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Seeking advice for Rome and Italy

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I am helping friends plan trip and seek advice:

Flying to Rome Oct. 12; plan to spend a few days in Rome and considering taking six night tour of Northern Italy through Italiatours.com (Florence, Venice and Como.

Anyone has experiece, good or bad, with Italiatours.com?

What area or areas in Rome would be best to stay. By best I mean comfortable for seeing the tourist sites and be safe. I am uncomfortable about staying in the Termini area. i had thought of staying in the Vatican City area. I am trying to keep the costs between $100 to $150 and there seems to be nice places in that range (Holiday Inn, Quality Inn among others. I might try priceline, maybe. I have had terrific success in the US but priceline lumps all of central Rome in one area and, as stated, jittery of being around the train station. They do offer bidding in the Vatican City area. All suggestions and comments welcome.

How much are cabs? My friends can walk some but trudging all over Rome is simply too much stress on bad feet (they are about 60) and cabs and metro lines will be used.

Thanks to anyone who takes the time to respond.

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