After living in Rome for two months I don’t feel like a local, but I also don’t feel like a tourist. I think that the touristy feel will never wash away since Rome is one of the most touristy cities in the world. The pace will always be fast, and it will always seem hectic. But through my exploration of the city thus far, I have found some tranquil places that every traveller should give a chance.
I am going to take for granted that most visitors will undoubtedly see the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Forum. Putting those aside, if you have the extra time, I would recommend visiting Villa Borghese. As Rome can get pretty crowded and loud, Villa Borghese is a beautiful park that offers a quiet refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. You often see families and children there, and the largeness of the park makes for an open space, free from the narrow cobblestone streets of old Rome. There is also a beautiful pond there where you can paddle a boat, or just watch the beautiful scenery around you.
Another site I would recommend is the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, inside Vatican City. The artwork inside showcases some of Italy’s best, but even beyond the elegant paintings, this place gives off a feeling of warmth and beauty. Its numerous shrines of memorable figures of the Church like Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, St. Faustina, and Divine Mercy are special sites witnessed by pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.
My last recommendation would be see St. Paul Outside the Wall. Located further from the center of the city, this church is worth the extra commute time to visit. One of the four Papal Basilicas, I think this may be the most beautiful of them all. Its outside courtyard hosts large palm trees and its facade has stunning biblical images. Inside, a blend of imperial Roman architecture mixed with ancient Christian style creates an unique impression. Behind the altar gorgeous mosaics line the walls, and an intricate altar sits over the tomb of St. Paul. The presence of beauty and grandeur in this place is overwhelming.
As far as food goes, there’s not much advice I can give since Italians take food so seriously. I can’t complain about a single meal I’ve had here (that I didn’t cook), but I would advise you to avoid restaurants near prime tourist locations. Often a person will be standing outside them trying to call you in, and their menus are often advertised in English. Besides those, look for small osterias or trattorias in which will be sure to find local dishes made with love. There are restaurants everywhere in this city, and though I haven’t tried all of them, I can assure you that you’ll find a good meal almost anywhere.