There's a big difference between visiting a city and living there. After being a Roman resident for a couple months, I have a few lessons in Italian culture to share with you. Here's the first installment.
Italian Lesson #1: Walk everywhere. Get lost.
Italians are stereotypically known for their Vespas, but real Romans use their own two feet to get around just as much as those cute little mopeds. Walking is the best way to get to know any city, and this is particularly true of Rome. Everything in the historic center of downtown is close together, and you'll be amazed at the hidden gems that you find en route to your intended destination. My very first night in Rome, we got lost and stumbled upon our first view of the Pantheon at night. Our accidental discovery of the Pantheon made it even more breath-taking than it already is.
In Rome, even just random back alleys are beautiful.
Accidentally finding yourself in front of the Pantheon at night is an incredible sight.
Italian Lesson #2: BYOTP.
I'm lucky to have parents who are experienced world travelers. They've had lots of adventures, in fact my mom even climbed the Swiss Alps while she was seven months pregnant with me! One traveling tip that I've learned from my world traveler mother is to always bring your own toilet paper. My dad makes fun of her for this, but it's come in handy on a regular basis here in Italy. For some reason, many European countries seem to view toilet paper as a luxury, not a necessity. In Cinque Terre, we experienced bathrooms that were literally just holes dug into the ground. Not cool. So just stick some toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your purse or backpack, and approach the bathroom as part of another adventure!
Cinque Terre sunsets like this make braving all questionable bathrooms worth it.
Italian Lesson #3: Climb to the top of St. Peter's.
For whatever reason, lots of people visit Rome and leave without climbing to the top of St. Peter's. That is tragic to me. The view from the dome is arguably the best in the entire city, and it's an adventure you don't want to miss out on. You can take an elevator part of the way up, but from there it's still another 300+ steps through a few narrow and slanted corridors to the top. It's definitely a worthwhile hike though!
Braving steep stairs and narrow corridors like this all becomes worth it...
...when you get views like these.