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A different kind of Italy trip report

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Since so many people have been to Rome, Florence and Milan, I won't bore you with a turn-by-turn trip report. But instead I'll state the things that's a little unexpected from this traveller. [I've been to Europe quite a few times, but first time in Italy since 1981.]

Rome:

- Leonardo Express leaves the airport at :05 and :35. Not :07 & :37 like some guides suggested. I ran and arrived at :06 and the train just left. [Also, same price if bought at the official Trenitalia counter or the "365" agent.] The ticket needs to be validated. I didn't validate mine, and could have resold it to someone else, I believe.

- The Leonardo Express arrives at a platform on the side of Termini that's very far away from the main entrance and Metro. But there are peoplemovers in the lower level. Just follow the signs.

- Buses and subways don't run on Christmas Day. Except the #110 tourist bus - many locals were riding it on 12/25. Long lines at taxi stand outside Termini. [Our hotel is close to the train station, so it wasn't an issue.]

- If you're taking the Metro to the Vatican Museum in the morning, don't use the Cipro stop, as suggested. It's because the end of the musuem line winds around the Vatican towards the east, and Ottaviano should be closer to the end of the lineup. [Unless you go really really early.]

- To go to Tivoli, take the Cotral bus at the P. Mammolo subway. Some books/sites say Rebibbia, but the actual bus terminal is on top of P. Mammolo. One-way is 1.60 Euro to Tivoli.

- The major art works in churches and cathedrals are lighted with a timer. Some take 50-Euro cent coins, and last for about 1 minute or slightly more. Have coins ready if you don't want to wait for other people to pay. Other churches have just a switch and you can put whatever donation or none - but I don't know if you'll end up in hell if you don't pay.

- Fodorite "yk" gave me the Rick Steve guide, and in general I hated it. But two tips of his are indeed excellent. I used one and regretted not using the other:

i. Exit the Sistine Chapel via the "tour group" door. Save a lot of walk to St. Peter's. Unless you need to return the audio guide, then you're out of luck.

ii. Get the Colosseum ticket at Palatine Hill. When we got to the Colosseum, the line outside didn't look that long, so we didn't use this tip. Big mistake. Listen to Rick Steve.

- Borghese Gallery is really really worth going. I love the reservation system. Worked very well, and the museum is not crowded at all, especially if you visit the Pinacoteca first. And two hours is indeed enough time. Rick Steve says 1.5 hours on main floor and 0.5 in the Pinacoteca. We found that 1.25 and .75 is fine too. And coming down from the Pinacoteca, one doesn't need to get out of the building and walk around anymore. We took the 970 bus from Termini and its stop is much closer than the Spagna Metro.

- Chinese food is cheap in Rome (and in Italy in general), compared to other European cities. A meat dish is about 5 Euros, veggies 3 Euros.

(TrenItalia, Florence, Milan to come...)

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