What are quirky local customs in Rome?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Angela Corrias

Along with centuries of emperors, battles and conquests, Rome has piled up also a decent number of quirky customs. Always the first one that comes to my mind when I'm asked this question, and probably my very favorite, is that still now, after 2000 years, Romans bring fresh flowers to the place where Julius Ceasar was cremated in the Roman Forum, showing a great pride for their imperial past.

This pride goes also to their river, and Romans never miss the occasion to show that too, even when it's freezing, like for New Year, when a man plunges into the Tiber. Maurizio Palmulli, 60, has been doing this for 25 years, and this year it seems he announced it was the last time. But don't worry, there is already someone ready to replace him in this uncommon adventure.

Another custom I have seen only in Rome is the so-called “pastarelle” (pastries) on Sunday: every Sunday morning Roman families go to the pastry shop, usually the one close to their house, and buy pastries, cakes and cookies for the day.

A custom I particularly like is Romans' love for cats. Actually Rome is considered the “cat's capital” as there are many alley cats everywhere and are very much cherished and protected by the council itself. This started long time ago with aged women taking care of the cats living in their street and evolved with young women who today organize proper cats' “colonies” and look after the beloved felines. There are cats' colonies all over Rome, but probably the most famous is the one in Largo Argentina, with some 200 cats living there spoiled and very much looked after, to the extent that if someone wants to adopt one of them, the organizers will run thorough checks on the family to make sure they are fit for cats' adoption.

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