My Do’s and Don’ts in Rome, Italy

I’ve recently returned home from my study abroad experience in Italy and I wanted to share what I loved about the city and maybe what others could avoid! A majority of my time was spent on our campus in Cortona, but we went to Rome twice and Rome is definitely NOT overrated. I have way more Do’s to share than Don’ts because it’s an amazing city with so much to see and do.

IMG_0298 Do: See the monuments! If you’re like me, you’re not going to be going to Italy very many times in your life; experience it! While the monuments are crowded and have long lines, they’re monuments for a reason. They’re breathtaking. Every single sight was one of those things in life that makes you feel very small in a big world. The major spots include: the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Vatican, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo.

Don’t: Get sucked in the tourist restaurants, like in Piazza Navona. We were exploring Piazza Navona around dinner time, which was maybe a mistake. We were constantly bombarded by servers that have to stand outside the restaurant and entice customers in. These restaurants are all very similar, pretty cheap and don’t have the best service in the world. I wouldn’t say we had a bad experience at all, but you could tell it was a tourist trap and I think we could’ve found something more authentic!

Do: Wear sunscreen and comfy shoes. I got very sunburnt by just walking around the city all day, LOL. I’m pretty pale, but I know I’m not the only one! I also underestimated the amount of walking we’d be doing, so I went for the cute shoes instead of sensible. I ended up with tons of blisters and a whole lot of pain! I recommend grabbing some Birkenstocks or good, Italian-made sandals as a souvenir!

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 6.14.05 PMDon’t: Try to walk the entire city. Rome is a massive city; don’t try to walk it. One day, we walked 12 miles and only saw a fraction of the city. I recommend tackling it by region, instead of hopping around too much! All it takes is just a little planning of where you want to go and your time schedule! I included the map to the left, just to demonstrate how something may not seem that far on Google Maps, but it’s actually a good distance away.

Do: Take the metro! We bought the Roma Pass, which included 3 days of public transportation use. To me, the bus system seemed okay for short distances, but for a brand new tourist, it seemed pretty confusing. The metro was extremely easy to figure out and use thought and I definitely recommend! It was faster than the buses, as well. They only have two main lines that basically hit all of the main spots!

Don’t: Be careless with your belongings, but don’t give yourself too much anxiety over pickpockets either. Before our trip, I felt like I was in a reverse episode of Beyond Scared Straight. They warned us about pickpocketing so much that I was terrified that every single person in the entire country of Italy was out to rob me. While I know pickpocketing is SUPER common, they had us thinking that it happened at every turn and if you people-watched for a few minutes, you could see it happen. This didn’t happen. While I did buy some RFID sleeves for my cards and I wore a cross body purse, neither I nor anyone on my trip was pickpocketed. Don’t be stupid with your belongings, but I do genuinely think that it’s not aaaassssssss bad as they say. Or maybe I just got lucky; I don’t know. IMG_0274

Do: Visit an art gallery or museum! We were on a study abroad trip, so naturally we were going to museums left and right. I’m not super into art history, but I’m glad I got to see some important historical works in the place that they were created!

Don’t: Wait in a line all day for one museum/attraction when you could be exploring the city. (Unless you’re visiting the city for a longer period of time) Like I said, we went to a ton of museums on our program and most of them were extremely crowded with ridiculously long lines. Don’t wait in every line for every museum. I recommend picking one or two and really experiencing those, rather than blowing through all of them just to say you went! The picture to the right is of the Borghese Gallery, which was definitely one of the better ones! You buy your ticket in advance for a time slot, which regulates the amount of people that are inside at a time. It was nice seeing the pieces without being pushed over or having a blocked view the whole time.

Do: Find some authentic souvenirs, not just magnets and Italian flag pasta. Rome is the center of Italy’s tourism industry. It’s a massive city, where millions visit every year from all over the world. They have countless souvenir stores and booths with the same cheap things in each one. While I bought the cliché souvenirs like some David magnets for my friends, I also made a point to buy some local art prints from street vendors and some snacks from a bakery!

Don’t: Worry about not knowing Italian fluently. Italian people are awesome. We had very few negative experiences with local people in any of the cities we visited. While I think they appreciate it if you actually try to speak with them in Italian, they’re more than happy to speak with you in English if they know it. Almost everyone we encountered in Rome knew English pretty well, so we didn’t have any major communication problems and you probably won’t either!

IMG_0756Do: Pick a cool spot and hang out for a little! My favorite spot in Rome was the Trevi Fountain. It was pretty crowded at all times of the day, but it’s so pretty and such a fun spot. There were people sitting and drinking wine, tossing coins in the fountain, playing instruments, talking with friends; just hanging out! It’s so big, intricate and old; again, it’s one of those things that make you feel small in a big world. I recommend picking a spot, just to sit and take it all in! You’re in Rome, Italy. Get some wine. Grab a snack. Enjoy it.

Do: Hoard your euro coins! If this is your first time in Italy, keep your euro coins like they’re gold! Italy has a huge cash based economy and coins are scarce. Most stores and restaurants don’t usually take cards, unless it’s a large purchase. Rome was much better about having change than in some of the other Italian cities, but I wanted to point it out because I’ve seen where a cafe couldn’t (or didn’t want to) break a €5 bill for a €1 purchase. Their cash based economy can easily be adjusted to and really isn’t a big deal; I just wanted to warn any first timers!

Do: Go out and experience the nightlife! IMG_2053Rome is a big city with a lot of young people, so the nightlife is awesome. While we were there, we went to an Irish pub (lol) that had a ton of locals inside watching a soccer game, which was cool to experience! Then, we headed over to Ice Club, a pub made entirely of ice! That was super fun, even though we were three of the five people there at 9pm on a Sunday evening. We didn’t have a ton of time before we had to catch the last metro, but you could see people pouring in and out of pubs all night! If you’re not into the party/club scene, we also went to plenty of bars (cafes) for wine and snacks for a chill night out!

Do: Get gelato and pastries literally whenever you want! This is the most important Do. Eat whatever you want and don’t feel guilty! You’re burning tons of calories trekking around the city and you deserve a couple gelatos throughout the day! It’s cheap and you will never find anything more satisfying than a cup of gelato on a hot day in Italy. Once you get home, you won’t be able to find anything just as good! Trust me, I’ve looked. 😦

These are my major Do’s and Don’ts of Rome! Did I miss anything? Comment below! 

 

 

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Pinterest the travel guide: Nashville edition

Pinterest the travel guide: Nashville edition

I recently went to Nashville for the weekend and I owe our successful trip all to Pinterest! Usually, I look solely to Instagram for travel recommendations. Instagram users find the coolest and often hidden gems in cities, and then are able to share the exact location for other users to find! However, for Nashville, I found that Pinterest was a great platform for bloggers to share sample itineraries for weekend trips. Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.00.06 AM

Even though it rained about 99% of our weekend, we were definitely able to make the most of our trip! Here are some of my favorite places we visited:

Draper James: First, I am obsessed with all things Southern and Draper James is classic Southern style. Second, Reese Witherspoon has been one of my role models ever since I can remember. She’s an amazing actress and businesswoman. And third, we actually got to meet her and she was so nice. So. Nice.

ACME Feed and Seed: ACME is a four story factory turned into a restaurant, bar and concert venue. This place was packed with both tourists and locals, and I definitely know why. You could easily spend your whole night in this one building. The rooftop bar had a great view of the river and city, while the ground floor had delicious drinks and food, as well as a live band.

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Murals: We hit a few of the most popular ones, but they are located literally all over the city. Murals are one of my favorite newer city trends. They’re art that everyone can relate to, while also livening up the area. I saw most of these on Instagram first, but some blogs from Pinterest helped me find their location!

Biscuit Love: I had heard so much about this brunch place online and from friends-of-friends, so we had to try it. The “bonuts” are definitely not overrated and worth every second of the wait in line. Get there early to avoid a line around the block!

The Broadway Strip: I feel like everyone should experience this at least once their life. The street is lined with huge neon signs and every bar is at least two stories high (most are three or four!). Each bar has multiple cover bands playing on each floor. We loved exploring the four floors of Honky Tonk Central, the old school car hung on the wall at Nudie’s and the party scene at The Stage.

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Antique Archeology: I was a History minor in college, so I’m a huge fan of the American Pickers show on the History Channel. My parents and I used to watch all day marathons on the weekends when I still lived at home. I had to include their Nashville store location on my Nashville list and I wasn’t disappointed! They had some crazy items, as well as tons of show merchandise for fans of the show.

The Loveless Cafe: The Loveless was one of those things that I knew was famous, but wasn’t sure why. Every famous country music artist has been and taken a picture there. While it is actually a little bit of drive out of the city, it was definitely worth the trip. The food was amazing and it was fun to learn about it’s history in its shops during the wait. It was originally one of the few stops on Highway 100 in the 1950s and has been famous for its Southern food ever since.

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More of Pinterest’s Nashville highlights include:

  • The Pancake Pantry
  • The Pharmacy
  • Pedal Tavern
  • Country Music Hall of Fame
  • The Grand Ole Opry
  • The Parthenon
  • Pinewood Social
  • Hattie B’s

Wendy’s is savage and Twitterverse loves it

I know I’m not the first person to acknowledge how Wendy’s Twitter account is hilarious, but I wanted to address how I love it as a digital marketing strategy for the company.

Wendy’s understands who Twitter users are and how they utilize it as a platform. While there are Twitter users all over the demographic spectrum, the most active users are the millennial generation and younger. Millennials were the innovators that first made Twitter successful in its launch in 2006 and continue to consider it as one of their favorite platforms. Millennials largely use Twitter to: 1) talk about politics 2) complain about things and 3) share jokes and memes. Wendy’s marketing team has gone with #3 and ran with it. 

The overarching goal of a social media campaign is to create an online community around your brand, where you can facilitate discussion about the brand in a positive light. Nothing gets millennials talking more than a savage fast food company tweeting insults and “clapbacks” about its competitors. This clever use of brand personification makes millennials want to be Wendy’s best friend. This guy even wanted to hookup with Wendy’s, to which they replied “We are literally a restaurant.” 

If you haven’t seen Wendy’s Twitter yet, here’s one of my favorite videos that compiled the best of the best examples of Wendy’s tweets:

Wine down in Braselton, Georgia

This weekend, I convinced my friends to come with me to try out Chateau Elan! (Just kidding, they were down immediately; no convincing was needed.) I found out about Chateau Elan through a friend of a friend a while ago and it went straight on my bucket list!

I had done some research ahead of time on their Facebook for information and their Instagram for the unspoken dress code, so I had a pretty solid idea of what to expect and I was not disappointed! If you know anything about me, I always check social media before going somewhere. Even just photos can tell us so many things about a place! A website is what the company wants you to see; social media is what other consumers want you to see (with a little guidance from the company, of course).

Chateau Elan is ensuring that all customers leave with newfound knowledge and new experiences, no matter what level of wine connoisseur you may be! We loved it and I would definitely recommend it for a girls day with friends or date night! We did the 8 tastings + the tour for $25 package. Upon arrival, they give you an informational sheet about the different wines they offer and their descriptions, as well as a pen to mark off which ones you tried. The tour lasted about 30 minutes, and I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in 30 minutes before in my life. I really appreciated how the tour informed guests on the wine-making process, as well as the wine-tasting process for the beginners! The tour guides and bartenders are doing an amazing job of reinforcing the overall brand and its desired experience. We got a quick description of every single pour and you could tell that each one knew their stuff and really wanted you to enjoy the experience. The atmosphere was absolutely beautiful, inside and out. Overall, a great way to spend a Saturday!

Cheers!

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