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Penguin

Help me plan our trip to Rome, please :)

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We are working on a plan to visit Rome in November. We will fly in and out of Rome, and stay about a week.

 

We are Catholic, so the Vatican is a must.

 

Ancient Rome? Bring it on! DS studies (and loves) Latin. We are studying the Ancients this year. It is hard to sift through the options. We want to see it all :)

 

I would also like to see Florence. What do you think about going to Florence as a day trip? There is a high speed train that takes 1.5 hours. The appeal of this is not having to shuffle in and out of lodging. I would prefer to plop ourselves in one place for the week.

 

Any thoughts on which area to stay in? I will be trying to find an apartment.

ETA: Any thoughts on staying near the Pantheon?

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We stayed in an Airbnb near St Peters. It was a nice location. Be prepared to walk miles and miles and miles and plan your shoes accordingly. All the sights are worth a visit, and drink and eat as much as you can afford to because it's all so good. We bought fresh pasta and pesto for dinner from a Carrefoure (supermarket) as well as great bread and Parma ham and cheese and salami for sandwiches on the go to make the budget stretch. We didn't go to Florence this time but did take a train to Naples and it was fine, though it may help that I'm European and have traveled on trains a ton. My husband was a bit more overwhelmed. One nice thing is kids under 18 get into many places free, such as the colosseum. You need proof of age, though. It used to be only EU passport holders, but they've now included everyone under 18. Oh, and send a postcard or three from the Vatican post office (not the trailer in the square) and get your passport stamped. Have fun planning!

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We found Rick Steves guides really helpful and planned our trip from his recommendations. We did Venice, Florence and Rome over two weeks but I don't think it would be worth doing a day trip to Florence. There is plenty to see and do around Rome.

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I will add a few things that might help:

 

We live in Scandinavia, so plenty of experience traveling through Europe using trains.

Experience in Italy: We have stayed in Venice, DH has been to Milan for work several times.

 

Plan A is a daytrip to Florence, but Plan B could include an overnight in Florence. Plan C would save Florence for another time.

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We did an Airbnb as well. It was great. We ate out a lot, but it was nice to have the kitchen and the space.

 

Rick Steves was very helpful.

 

Be sure to go to the top of St. Peter's.

 

Trevi fountain was closed for renovation when we were there, and it looks like it is supposed to reopen this fall sometime. Maybe.

 

I loved walking around and ducking into churches (and I'm not a believer). So, so beautiful. It was moving seeing all the foreign nuns and priests and monks get emotional at St. Peter's. Have appropriate clothing for the churches (though I only saw them be picky at St. Peter's). I wore skirts and carried a wrap for my shoulders if my top was sleeveless. One church I ducked into handed out funny leg covers if people were in shorts, but that was unusual.

 

Crossing streets is scary.

 

Be sure and walk around at night or take a night tour.

 

We actually flew into Venice and took a train to Rome, spent a few days there, and then went back to Venice for a couple of days.

 

People dress nicely in Rome. The older women are stunning with no sweatpants to be seen! Tourists are often more dowdy, but it's a good time to invest in some comfortable black pants or skirts and a pretty scarf or wrap. I bought some GoWalk shoes since I didn't want to wear sneakers and they were wonderful. You will walk miles every day, so pick something comfortable.

 

I know many decades ago teen girls reported being hassled, and I was worried about taking my lovely blond 13yo daughter. She was ignored, but I (at 49) was respectfully checked out. Rome men rock. Just saying!

 

We read a lot about pickpockets but didn't see any. YMMV.

 

Have a great time! I want to go back.

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Rick Steves has a guide that's really good. 

 

You can see more in Rome in a day than you think.  We went in June and only had lines in a few places. 

 

I made a plan by the day and chose things that were sort of close to each other, or on the way to another thing we wanted to see.  That's just how I plan, but it worked especially well in Rome.  I listed the daily itinerary along with the page notations in our RS guide.   It worked really well for my 80 year old dad- but your son would love this because he could be the one in charge of reading the info to you guys before arriving at each place. 

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We like to stay in family friendly hostels or small budget hotels in convenient areas... In Rome we stayed at the beehive hotel, which was awesome -- http://www.the-beehive.com. In Florence, we stayed at Hotel Ester. In Pompeii, we stayed at Agora hostel deluxe. All were great.

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ETA: Any thoughts on staying near the Pantheon?

We stayed near the Pantheon.  Terrific location.

 

We took a day trip to Pompeii.  Absolutely fascinating. 

 

Another vote for Rick Steves.  I highly recommend his (they were free 4 years ago) audio tours.  We downloaded mp3 files, but there are apps now.  Check his website.  Very informative while touring the popular sites.

 

Highly recommend buying tickets online ahead of time for the Vatican museum.  The line was lllllllllooooonnnnnnnggggggg. But, we went right on in.

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I've never been there. But my stepson and daughter-in-law are celebrating their 25th anniversary in Italy, and I am enjoying dear d-i-l's Facebook posts as she shares all that they are doing. I know they did a ton of planning. Except for the lost luggage at the beginning of the trip, things have gone very well. 

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We went with a group in 2009. We loved all four basilicas (St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls) and also the Pantheon, the Roman ruins, and the catacombs! Don't miss those. We went to the catacombs of St. Callixtus. Also, Soprani's is a store near St. Peter's Basilica that sells inexpensive religious items.

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A few tips -

 

Book all your tickets online and in advance.  Saves waiting in long lines!  Almost everything is available to book ahead of time.

 

Pizza is sold by the weight not the slice  - very important to know ahead of time!

 

We rented a car and drove to Florence because we wanted to go to Vinci afterwards to see Leonardo's birthplace and the museum there.

 

Florence in a day is doable if you just want to hit the highlights. 

 

GOOD walking shoes are a must.

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GOOD walking shoes are a must.

 

Definitely.  That trip remains as my record holder for Fitbit steps- in one day I logged more than 25,000 steps AND 50 flights of stairs.    

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A few tips -

 

Book all your tickets online and in advance. Saves waiting in long lines! Almost everything is available to book ahead of time.

Definitely! I remember walking past a whole block of queuing people to enter the Vatican museum because I'd booked ahead.

 

Use tripadvisor for places to go, etc... Also, the public transportation system is decent, so use trains, buses and subways when possible.

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We went to Rome with our 4 kids in 2014. We stayed here https://www.expedia.com/Rome-Hotels-Trianon-Borgo-Pio.h1443366.Hotel-Information?rm1=a2:c8:c11:c15:c17&hashTag=overview&c=0f1f8974-a4cc-4889-a137-8a1ea8192a80&&rfrr=ALL.Itin.Booked.HOTname&logout=1

 

The apartment is on a tiny street with a courtyard across the street. It is located in Vatican city and was a 3 bedroom apartment with a kitchen. We booked thorugh Expedia and it was very smooth, but I'm sure you don't have to. We walked to the Vatican. You could see it lit up from our apartment. lots ot see there. Saint Peter's is amazing and I don't have time..but google how to get (the Wed? ) Pope audience tickets. You apply here and pick them up at a certain time at a different church there. Its outdoor and quite wonderful.

 

A local grocery was within walking distance(coblestone streets full of shops) and we would pick up pizza(required) and pasta , ect to cook, we had one or two meals out...too expensive on a daily basis. We did get to know the gelato shop guy pretty well.It was a fantastic space at a very reasonable price. You can take the bus to all of the other sites ..but since one of my daughters' had hyperextended her knee, we took a cab everywhere. Bring the buisness card of wherever you stay to give to the cab driver. Most people we ran into didn't speak English and we knew very little Italian. It was not too far from the ancient sights. I haven't had enough coffee to hink of specifics. It still worked . Book early in taking train to Venice! The price increses sharply. hth!

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Also , you can bookonline from your apartment or hotel if there is wifi. Just bring your info with you. We didn't want to have everything booked..for specific days, but had a list of places to go ( we weren't sure of how my daughter's leg would deal with everyhting). I think there is a pass that gets you into three or four of the sights in the ancient part of the city that was very reasonable. Trip advisor and expedia reviews were invaluable..

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There is one Guide Book that you must purchase, and do it now.  City Secrets of Rome.  

 

It isn't a normal guidebook that talks about hotels and restaurants.  They asked the local experts, people like an Art History Professor in Rome, "What do you show visitors and what do you tell them?'  

 

Rome is littered with really cool things that are just out in public.   There are some other things that you can see by appointment if you ask ahead of time, and know enough to ask.  Although the book has been out for awhile.   For example, maybe the Vatican has tired of showing people the collection of marble penises that had been knocked off the statues.  

 

--------

 

Some interesting Vatican tidbits, unrelated to the book I mentioned.  All those Roman statues that are there?   At one time people would take down the marble statues and burn them in order to make plaster.   Apparently marble makes a high quality plaster.  The pope saw that and took the statues.   

 

I don't know if the next two things are true.  They were told to me by a Roman native.   Romans had a saying, "The Pope took what the barbarians left".   The story is that the Vatican yanked out the copper pipes from the Colosseum to make that giant copper arch-thing.  I forget its proper name. He also said that many homes built in a certain time period have an entryway that is one solid slab of marble, and that the marble was pulled from the Colosseum.  Entryways were sized to match the marble.  

 

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There is one Guide Book that you must purchase, and do it now.  City Secrets of Rome.  

 

It isn't a normal guidebook that talks about hotels and restaurants.  They asked the local experts, people like an Art History Professor in Rome, "What do you show visitors and what do you tell them?'  

 

Rome is littered with really cool things that are just out in public.   There are some other things that you can see by appointment if you ask ahead of time, and know enough to ask.  Although the book has been out for awhile.   For example, maybe the Vatican has tired of showing people the collection of marble penises that had been knocked off the statues.  

 

--------

 

Some interesting Vatican tidbits, unrelated to the book I mentioned.  All those Roman statues that are there?   At one time people would take down the marble statues and burn them in order to make plaster.   Apparently marble makes a high quality plaster.  The pope saw that and took the statues.   

 

I don't know if the next two things are true.  They were told to me by a Roman native.   Romans had a saying, "The Pope took what the barbarians left".   The story is that the Vatican yanked out the copper pipes from the Colosseum to make that giant copper arch-thing.  I forget its proper name. He also said that many homes built in a certain time period have an entryway that is one solid slab of marble, and that the marble was pulled from the Colosseum.  Entryways were sized to match the marble.  

shawthorne44:  Is this the right book?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/City-Secrets-Rome-Robert-Kahn/dp/0983079501/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443782362&sr=8-1&keywords=city+secrets+of+rome

 

Or is it this one?  I just took this one from the library:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Rome-Jonglez-Publishing/dp/2361950758/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1443782428&sr=1-1&keywords=secret+rome

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Why Rome was my best vacation ever: The tourist stuff was either free or very cheap, which left plenty of money for gelato.  Try it all. 

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Thanks to everyone who helped me plan this trip. We ended up staying in a great apartment near the Pantheon. Compared to lodging prices in other major European cities (especially Venice) the apartment was very reasonably priced.

 

The only drawback I can think of is that the location is not near a metro stop. That didn't bother us, though. We walked everywhere and only took the metro the day that we went to Ostia Antica - a side trip that I highly recommend. I don't know what it is like in the summer, but it was very quiet and peaceful the day that we were there.

 

The weather was perfect and people were friendly. Crowds were fairly light at the tourist attractions.

 

We made a day trip to Florence, and went to both the Uffizi art museum and the Galleria (home of Michelangelo's David). My DH likes to go to the tops of buildings. I don't, but I am usually nice enough to do it with him. LOL so I have climbed loads of narrow staircases and been on plenty of scary elevators in my time. But getting to the top of Brunelleschi's dome was grueling!

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Okay - we are considering breaking the bank and going to Rome this summer.

 

I know that costs vary depending on accomdations, etc, but could you give me a ballpark figure on how much a trip for four adults (our family of four) leaving from NYC would costs for a ten day trip. And how you found the best prices...

 

Hotel?

Airfare?

Etc?

 

Thanks.

Myra

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Okay - we are considering breaking the bank and going to Rome this summer.

 

I know that costs vary depending on accomdations, etc, but could you give me a ballpark figure on how much a trip for four adults (our family of four) leaving from NYC would costs for a ten day trip. And how you found the best prices...

 

Hotel?

Airfare?

Etc?

 

Thanks.

Myra

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My husband wrote his dissertation on Second Temple synagogues. We went to Ostia to see the ruins of one of them. It was a neat experience! I have never heard of anyone else going there so I had to smile when you mentioned it.☺

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Everything Cammie said plus Rick Steves - don't leave home without him, ahem, I mean the book!

 

Our Iceland guide helped us so much, and Paris, I carried the guidebook in my bag because the maps showing metro stops was invaluable and all of our dining experiences were good and fell within our budget due to his great info.

 

We bought our breakfast and lunch foods from Carrefoure and it helped the budget a lot. My sister and I could share salads, a bit of cheese, and a gluten free granola bar after having a boiled egg, some cheese, and a bit of fruit in the morning, and it worked out well for a late supper after walking, walking, walking.

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My husband wrote his dissertation on Second Temple synagogues. We went to Ostia to see the ruins of one of them. It was a neat experience! I have never heard of anyone else going there so I had to smile when you mentioned it.☺

We received some sad family news while on the train heading to Ostia Antica, so our time there was a bit surreal. In retrospect, it was the perfect place to be at that moment. We were able to walk around in serenity and process the news. It really has a peaceful, ancient feel to it. Again, it might be different in the summer. We practically had the place to ourselves.

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Okay - we are considering breaking the bank and going to Rome this summer.

 

I know that costs vary depending on accomdations, etc, but could you give me a ballpark figure on how much a trip for four adults (our family of four) leaving from NYC would costs for a ten day trip. And how you found the best prices...

 

Hotel?

Airfare?

Etc?

 

Thanks.

Myra

Myra, the apartment we stayed in was huge and would easily accomodate four persons. We had a full kitchen with a grocery store nearby. You can PM me if you want the name of it. I think having an apartment with kitchen facilities vs. two hotel rooms saves a lot of money.

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