Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome

May 29, 2015
Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome

Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome

Like many travelers before me, I couldn’t wait to experience the tastes of Italy when I set out for my travel-writing seminar in Rome; promises of sweet gelato, real Italian pasta, savory olive oil, and crisp, refreshing wine awaited me. I wanted to try all of it—but as a college student, I had to figure out how to budget my money over a two-and-a-half week trip. In order to frugally navigate the restaurants and cafés of Rome, it is crucial to understand the differences between Italian dining and American dining. Drawing on advice from my professors as well as my own observations, I have put together a list of things to keep in mind for incredible cheap eats in Rome.

eating in rome // Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome
Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome

Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome

1. Keep Breakfast Brief

As much as I love eating a big sit-down breakfast, our busy touring schedule often required eating breakfast on the go. For breakfast at home I normally eat a big bowl of oatmeal or some scrambled eggs, but a typical Italian-style breakfast consists of food that can easily be carried en route to your next destination, such as a croissant or another yummy breakfast pastry. Avoiding an elaborate breakfast will save you both money and time.

2. Eat Standing Up

In Italy, there is an automatic table charge for eating in a restaurant or café. This means that food and drinks almost always costs more when you sit down to dine as opposed to standing up. Though it might feel unnatural to sip your morning macchiato while leaning against a bakery counter, this is a very common practice in Italy.

If you do sit down to eat, keep in mind that far less of a tip needs to be added on to the total payment. While Americans usually tip 15-20% for a meal, a tip of about 5% is satisfactory in Italy.

3. Eat a Big Lunch

Touring the Eternal City will use up a lot of your energy, so fuel up on a big meal around lunchtime. Lunch at an Italian restaurant usually costs less than dinner anyway, even if the items on the two menus are more or less the same. Make a hearty lunch your main meal of the day, and buy an inexpensive slice of pizza or a sandwich for dinner to cut down on spending.

One restaurant where you can experience all the flavor of the city without overspending is Dar Poeta, a delicious pizzeria located in the province of Trastevere. (If you like seafood, I highly recommend the Salmonfiore pizza, made with mozzarella cheese, zucchini, smoked salmon, and parsley!)

Also, the farther away from a tourist attraction a restaurant is, the less expensive your meal will be. Venturing down a side street away from the main action of the city will provide you with far more inexpensive and authentic options than those located half a block away from the Colosseum.

Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome
Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome

4. Carry a Water Bottle

Unlike American restaurants, Italian restaurants always charge for water. Carrying a water bottle to fill up periodically throughout the day will allow you to avoid paying an extra 3 euros for a liter of water every time you eat out.

There are also countless water fountains located all around the city that provide a continuous stream of fresh drinking water, which are definitely worth taking advantage of when a long day of sightseeing has left you tired and parched.

5. Hit up the Supermarket

Buying food in bulk will definitely save you money in the long run. A stock of granola bars and fresh fruit from your local Italian supermarket makes for a quick and easy snack or on-the-go breakfast. If you have the means to cook your own meals, a supply of fresh produce and a package of homemade pasta will allow you to whip up dinner in a snap.

6. Save Room for Coffee and Gelato

Coffee and gelato are two aspects of Italian culture that are not to be neglected. You might think that passing up dessert is a simple way to save money, but in my opinion, a monachella (espresso coffee with chocolate topped with whipped cream) or a cup of stracciatella (chocolate chip) gelato is ALWAYS worth it. For the best cup of coffee in Rome, try Sant’Eustachio, a historic coffee shop located between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon.

If you need a sugar fix, look no further than Gelolitti; having sampled gelato from several noteworthy parlors, I can assure you that this is the best gelato you will find in Rome.

If you need a sugar fix, look no further than Gelolitti; having sampled gelato from several noteworthy parlors, I can assure you that this is the best gelato you will find in Rome.

 

Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome
Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome

Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome

Related Reading

10 Things You Want to do Before Traveling to Italy
Travel Itinerary: A Taste of Italy in 12 Days
Conquering Travel Fears, One Gelato at a Time
Savouring the Towns of Tuscany, Italy 
Choosing to Do One Thing Everyday That Scares Me in Italy

Do you have tips for women travelers in Italy? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Cheap Eats: 6 Tips for Eating on a Budget in Rome photo credits: Ally Donovan and unsplash.

About Ally Donovan

Ally DonovanAlly Donovan is an English major and Film & Media Studies minor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. Her most recent travel experiences include London and South Korea, and this summer she will be taking part in a travel-writing seminar in Rome. She is passionate about writing, and hopes to pursue a career in digital publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys snuggling with her dog, listening to Bob Dylan, and practicing the guitar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top
Loading...