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Feeling overwhelmed planning for Rome leaving SUNDAY!

Feeling overwhelmed planning for Rome leaving SUNDAY!

Apr 13th, 2012, 04:27 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 16
Feeling overwhelmed planning for Rome leaving SUNDAY!

I feel much like I did before taking an exam I did not study for - unprepared.

We are leaving for a 6 night visit to Rome with possibly on day in Florence. I feel like I have failed to do nearly enough reading/planning. I have booked a tour with Dark Rome for the Coloseum (my 10 year is eager to see it and I wanted to get it right). Other than that I planned to book train tickets to Florence, book a time at the Borghese and book a private Vatican tour. However, looking at the weather - rain all week I held off. I wanted to make sure we werent stuck inside if there ended up being a sunny day in there somewhere.

What are the chances the vatican tours or borghese will be fully booked? Should I just go ahead and get them booked before I leave? Or do it at arrival through hotel?

Anyone have any details about Culture Week? I am happy to hear much will be free admission! WOndering about extra events or openings.

Other than that I just wish I knew more of the history of Rome than I do so we can get a lot out of the trip.

I guess I would feel better with a few recommendations for great restaurants that a ten year old would like (we are staying near Spanish Steps).
Some reassurance that I do not need to know everything before we get there.


amya237 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2012, 04:34 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,559
I spent about a week in Rome and didn't have many plans set in advance except for a time slot at the Borghese (and I fell dead asleep with jet lag and missed my timed admission, LOL.)

Best thing I did in Rome was to go inside every neighborhood church that I passed by while walking. I reveled in so many hidden gems that weren't big time tourist spots.
vivi is offline  
Apr 13th, 2012, 04:57 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Vatican itself will not be fully booked - alhtough it might be too late for a Scavi tour. The Borghese might be sold out - suggest you check out the web site now.
nytraveler is offline  
Apr 13th, 2012, 05:18 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,392
We were just in Rome with our 9 year old DD... only tickets we booked in advance were to the excavated site under the Palazzo Valentini. I strongly recommend going, although it requires tickets booked in advance for the English tour. I don't think you can explore it on your own and without the narrative it doesn't make too much sense anyways. (I first learned about it from another post here.)


Best thing is just wandering around... we used a helpful book called Rome with Kids by J.M. Pasquesi - good suggestions for restaurants and interesting things while walking around.
iowamom is offline  
Apr 13th, 2012, 05:27 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 3,776
The same way the vivi recommends stopping in every church you pass, I say stop by a different gelato place every day

If the Borghese is important, go ahead and book. Even if it's a nice day, it wouldn't take the whole day, would it? Enjoy and have a wonderful time.
sheri_lp is offline  
Apr 13th, 2012, 05:30 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 8,525
I love food and there are buckets of crappy tourist restaurants in Rome, so for me not having a good grip on dining choices would be worrisome. As for sights: everywhere you turn in Rome there is something worthwhile to see. Not to worry! Just make sure you have a good guide book. I like the Eyewitness Guide and also Michelin.

Have fun!
Leely2 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2012, 05:46 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 37
Don't worry if things are booked -- Rome has more things to do than you could possibly do in a week, or even several weeks, even with a ten year old. Pizza places are everywhere and most restaurants serve pasta and simply cooked meat and veggies, so I wouldn't worry about finding a place your child will look. If push comes to shove, there's a McDonald's at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

Piazza Navona and Trastevere (especially near Santa Maria di Trastevere)are great neighborhoods in which to just walk around. If it rains, you could spend hours in the Vatican museum. Been there several times, never had a reservation. Plenty of English-language walking tours available in Rome, often given by archeology students.

Relax and have a great time. Rome is one of those places that doesn't take much planning.
Jax76 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2012, 05:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Just so you know, your 10 y.o. would not be able to do the Scavi tour. Minimum age is, I think, 15.
Jean is online now  
Apr 13th, 2012, 05:49 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95
I read about a thing for kids recently: dress up and learn hand-to-hand combat at Gladiator School (two-hour sessions cost €55, www.viator.com).

Context Tours run fantastic tours all over Rome and if you look on their website they'll have a list of what's happening on the days you're there www.contexttravel.com They lead very small groups and the docents are usually PhD students or similar. They find out a little bit about the group participants and tailor the tour a little to your interests and previous knowledge.

Borghese is wonderful but very small and the tickets only admit you for two hours. You can move out into the gardens after that and let your youngster run wild.

I go to Rome every couple of years and lived in Italy for a while. Apart from the things listed above, my other suggestions for visiting Rome include:

- walking round Trastevere and visiting Santa Maria in Trastevere (breathtaking mosaics)
- walking the old city including Via Giulia and Via dell Orso, stopping at Piazza Navona and finishing at the Pantheon
- Piazza del Popolo and the churches around its perimeter; from there walk down to the Spanish Steps (watching for gypsies) and then trawling through the area round Via Condotti and via Fratelli for some of the world's most wonderful shopping
- Trevi Fountain - watch for pickpockets
- Campo dei Fiori any time of the day - early morning for the flower markets etc and late afternoon for aperitivi in a bar
- Vatican Museum and St Peters
- Castel Sant'Angelo
- Ghetto area for wandering and food finding
- Baths of Caracalla
- The Fori Imperiali, a new museum which is about the various forums that different emperors established - wonderful
- Museo Nazionale - a set of museums but my favourites are Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, near Termini railway station which has actual walls from Livia's house, for example
- second favourite, the Baths of Diocletian and the amazing Michelangelo church that serves as an entry, and then walk up the street to the Octagonal Aula which houses sone sculpture but which I love because of the way they have renovated the building as a museum space
- a day trip to Ostia Antica, which REALLY requires a guide: it was the old salt trading city at the entry to the river centuries ago but was abandoned because of malaria and suchlike; if you can't get to Pompei it's a good alternative
- the http://www.fondazioneromamuseo.it/en/the_museum.html has exhibitions from time to time, so check them out
- Doria Pamphilij Gallery is fun if you have time - audio guide is narrated by one the family members, and it's fun trawling round the old palace looking at their collection

A couple of restaurant suggestions that might be suitable for a family:

da Armando al Pantheon (typical 'slow food' Roman cuisine) and one of our favourite places in Rome. You must book and it is right next door to the Pantheon.
Salita Dei Crescenzi, 31

Tel. 06.68803034

La Matriciana - near the opera house is a fairly typical Roman trattoria
Via del Viminale 44
Phone 064881 775
Closed Saturday

Pizzeria dar poeta
Vicolo del bologna 45 Trastevere
No reservations dinner only
mbloggs is offline  
Apr 13th, 2012, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95
Sorry, correction, the shopping streets I mentioned are Via Condotti and Via Frattina - not Fratelli! Having a brain meltdown here!
mbloggs is offline  
Apr 13th, 2012, 07:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Map recommendations/opinions? I'm looking at the "Streetwise" (for Rome, Florence, Venice) advertised as detailed, small, fold-up and laminated. On Amazon for $7.95.
annettafly is offline  
Apr 13th, 2012, 08:15 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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>>>Anyone have any details about Culture Week?<<<

The State museums/sites will be free (you still need a reservation for the Borghese even if it's free). The Vatican is not included.

annettafly - I like the Streetwise maps (I have several), but for Florence you can pick up a good map at an info booth or often your B&B will have them. Even the apartment I stayed in last trip had maps available. You can also print off them off each tourism website. I used to recommend the Roma Pass for Rome (before the price increase) and it comes with a very good map. All the museums/sites are listed along with the metro/bus line to reach each one.
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 14th, 2012, 02:01 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
Why are you so concerned about taking your family into museums? Your children are unlikely to be happy touring them, especially if you "snag" the last tickets or squeeze in. Children are often not tall enough to see the paintings in a crowded museum -- and even if they are, they aren't much interested. This is not only true or Rome and a mind-numbing experience like trudging through the Vatican with kids, but also the museums of Florence filled with religious art.

Why don't you look into a few half-day tours that specialize in teaching kids some Roman history? There are reviews of various tour companies on the web (check Tripadvisor).

I think you are right to hold off booking things until you know what the weather is. I have seen tourists wrapped up in plastic ponchos tromping around Rome, and I have seen tourists yawning their way through museums -- or worse, dragging plainly beaten-down kids -- on beautiful sunny days when an ice cream in a piazza or a trip to Ostia Antica or Tivoli would have been hugely enjoyable.

Skip the art museums if they are not lifelong dreams for you and enjoy Rome and its fountains. Take a good up-to-date guidebook that has interesting kid-friendly day trip options. Think twice about Florence if you are not into religious art and architecture.
zeppole is offline  
Apr 14th, 2012, 08:52 AM
Original Poster
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Posts: 16
I was that kid you talk about on many trips with my parents.
Don't want to be that patent.
Colloseum should be fun.
Borhese is just 2 hours.
Plan to hang out in piazzas etc but do want him to learn history too!
Just wish I kneworw of it myself to point out to him.

The only other tour we plan to do is the Vatican.
Ostia antica is on the list.

Florence is appealing to my son for the train ride and
The Ufuzzi.

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts.
amya237 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2012, 09:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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My parents took us to museums all over Europe when I was as young as 11/12. Some museums didn't make an impression, but I distinctly remember others and specific works of art and a few science displays. Considering we're talking about events nearly 50 years ago (yikes!), I'd say it was time well spent.

IMO, don't let anyone talk you out of seeing the Borghese Gallery. As you pointed out, it's only two hours, and you're not even locked into the building for the whole time. Imagine that! If only the amazing sculpture interests you, you're not required to look at every work in every room. Ditto the Uffizi.
Jean is online now  
Apr 14th, 2012, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,553
amya237, you'll be fine! You can learn the history with him, which is at least as much fun. The city is chock-a-block full of history, you know it will be great just absorbing it from a sidewalk cafe.

When we were there two years ago, I would pull out the guidebook whenever we spotted something that looked significant, and so we were able to learn as we went. I happened to use the Fodor's guide at the time, which had nice detail sections on stuff like Baroque art and Ancient Rome, in addition to the geographically grouped sections. (I did find their maps rather lacking though.) I also was loaned a picture book that might be fun with your kid: for each monument photographed in the present day, there is an overlay showing how it would have looked in ancient times. It's called "Ancient Rome: Monuments Past and Present" by R. A. Staccioli.

Also, if you have a smartphone, ereader or iPad, you can download city maps, walking tours and guide books ahead of time, which you can then access when there without having to connect to the data network.

(Just now when I was searching to remember the name of that book, I came across 3 others that look like they have potential: "Rome on Foot" by Dennis Callan is an ebook; "City Walks Rome" by Martha Fay are 50 cards billed as "the ultimate travel accessory for wanderers who want to experience Rome like a native on foot!"; and "Not Built in a Day: Exploring the Architecture of Rome" by George H. Sullivan, with 12 detailed walking tours "from the largest piazza down to the smallest fountain"...)
ggreen is offline  
Apr 14th, 2012, 10:14 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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And I agree that your son should be fine for the two hours in the Borghese galleries, and it's definitely not to be missed. (We were in Italy at this time of year and made our reservations without issue in English over the phone once we were there, about five days in advance.) The museum is in the Villa Borghese gardens. We had a morning reservation and walked there from our hotel on the Piazza del Popolo, not too far from the Spanish Steps. However, I would advise you to be less rushed getting there than we were!

Make sure to get to the museum ahead of your reservation. You will need to pick up your tickets if you order by phone as we did, and then check all your belongings, for which there may be a line. You're not allowed even your purse inside, so we put our passports in our pockets to be on the safe side - I'm a paranoid New Yorker LOL - but everything was totally secure. You can of course get into the galleries later than the start time of your reservation. But they are very strict about the end time, and empty then close each room to ensure no visitors are still inside at the end of the allotted time. I definitely spent a good amount of time in each room, and we still completed the ground floor and saw a tiny bit of the upstairs paintings rooms before having to leave.

I'll say up front that I've never been a fan of Baroque or Rococo art, but I still loved the Borghese. And in this day and age, there's something surprising - and almost disconcerting - about viewing art without the omnipresent cameras we all cart around!

When we were done, we wandered back through the gardens to Piazza del Popolo, where we joined other tourists enjoying an outdoor cafe - the perfect antidote to all that intense viewing and over the top decoration.
ggreen is offline  
Apr 14th, 2012, 10:19 AM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 84
Amya, I would still take your son to Florence. Book the Academmia Museum ahead of time and see the David first. If nothing else, your son will remember this beautiful statue. Remind him that it is carved out of one piece of stone! Amazing! Also, the train to Florence may be fun for him if he has never traveled by train. Dark Rome sounds perfect. A hint someone gave me when traveling with smaller kids is to seek out armour, mummies or body parts, you know, gross stuff like that! Wherever you take him, make sure that you end on a high note before the fussing gets too bad. That way he'll remember the good, not that you forced him to stay too long in one place. This wonderful trip will come back to him, exposure to these things now will pay off later,even if you don't realize it right now.

Have fun!
Mutti is offline  
Apr 14th, 2012, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Also, how about some catacombs or the Cappucin monks church?
Mutti is offline  
Apr 14th, 2012, 10:28 AM
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Posts: 52,380
one thing that my kids [and the are now 24 &21] have always enjoyed is looking for the ugly babies in the numerous pictures you will see featuring the madonna and child. sacrilegieous possibly, but I still find myself doing it, even when they are not with me.

and should you find yourself in the Vatican museum, their favourite parts were the egyptian mummies, and the room where they put all the rude bits!
annhig is offline  

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