It’s been over a YEAR since I’ve done a travel journal – can you believe it? And what a year full of adventure. We’ve periodically moved to San Francisco, cycled a route way too hard for me in Switzerland, and, uh, we’ve moved to Italy.
Things to Know Before Moving to Rome
Living in Italy and going on holiday in Italy are two totally different things. They’re both magical, but there are so many more things to consider before packing up and moving to another country. Here’s what I think you need to know before moving to Rome (or other parts of Italy!).
You’ll have to do paperwork. So. Much. Paperwork.
This starts before you even arrive in Italy. Getting your visa can be either a painful experience or a very pleasant one depending on which consulate you go to and which time of year you apply. The busiest times of year are before summer and going into Autumn, when kids are packin’ up to study abroad. It’s also important to know that you MUST apply at the consulate where you are a resident. You have to see which consulate has jurisdiction over your area of residence, and you can ONLY apply at that consulate.
Once you actually arrive in Italy, you have to apply for your permit of stay (permesso di soggiorno). Don’t throw away the paperwork you get back with your visa, as you might need it to apply for your permit. Although submitting the applications could easily be done online, you must go to a post office in Italy, collect a yellow kit, and then return to the post office with your supporting documents. You’ll then get a receipt that issues an appointment time and date, and you’ll have to go to the immigration office to get your biometrics taken.
To sum up:
- Apply for your visa at the correct consulate in your home country try to go during the winter, spring, or early summer.
- Don’t throw away your paperwork
- Bring the paperwork to Italy and set aside some free days to get your permit of stay done.
Try to live centrally.
Let me tell you. If you have the means, get a central apartment. I told myself public transportation would be just fine, but I actually prefer to walk an hour each way every day to riding the tram. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a luxury to have public transport in the first place, but life will be so much pleasant if you don’t have to rely on public transport every day. The subway is fine, but trams and buses are a little confusing. Some days they just don’t run, some days they don’t show up when they’re supposed to, and some days, you will be squished between a hundred people in a car meant to hold 20 people.
If you live centrally, you will be living in BLISS. Rome is such a beautiful, walkable city, and I swear you can wander down the same street every day, but always discover something new. Rome is an amazing city to walk through and living centrally, only relying on public transit when necessary, will make your life so much easier!
If you’re on a budget, but still want to live centrally, San Lorenzo is a great area. This is the neighbourhood we’re in, and it’s a fun, trendy, up-and-coming place with lots of street art.
Plan your attraction visits & go for free
I’m going to cover this in a huge Rome guide, but I’ll briefly mention the gist of it here. Every first Sunday of the month, LOADS of museums across Rome are free. Not too many museums are free in Rome, so take advantage of this. Every last Sunday of the month, the Vatican is free. You’ll have to wake up and get there way before it opens in order to avoid the longest queue in the entire world, but it’s worth it.
Villa Borghese is my absolute favourite museum thus far.
Carbonara is going to become your go-to
I think we eat some sort of carbonara 2 to 3 times a week. All you do is fry up some guanciale (though we use pancetta because it’s cheaper), cook your pasta, and make a sauce out of egg yolks and pecorino romano. Easy peasy. I thought this was a hard dish to make and I’d always order it at restaurants, but we make it all the time! Learn this recipe if you’re moving to Rome (it IS a Roman dish), and impress every guest from outside of Italy.
It IS possible to live here and not gain weight
Okay, okay. This is a bit shallow, but I’m being honest! Before moving to Rome, I was so excited about all of the food (hello!!! GELATO and PASTA and PIZZA?!), but afraid of gaining a million kilos. I am very happy to report that it’s entirely possible to eat a healthy amount of pizza, pasta, and gelato, while either maintaining or losing your weight. I have somehow lost weight, and while I think it’s because I walk a lot (trying to avoid public transportation – see point 2), I also think it’s partly because Rome is magical.
Christmas in Rome
After a month of nonstop rain, I was so happy to say goodbye to November and HELLO to CHRISTMAS. Rome during the holiday season is such a beautiful place. We’ve been taking full advantage of the mild temperatures and clear evenings to go for walks and to hunt down Rome’s best Christmas lights. We really love the Monti, near the Roman forum, and the area behind Piazza Navona, but we have yet to make it to Trastevere this time of year.
And even though it’s winter, it is NOT the end of the gelato season. So I’ve been enjoying that too.
Every time we step out for a walk, we find something new to love amongst the old ruins and history of the city. This is certainly the best part about living in Rome.