Rome is undeniably one of the most beautiful cities, full of romantic narrow avenues and interesting winding streets. Along with the 2.7 million residents, Rome is also home to Italy’s diplomats, clerics and bureaucrats as the seat of the parliament and papacy. The city’s main piazzas are now free of cars to reduce the issues with traffic and pollution that plague the city.
The city is divided by the Tiber River, with the main historic landmarks and government buildings to the East of the river and the Vatican on the West bank. Along with more modern hotels and shops, the fascinating remnants of ancient Rome can also be found in the form of the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus. Navigation through the city’s famed seven hills can be confusing for newcomers, so don’t forget your map.
Rome also surrounds the Vatican City, its own separate 108-acre state and the home of the Pope. The buildings of the Vatican house the work of Michelangelo, which includes the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica Dome.
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How Big is Rome?
Are you contemplating moving to Rome? You are in for a treat! It is a large city – 496 miles squared area, with over 2.9million residents. Get ready to explore all it has to offer on the weekends and every other spare minute you have.
Learning the Language
Although there are English speakers and translators in Rome, the process of settling into your new home will be accelerated when you choose to learn the local language. Italian is a beautiful language and through learning it you open a wealth of new opportunities. With our Language Support Services, we can support you and your family to make sure you are communicating effectively.
Where should I live in Rome?
Throughout the whole country but particularly Rome, tens of thousands of expatriates from all over the world have made Italy their home. Many areas offer lovely places to live, both within the city and the surrounding areas. Be warned that real estate agents have a bad reputation in Rome, so it’s a good idea to do your own house-hunting where you can.
Despite the housing crisis having eased thanks to changes in laws and fewer businesspeople, suitable accommodation in certain areas can be difficult to find. Older buildings mean that certain amenities, such as air conditions and, in some cases, elevators, are missing from properties. There is a concentration of English-speakers in a specific area, which is in the north- and southwest of the city and arcs across Rome’s centre and eastern areas.
Inside the walls of the city, which is the oldest and most historic part of Rome, there are many housing areas that make good options for expatriates. Housing was built here from the 1920s onwards. There are good connections via public transport, which is good considering the heavy traffic and limited parking in the area. Recreation and retail facilities are good, although supermarkets are found outside the city centre. St Stephen’s School, a good international school, is also in this area.
Outside Rome’s centre:
Aurelia Antica – This primarily residential area offers accommodation with parking and light traffic. Despite few recreational facilities and few transport links, the beaches of Fregene and Maccarese are just 15 minutes away. The German school, Deutsche Schule Rom, is located in this area.
Aventino – The ideal location of this neighbourhood means that accommodation here is expensive. Elegant architecture, good local facilities, and transport links, as well as free parking, make this neighbourhood one of the most desirable in Rome. Aventino is one of the Seven Hills of Rome, next to the Circus Maximus and the Palatine. An excellent international school, St Stephen’s, is also located here.
Cassia – Just 15km north of Rome, the slightly rural nature of this area provides many new buildings, cinemas, shopping centres and wide-open spaces. Many residential compounds here have sports facilities and garages, and there are various private schools nearby, including Marymount International School, Socrate Bilingual School and St George’s English School.
Esposizione Universale di Roma (EUR) – This suburb was initially conceived as a model neighbourhood and has since developed into an important business centre. Just 6km from the city centre and 20 minutes from the sea, its location has attracted many large company offices and families of government officials. Hills, trees and gardens line the streets, and the lake is surrounded by public gardens. Most apartments come with garages and the metro and city buses both connect the area to the city centre. EUR provides a range of entertainment and medical facilities, including a cinema and sports stadium, and the Southlands Primary English School is also located nearby.
Parioli or Monti Parioli – Expatriates find this residential area desirable due to the numerous embassies and green spaces. Transport tends to be infrequent, but the Roma Nord rail link is a convenient option and parking is usually attached to apartment blocks, making private cars a valid option. Small shops and supermarkets cater to residents and there are various restaurants and entertainment facilities in the area.
Via Appia Antica – This area, the ancient Appian way, contains exclusive and often expensive villas with gardens for those that can afford them. Local shopping, public transportation, and recreation here is limited, but there is one international school, the Britannia International School, in the neighbourhood.
Rome’s suburbs: There are several desirable residential areas in the suburbs surrounding Rome. Rush hours can bring heavy traffic to the roads as people commute to and from work, but more parking is typically available in these more open areas. Transport links can be less frequent, but there will be links to the city centre. More exclusive neighbourhoods are available, and gardens and swimming pools are more common here than in the city. Desirable areas include Casal Palocco and Olgiata.
To Buy or Rent in Rome
People moving to Rome from the UK typically rent property, and this is a good option at least initially as you scope out the different residential areas. It’s important to consider not just the size and type of housing but the convenience to work, transport and schools.
Despite house prices getting gradually more affordable in recent years, Rome remains one of the most expensive places to live in Italy, whether you are renting or buying housing. In the city centre, it’s not uncommon to pay around €1000/month for a single bedroom apartment in the city, more for larger apartments, but prices are usually more reasonable further out of the centre of town.
As the law makes it virtually impossible to evict Italian tenants, landlords in Italy prefer to rent to foreigners, which is good news. When renting property, you should make sure to confirm that the house has all the basics you should need, such as parking and electricity, before you sign any documents. You should also find out all the expenses of the property before agreeing as there may be some unexpected costs that do not occur in the UK.
In Rome, it is expected that you pay at least one month’s rent or 10% as a deposit when you sign the rental agreement, and one month’s rent in advance in addition. Rent is normally paid monthly in advance but make sure to check all terms and conditions as they are normally specific to each property.
Even for Italians, buying property can be a time-consuming and bureaucratic nightmare, so it’s recommended to enlist trusted professionals to help. You should hire a notary public, lawyer, an accountant, and a surveyor to check the property’s physical and financial condition and to assist with documents.
It may seem obvious, but it’s vital to make sure there are utility hook-ups, because this is not always the case. Note also that mortgages are not as common in Italy as in the UK and those that do exist typically have very high interest rates. It may also be necessary to check that there are no current tenants in the property due to the laws preventing most evictions – many people live rent-free in properties for several years.
Short-term Housing in Rome
Short-term stays in Rome, for business purposes or while people look for permanent housing, are usually spent in Rome residence hotels. Most general services are offered in these establishments, including laundry, parking, restaurants, and internet, with some even having swimming pools. The Italian tourist office in the UK should also be able to help with finding accommodation, and there are plenty of hotels throughout the city of Rome.
We have professional home search experts on the ground to assist you with our Short-Term Accommodation Services.
Transport in Rome
In most large cities like Rome, it is often more convenient to use public transportation than to own and use a private vehicle. Traffic and parking can make driving stressful and expensive, not to mention time-consuming. Rome’s public transport in the city is excellent, and Italian law protects disabled people, ensuring that certain trains and stations are accessible to people with lower mobility and extra assistance is provided where necessary.
Buses – Buses in Italy offer an affordable, clean, and modern method of travelling around town. Rush hours bring crowds and sometimes pickpockets, so operate with caution. Bus tickets should be purchased before boarding at major bus stops, magazine and newspaper stands and monthly passes can also be purchased from local shops and special kiosks. In Rome, bus tickets can be used on the metro, but in other cities, this is not the case. Validate tickets onboard to avoid heavy fines. The Atac website offers more up-to-date information on Rome’s transport in English.
Metro or Subway – In Rome, the Termini Station is the centre point of the intersection of the Metropolitane metro. Line A runs from the Alban Hills to Via Ottaviano, and Line B runs from the central station to the northeastern areas of Rome. Line C runs from north of the Vatican to Pantano, extending beyond the city limits. More expansions to the Metropolitane are planned. Tickets can be purchased at the same venues as bus tickets, with both single and multi-trip tickets available. Metro terminals also accept Tap&Go payments and trains run from 5:30 am until 11:30 pm.
Trains – Trenitalia operates the train service in Italy, offering local, regional and national transportation across Italy. The Frecce trains offer high-speed trains between major cities, including Rome, and International trains connect Italy to France, Belgium and other countries. You can book tickets in advance both in person or via machines, or via mobile ticketing, and you must stamp your ticket before boarding a train. ItaliaRail provides more information on tickets, schedules, and fares.
Airport – Rome’s airport is the Rome Leonardo da Vinci Airport – Fiumicino – and it is situated around 35km southwest of the city. There are shuttle services and a local bus line that offer night and daytime schedules. Taxis are also available at the airport, for which you should expect to pay around €45 for the trip to central Rome. Tips are encouraged but be vigilant about overcharging and short-changing and report any issues to the police. Rental cars are also available.
Grocery Shopping in Rome
Moving to Italy will expose you to a new way of shopping for food. The warm climate means that fresh fruit and vegetables are available all year round, including courgette, chicory and broccoletti di rapa. One of Rome’s specialities is puntarelle, a curly-leaved variety of lettuce. Speciality stores will stock branded imported items, but local stores and markets will provide excellent quality meats, seafood, and cheeses. Italians usually visit small local stores every few days for food rather than visiting larger supermarkets weekly. Handling unpacked food without disposable gloves is generally frowned upon.
Outdoor markets are usually the best place to go for fresh produce, and Rome’s largest outdoor market, the Marcato Trionfale, is now indoors and near the Vatican. Mercato Centrale is another indoor market open all year round from 8 am until midnight. Castroni is a popular chain of international delicatessen and carry goods with many locations around Rome.
The commercial centre of Rome is synonymous with the historical centre, with picturesque streets and charming squares with a combination of new and traditional shops. The majority of hotels, cafes, restaurants and clothes shops can be found in the Ludovisi district, though they may be on the more expensive side. The finest Italian fashion can be found in shops on the Via Sistina and Via Gregoriana, where you will discover that Italian clothing is of great quality. Be aware that purchase tax in Italy (IVA) is 22%, however for purchases exceeding €155 non-EU citizens can apply for a refund of this tax. You can ask the merchant for a tax-free form to complete and have it stamped at the Italian Customs Office when leaving the country for a reimbursement.
There are plenty of vintage stores, second-hand shops and flea markets for interesting and uncommon items, and hardware stores for hardware essentials. Tobacco shops are important locations – not only do they stock cigarettes and candy, but they are also the only place to get many official and legal forms you will need during your stay. The tax stamps can be obtained here, as well as transport tickets, stamps and telephone cards.
Dining out in Rome
When moving to Rome, be aware that lunch is the main meal of the day, and Italians prefer to discuss business over lunch. Business breakfasts and dinners are also not uncommon. Hotel restaurants and fine dining establishments are good places for business discussions. Before dining out, it’s a good idea to check beforehand if they accept credit cards and confirm their opening hours. In addition, it’s good to remember that many Italian cities have banned outdoor eating near monuments and statues, for which fines can be heavy.
There are countless good restaurant choices in Rome, including obvious Roman cuisine but extending to many international foods, such as French, Indian, Vietnamese and Chinese. The area between Piazza Navona and the Tiber River is a great place to find excellent food. Spaghetti is the favourite pasta of Rome, served often with flavourful and tasty sauces. Offal is often used in traditional Roman restaurants; this is no longer served in more sophisticated restaurants.
Entertainment and Attractions in Rome
When living in Rome, there is plenty of structured activity to get involved with. Rome’s culture and attractions will be sure to keep you and your family busy, while trips to other areas of Italy and Europe are also popular. Watching sporting events is also popular, especially football and motorsport. Venues, for sports or the arts, are increasingly accessible for those in wheelchairs or with limited mobility, however, long-standing buildings might be more challenging.
Festivals for culture, history or religion are common throughout the year and Italy is home to world-famous ballet and opera. The Teatro dell’Opera in Rome begins its season in November, and concerts are held in October and November at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. A good online guide for more Rome attractions and cultural events is TrovaRoma.
Italian people are hospitable, warm, and friendly and like to socialise with foreigners. You may be invited to join an Italian friend for activities involving their family, as Italians are usually very family orientated.
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