Expats will quickly realise that the lifestyle in Rome centres around a passion for life and turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Simple acts, like enjoying an espresso or unwinding from a busy day with the help of homemade gelato, are carried out with devotion.
Eating and drinking at cafés and restaurants in Rome isn't the only source of entertainment. Modern-day Rome is full of cultural affairs, dazzling events and pastimes. Rome’s residents are never short of entertainment, as there is always plenty to see and do.
Expats initially entranced by the magic of Rome’s architecture and rich history will undoubtedly find that, while the city’s past is certainly awe-inspiring, its present is equally invigorating.
Shopping in Rome
Italian designers are synonymous with style and accomplishment. Shopping in Rome is an experience. Big sales in January and July make these months especially great times to shop around. From big labels to boutique bargains, the city’s side streets and boulevards have it all.
The two most prominent shopping streets in Rome are Via dei Condotti, which runs from the Spanish steps, and Via del Corso. Expats can find Fendi, Prada, Gucci and many other famous brands.
For those who prefer a more bohemian shopping experience, the area within and around Trastevere and Piazza Navona offers an array of artisanal goods and antiquity shops. Everything from vintage clothing to Roman stamp collections is on display.
Rome may not be the shopping mecca that Milan claims to be, but expats will certainly find a fair share of fantastic goods at better prices than cities in the north.
Nightlife in Rome
While the city may be better known for its more austere attractions, the nightlife in Rome offers a vibrant alternative for expats looking for a night out on the town. With bars and clubs located in buildings that have been around for centuries, expats will often find themselves partying in an exciting atmosphere where nightlife and history occupy the same space.
One of the best-known nightlife areas in Rome, Campo de Fiori, is a square in the city centre that is close to the banks of the Tiber. Popular with expats, tourists and locals, dozens of bars and restaurants nearby cater to a wide variety of tastes. It is especially recommended that expats go around sunset to relax over a drink or two as the tops of the buildings are bathed in a golden aura.
Another popular area is Piazza degli Aurunci, which is situated in the San Lorenzo University district. Frequented by a younger, more alternative crowd, the steps of the piazza are occupied by all types of people gathering to enjoy time with friends and enjoy an affordable night out. Occasionally, there are music and other cultural events that happen around here.
For a more dynamic experience, expats should head to Testaccio, which is widely recognised as the city’s clubbing district but also offers some of the best authentic Italian cuisine in the city. As night falls, the district starts attracting dressed-up revellers wanting to dance the night away. Expats who prefer their music to be less electronic will also enjoy some of the area’s live music venues.
Eating out in Rome
Expats will be spoilt for choice when it comes to excellent dining options in Rome. Countless authentic Italian eateries line the streets, each with its own unique charm and flavour. While restaurants serving classic Italian mainstays such as pasta and pizza are plentiful, with a bit of exploration, expats will find many hidden gems serving all sorts of exotic cuisine like Thai dishes, Spanish street food or Middle Eastern fare.
There are also plenty of opportunities to pick up artisanal paninis packed with fresh and delicious ingredients at one of the many cafés dotted around the city. Lastly, don’t forget to sample Italian gelato at one of Rome’s many gelaterias.
One tip to bear in mind is to avoid restaurants near tourist attractions as they tend to be busy and overpriced, and the food is often mediocre or worse. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are few and far between.
Sports and outdoor activities in Rome
With great weather throughout much of the year, expats will have plenty of opportunity to get outside and make the most of the Eternal City. One of the best ways to get some fresh air and experience the scenic outlying areas of the city is to go for a bicycle ride. Jogging and playing tennis are other popular sports and activities in Rome.
As Rome is filled with football fans, expats will have ample opportunity to watch a live game. SS Lazio and AS Roma are the city’s most popular football teams, and supporting one of these teams will guarantee that expats find local friends among fellow fans.
Making friends and meeting people in Rome
With its vibrant culture and historical backdrop, expats can choose from a diverse array of clubs and groups to meet new people and form lasting friendships in Rome. Below are some notable options for those looking to integrate into the local community.
The American International Club of Rome, established in 1953, is a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering friendships among American expats and local Italians. Members include diplomats, professionals, and entrepreneurs, making it an ideal venue for networking and socialising in a culturally diverse setting.
Rome’s Comedy Club, the city's premier English language comedy group, welcomes both enthusiasts and performers. It’s a perfect spot for those who appreciate humour and wish to mingle with a fun-loving international crowd.
The American Women’s Club of Rome offers a dynamic community for networking and friendship. It engages in regular charity work and celebrates Rome's cultural heritage, making it a great platform for women looking to connect with both American expats and Italian locals.
Catering to British expats, this association provides networking opportunities and assistance to those newly settling in Rome. It also facilitates connections with other regional groups in Italy, ideal for those seeking a broader expat community.
A leading social networking club, Expats Living in Rome hosts weekly meet-ups for expats and diplomats from around the world. The group focuses on cultural exchange and offers a chance to learn Italian while making new friends.
The Professional Women’s Association in Rome empowers women during their transition abroad. It provides a space for women to network, make new friends, and pursue professional ambitions, integrating sustainability and innovation.
Toastmasters International in Rome is dedicated to enhancing public speaking and communication skills. It's an excellent platform for those looking to boost their confidence in public speaking and connect with others who share similar goals.
How is the expat lifestyle in Rome?
"I like the fact that the city itself is like a huge museum, full of monuments and its history and within it, you can choose from going from international/tourist locations, to traditional Italian spots." See Ernesto's interview for some insights into the lifestyle in Rome.
"The climate, the vibrant city, the atmosphere, the food, the people..." Read about what expats fall in love with about Rome in Camilla's interview.
►Read See and Do in Rome for an overview of other attractions in the city
►For kid-friendly activities in the city, expat parents should read Kids and Family in Rome
Image credits: Via dei Condotti by Hynek Janáč, Napoletano's on Piazza della Rotonda by Sten Ritterfeld, Dolce Vita on Piazza Navona by Sara Darcaj, AS Roma vs Chievo in the Stadio Olimpico by Liam McKay, all on Unsplash.
Are you an expat living in Rome?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rome. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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