This week we tackle three topics:
communication, dietary needs, and expat communities.
Traveling has its ups and downs. For many, traveling is a positive and worry-free experience of visiting a new place and soaking up local culture. For others, traveling can mean high dose of anxiety. Still, visiting Rome doesn’t have to become a nightmare! There are many ways to navigate the Eternal to find exactly what you need.
Beyond arranging your flight and hotel, here are some essential ways to prepare for your stay in Rome.
4. Communication: Cell Phone, Internet & Mail
No matter your length of stay, upon landing, finding a way to communicate with loved ones back home is often paramount.
- Cell phones – With the advent of the smartphone, being connect while traveling abroad has become a whole lot simpler…but also potentially expensive. Whether you are using a smartphone or a regular cell phone, check with your carrier about international phones and rates before leaving. Otherwise, consider getting a phone for the duration of your stay, especially if it will be longer than a week. Although not as cost friendly, it is possible to acquire a phone before leaving the airport. However, it may be best to shop around as there are often better deals to be found once you are in the city. Most Italian carriers have a basic prepaid/pay-as-you-go plan, which includes the sim card, phone and minutes for texting and calls (usually costing around €60). Conveniently, if you run out of minutes, you can easily buy re-up cards at the carrier’s store or at a tabacchi (convenience store). The four carriers are Wind, TIM, Vodafone and 3 (Tre).
- Internet – Fiumicino Airport provides free wi-fi access to travelers. Once in the city, wi-fi access has become a popular features for accommodations and food establishments, especially in cafes (e.g. Caffè Letterario on Ostiense). Also, RomaWireless offers two free hours per day at any of their wi-fi zones. If you prefer, you can also visit an internet cafe. If you prefer to have independent access, then it is possible purchase mobile WiFi through companies, such as Witourist.
- Mail – Wanting to send a package home? You can visit any of the local post offices. Posteitaliane is Italy’s postal service. Be aware, however, that the post offices serve multiple purposes, including monetary transactions and paying for utility services. Thus, the wait can be rather long. If you prefer to avoid the potential wait, you can use Mail Boxes Etc. (multiple locations) or MSB Shipping Broker.
5. Dietary Needs: Vegan/Vegetarian and Gluten-free Rome
Whatever your dietary needs are, it is possible to find what you need in Rome. If you are vegetarian or vegan, the city is renowned for its many daily open air fruit and vegetable markets, most of which are reasonably priced. If you have a gluten intolerance or allergy, it is also possible to find restaurants, bakeries, and also grocery stores to cater to your needs.
- Food Shopping – There are many small and large grocery stores (usually open between 8:30am and 8:00pm) that offer a wide variety of fresh food items. More and more gluten-free products have been showing up on store shelves. Main supermarkets are Despar, Carrefour, Conad, Todis and Tuodi. Look out for the brand Gullòn for gluten-free products. Prices are generally higher in Despar and Carrefour. Around the city there are a number of bio/organic food stores as well, such as Trastevere Bio near Piazza Trilussa (visit the site Happy Cow for more information). Most notable for food shopping is Eataly (near Piramide), which has a large selection of gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian-friendly products.
- Bakeries, Cafès and Restaurants – Although not as common, there are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free only establishments. Most notable for covering all three is the Giufà Libreria Caffè, located Via degli Aurunci, 38. Alvarado Street hosts a biweekly vegan aperitivo, located Via Attilio Mori, 27. For a gluten-free, vegan gelato treat, visit Tropical Ice, Via Nomentana, 115. If you are seeking gluten-free baked goods, look no place else other than Sans de blé, Via G. Chiabrera, 58c. Here are some others: So What? (Pigneto); Biopolis Caffè (African Quarter); Rewild (Garbatella); Le Bistro (Garbatella); Nibiru Space Bar (Garbatella); Ops! (Piazza Fiume); Arancia Blu (Flaminio); Universo Vegano (Campo de’ Fiori); Il Margutta RistoArte (Tridente); La Capra Campa (Prenestina).
- Useful Websites/Articles – Ristorante per Celiaci | Roma Senza Glutine | Vegan Home | Vegan Society | Gluten-Free Dining in Italy | Celiac Travel | Gluten-Free Girl | Celiac Policies Around the World
6. Expat Communities: Your Home Away From Home
There are a number of organized expat communities in Rome that often host events. Before leaving, you may consider joining Internations‘ Rome chapter. AngloInfo is also another option for making connections, especially if you are thinking about relocating.
- Publications – In Rome Now offers information on upcoming events, local resources and culture. A great print publication that can be found around the city is Where magazine. You can also check out weekly events through Wanted in Rome, an online and print English publication that offers great information about English-speaking activities and services.
- Universities – Don’t forget that Rome is home to a number of American universities, such as John Cabot University, American University of Rome, St. John’s University, etc., that offer weekly English-speaking and cultural events. Also the prestigious American Academy in Rome offers regular events, featuring Rome Prize winners.
Sono vegano/a – I am vegan.
Sono vegetariano/a – I am vegetarian.
Sono celiaco/a – I have celiac disease.
Senza glutine – gluten-free
-Article by Diedré Blake
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