Saving Money in Rome

After nearly a year, I returned to Rome last weekend to take advantage of the sales with my friend Alessandra. Twice a year, January and July, you can find decent markdowns in the shops. We also went to the outlet outside of Rome, which was a waste of time but an experience nonetheless. In the end, I didn’t buy anything on the trip except lots and lots of food!! (And Thelma and Louise in Italian).

Our first night, we ate dinner at the pizzeria La Montecarlo, near Piazza Navona. I was too hungry to take photos of my delicious mushroom pizza. If you look up La Montecarlo to see its rating/recommendation, it’s not at the top of the list, despite it being better than a lot of the more popular/better reviewed places in the area. I’m losing faith in reviews left on Yelp/TripAdvisor, etc. Another example, Alessandra and I stayed with her family (where we ate even more) while she was in Rome, but she returned to London before me and so I rented a room off AirBnB. The guy offering the room received great reviews online, but when I showed up, the place was dirty (and I have a high tolerance for filth), the street noise blared and I didn’t even receive a towel. For the hell of it, I looked up hotels and found a great one nearby – Hotel Martini – for $20 less a night plus breakfast! So, lesson learned: AirBnB doesn’t always offer the best deal and just because one person says he had a great experience doesn’t mean you will.

The next morning I moved into Hotel Martini and then went on a walking tour that people on Trip Advisor rated highly. Lately I’ve been going on tip-only tours and most of them have been really good. I splurged on this one and was hugely disappointed. As we walked around, the guide rattled off some facts here and there but there was no engaging storytelling. I asked him for a book recommendation on ancient Rome and he suggested Wikipedia! Hopefully he was joking but he was unable to come up with a title or author. So, once again, I’m reminded that how much you spend won’t guarantee the outcome you desire. And that I might be better off downloading audio guides and walking around on my own in the future.

That night I returned to Ai Tre Scalini in my favourite Monti neighbourhood to dine with my friend Manuela. We enjoyed a great meal, along with some very satisfying wine. Another place I liked for wine was Tidiro in Trastevere. Friday night, after walking through throngs of drunk university students on the street, we entered this ‘cultural association.’ Tidiro looked/acted like a quaint bar playing great music, but the trend is to call yourself an association for tax purposes. The girl at the door required us to fill out some paperwork to become members. At first this seemed burdensome, but then we received plastic membership cards and for some reason I felt so honoured. It was 1 a.m. and if I couldn’t be in bed, I was happy to be a card-carrying member of this drinking association. I definitely recommend this bar that is not a bar (not that you should trust reviews :)