Back from Rome - some observations

Apr 4th, 2002, 06:54 PM
  #1  
Jane
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Back from Rome - some observations

Hey all,

My husband and I just got back from a week-long trip to Rome and Venice. The trip turned out great, thanks to a large extent to all the info/suggestions I received from this site. Below is the very short report from out trip with some tips that I hope might be helpful to people traveling to these cities for the first time.

Rome
We spent 5 days here and it was enough to see al the major sites but not enough to explore more residential areas of Rome. Before the trip, we debated whether 5 days in Rome was too much; well, it really isn’t if you don’t want to rush through the sites.

We stayed in Residenza San Pantaleo. It is in the incredible location, right off Piazza Navona, 10-min walk to Pantheon; 20-min walk to Coliseum and Roman Forum; and 20-min walk to Vatican. Our room was on the courtyard side so it was really quiet at night. The area around could be noisy so if you book there, ask for a room on a quieter side. Our room even had a little balcony. The price was E99 per night, which was very good for the area. They fill up early (there are only five rooms) so you need to book in advance.

Sites:
The highlight of our time in Rome was the visit to Ostia Antica. It is a very well preserved port town with building dating to 1-4 century AD. Ostia is a 40-min subway ride from Termini Station and there are few tourists there. The leisurely walk through Ostia took us 2 hours; we walked through the underground passages, climbed up the stairs leading to the apartments and down to the remains of baths.

Other, more unusual things we liked, was the visit to the Cappuchin (sp?) Crypt, on a way to Villa Borghese, where a monk created art compositions from the bones of 4,000 Capuchin monks. Have to see it to believe it. Also, Palazzo Quirinalle, the present home of Italian Prime Minister and, previously, home to many popes, is worth a trip. The first and second floors are a succession of lavishly decorated rooms from 16-18th century. On the first floor, there is also a small museum, housing old frescos and books. When we were there, there was a female singing group performing church music. It is only open on Sunday mornings (9 to 1).

Some observations from our time in Rome:
--There is a lot of traffic in Rome (we are from NYC so we know traffic) and not any areas are restricted to pedestrians. The worst are motorbikes which occasionally drive on sidewalk and on all narrow streets, which we originally thought, were safe. You also need to cross the street with determination; they do stop once they see you crossing.
-- Read beforehand about current political situation in Italy. While we were there, one of the biggest unions organized a huge rally protesting the new employment bill. While we generally knew what was going on, it would have been helpful if we knew a little better what to expect. Police with their shields and thousands of people waving flags with sickle and hammer did not make for a pleasant stroll that day.
-- Tours: we only took one tour while in Rome, a three-hour walk through the historic center with stops in Pantheon, .Roman Form, and near Coliseum. It was organized by Enjoy Rome. The tour was sufficient for our needs. There were also 30 people in the tour. It did give us a good foundation and familiarized us with the center of the city. We went back to each of the sites we visited on the tour because the tour really breezed through them. We did not have any other tours and I did not feel it was necessary. The only place where tour might have been helpful was Vatican.
 
Apr 4th, 2002, 07:04 PM
  #2  
Pat
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Jane,

We are leaving for Rome later this month. Also, staying at San Pantaleo. Did you visit Nero's Golden House? any other tips, suggestions? thanks
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 05:51 AM
  #3  
Mashel
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Jane,

thanks so much for the info. my husband and i are headed out to florence, venice, and rome tommorrow... fingers crossed. we are flying from London to Venice, then training it the rest of the way. I will fill everybody in when we get back. thanks for teh great tips regarding rome - you mentioned you were also in venice- any tips??
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 06:11 AM
  #4  
ellen
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I was in Rome for 7 days and didn't even see the things you mentioned - Ostia Antica, crypt, Quirinale, because I didn't get a chance - busy seeing other things. Just goes to show how much there is to see in Rome.
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 06:28 AM
  #5  
Kat
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Jane

My family and I are going to Rome in July - staying at the Residenza San Pantaleo. Did you use the car service they arrange to get from airport to hotel? If so, were you satisfied? Also what does the breakfast there consist of? I'll have 2 hungry sons with me, so I'm curious.

Thanks - Kat
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 09:14 AM
  #6  
Sandi
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Kat,

I thought I would answer your question about transport to the San Pantaleo as I have just returned from a stay there myself. If you have minimal luggage and don't mind public transportation, it is very easy to take the Leonardo Express train (twice/hourly) from the airport to the Termini station, about 8 Euros. When you arrive to Termini it is quite a hike but with a lot of moving sidewalks (and signs overhead to guide you in English), to get to the "main terminal" and then outside to the many waiting public busses. To get to the Residenza San Pantaleo get on bus #64 and it will take you directly there, for about 75 cents. Get the bus ticket inside Termini at a Tabachi shop or newstand. They are easy to spot with a big "T" sign in front.

I'm sorry I can't remember the name of the main street that the bus travels on to take you directly in front of the RSP, but the ride was about 10-15 minutes and I got off when I saw the McDonalds on the right side of the street, walked ahead one block further, and there was the very small San Pantaleo Piazza. The RSP is inside the building with the *huge* wooden doors, there is a small sign on the plaque outside listing the RSP. I would get off the bus when I saw the McDonalds because it was the easiest thing I could recognize out the window on the sometimes crowded bus.

You could also take a taxi from Termini to the RSP, it cost me 7 Euros on my first day. Then I learned about the bus and took the bus from then on between the RSP and Termini and vice versa.

There are lots of busses waiting but they all have signs next to where they park listing the numbers and routes, and the bus itself has the route number and the final destination of the route on the sign in front on top. Bus #64 says "San Pietro" when it is parked at Termini and it says "Termini" when you catch it at the RSP.

Hope this helps. If expense is not that big of a factor for you, then the limo service is probably worth it.

About breakfast, I only partook of this one day out of the seven I was there. They don't serve it until 8:30 and I was usually out the door by 7:00 or earlier. But the day I did have it, there was coffee, juice, yogurt, and a "plum cake". It was satisfying to me. But there are lots of cafes along the streets where you can pick up various pastrys and bottled fruit juice/soda and coffee.

May I mention my favorite experience while in Rome? It was actually not in my original plans... but I'm glad it happened. On a Sunday afternoon I found myself sitting on a bench outside the St. Giovanni Laterno church having a lunch/guidebook reading break. I read about the Via Appia Antica being especially nice to visit on Sundays with no vehicular traffic. So I hopped on a bus to get there and found myself a bicycle rental shop. I rode for a couple hours, quite a long way, and it was a very pleasant day, about 70 degrees, sunny. I loved riding along seeing the aquaduct ruins in the fields and the remains of ancient tombs. The weather played a big role in this, I know. But it really was my favorite part of the trip. Second choice would be my time spent at the Vatican.

Sandi
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 11:03 AM
  #7  
Kat
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Sandi-

Thanks for all the info. I'm leaning toward the limo because we'll be travelling over 12 hours by the time we arrive in Rome (with a cranky 14yrold. and 10yr.old - I'll probably be cranky too!).

I appreciate the breakfast menu. I was concerned by boys wouldn't find anything of interest, but it sounds like I needn't worry.

Thanks again.

Kat
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 11:18 AM
  #8  
Sandi
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Kat,

I forgot that you were traveling with children. It makes a lot of sense to take the limo service then. Besides the hassle of making sure the kids aren't straggling when getting to the train and bus, it might be less costly also.

Sandi
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 03:58 PM
  #9  
Chris
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My husband and I will be in Rome in July with our four children (6, 10, 12, 13). Would you reccomend this hotel (RSP) for our situation? Any other suggestions for places in Italy? Thanks in advance!
 
Apr 7th, 2002, 10:43 AM
  #10  
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