hot and even troubled summer, but here we are back on track, with the intent, now more than ever, to share the beauty our language and culture carry.

Besides our standard learning programme, with Intensive, Extensive, Flexible and Standard Italian Language Courses, we are glad to present our cultural activities for September 2016:

il-museo-agostinelli-di-roma-4Friday 16th, from 3pm – Vist @ Museo Agostinelli with Veni Vidi Visit
Where: meeting point @ Piazzale Ostiense
Participation fee: free
One of the most peculiar museums in Rome, a collection of 60000 objects from all over the world. An original insight on popular cultures and folklore.

cena8Thursday 22nd, from 7pm – Summer Ending Rooftop Aperitif (meetup event here)
Where: Mille13 Bistrò, Via Dei Mille 13a
Participation fee: 10€
Our classic rooftop aperitif to practice Italian, make new friends and spend an evening together in a charming roman terrace!

dsc_0195m-678x381Saturday 24th, 10am-1pm – visit @ Parco delle Energie/Lago exSnia
Where: Parco delle Energie, Via Biordo Michelotti
Participation fee: free
A lake in the heart of one of the most suggestive neighbourhoods in Rome, Pigneto, sorrounded by flourishing nature and inhabited by an extraordinary variety of wild fauna. A fantastic chance to discover a hidden treasure of the Eternal City!