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Back from Rome/Venice; happy to return the favor on advice!

Back from Rome/Venice; happy to return the favor on advice!

Old Mar 27th, 2000, 07:05 AM
  #1  
Mary
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Back from Rome/Venice; happy to return the favor on advice!

First, I wanted to thank everyone for all the helpful advice for our trip to Rome and Venice; we utilized all of your wisdom and our trip was fabulous. I will note some observations and will be happy to answer specific questions.

First, Rome is packed--the Jubilee is really starting to hit and most of the tourists we saw were Italian. This is not to deter you, but merely to caution you to make good plans and if you plan on going to the Vatican, I can only say remain flexible! We were told by several people that as Holy Week approaches, the Vatican Museums and the Basilica will be closed as the Pope celebrates different occasions. We did see the Pope at his open air Mass on the Sunday before he went to the Middle East (it was incredible, there were at least 50,000 people there) and, just as an example, they would not open the Basilica until the Piazza had been cleared which took until 4:00 p.m. Also, during that time the Vatican Museums were closed so you should definitely try and figure out if the Museum/St. Peter's are open before you trek over there. All over Rome there are Jubilee volunteers wearing blue smocks; they are mostly accurate in their information and speak enough English and they all have the official Vatican calendar of closings.

As for seeing the Sistine Chapel, we took the advice of several people on the forum got there early (when we got there at 8:00 for the 8:45 opening there were at least 200 people in line already)and went straight for the Chapel--totally worth it--there were maybe 15 other people there; we then went out and reentered to see the Raphael Rooms--by the time we got back there and had to reenter the Sistine Chapel to exit, you could no longer cross the floor of the Chapel--it was literally wall-to-wall people. The audio tour is excellent. You will read in some guidebooks about alternate routes in the Vatican Museums--there is now only one way to go and I have to tell you that our trip back through to see the Raphael Rooms was not very fun--I live in a city and I am used to crowds but this was incredible. Don't mean to be negative--the Chapel is spectacular--just really plan so you don't spend hours there!

Want to second, third, etc. the recommendation for Scale Reale; we took the Centro Storico tour and it was fabulous. Joe Cameron (who went to Rome earlier in March)advised to bring all of your e-mail correspondence with you--I second that. We had a mix-up and as a result met the owner, Tom Rankin, very nice guy, but it is clear from talking to him that this is a business with alot of moving parts and it is really growing so just be sure you stay on top of what tours you are going on, what time, etc.

This is getting long so I'll stop; I have advice on restaurants and other sites.

Just let me know; the great news is that the dollar is really strong so having a great time is really easy!

Thanks again for the all the prior advice,

Mary
 
Old Mar 27th, 2000, 09:55 AM
  #2  
thptrek
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We are a family going to rome for 7 days in June. What other recommendations do you have to survive the crowds and any other tips. Thanks.
 
Old Mar 27th, 2000, 10:51 AM
  #3  
Mary
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The best advice I can give you is to plan as much in advance as possible so you know restaurants you want to go to (and have your hotel make reservations when you get there); we ventured out one night without reservations and went to at least 5 restaurants only to be told they were totally booked for the evening and finally went back to the place we had eaten the previous night and they remembered us and squeezed us in.

Also, get to the sites early in the morning so you don't spend all day standing in line.

I don't know if in-depth tours (or even guided tours) are your family's thing but the Scale Reale tours (www.scalereale.org) are terrific and are no bigger than 6 people so you can negotiate crowded spaces easily.

Let me know if you want some restaurant recommendations or what kinds of things your family would be interested in and I can get more specific on the individual sites.

Mary
 
Old Mar 27th, 2000, 11:11 AM
  #4  
Nique
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Mary,
Our family is also spending 4 days in Rome at the end of June. Our hotel is 500 meters from the Vatican. We would appreciate any information / recomendations on restaurants and sights. What are approximate costs of The tour you took & what did it include?
Thanks in advance!
 
Old Mar 27th, 2000, 01:19 PM
  #5  
Sophia
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For more information about what the Vatican is up to, and for more about the Jubilee, please feel free to read my short article at http://www.looknbuy.com/feature.asp. It's a very short and concise guide to what is going on, from those of us right in the middle of it!

Best,
~S~
 
Old Mar 27th, 2000, 01:46 PM
  #6  
Mary
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Hi Nique--we stayed over by the Spanish Steps so a couple of my restaurants won't be that convenient for you but we did go to a wonderful family place in Trastevere which should be really close to you. It is called "al Fontanone" and it is just over the Ponte Sisto bridge in the Piazza Trilussa--you can't miss it. Wonderful owner, great atmosphere and very affordable. He speaks excellent English. Definitely make a reservation (my theme, but really it beats wandering around).
We also had a wonderful lunch of pizza from the Forno at the Campo de Fiori--you can sit on the statue and watch the world go by.

The tour we took from Scale Reale was the Centro Storico which covered the Pantheon, several churches and the Jewish Ghetto--basically the multi-layered center of Rome. We were also supposed to go on their nighttime fountain tour but that was the mix-up I reference in my initial post. I will caution that the tour was very in-depth so if you have kids it might not be the best way to go--I could definitely see them getting bored since it was billed for 4 hours and ended up being almost 5!
I think though that going with them to the Forum would be great since they really made the city come alive and the ruins of the Forum take some imagination to "see" what it must have been like.
I know there are lots of other Scale Reale clients on this list so maybe others will chime in.
For what's it is worth we found the book, "Cheap Eats" highly reliable and it includes lots of easy places to take families.

Hope this helps; let me know if you have further questions.

Mary
 
Old Mar 27th, 2000, 01:50 PM
  #7  
Mary
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oops Nique you asked me how much the tour cost--it was $25/person--plus Scale Reale charges you a $20 registration fee but that includes a short orientation walk which was useful.

I should note that we walked a lot on the tour (and in Rome in general) so if walking is not your thing I don't think these tours would be that enjoyable.

Mary
 
Old Mar 27th, 2000, 02:26 PM
  #8  
Helen
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Enjoyed reading about your trip. We leave in less than a month and would love to hear some of your restaurant reviews. We are also staying near the Spanish Steps and Trevi fountain. Thanks for any information you can give us.
 
Old Mar 29th, 2000, 11:01 AM
  #9  
Mary
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Hi Helen (and everybody):

I hope I can get this to post (wrote you a long answer yesterday and it never posted) so here goes:

Near the Spanish Steps (great location by the way), we really enjoyed Ristorante Nino (big green sign you can't miss it); also recommended by other Fodorites; great good and atmosphere; English menu and you don't feel awkward "eating like an American," i.e. just pasta and a salad.

We also really enjoyed the Enoteca on the Via del Croce (it's on the corner); go early (5-6 p.m.)and you can sit at tables in the back and order a great antipasto plate; also great wines by the glass. Later at night it becomes a real bar scene but we went twice earlier and found the food excellent.

We found the best gelato at San Crispino; with your back to the Trevi fountain, take a left and it is two streets down. Look for the big New York Times article outside recommending it; they were right!

One last Spanish Steps tip: if you take a cab (they are cheap, but we found walking faster actually) you'll have better luck on via del Corso rather than right at the Steps. If it's raining and you want to take a cab, give yourself lots of extra time!

Hope this helps; let me know if you have other questions.

Mary

P. S. Do not go out without dinner reservations--we tried it one night and ended up back at Nino and they squeezed us in because they remembered us.

Have fun!
 
Old Apr 1st, 2000, 03:14 AM
  #10  
amber
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Hello, i am going to Rome in less then a month. I was curious if you know anything about the "Hotel Pensionato San Paolo"?? I found it on a website and it seem very reasonably priced. It is close to metro B and S.Paolo exit. I was wondering if that is a good location and if anyone knows anything about that hotel. There are so many hotels to choose from and so many price varitations, I think I am going to go crazy! Help!
 
Old Apr 2nd, 2000, 05:34 PM
  #11  
chrissy
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HI, thank you for the load of information you provided. Do you know the best way to get to the hotels from the train station in venice? Anything in Venice that we should know? Any good restraunts? thanks for any info.
 
Old Apr 2nd, 2000, 06:11 PM
  #12  
steve
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There is a vaparetto stop at the train station just find out from your hotel which stop is closest to them and take it there. It's very simple. Try to travel light--it will make things much easier. One restaurant that we enjoyed and that also mentioned frequently on this forum is Al Cova-the food is quite good and the chef/owner's wife is from Texas and is very helpful with translating the menu.
 
Old Apr 2nd, 2000, 07:09 PM
  #13  
Holly
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Steve: Where exactly is the Al Cova? What's it near?
 
Old Apr 3rd, 2000, 05:57 AM
  #14  
Mary
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Holly--Al Covo is on the other side of the Palazzo Ducale from San Marco; just one block off the lagoon--it is super easy to find--I don't have the address with me but it is in all the guide books; we also found it very good; be sure and have your hotel make a reservation.

The other restaurant we love in Venice is da Fiori (not as easy to find so give yourself plenty of time); essential there that you make reservations before you leave home (they are booked 3-4 weeks in advance; they speak English.

Hope this helps.

Mary
 
Old Apr 4th, 2000, 08:13 AM
  #15  
Steve
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Mary -

My wife, two teenage sons and I will be in Rome this weekend - Any suggestions for meals? Reasonable cost; manageable English, good food? We will be staying near the Forum/Colosseum/Termini. Thanks
 
Old Apr 4th, 2000, 09:59 AM
  #16  
Mary
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Steve--definitely go to "al Fontanone" in Trastevere--terrific, good family place, very reasonable. You will find that everyone in Rome is much closer than in looks on maps.

See my other post --all those places are good.

Definitely make reservations though--your hotel will do it for you.

Have fun,

Mary
 
Old Apr 4th, 2000, 10:32 AM
  #17  
kam
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Osteria da Fiore is on the calle del Scaleter at 2202, which means it's on the other side of the Grand Canal from San Marco and towards the train station. You can walk over the Realto Bridge and then start asking for directions, but don't go unless you have confirmed reservations. Al Covo is much easier in the Campiello della Pescaria. Stand facing the Doge Palace, turn right and walk down about 100 yards and turn left. Your concierge can give you better directions, but remember that part of the charm of Venice is being lost!
 

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