Practical Rome info and advice

From crossing roads to making payments and the risks of harassment – some practical tips from the Italy Heaven archive

Most of the useful tourist information on this site can be found in the relevant sections, using the main Rome menu at the foot of this page. However, here we’ll add any extra tips or oversize information that occurs to us.

Crossing roads

Crossing the road is a hazardous occupation for tourists in Rome, and it pays to stay alert. Where there is a green man indicating that you can cross, be aware that cars may still be entitled to turn onto the road and cross where you are blithely walking. Where there are no lights, crossing places are indicated by white stripes. As a pedestrian you have the right of way here, but drivers are quick to spot a nervous foreigner and are just as likely to accelerate as to stop. You will need to set foot on the road before any vehicle will even consider stopping for you. Make sure that the drivers in approaching cars have seen you and that they have a reasonable stopping distance – and walk. Traffic etiquette in Rome is about survival of the fittest. However aggressive they may seem, drivers are aware that they could pick up penalty points (a recent innovation) or fines from running over pedestrians, and will toe the line if given no choice in the matter. However, you should always remain alert, particularly in wet weather when slippery roads make life even more hair-raising.

General safety

Rome is a pretty safe city. You should take obvious precautions, as in any city, such as keeping any bags and possessions under your control and being alert for bag-snatchers and pickpockets in crowded places (for example, the metro and buses).


Try to become familiar with the currency, and don’t be afraid to check your change. In a restaurant don’t be shy of querying the bill, if necessary. Be prepared for cashiers who are reluctant to accept banknotes of €€50 and above for small purchases, and for being hassled for fiddly bits of change. Fortunately Italy has now become much more up-to-date in terms of accepting card and electronic payments, which makes travellers’ lives easier – though you should check your local bank’s charges and exchange fees.

Cashpoints / ATMs are dotted around the city centre, and labelled Bancomat. They are usually, though not always, in good working order, and have menus in English. Check with your bank if you’re concerned about being able to draw money. A four-digit UK PIN code usually works fine, but US visitors can encounter problems. Note that many businesses, shops and restaurants in Italy do not accept credit cards.


Postage stamps are called francobolli, and are sold by tabacchi (indicated by a white T on a black background). There is an efficient priority service – ask for a francobollo di prioritaria

Tips for women

There are occasional incidents of harassment and groping on crowded buses in Rome, but staying alert can usually prevent this. Elbows sticking out, or a swift swing of a shoulder bag can also help. In terms of chat-ups, men here are usually sensitive to signals women give off. They will generally leave women alone unless given encouragement. Around tourist areas you’ll find the kind of man who is looking for the cliched up-for-it foreigner, but if you make it clear that you’re not a drunken tourist looking for an Italian romance they will soon move away to look for easier prey. As with street vendors, looking through them, or looking away with total disinterest is usually effective.