Going Green in Rome

Five ways to make your trip to Rome more eco-conscious

To make the most of your visit to Rome and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time, check out our list of Dos and Don’ts for getting around, eating, shopping, and having fun, all in a sustainable way.

Do: Buy organic and local products
Both Italian culture and sustainable consumerism emphasize the use of local, fresh, and in-season produce. And if going out of your way to savor local products means you’re forced to drink an extra glass or two of wine, well then so be it! Take the tastes of Italy home with you by shopping at the Città dell’altra economia’s sunday market, filled with organic and artisanal cheese, wine, pre- serves, and more. If shopping whets your appetite, stay for lunch at the on-site restaurant Café Boiario, where every dish is made with exclusively organic ingredients. largo Dino Frisullo. Café Boiario: Tue–Sun, closed Sun evening. Market: Sunday, 9am–sundown. 

Do: Ride a bike
Take the time to enjoy the city’s sites and monuments properly by biking rather than driving. It’s a fast way to get virtually everywhere in the center, which is notorious for its slow-moving traffic. There are dozens of bike rental shops around the city. Here are a few suggestions: top Bike Rental,  (Piazza Vittorio) • Bici and Baci,  (termini) • Bike away,  (Vatican)

Do: Attend Critical Mass
Rome has something special in store for cyclists this month. Critical mass occurs on the last Friday of every month in over 500 cities worldwide, and May marks the birthday of the event here, La Ciemmona (the “big CM”). Over 10,000 people are expected to flock from aroundto world to celebrate with the cyclists of Rome, participating in collective bike rides through the historic center on Friday and Saturday, followed by concerts at each ride end-point, and a longer 40k ride from the Pyramid of Cestius to the beach at Ostia on Sunday. Pace and atmosphere are family-friendly. Free. May 31, June 1–2. 

Don’t: Buy bottled water
Given the high quality of Rome’s tap water, the abundance of public fountains, and the environmental, social, and health consequences of drinking bottled water, it’s an easy choice. Did you know it takes 3L of water and 3.4 megajoules of energy to produce one liter of bottled water, that only 15% of plastic water bottles are ever recycled, and that many bottles also leak toxins into the water they contain? In contrast, the water from the “fontanelle” is some of the cleanest and freshest you’ll ever taste, and in many cases is delivered via repaired or rebuilt aqueducts. So when in Rome, do as the Romans have always done! When dining out, specify that you’d like a carafe of tap water–acqua del rubinetto–rather than bottled. Save your money, and a tiny piece of the planet.

Do: Shop Vintage
As if you needed an excuse! Via del governo Vecchio is filled with independent clothing and antique shops, or check out the mercatino dell’usato, which has vintage everything–clothes, shoes, accessories, furniture, books, collectibles, and more. You may have to do some digging to find what you’re looking for, but the Mercatino has an outdoor café where you can take a coffee break and recharge. Via Sebastiano Grandis, 7. open daily, 9:30am–7:30pm.

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