Living in Rome
What kind of clothes should I bring with me to Italy?
The first thing to bear in mind, whether you are coming in the fall or spring semester, is that you will need comfortable footwear for all of the daily walking and site visits you will have in Rome. Many former students have mentioned that they lost weight during their stay in Rome because they walked much more than they did back home. Bring comfortable sneakers! Generally speaking, Rome’s climate is mild - It is unusual to have an extremely cold spell and, if that happens, it would be for a brief period. It is not necessary to bring a lot of heavy clothes, but you should have some gear for rainy days, which are more likely to occur with greater frequency in November and in the winter months. Sweaters and light coats work well in the Roman winter.
If you are coming in the fall semester, the whole of September and most of October remain relatively warm. You might need a cardigan or light jacket for early mornings and evenings. November and December are cooler, and it can get cold in December so you should have a jacket or coat with you for colder days and some jumpers or sweatshirts underneath. Some students have remarked that the weather here is similar to Fayetteville’s in the sense that it is changeable from day to day. You certainly need to have some layers as Rome’s weather is unpredictable.
The weather is generally colder during the Spring semester, with January and February being the coldest months of the year. Sometimes it remains cold during the first half of March. On cold days, you might need a hat and gloves. Moreover, if you get to go on tours in the North of Italy, you will find that the temperature in northern cities is noticeably lower than in Rome.
Finally, bring clothes for where you plan on travelling; if you plan on going up to Germany during the Fall Semester, you will need to have proper winter clothes and shoes as they will be experiencing much colder conditions than in Rome.
Should I get an International Student Discount Card?
Yes. It could be useful in certain cases such as getting an entry discount to a museum or some other function. The Rome Center will facilitate you getting the Rome MIC Card, which provides free access to many of the museums here in Rome. MIC
How do I get in touch with people at home?
Communicating with family and friends in the US from Italy is easier than ever. The only barrier might be time differences and how often you talk with them. The most economical choice is calling by WhatsApp or Skype when you are connected to the WIFI in your apartment or at the Rome Center, which is equipped with a 24/7 internet connection.
Students will need to have a working phone whilst in the program so that we are able to contact them, and vice versa, should the need arise. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is to buy a SIM card and sign up with a provider when you arrive in Rome. The SIM costs around €10 , and it will cost around an additional €10 per month to use the service. The plans offered to students usually include about 100GB of data, unlimited calls to Italian numbers, limited texting and limited call time overseas. There are several phone companies with affordable plans in Italy.
You will need to have a phone that allows you to use another carrier’s SIM card. Check with your provider to make sure that this is possible. Verizon usually works abroad, but AT&T is known to lock the phones of their users who are still in a plan. Investing in a second-hand phone just for the trip might be a worthwhile solution, as some American carriers can charge up to $30 USD per day for an international plan that is much more expensive and limited than an Italian alternative.
DO NOT try to wifi-hop around Europe! Not many restaurants and coffee shops have accessible WIFI that you can rely on!
What are my transportation options around the town?
There are three Metro (subway) lines A, B and C, but the network does not cover the whole city. You would therefore probably use the bus more than any other means of transport in Rome, even though it is sometimes a slow means due to heavy traffic in the city. Lines A, B and C operate from 5.30 am to 11.30 pm Monday to Thursday and on Sunday. On Friday and Saturday, they operate from 5.30 am till 1.30 am. Buses run until midnight.
You will need to buy a bus/tram/subway ticket before getting onto the bus or subway, which can be purchased from tobacco shops, newspaper stands, or subway stations.
We have listed below the different ticket types:
- Regular ticket, valid for 100 minutes, allows the passenger unlimited travel on all buses and trams, as well as one subway ride. Cost: €1.50
- Weekly pass covers bus/tram/subway. Cost: €24
- Monthly pass includes all rides on the bus, tram, and subway networks. Cost: €35
The monthly pass is probably the cheapest solution if you need to use public transport daily. However, as far as the historic center is concerned, the best way to get around is on foot.
DO NOT try to use public transportation without a ticket, as there are city employees that check tickets on buses, trams, and trains. If you are caught without a ticket or a non-validated ticket, you will be fined.
What type of power or electric converters do I need to bring or buy in Rome?
The electric network in Italy operates at 220 volts and not 125 volts as in the States. Certain equipment like portable computers operates perfectly well without the need for any kind of converter. However, hair appliances like straighteners and hair dryers are notorious for causing issues in Italy. You can easily find those items here. Phone and laptop chargers usually operate well without converters.
One difference you might find is in the shape of the plugs, and for these you need an adaptor to change the U.S. plug shape to match the ones used in Italy. You might want to bring a few of these.
You can easily buy an adaptor in any electrical shop. However, it might be helpful to have them upon arrival in Rome for your appliances. Italian outlets use the C, F, and L plugs. If you plan to travel to other European countries during your time in Rome, you might want to bring an adaptor with universal settings.