First time in Rome...need suggestions

Jun 13th, 2013, 06:53 AM
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First time in Rome...need suggestions

I am trying to plan a trip in April 2014 to Rome. It is our first time there, we always wanted to visit and see the sights. We don't necessarily enjoy the "big" cities so would prefer not to stay in Rome proper. Is there any place that is not in the city, but close enough to do all the "tourist" things in two days that you can recommend? We will have a car. After the two days in Rome we would like to go to Gaeta for 3 or 4 days as a base to do "day" trips to Naples and any other places that look interesting. Just starting my research. Is this a good city to use as a "hub"?
Thanks for any and all suggestions.
adelheid is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 06:59 AM
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You definitely do NOT want a car in Rome! Pick it up on your way out of town.

I would really recommend staying in central Rome because the time you waste commuting in wouldnt be worth it to me, especially with only 2 days. Try looking in Trastevere for a hotel, it's more of a village within a city with lots of restaurants etc but we found it less hectic than the more touristy areas.

I think you are shortchanging Rome with only 2 days (is that 3 nights to give you 2 full days?) as the Forum/Colloseum will take up most of a day and the Vatican/St Peters will take up most of another not leaving you with much time to actually wander and enjoy Rome. I find when I rush places I tend not to end up liking them much as I dont have time to relax and enjoy my surroundings. If you can I would add a couple more days here...
jamikins is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 11:20 AM
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Thanks Jamikins

I have been looking at places to stay in Trastevere after your post, and I cannot believe some places are already booked. Guess it is a popular time to go to Rome. We would be doing 2 full days and then 2 half days, since we are only driving to Gaeta. I have even thought of doing this leg backwards by flying into Naples and flying out of Rome to Amsterdam....our last stop.
adelheid is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 11:33 AM
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I'm not sure I understand the 2 half days.

There are quieter areas in Rome and of course, Trastevere is one of them, as long as you aren't on a main tourist thoroughfare.

I found the area around the entrance to the Orto Botanico and Palazzo Corsini to be particularly pleasant. No big city feel.

I just did a Google search on that neighborhood and saw some B&Bs and other lodging options.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 11:39 AM
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Tuscanlifeedit: we would arrive on a Sunday afternoon, and leave on Wednesday afternoon. Thanks for the suggestions, will look that up.
adelheid is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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Rome doesn't feel like a traditional big city. The historic center really feels more like a series of neighborhoods. Remember Rome was being built while most everyone was on foot.

I'll echo the other recommendations for the forum and vatican.

Spending the evening in Piaza Nevona for a gelatto and Bernini's four rivers fountain. Walk a few blocks to the Pantheon walk a few more blocks to the Spanish steps. The evenings are just as amazing as the days. Try to catch the view of the forum at night. Just magic.
Diane60030 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 12:13 PM
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We don't like cities. My sister-in-law REALLY wanted to go to Rome on our trip to Italy, so I said OK, maybe 3 nights. It became 5 nights and still not enough time, we are going back next year.

"The historic center really feels more like a series of neighborhoods" Absolutely !!!!!

No car. Repeat, no car in Rome. The traffic is crazy and they don't exactly have a lot of parking lots. Take a taxi if you need to, but part of the fun is walking most everywhere. As said above, pick up a rental car on your way out of Rome.

Find a nice place to stay in the historic center and spend as much time as you can in Rome, it is just amazing.

And yes, the nice places book up far in advance.
wrenwood is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 04:43 PM
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Another lodging option is the convents. They open their doors to travelers as well. While not luxury digs, they are a good option. You can google them. I believe St. Irene's speaks English and offers some basic assistance in translating emails for you to send.
Diane60030 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 06:33 PM
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We stayed at the Rome Cavilieri hotel which is a Waldorf Astoria, Hilton brand hotel just a week ago.
The hotel is gorgeous and sits just outside of Rome. It has a shuttle to take you in and out of the city. It has a wonderful view of Rome and a great pool to lounge in. The breakfast buffet is probably one of the nicest I have ever seen.
The hotel is pricey. We used Hilton points which was great. Amex points can transfer to Hilton honors for points if you are not a hilton traveler.
A great use of points and I loved coming home each day to a wonderful hotel with a pool and spa and we even ate dinner there one night because it was a really nice hotel and food was great.
I would highly recommend it if you can swing the cost or use points.
girlonthego is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 09:01 PM
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DO NOT stay at the Hilton or the Sheraton which are outside of the city as you will be not experiencing the real Rome-rather an American hotel that is homogenized.You depend on the hotel's schedule and if you are in the middle of seeing something or eating at a great restaurant you have to rush off to get the shuttle because of the times.
I know that I am bias as I work as an international flight attendant and Rome is one of my favorite cities in the world but this city is to be experienced by staying in the city centre and enjoying the Dolce Vita.
The city is magical and has so many aspects to enjoy-classical Rome,religious Rome,foodie Rome,shopping Rome,etc. It is like an artichoke that has to have its leaves peeled back to see it all!
You will wish that you stayed in Rome and for more days than 2.
dutyfree is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 06:05 AM
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Thanks girlonthego, but we prefer to do a B&B

Dutyfree..thanks for the info. If we are going to stay in the city, I would prefer something "authentic" you have any favorite places to stay?

I am thinking of revising my plans after these posts and further reading. Instead of Gaeta, I think we will go down to the Amalfi coast.......and maybe skipping our tour of Amsterdam all together. ( but the hubby really wants to see it LOL) ;-)
adelheid is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 07:29 AM
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I ditto everyone else. Go to Rome, stay in Rome. I LOVE Rome! It doesn't feel like a "big" city such as Paris, London, or NY. If you are not in Rome during the night, you will miss SO much. The Trevi at night is NOT to be missed. The Vatican at night, and NO ONE was even around, was amazing. The city comes alive at night as people there are not couch potatoes and spend hours in front of a TV. They are out enjoying life. I would move in a second if I could!!!

I must tell you of a couple of places to go while you are there.

Restaurant: Hostaria Costanzas.
AMAZING. Not a place filled of tourists, just amazing food, great wine, and the most wonderful people. We go every time we are there. Near Campo di Fiori.

Gelato: Giolittis.
OMG!!! I cannot say enough about this place. Near Campo di Fiori and Piazza Colonia. It will have a line. WAIT! You do not want to miss this experience.

Find both of these places... Both AMAZING and you will not be sorry.

It would be a tragedy of monumental proportions not to be staying in Rome. You could spend 24/7 there for 2 weeks and not see/do it all. My favorite places on earth (seen quite a bit) and CANNOT wait to return.

Enjoy and have fun!
catherinehaas is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 04:44 PM
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One location in Rome that doesn't feel too much in the middle of the city is the Aventine Hill - not sure how many accommodations are in the neighborhood but it is very peaceful - I would take friends there for a walk wen we needed a break from the bustle of the city.

But like others I highly recommend staying in the center for the short time you will be there. Albergo del Senato on Piazza della Rotunda is a great base. If you stay off the main thoroughfares (like Via Nazionale) it is more charming. The area around Campo dei Fiori, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona is the most central.
palatino82 is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 06:50 PM
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Is it possible that you have a certain view of a "big city" that may not match what Rome offers? The Rome historic center looks nothing like "big" American cities. Looks like you have been to big German cities which look closer to American big cities. Have you looked at the streets and neighborhoods in Rome using Google map's street view around Piazza della Rotunda, Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori, etc?
greg is offline  
Jun 15th, 2013, 08:24 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions, am already making more changes. Are things open ie. tours and shops on Sundays and on May Day? Sometimes going to Europe when there are National Holidays is not the best. Also, are a lot of Italians or other Europeans on holiday the weeks after Easter....SO hard to find availability already..... Thanks again!!!!
adelheid is offline  
Jun 15th, 2013, 08:34 AM
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Have you checked TA for B&Bs?
wrenwood is offline  
Jun 15th, 2013, 09:11 AM
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I don't know what lodging you have looked at so far. Some of the places that appear to be full may not be. It's possible that they just haven't opened up their reservations systems yet for April 2014.
If you find a place that you are really interested in then email them directly.

Also check the calendar to make sure your dates are not during Holy Week/Easter. That is a very busy time.
Goldens is offline  
Jun 15th, 2013, 09:39 AM
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Concerning Rome, fully agree with fellows Fodorites, stay in Rome! You only have 2 days, so stay as close as you can to the city center. I can recommend The Hotel La Lumière ( close to the Spanish stairs (it's mostly a no car areas, so you won't feel at all in a big city!).
For out of the beaten track roman itinerary you may have a look at my travel blog

Concerning Gaeta: it's a nice place, but does it really make sense to stay there if you intend to visit, I guess, the Naples islands (Capri, Ischia, Procida), Naples itself, Pompei and, I imagine, the amazingly beautiful coast between Sorrento & Amalfi (highligts: Positano & Ravello)? I can understand you don't want to stay in Naples (even though Naples is a beautiful city, with a charm on its own), but maybe spending 2 days in Sorrento (Capri + Pompei + Naples (?)) + 2 days in Positano (gorgeous Positano + the "costiera malfitana" road - an experience on itself + magical Ravello) could be much more convenient from a logistics point of view, and i'm sure you will be glad to spend your nights in Positano and Sorrento rather than Gaeta.
Hope this helps
JP_Fabre is offline  
Jun 17th, 2013, 09:53 AM
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Wow......all the info and suggestions. Love it and Thanks!!!

This is now the revised itinerary......Arrive in Rome, rent a car and drive to Gaeta area to spend the night and recover from jetlag.

Day 2: drive to Positano and spend 4 night there as a base to relax or do day trips....whatever we feel like.

Day 6: Drive from Positano to Rome, drop off the car and then head to the city and stay there 4 "do" Rome.

Day 10: head to the airport and fly back home.

I think this will suit our needs better.......and allow us time to explore both areas more leisurely.

I don't really want to do Hotels......the ones in Positano though look heavenly. Any suggestions for delightful B&B's in Rome close to all the "touristy" things, yet still quaint? I am sure there are one or two out there that fellow Fodorites have stayed at. ;-)

Thanks again for all the suggestions and comments. They all help.......
adelheid is offline  
Jun 17th, 2013, 11:40 AM
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A wonderful report and thank you for sharing.
frank_antonio_180 is offline  
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