Annett is a tour guide in Rome. As a "German Roman", she offers numerous tours. Over a delicious aperitivo at Enoteca Divin Ostilia, she reveals what you can experience with her, what brought her to Rome, and how to get through Roman life as a tourist in a relaxed way.
Annett offers tours in Rome under the name of Deutsche Romerin.
Annett, as a "German Roman" you offer your own Rome tours since March 2015, what can one experience with you??
Everything. You can book everything with me. There are people who book with me for example five days, then I put together a program for them. That means strolling through the small streets, giving tips on how to behave or what to do in the evening … Or the classic tours of the Colosseum, the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica.
Just had a group with whom I rented several Fiat 500 and then we drove around in these cars for five hours. Or we make a Vespa tour, where we are passengers, there you have a lot of fun. I do this together with a German colleague. We pick up the people at the hotel and off we go.
You can also rent a Vespa by yourself, but since Rome's traffic is so chaotic, it's much more relaxing to ride along. We have our drivers, you sit in the back and then we go to the Orange Garden or up to the Gianicolo, to the Pantheon or look at the street art in Testaccio. With the Vespa you can do so much in Rome in three hours. Besides, you can park your Vespa anywhere, which is world class.
I organize horse carriage tours, Segway tours, tours of Piazza Navona, tours to Tivoli … and also big events for companies.
I also work for agencies in Rome and now also offer Rome in a day for cruisers.
My own tours are in German. The local agencies ask me in English. Under the name Rome-for-Kids I also do private tours for children, also in English.
You are married to a Roman you met on Santo Domingo.
I really needed a break from my job as a hotel manager at that time and I met my current husband the last night on Santo Domingo. He was there for a dental congress and didn't speak a word of English and I didn't speak a word of Italian. We quickly exchanged phone numbers and he invited me to visit him in Rome.
We texted each other and got to know each other through the news. He had a friend who could translate in English, I translated word by word in the dictionary. He came to Frankfurt, I came to Rome, we did that for half a year and then at some point I said to my boss, that's it, I'm moving to Italy now.
He gave me six weeks and said that I could come back if I didn't like it. I put all my eggs in one basket and stayed.
I thought I would definitely find something in the hotel business. In Germany I had many job offers, but in Italy it was impossible for me to find a job. I couldn't imagine how difficult it would be in Italy, I thought it would be like finding a job in Germany, we are here in Europe.
I attended a language school and sent over 60 applications to hotels. Not one hotel wrote me back. Headhunters called me from Germany and offered me director positions. But I wanted to stay here and at some point I went from bar to bar and asked if they were looking for waiters. I found a pub that took me for five euros an hour. I knew that I would be the last link in the chain, but I really wanted to work.
Since I had worked constantly at night, my husband and I hardly saw each other anymore. On New Year's Eve there was a huge fight and we decided to separate. Then I found out: I am pregnant. And so we got back together and now I've been living in Rome for 11 years and we have two boys.
You offer your tours mainly for Germans. Which question do you hear most often from German tourists??
Whether I miss Germany.
I do not. For me it would be very difficult to go back to Germany.
I like Italy. I like parking in the second row, I like the chaos in the city. I bought a Vespa and with the Vespa you suddenly belong, you are part of the whole thing. I'm not afraid of the Roman traffic, I understand it. You just have to go with the flow.
I know everyone in the Colosseum. The policemen say to me "Nice, when are we going to do aperitivo again?". This would never happen to me in Germany, that I get so warm with a policeman.
I just feel at home in Rome.
You are constantly in contact with people who come to Rome for the first time. What are tourists most afraid of??
Pickpockets and tourist traps.
Is that justified?
Yes. 95 percent of the people in Rome are great people. 5 percent already try to rip you off. A good example were the gladiators in front of the Colosseum. A big part of them took great pictures and got paid for it, a small part of them ripped off the tourists – that's why all of them had to leave then. But now they are back.
But if you follow a few rules as a tourist, you can get along just fine in Rome.
What do you recommend?
For example, I always recommend going down a side street if you want to eat or drink something. Sure, if you want to sit in Piazza Navona, you pay 10 euros for a bad Aperol Spritz, but you sit there because you want to enjoy it. But the nice places to eat are two or three streets away.
Never listen to recommendations in the restaurant. If it's on the menu as a special, you can order it, but if the waiter says, today I recommend this and that, I wouldn't necessarily follow that, but choose something from the menu. Otherwise these are things that have to go or wines are sold that are expensive or no one drinks.
Also important is to control the bill. Often there are a few euros more – but that also happens with the locals. The Romans never check the bill and always do everything "alla romana". That is, 10 people go out to eat together and then the bill comes and everything is divided by the 10 people, no one checks if the bill is correct.
What else should you watch out for?
Never take illegal cabs, always go to the official cab stands! Also ask beforehand: How much is it round about to the Vatican? Because otherwise it can happen that any detours are driven and it then of course costs more.
In restaurants, in any case, read the menu beforehand and pay attention to whether, for example, there is a service charge or how much is charged for bread and place settings. If it wasn't there, it can't be on the bill and you can make a fuss and in the worst case threaten to call the police.
Rome has many places of interest. Which do all visitors want to see?
The Colosseum and the Vatican.
We have such beautiful museums in Rome, there is no one in them … The Sistine Chapel is always crowded and they just chase the groups through.
Tip: Pre-order tickets and go in on your own or hire a private tour guide to explain the things that interest you. In museums I recommend an audio guide.
When strolling through the city and certain churches or the Colosseum and the Palatine, but you should definitely take a tour, which is too confusing even with audio guide. We guides take people to cool places and show things you don't normally see. You should look to find a small tour, with a maximum of 12-13 people.
You know a lot about the history of Rome. What is your favorite story from history?
There are many fascinating stories in this city. I am for example a big fan of the antiquity. But there are many exciting things to tell that no one knows: for example, how Italy reunited, even with the pope stories, many don't know that they were rich families, that it was about power, how the popes hated each other ..
I like the details and the hidden corners, I like to excite people. I tell people "take a course" and if it's not a huge group, but if you are walking in pairs, dare to ask if you can have a look in the backyards. You discover the most amazing things, an old water clock, an old statue… You can't go wrong in Rome.
I also have a passion for artists like Caravaggio, Michelangelo or lesser known artists like Benvenuto Cellini who lived at Castel Sant'Angelo. I am interested in how they got along with the popes and how they lived.
In addition, I am fascinated by the mysteries of the Vatican, the cults of religions, the mechanism of the company church … Rome is unfathomable and in Rome I find at every corner something special.
On my tours people have to join in. I ask a lot of questions so that everyone can do something with it. With kids I always try to get them involved. I want them to understand the history, we put ourselves in the time, what was it like back then, what mechanisms were there, what tools did they have, so they can remember that too. A story should be lived. There are many families who book me and afterwards the parents say, gosh, my kids are finally listening for three hours.
I also sometimes talk about Hollywood movies to make the connection. I adjust to the group and see what fits. If you are traveling in a group, you want to have a good time. That's why we sometimes get an ice cream or sit down for a break in the shade. I want to connect, I also like to know what people are doing. I don't want to get rich, I don't want to build an agency just to sell big dumb tours. With me everything should be possible and that's what I want to express with my name.
You know many historical places in Rome and you travel there every day. Where is your favorite place in Rome?
I love to be at the fountain in Monti in the evening. And the wine bar here of Stefano, is quasi my second residence. Here I also meet my guide colleagues and sometimes we go around the corner to Monti and there we sit at the fountain and chat until three in the morning. This is what I associate with summer.
The wine bar is great. Stefano makes a lot of little things like bruschette that you can't get anywhere else. With avocado and scamorza, truffle and mozzarella, guanciale … It's super nice here and even though we're so close to the Colosseum it has good prices.
But I also love to just sit on my balcony and drink an Aperol Spritz