Rome is a big city so getting lost a couple of times is pretty much a guarantee.
As I mentioned in An Introduction to Studying Abroad…It Can Be Scary, whether you are heading to a class excursion or you are just wondering around the city, getting lost is going to happen, but there are a few things that you can do so that you can find your way back.
No matter what you do, STAY CALM. If you start freaking out you’re not going to be able to think properly, determine what your options are, and figure out what you know. Staying calm will help you to not psych yourself out.
If you stay calm you take a really funny picture of ALL of the mopeds that the Italians drive!
Retrace Your Steps
This is probably the first thing that most people turn to when they get lost. While retracing your steps can help in many situations, Rome is a labyrinth with twists and turns all over the place. If your trip was pretty simple then you can retrace your steps, but in Rome there are side streets for the side streets.
Look for Landmarks
The first few times that I walked back and forth from my Italian class to my campus I got pretty confused about where I was going and I would always follow people who knew the way. Eventually it got to the point where I would be walking back by myself and I had to know my own way. So the first few times that I walked back and forth I found landmarks.
I knew that I turned left at the church for the dead and I turned left after the bridge when I saw the two pitbull dogs. Eventually, the route became second nature to me, but when you are brand new to the city, it’s a great idea to have a few landmarks in your mind that you can easily remember.
You can see the bridge where I would turn left going back to campus!
Know Where the Tiber River Is
Most major cities have one big river that flows right through the city. Many of the times that I got lost I found my way back to the Tiber River. Once I was along the Tiber River I could picture Rome in my mind and I knew where I was.
The Tiber River is another landmark, but it is a VERY permanent landmark and it runs through the center of Rome so it can help you out no matter where in Rome you are.
Have a Map, Just in Case
If retracing your steps, spotting landmarks, or looking for the Tiber River doesn’t work for you, make sure that you have access to a map, just in case.
Whether it is a map in your pocket or you have access to a map on your phone, it is better to be “safe than sorry.”
If you plan on using your phone as a map, make sure that you have access to data if you need it! If you plan on using a pocket map, check out the link below:
Ask the Romans
If your map isn’t working for you, you can always try asking Italians for directions. They know the city much better than you do and can easily get you to where you’re going…if you know Italian.
A few quick phrases to help with directions:
Mi puoi aiutare? – Can you help me?
Vado a… – I am going to
Sinistra, Destra – Left, Right
Diritto – Straight Ahead
To brush up on your Italian or learn more about asking for directions, check out the link below:
You can also check out my post Speaking Italian to THE Italians, to learn more about communicating with the Italians.