| April 14th, 2024 | No comments

What are the pros and cons of visiting Rome?

Rome, the Eternal City, is one of the most impressive cities in Europe, and all the world. And as with most incredible destinations Rome has its share of problems.

For the record, we LOVE Rome and have spent many weeks exploring it, over 4 separate visits.  We’ve visited Rome in the winter and the summer, in the spring and in the fall, and have experienced the city under all manner of conditions. So, we feel pretty confident that we can talk about the ups and downs, pros and cons, of being a visitor in Rome. 

The Pros of Visiting Rome 

We’re generally “bright-side” kind of travelers. We don’t enjoy focusing on or writing about the negative aspects of any destination. Also, we genuinely love Rome. So, let’s start with the positives before we move into the downside of visiting Rome. 

The Colosseum in Rome
The ever-impressive Colosseum.

1. It is the Eternal City for a Reason

There are very few places on this planet where history is as well preserved and as easily accessible as it is in Rome. The sheer amount of incredible architecture and ancient works of art per square meter of the city center is astonishing. There’s no hyperbole within this statement. Rome is a living museum, a breathing archive of centuries long gone. You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate it. 

Go to Rome and walk around WITHOUT being impressed. We dare you! 

st peters basilica at the vatican in rome italy
The Vatican

2. Art and Museums 

This goes hand in hand with what we just said above. There are dozens of museums and hundreds of galleries in Rome. If you are interested in the history of art you’ll find yourself spending hours in Rome’s museums and galleries. 

3. Foodie Heaven 

If you love Italian food it should come as no surprise that you’ll gain 10 pounds in Rome if you aren’t careful. Between pasta, pizza and gelato it’s hard to go hungry in Rome. After a few days you might find yourself wishing for something, ANYTHING, that isn’t loaded with carbs, but continue eating you shall. 

4. Vibrant Nightlife 

The Eternal City is home to countless bars, cafes, and clubs. Finding something to do in Rome at night is pretty easy. 

5. Public Fountains

When visiting Rome make sure to bring a portable water bottle with you. There are over 2,500 public water fountains in the city, known as nasoni, which provide fresh and free drinking water for all. And trust us, you’ll need plenty of it if you are visiting Rome in the summer. Stay hydrated friends! 

6. Cafe Culture

One of our favorite aspects of social life in Italy is the pervasive outdoor cafe culture. There’s just something that feels so… right about enjoying a beverage while sitting at an outdoor cafe, watching life happen all around you. Rome provides these spaces in spades. 

The Cons of Visiting Rome 

So, as with any major destination Rome has its fair share of issues. Most of these problems stem from visitors, and poor management of said visitors by the powers that be. Very few of these issues stem from the locals, who are remarkably welcoming to the hordes that visit their city daily. 

Major Congestion

Tourists in front of Trevi Fountain in Rome
Tourists at Trevi Fountain in Rome.

Rome is home to a score of fascinating attractions. However, the city does a poor job of managing pedestrian traffic at many of those. Take Trevi Fountain for example. It’s a stunning work of art, and is rightly one of the most visited places in Rome. However, it’s located in a relatively small piazza which can’t accommodate the hordes that pack in to see it. The streets leading into Trevi Fountain are often rammed with people and cars, making the experience borderline uncomfortable. 

Trevi is not the only major attraction that suffers from this. The Spanish Stairs, the Vatican, and areas of Trastevere are all in dire need of intervention. We wish the city would do something to alleviate the congestion at major sites, making life better for both locals and tourists.  

People on the Spanish Steps in Rome
The Spanish Steps on a not-so-crowded day. It’s usually worse than this.

Poor Walking Experience 

Don’t get us wrong, we love walking the streets of Rome. Part of Rome’s charm is the maze of narrow streets in the center which are fascinating to explore. The sheer amount of car, scooter, and foot traffic can make this an arduous task during peak tourism months. 

Cars and scooters are pervasive in Rome, and they are almost everywhere. Combined with narrow streets you will often find yourself squeezed between a wall and a lumbering delivery truck, or scampering out of the way of a buzzing scooter. Crossing the street can be a stressful proposition at crosswalks without lights, as drivers tend to be very aggressive, especially around turns. 

Diluted Culture

Making money is the goal of many major tourist destinations. That’s just a reality of the world we live in. “If you build it they will come”…and they will bring their wallets with them. Hawking cheap products aimed at tourists is standard operating procedure, which comes at the expense of local culture. Everywhere you go in Central Rome you will find shops full of cheap crap aimed at making a quick buck. We wonder what this city would look like if those places were replaced with businesses that actually provided something other than poop. 

We want to stress that this isn’t Rome’s fault, per se. Cultural dilution is a huge problem that goes hand-in-hand with mass tourism. Cheap souvenirs and the stores that sell them wouldn’t exist if tourists weren’t spending their money on such things. Likewise, areas like Trevi Fountain wouldn’t be quite so overrun if selfie-crazed visitors didn’t all crowd around waiting for their perfect selfie and Instagram shot. 

There are no easy answers to the issues raised by in-and-out tourism. We tried to write about responsible tourism in the past, but as it turns out people don’t enjoy being lectured. We do hope something changes in the ways a lot of folks experience wondrous places like Rome. But if wishes were fishes…

Sucks in the Rain

When it rains in Rome the city becomes far more of a hassle to navigate. The cobblestones get slick and slippery, rivulets of rainwater turn curbs into waterfalls and small rivers, and drivers will splash rainwater on pedestrians trying to find a dry safe haven. 

Terrible Metro 

Sorry Rome but your metro is archaic, crowded, and ugly. While taking the metro MIGHT save you time getting around the city, we generally avoid it as much as possible. 


Again, our apologies Rome. We know you don’t WANT to be filled with trash, but the reality is you are. Again, your city government has failed you in this regard. More garbage bins, please! Let’s not even get into what happens when you leave Rome’s center, which has actually gotten a bit cleaner in recent years. Rome has a trash problem, and something needs to be done about it. 

Petty Crime

Petty crime is a problem in most cities, and Rome is no exception. While Rome is a relatively safe city pickpocketing and purse-snatching are a concern. Always keep your handbags where you can see them, and watch your wallets in crowded areas and while on the metro. 

Written by Michael Miszczak

Michael has been traveling the world while writing, photographing, and sharing his stories and travel tips since 2010.

He is originally from New York City, and currently lives in Prague.

Posted in Europe, Italy ,


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