First time in Rome -

Old Sep 27th, 2010, 01:33 PM
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First time in Rome -

We have four full days to explore -- based in hotel in Campo de Fiori. Want to see it all but husband doesn't like to 'pre-book' days or do guided tours particularly. Loves just to walk and explore. I think I can talk him into the Colosseum tour and just maybe the Vatican. Or maybe we'd walk to St. Peter's square and enter St. Peter's (I gather that's easy to do? Are there line-ups for the Basilica ) Perhaps then I'd do the Vatican tour by myself -- I can't imagine not seeing the Sistine Chapel.

We arrive in Rome from Brussels very late in the evening on Oct. 6th -- next day will definitely be on foot to sightsee - lots of places on my wish list with no information overload. That leaves 3 more days with perhaps a tour on 2 of them.

I'm a little confused -- I'm told the guided tour is the way to go, in order to avoid 2 and 3 hour waits to get into both the Vatican and the Colosseum. Several people have advised me to show up, assess the lineups and if they're long, accept an offer from someone who approaches us. But then I've read that that is not only rude, it's illegal! But if so, why are these tour guides able to take you through with no problem? My neighbours just returned from Rome and saw both the Vatican (50 euro) and the Colliseum (30 euro) this way.

I'd be happy with no tour guide in the Vatican, I just don't want to waste 3 hours waiting in line. but I think a tour guide in the Colosseum would be great.

Again I don't wish to pre-book because husband likes to decide what to do each morning , that morning...based on weather etc.

Another question -- our hotel has a service for 50 euro for a pickup at the airport in a ' "luxury mercedes" -- is that much more expensive than a taxi? We don't land until just before 11pm so perhaps I should book it.
Many thanks!
canadiangirl222 is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2010, 01:59 PM
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First of all, October is not the busiest season. I cannot imagine "2 and 3 hour waits" even if you show up at the busiest time of day. There is NO wait for most of the Vatican (including St. Peter's), the wait there is for the Vatican MUSEUM (which includes the Sistine Chapel).

Your hotel is close enough to both the Vatican (walking) and the Colosseum (5E, 5 minute, taxi) that you can get there before any crowds develop, especially if you secure tickets ahead of time. It's up to you whether you want a guide at either location, but you certainly don't "need" one. And under no circumstances do you need to pre-book a tour from the USA.

A taxi from the airport is 40E-60E (depending on traffic and where exactly you get dropped off) so 50E for a private driver seems pretty good. I usually get a private car from FCO when visiting Rome and I'm pretty cheap, though I've never spent more than 45E.
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 02:23 PM
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hi, girl222,

your DH seems like mine - he likes to go with the flow. trouble is, he hates queues too, and they tend to go with unplanned trips.

however, you don't need a guided tour to avoid the queues at the Colosseum, you need a ROMAPASS. that gives you free transport for the whole of Rome [the bits you are interested in anyway] but more importantly, free access to the first two sights you visit with it, one of which should be the Coloseum, as you get preferential access too, by-passing all the queues. the other way to do this is to buy your ticket at the forum or palatine hill, which come on a combined ticket with the colosseum. the trouble is that you now have to pay for the forum which makes the queues there much longer than they were before. this is the ONLY place that personally I would think about having guide - those heaps of stones are really difficult to understand, whereas the colossuem is pretty self-explanatory, plus the signs and information inside are very informative.

so far as the Vatican/sistine chapel is concerned, you can buy tickets from the vatican itself, then take the tour, or not, as you wish. this gets you past the queues. the sistine chapel is the last place you get to - if you can, exit via the door marked "tours" at the back on the right of the chapel, and you can get into St/ Peter's without queuing again for security, and without having to walk all the way back round the vatican walls. but this only works if you haven't taken an audio guide from the entrance as you would need to return it and recover whatever you left as security for its return.

another way to avoid the queues to get into St. Peter's [which is really completely separate from the Vatican museums] is to get there really early, certainly before 9.30 am. DS and I did this the day we wanted to go up the Dome, and we were through in 5 mins. When we came down about an hour later, the queues stretched round from one side of the piazza to the other.

yet a third way is to go on a "scavi" tour of the catacombs under st. Peter's, [these book up really realy so if you are going in October it may be too late to do this] which allow you at the end to enter straight into the Basilica.

have a great trip,

regards, ann
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 04:31 PM
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There are very few things you have to plan for in advance - esp in Oct. You should get tickets to the Borghese if you want to see that. And if you want to tour the Scavi at the Vatican you need to order tickets in advance. Everything else can be done on your own timetable with the help of a good quality (for sights, not a general book with hotels and rest etc) guidebook.

You can enter St Peter's at any time with very little wait - as long as you're properly dressed. You can certainly see the Vatican without a tour and there's no need to miss the Sistine Chapel. I think so many people are afraid of being shut out that they pile in the moment the door opens. We've toured the Vatican Museums in either late morning or right after lunch and never waited long to get in.
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 04:36 PM
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It's too late for a Scavi. We're going to be there roughly the same time, and despite giving them five days to choose from, we couldn't get in.

From one Canadian girl to another , we've been having the same discussion re tours. My DH just now downloaded Rick Steves' free tours onto IPOD's, and that's what we'll be using for the Sistine, St. Peter's, the Colosseum and the Forum. We'll probably try to take one guided tour (thanks Annhig, we'll make it of the Forum). And we'll be getting the pass as well.

I've seen on other threads that the lines to the Vatican Museums are much shorter in the afternoons. So for us, we'll either book an early entrance to the Vatican, or not book and show up later in the afternoon.

You're not alone in your confusion - that whole thing about guides and where to go when confused me too!

Have a great trip. We leave in two days and I'm already packed!!!!
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 04:39 PM
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You can prebook timed-entry admission to the Vatican Museums:
http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/...ets/index.html

You can buy a ticket to the Colosseum online with a surcharge of 1.50 Euro - www.pierreci.it - or you can buy the combo ticket at the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill ticket office, where lines are short or non-existent.

The official fixed rate for a taxi from Fiumicino airport to the center of Rome is 40 Euro. Let the cabbie know before you get in that you know and will only pay the fixed fare.

Or book a limousine online for 40 Euro:
http://www.romeshuttlelimousine.com/...t-transfer.php
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 09:10 PM
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Yes, if there is a line at the Colosseum, it is very easy to walk over to Palatine Hill and purchase the ticket there.

Last time we were in Rome in 2006, we did not pre-book anything at the Vatican. I wish we had. We waited in a long line with 4 elderly people, then allowed ourselves to be solicited for a tour, whereupon we jumped the line to be with the tour guide. It was a huge hassle. We should have planned our arrival time better or arranged for tickets in advance. But, we didn't want to pre-arrange things, so we could 'go with the flow'. Mistake.
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Old Sep 28th, 2010, 07:05 AM
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"First of all, October is not the busiest season. I cannot imagine "2 and 3 hour waits" even if you show up at the busiest time of day. "

I beg to differ. October is one of the busiest months in Rome.
Wait to enter the Vatican around 1pm and enjoy the audio tour.
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Old Sep 28th, 2010, 07:17 AM
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To clarify my last post high season in Rome is September, October, Christmas and March through June.
And lines at the Vatican can take hours then.
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Old Sep 28th, 2010, 07:39 AM
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The great advantage to having a guide at The Vatican is that there is a separate line/entrance queue for licensed guides and any group they're leading. This line moves more quickly, IME.

As has been pointed out above, there is no entrance fee to enter St. Peter's Basilica, but often there are throngs of people waiting to pass through metal detectors. Crowds in St Peter's Square are particularly heavy on Wednesdays, as it is the day of Papal Audience, and also Sundays when the Pope usually blesses the crowds from the window of his Papal Apartment, which overlooks St Peter's Square. If/when entering churches, as a general rule, please make certain your knees and shoulders are covered--it's an absolute rule at St Peter's Basilica, but a sign of respect in all other churches.

I've been in Rome in all months of the year except July, August, November and December. I've never waited long at all to get into The Colosseum.

BC
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Old Sep 28th, 2010, 07:48 AM
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bookmarking....great thread.
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Old Oct 28th, 2010, 01:23 PM
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Had a MAGICAL time in Rome! Everyone should stay in Campo de Fiori with its daily outdoor market, and the Hotel of the same name was absolutely perfect.. wonderful staff and a fabulous rooftop terrace. Our location was so central to everything - no metro ever.

We did book tickets online for the Vatican Museums the night before and I am so glad we did. Skirted by very long lineups. The tip about leaving the Sistine Chapel by the door on the right, rather than the door on the left which seemed the most obvious, was great. A short walk to St. Peter's as opposed to that long walk around the museums to get back to St. Peter's square.

Followed advice here to get tickets for Colosseum at entrance to Palentine Hill and again avoided a long lineup.

Thanks to all for helping make our time in Rome the very best!!
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Old Oct 29th, 2010, 10:34 AM
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glad it all worked out, cgirl!

was the hotel del campo very expensive? noisy?
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