How to be a sustainable tourist in Rome

by marta
Rome colosseum framed by greenery

Easy, actionable tips to be a sustainable tourist in Rome, help the city stay beautiful and have a great stay.

Visiting Rome is a wonderful opportunity but comes with some responsibilities.

The city receives a vast number of tourists (the Colosseum alone receives over 6million visitors each year) and while visitors are a great resource for the city, overtourism can cause problems.

Like many other famous cities (Amsterdams, Barcelona, Venice come to mind), Rome gets easily overwhelmed by visitors and unless we all pull together and find a way to minimise our impact on the city, there is a very high risk of destroying the very reason that brought us to admire and love Rome in the first place.

Thankfully, it is easy to be a sustainable tourist in Rome: all you need are some insider tips. They will help you help the city but will also make your stay more pleasurable and, in some cases, much more budget-friendly!

So here we go my top tips for being a responsible tourist in Rome.

Consider accommodation outside of the city center

I always say that Rome city center is the best place to stay in terms of convenience and access to Rome’s must see sites however, the center is also the place where everyone concentrates and this can put a strain on the city.

If you have a little more than a few days and therefore can afford a little longer time on public transport to the sites, staying in a residential area outside of the historical center can go a long way to help the city.

Areas such as San Giovanni but also areas along the Via Tuscolana or along the metro line can be a fun and sustainable alternative.

You get to see the Rome most Romans live and breath every day (while we all wish to live in front of the Pantheon, not many Romans can actually afford a home with a view!) and you also bring tourism where it is most needed, allowing the city center to breath a little easier.

This also comes with a wonderful plus for you: often, apartments are hotels outside of the center give you much more square footage for your money!

Pack reusable containers

One of the biggest problems Rome is facing is garbage disposal.

This is not the fault of visitors alone (this is an ongoing problem at political level) but the city needs everyone’s help to reduce the amount of rubbish overflowing from its bins and packing reusable containers is an easy first step.

When packing your toiletries, for instance, try to avoid small disposable packaging that you will dispose of in the hotel bin and go instead for reusable containers and fill them with your products of choice.

This will reduce the amount of plastic you throw out and will also guarantee you will have your favorite products with you while away. Everyone wins!

Bring a reusable water bottle

Rome has clean, fresh and delicious drinking water flowing freely from the ‘nasoni’, Rome’s drinking fountains.

Instead of wasting money on sub-par and expensive water in plastic bottles, bring your own and you will always have water with you without spending a cent!

If you are worried about fountain and tap water, you can read all about drinking water in Rome here.

Consider catching the train from Fiumicino airport into town

Taxis are a convenient way to get from Fiumicino airport to the city center but so is the train.

Fast, cheaper and environmentally friendlier than a taxi, this can be a wonderful way to start and end a sustainable stay in Rome.

You can find all the info on how to get from Fiumicino to Rome here.

Choose restaurants wisely

Rome has a huge number of restaurants and many of them have now started paying attention to the provenance of their ingredients and boast local, organic and almost zero-Kilometer food options.

Those that do usually flaunt this on their menu although often the items on the menu themselves can help.

Equally, go for food that is in season: you can check our month by month guide to Rome, which includes what to eat when.

Shops like Aromaticus in Via Urbana, Vivi Bistrot Pamphili and Grappolo d’oro in Piazza della Cancelleria are only some of the many examples.

Be a sustainable hotel guest

Good hotels go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and this sometimes comes in the form of offering endless changes of towels, small toiletries and other pleasant yet unnecessary nice touches.

However, you can be fully pampered without being wasteful.

Only asking for a change of towel when really needed, only using the air conditioning and heating you really need and bringing your own toiletries are simple things that go a long way environmentally and won’t make your stay any less luxurious.

Consider a rental

Another way to potentially make your stay more sustainable is to stay in a rental. If you get one with a nice kitchen and in a well-served area, going to the local market for groceries and making your own meals can be part of the fun!

Avoid plasticky souvenirs

A souvenir can be a lovely way to bring a piece of Rome back home but only if you choose them wisely.

If you can, avoid plastic nonsense that has nothing truly to do with Rome and opt for local crafts or at least stuff that will last.

A fridge magnet costs little and will last forever while a plastic replica of the monuments that are not even in Rome (yes, they get sold in Rome too, hello leaning tower of Pisa!) is probably something you can do without.

Say no to disposable straws

Plastic straws have slowly been banned in many places and they truly have no reason to exist.

While getting rid of them alone will not do an awful lot to reduce public pollution, the situation now is so bad it calls for an ‘every little helps’ approach.

You can say no to plastic straws without having to renounce leisurely sipping bringing our own reusable one.

Don’t ruin the monuments or crawl into fountains

You hear it all the time: people carve their name onto the Colosseum, they steal a piece of the Roman Forum or pose in Rome public fountains and this is so sad and so unbelievable I almost didn’t want to acknowledge it in this article.

While most likely none of you would ever even dream of doing any of the above, this type of behavior happens so often I simply had to include into this article a plea, a cry for help: Rome survived for millennia, please be one of those who help it thrive, not one that takes it down!

Locals and tourists will be forever thankful for your help and it also means we can keep welcome many of you and show off this wonderful city!

I hope these quick tips gave you ideas on how to travel more sustainably in Rome. Safe stay!

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