get to places early to avoid crowds. The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon were all the more special without crowds. You could actually stop and appreciate the grandeur and artistry with people jostling for the best camera view, which was our experience in the Sistine Chapel.
get an apartment if you are staying for a while. You will need your own space sometimes. Our apartment was in the Prati district, about a 10 minute walk from the Vatican, and very quiet. It was also close to a supermarket and a Metro station.
people-watch. Well that is pretty much everywhere, but it was fascinating to see the Romans and some kick-ass outfits. The prevailing trend was skinny jeans and flats or pencil pants with a jacket. And scarves on both men and women. Another group to watch out for is the number of priests, nun, and monks in Rome. St Peter’s was teeming with religious on their way to work. A special moment in the basilica was when a group of pilgrims knelt down in front of St Peter’s tomb and started reciting the Nicean Creed in German (it was less the words and more the cadence of the reciting that pointed it out). People make pilgrimiages to Rome for all sorts of reasons.
walk, and take public transport. You get to see the real Rome rather than from a tourist bus. We saw the ticket inspectors in action, and they tend to be much more relaxed than the gorgons that exits in Melbourne.
go to the gardens of the Villa Borghese, the lungs of Rome. Ride a bike, or a Segway, or simply sit on a bench and check out the view.
bring an umbrella on a rainy day, and hold it in your hand. Sounds a bit like I’m preaching to the choir, but do it otherwise you will have hordes of umbrella sellers descend on you every 10 metres. I honestly wanted an umbrella just to whack them around the head.
eat strawberries every day. They were the sweetest things I tasted!
drink Italian beer- lovely and light tasting!
avoid McDonalds. If you need a takeaway fix, grab a pizza- lovely crisp bases, with fresh topping, and mytastebuds are going into overdrive…
Expect cars or scooters will stop for you at a pedestrian crossing.
forget your train number and have to sprint with two suitcases, and two children from one platform to another in 15 minutes.