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Hi everybody.have been reading the forum and .this is my first posting. I would like some advice and recommendation for decent B&B or hotels which is convenient to train and to see the sites. This will be our first foray into Rome and I guess we are getting a bid bold in our old age as most of the time we have not ventured beyond the safety of group tour. Now my . husband (in his mid 60's) and I ( in my late 50')s will extend our stay for 3 days after the cruise to savour the magnificent offerings of the Vatican City ,Colloseum, Pantheon. I am interested in seeing the ceiling painting in the Sistine Chapel...Do I need to buy tickets for the Vatican Musuem to access Sistine Chapel and where can I book these tickets in advance so that we do not need to queue. And do I need to prebook guides.
Is it easy to get around on our own and be adventurous in taking trains and buses. What time does the public transport stop running and is it safe to move around at night. Are cabs expensive and do we need to bargain for the fare or is it by meter?
Besides the risk of being pick-pocketed, what else should we be aware of so that we do not get any surprises or get stranded anywhere.
Appreciate all the advice that will be given. Thanks.

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    We visited Rome twice in the last 3 years and both times, we stayed at the Hotel Quirinale. We love its location, the area is very safe and walking distance to a lot of attractions. The price is reasonable and the price included a full breakfast buffet.

    If you look at the map and see where the hotel is located, they are 2 blocks from the train station, 5 blocks from Trevi Fountain, two blocks from Piazza Republica and maybe 8 or 9 blocks from the Forum and the Coliseum, 2 metro stops (or above 10 blocks) from Spanish Steps.

    For the Vatican, I recommend hiring a private guide, and pay for a priority skip-the-line ticket. You will not maximize your time there or get as much out of the visit without the guide. You can join a small group tour or book the guides available through the Vatican web site. You can also approach your local TA for a tour company. Most likely, the will offer Viatour which is one of the largest tour company around.

    We took a cab from the Hotel to the Vatican at 6:45 am to be there by 7:30 am. The fare was only 15 euros as it was early in the morning and not too much traffic. After the tour, we took a cab to the Pantheon, had lunch at the café in front of the square, and took our time wandering the streets and slowly find out way back to the hotel by foot. We must have stopped at least a dozen times or more and look at various fountains and attractions.

    This is not a plug,. You should get the Fodors City guide for Rome to play to visit.

    We walked everywhere with the exception of to and from the Vatican as it is quite a distance away. By the way, do not waste time stopping and shop at the souvenir shop inside the Vatican Museum. Everything is available and at the same price at the official souvenir shop just outside the St. Peter's square.

    Here is a little hidden gem of a church not frequented by many tourist. The Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri is located right at the Piazza Republica.

    You should be able to google for everything I mentioned above. If you have any questions, just ask. Good luck!

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    On our second trip to Rome this past September(like you, we spent 3 nights in Rome after a cruise), we took an evening food tour with www.foodtoursofrome.com with Bruno as our guide and had a blast. Lots of wonderful food and a little history thrown in. We have used Context Rome for our tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's, and Daniella Hunt of www.rome-tours.com to see the Roman Forum and Colosseum. Would highly recommend all three if you are interested. The Borghese Gallery(with its stunning Bernini sculptures) was the highlight of our first trip to Rome. You need to reserve tickets ahead of time.

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    Thanks Eschew and Uma for your fast response. I have goggled and Viator's Skip the Line: Vatican Museums walking tour inc. Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Rooms and St Peter's Basilica is 3 hours only. I was under the impression that one needs at least the whole day in St Peter's alone as it is massive is and that Vatican museum needs to be done separately?. So should the Vatican museum, Sistine chapel and St Peter's be done on its own or it is ok to do all three at one go. So after the guided 3-hour tour, can we take our time to wander around or do we need to exit St Peter's where the tour ends. I hope you do not mind me asking this question as I am a bit confused.

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    We did our ContextRome tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica in 2006;I think the tour was 4 hours long. That was fine for us, especially as the crowds were pretty oppressive. The Pantheon is beautiful, and it's free! The Trevi Fountain is fun lit up at night. Piazza Navona is our favorite square. Made it to the Santa Maria della Vittoria church on our last visit to see Bernini's Ecstacy of St. Theresa sculpture--stunning piece and stunning church. We are Bernini fans. Spanish Steps area is always bustling. Make sure you eat lots of gelato!

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    There should be longer tours than 3 hours. I am quite sure we were there from 8 am to almost 1:30 pm with our guide and just went through the Vatican museum only (Sistine chapel is inside the Vatican museum). Once you exit the Vatican museum, you are right at St. Pete. St Pete is wide open and no tickets needed. Your ticket will allow you to go to the tower and to the crypt at St Pete. The line ups will be long though. We have never asked if the ticket is good for the day and there is re-entry privileges as we did not intend to return after our exit.

    I have been told that (in the Vatican Museum) if you spend only 1 minute in front of each exhibit, it will take more than 3 years ... so you will not be able to see everything. I think we spent a grand total of 30 minutes inside the Sistine chapel. There is no photography allowed within the chapel and since it is a chapel, they have security making sure people are "quiet" although I see it being very hard to enforce as you can always hear murmurs and noises throughout. When it got real loud, one of the security person will yell out "be quiet" :D breaking the silence ...

    It all depends on how much time you have. I know people who had spent a few days in the Vatican museum alone and felt they can spend more time there.

    Since you have 3 or 4 days in Rome and you have so many places to see, you have to budget your time. We left St. Pete's square about 2:30 pm and took a cab to Pantheon. We spent maybe half hour to 45 minutes inside the Pantheon. Check out the front door at the Pantheon while you are there.;)

    There are so many places to see that we have to prioritizes. As an example, we were at Trevi Fountain during the day on our first trip but never made it back at night. On our last trip (this summer), we made a decision that we had to get there at night. We left the fountain around 10 pm. There are plenty of places to eat around there so you can get there by 6 or 7, had dinner and enjoy the fountain. There are many Piazzas and fountains that we lost count. Everyone of them is so different and so gorgeous. The old buildings are also munificent.

    We walked past Il Vittoriano on our first trip and didn't have time to go in. On our second trip, we climbed the stairs, went inside, go to the Terrace etc. We did not return to Spanish Steps the second time around but it was good window shopping there.

    We also went through the Forum, the Coliseum, Capitoline Hill and Quirinale Hill on our first trip but did not return on our second trip.

    One way to cheat ... hire a private car/guide for a day and they will take you through to the more popular attractions, make a stop, go inside for 15 to 20 minutes or take picture from outside and move on. You will see lots but you won't get the most out of it. But if your intention is to see lots, that maybe the way to go. If you decide to do that, try RomeCab on their one day tour. But then, if you are staying at the Hotel Quirinale, you are walking distance to almost half of what they will show you.

    Although it is not in our plans now, but I am quite sure we will make it to Rome at least one more time, maybe in 3 to 5 years.

    By the way, I am not sure what price range you are looking for but all I can say is that Rome hotels are not cheap so be careful when you choose a place as you always get what you paid for.

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    Hi Eschew, that's the headache isn't it...Wanting to stay within the Square where pratically one is walking distance from the sights vs. RomeCab.
    Initially my plan was to hire a driver/guide from FCO, take us to the sights and then drop us off at Citi by 2pm, which means we must finish sightseeing by 12pm. This gives us a window of 5 hours for sightseeing in the morning. But after a thinking it through (overnight flight, tired) we decided to extend post cruise. Any ideas most welcomed regarding this 5-hour window.

    Appreciate another advice regarding how to utilise my time between arrival in Rome at 6am and my ship at Citi sailing at 5pm. Being on an overnight flight tires us so we intend to take it easy. What is the best way (besides the prohibitive taxi) from FCO to Citi. Once we are at Citi and if we can't board yet, what can we do and where can we go with luggage in tow. I intend to purchase the Omnia card which covers entry and skip the line at Vatican and free access to 2 other of the 5 top sights and discounted entries to others. Do you think this is a good idea.

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    We always slept right through the trans Atlantic flights and landed in Europe in the morning so we are actually more fresh than tired ;)

    Just want to make sure I get it right. You arrive at 6 am, and go straight to port, with ship depart at 5 pm.

    If that is the case, I wouldn't worry too much about finding things to do or anything like that.

    You plane lands at 6 am, get luggage, through custom and meet the driver of the limo, that would be 7 am or there about. Assuming there is some morning traffic, you should arrive at port around 10. You can board as early as 11, and noon at the very latest (unless they are scrubbing then it's bad news) so I would just stay at port and take it easy in the port's waiting room. Check in as soon as you can, get to cabin and freshen up, lunch and explore the ship.

    With luggage in tow, there really isn't much you can do. You can "bribe" the driver to drive past some sights but I would say it's a long shot as if you take a "shared" limo, he/she will drive around town picking up other passenegrs. By the way, we used Bob's Limo and their rate is very reasonable.

    Below is a link to our Trip report posted here from this past summer's East Med cruise. The first few posts have to do with our arrival at Rome, the hotel and transportation. You might find it amsuing ... http://www.fodors.com/community/cruises/eastern-mediterranean-and-grrek-isles.cfm

    If you ask me, extend post cruise is a good choice. However, my preference would be extend pre-cruise instead. You have less chance of missing the boat. Although we have done it several times, we hate arriving and going to ship same day. We always try to be there at least one day earlier, if not even more, especially on winter months. Sometimes, it's just too much stress. What happens if we miss a connection? What happens if the weather is bad? etc. etc. :(

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