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There’s a famous saying, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. And this is always the goal when traveling; to immerse yourself fully in a new culture, and engage in authentic local interactions and experiences.

With the emergence of local experiences marketplaces that are English-language friendly and offer low-cost travel options, seeking local experiences is easier than it ever has been before. There are friendly locals in every city in the world willing to show you around, and invite you into their home.

Withlocals is one such marketplace, a platform connecting travelers with locals through food and experiences. This eliminates the overcrowded tour buses, cliche dining options, and stereotypical activities by instead offering private tours and dining experiences lead by locals themselves.

For those looking to roam Rome like a local, and literally “do as the Romans do”, the following are some fantastic things to do in Rome. 7 ideas for authentic, local Italian experiences available for travelers.

Authentic, Italian Experiences You Can Have With Locals in Rome

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Find where to stay in Rome by searching HotelsCombined; the site will scan all the top booking sites (Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, etc) for the cheapest prices possible.

 

Go on an Off-the-beaten Path Tour

Plan a unique, totally personalized tour with a local host, who can show you many parts of Rome that most tourists don’t ever see. Rome is so much more than the Colosseum, The Pantheon, the churches, and the hills.

You’ll hear more about the real Roman lifestyle and the local history. The non-touristy Rome has many small streets, less chaos, the cool Monti district and small boutiques with everything you wish to shop for.

Take a look at the places that inspired some of the most popular Italian movies. Get a cool ride with a Vespa! Let your imagination go wild and your local tour guide will make sure to give you the experience you’re looking for!

Eat Like a Roman

Oh, the food in Italy! If you haven’t been to Italy yet, you haven’t tasted Italian food. Nothing compares to a meal prepared by locals in the comfort of their homes. Feel their love for fresh ingredients and good conversations. Cooking with nonna, you’ll see that people actually put their hearts into the delicious dishes and get carried away by laugther. local experiences in Rome.

Enjoy a seasonal meal prepared with products grown in the host’s garden, a traditional pasta dinner, a typical homemade pizza or a delicious tiramisu dessert. All of these goods and the company of the warm and friendly hosts will make you want to stay in Rome forever! Things to do in Rome with kids.

Have a magical night with incredible Italian wine, astounding music and beautiful people! Things to do in Rome at night. Learn to cook in Rome.

Discover the Dark Side of Rome

There are many beautiful places, delicious meals and gorgeous art elements in Rome, but what about its darker hidden side? A city becomes much more interesting when you get to see its mysteries next to the popular highlights. If you want to experience a different type of thing to do in Rome, far less known by most travelers, try out the Dark side of Rome tour!

In the city’s history there have been crazy myths and rumors, and no-one knows these best than the curious Roman locals who call the city home. Many stories were about famous people, country rulers or religious leaders turned bad. Some are more mystical, or even “di fantasmi”, as locals would say. Get carried away in the intriguing nighttime atmosphere of the mysterious city!

Take a Historical Tour with a Local

One of the best things to do in Rome is exploring its well known history. There are lots of places to see, but your local host will make sure you get far more than simple views. Every scratch of a building has a story worth listening to! Don’t miss them! Meet locals in Rome. Hang out with local Romans.

Two of the spots you should include in your tour, no matter what, are the Colosseum and Pantheon. Yes, it’s true that they are very touristy, but there’s a reason why they are so visited, they’re amazing! Things to do in Rome in Winter.

The Colosseum’s size itself is mind blowing. The queues can get long, but who cares about them when listening to all the fascinating gladiator tales? Now, go back in time through The Pantheon. Remember, you’re walking on the steps of Romans from 2000 years ago! Local travel tips for Rome.

Rome is full of amazing highlights, so let us share with you their true history!

 Get a look at the Sailboat Church

Not your typical church in Rome! Jubilee Church is a totally modern cathedral which only dates back to 2003. If you decide to visit it, you’ll see that it is completely unusual for a spiritual sanctuary. It probably looks more like a modern art museum. And believe it or not, it’s shaped like a sailboat made of a special white cement. Traveling to Rome for the first time.

Your host will tell you more about how it’s used as a community center and serves eight thousand residents of the Tor Tre Teste. Visit it to get a very different vibe than what you’ll normally experience in Roman churches.

Learn to Make Authentic Pasta

There are many local things to do in Rome, and Pasta Making workshops here are top notch. Rome travel advice. Rome tips and tricks. Rome travel blog.

Making the pasta is not a big fuss, you’ll only need a few fresh ingredients and a steady strong hand to help you out. Though the sauce is another story!

Train your senses to recognize different tastes. Learn different recipes and play with them! Your host will help you in discovering what flavors you should combine, which herbs work best for certain dishes and how to cut your pasta in for the perfect shape.They’ll share their own learning experience with you, just like any true teacher would! Learn to make pasta in Italy. Rome cooking class.

Have fun creating your unique pasta and chat along with your host!

There are many local things to do in Rome, and the Pasta Making workshop is top notch.

There are many local things to do in Rome, and the Pasta Making workshop is top notch.

There are many local things to do in Rome, and the Pasta Making workshop is top notch.

Enjoy the Municipal Rose Garden

Young Roman lovers head to the Municipal Rose Garden, which is by far one of the most romantic and peaceful spots in Rome. You can savor a more quiet time here because it is not packed with tourists. So escape the chaos and take in the stunning panoramic views.Your host can show you the most perfect photography shoots. Make sure your memory lasts forever!

You’ll be able to walk around the park and take in the intoxicating aromas of the 1,100 different rose varieties. Take a moment to admire the views of Palatine Hill in the distance and listen to a story or two about the place. Ask your guide about other beautiful landscapes he can show you and lovely things to do in Rome!

More Withlocals Experiences in Rome

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Pinterest image of Colosseum at night by George Rex. Close up Colosseum at night by Moyan Brenn. Inside the Pantheon by Jenna Rose Robbins. Pantheon at night by Luftphilia.

    22 Comments

  1. You’re right of course. Exploring with a local is so much more insightful than going it alone or in a big group. We used to never do tours, and defended our total independence fiercely, but after a few experiences with local guides we’ve changed our tune completely. Would love to try out the eating with locals in Rome, we failed miserably in finding authentic places to trough whilst we were there. Need to go back and do this!

    • We were the same – I’ve learned that it’s all about choosing the right tour, and I’ve never had a bad experience when we’ve chosen one led by a local. Really great way to immerse yourself into the culture of the destination you’re visiting, and we’ve always had much more authentic experiences this way :)

      Hope you have the chance to get back for a second visit to Rome soon :)

  2. These experiences look like you would really get to immerse yourself in the local culture – even if only for a short time. I’d love to make pasta with an Italian – and I certainly make sure I eat like an Italian whenever I am there (I’m a bit of a pasta fiend!). I just hope the organization doesn’t take too much of a cut from the locals as their cut for advertising their services.

    • Absolutely Vicki! I think making pasta with an Italian is probably the most authentic experience you can hope to have from an Italy trip.

      Withlocals is a great organization because they really support the local community. It’s free to sign up as a host and advertise your tours or services, and then for each booking made the company takes 20%. So the hosts get 80% of the profits without having to pay an upfront fee for advertising if they don’t sell any tours :)

  3. I enjoy traveling with local, its brings you to places that no travel guides would mentioned.

    • Absolutely Bernard – and the best part about traveling is discovering secret local gems!

  4. Make authentic Italian pasta and eat like a Roman… Meg, you hit me right where I live with those words. :) Reckon I will make enough pasta to get me through the week and leave the romance stuff in the Municipal Rose Garden to those loved up couples.

    • I spoke to the foodie in you!! I would totally go back to Italy and just dine on homemade pasta for the whole stay!!

  5. I wish I could eat like a Roman every day! Italian cuisine is really the only reason you need to visit Italy. :)

    • Wouldn’t that be the life! I’m always asked about my favorite country in the world having traveled so much, and I usually say Italy. Reason being, why wouldn’t you love a country where you can eat pasta, pizza, gelato, and dine on red wine every day!!

  6. That is exactly what I needed! I am heading to Rome in July! The problem is, which one of the tours to choose as they all look very interesting. I love exploring a city with a local.It;s the best way to discover a city!

    • Glad we could help you out Chrysoula! You’ll have a wonderful time in Rome, it’s one of the most magical cities in the world.

      Jump over to the Withlocals site and check out their tours – definitely a lot of different ones to choose from. I do highly recommend either a cooking class or dining in a local home for a meal :)

      Happy travels!

  7. I’ve always imagined traveling around Rome on a Vespa like a true Italian. Although it was overrun with tourists when i visited, the beauty of Rome was still wonderfully overwhelming. The tourist attractions couldn’t be missed, as crowded as they were! I wish knew about the ‘Dark side of Rome’ tour, that is a must the next time I visit.

    • Me too :D I visited first during Easter, so it was REALLY packed when I was there. But for some reason I didn’t mind the crowds, because there was this energy and atmosphere which was amazing and just completely took over. Didn’t mind waiting in lines at the major attractions, though I’ll admit that the Vatican didn’t really do it for me.

      Hope you have the chance to plan a second trip and take in the Dark side of Rome tour :)

  8. I love experiences like this–all of these tours would be fantastic! It’s always so great to get a local’s perspective when traveling and this sounds like the perfect way to do so. I would love to learn how to make pasta and do a food tour–just thinking about it makes me crave some delicious, authentic Italian food! The history tours would be super interesting too with all the amazing history in Rome!

    • Every time I jump back onto this post to answer comments my mouth starts watering from the thought of the food :D! If you’re a history buff, Rome is definitely one of the best places in the world for you. And the history tours here are really worthwhile because there is so much information that you would miss otherwise, and it completely changes your perspective when you’re experiencing/viewing an attraction knowing the history behind it.

  9. What a great idea! Spending time with locals is one of the best ways to learn about he country. And when it comes to food, there is no-one else that knows the magic of best pasta and pizza. I am sure they would guide me to the best place! Plus, I would like to shopping with Italian friend, this one is not as much about travelling, but elegant souvenirs count as well, and Italians do have a style!

    • Absolutely – Italians know best when it comes to pasta and pizza, so there’s no better country to take a cooking class or eat in with a local family :)

      And I loved the shopping in Italy too! We especially loved Milan for this, though Rome does have some fabulous shopping too!

  10. I have been to Italy many times, but not Rome yet. I am planning to go in this summer. I definitely would like to explore the city with local. This is my way to go around, avoid taking a tour, be with local. You talked about Italian food in the country. I can’t agree more, if you don’t try the food in Italy you don’t know how the food is tasty.

    • Hi Mansoureh, so glad to hear you’ll be traveling to Rome soon! It’s such an amazing city, and yes, it’s absolutely worthwhile to explore and experience it through the eyes of a local.

      Have an amazing trip!

  11. Love this! I am going to Rome in April and am looking to do a cooking class! Can´t not go to Italy and not eat the local pasta or pizza!

    • Have an amazing trip Molly! Cooking classes are the most fun, and you’re right – can’t visit Italy without having enjoyed some traditional home cooked cuisine!

      Happy travels :)

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