Help w/Itinerary to Rome in Nov.

Sep 9th, 2007, 09:46 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2007
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Help w/Itinerary to Rome in Nov.

My husband and I will be travelling to Rome in Nov. for our 10th anniversary. This will be our first trip and we are stayng for 5 full days (11/2 to 11/8). I've started some research and think I have an idea of what we want to do - but it can get a little overwhelming so I wanted to run it by Fodorite experts! I also need help with trying to plan our days.

We will be arriving Sat. at 7:30 am and departing Thurs. morning. We defintely want to hit the major sites - Colosseum, Forum, Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Borghese Gallery, etc. during our stay. We also would like to do one day trip but not sure where (I would love Florence but DH wants to see Pompeii). We also have a Scavi tour confirmed for Mon. (9/5) at 10:30 am and DH has expressed an interest in hearing the pope at sunday mass (rather than going to the papal sudience on Wed). We love museums, history, churches, shopping, food, and just soaking up the local culture in general.

Some general questions that I have:

The way our itinerary is shaping up, it looks like we will have to make 3 separate trips to the Vatican (which seems like a lot). Sunday for mass, Monday for Scavi, and Tues for the Vatican Museum (only availability it we book a tour through Context Rome). Is this feasible or should we cut something out?

Can anyone recommend a sample itinerary based on our interests and the sights we want to hit? I'd like to get started as soon as we get to Rome on Sat. but am worried about jet lag. What would you recommend as an easy first day of sights?

I apologise in advance for my lack of direction...once I know where everything is in relation with each other, I'll have a better idea on what attractions to group together. We also would appreciate any recommendations on other sights/attractions that are a must-see.

gayle_ann is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 03:52 PM
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It appears to me that you don't have a map - if not you should get one ASAP.

Yes, I'd cut something out - the Vatican museums say. Definately cut the Florence idea and the Pompeii one.

For the first day, I'd have nothing specific on the agenda other than getting acclimated and oriented. Do some of that "soaking up the local culture in general".

Do not try to hit ALL the major sites - take your time because you'll be returning to Rome again and again...
TuckH is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 05:25 PM
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it does not seem to me that you have 5 full days. A part of he first day will be taken by getting to your hotel, finding your way around ,and ,most likely ,jet lag . Depending on where your hotel is, it may be enough to go for a walk.
if you are leaving on Th. it gives you 4 days - does not leave much time to hit all the spots AND make a side trip.

danon is online now  
Sep 9th, 2007, 09:13 PM
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Posts: 2,501

My wife and I had 5-6 days in Rome a couple of years back. Here is my trip report with pictures and links: . Also note that I have made an interactive Google map on this page . This will show you where some of the attractions are located and you can click on the various markers for more information. Hope this helps...get in touch if you have questions or comments

Gard - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 01:59 AM
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Hi Gatle - A good place to start your planning is the Rome Tourist Office website - which has excellent itineraries for seeing the sights of Rome:

Hope this helps ...

Steve_James is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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We will be in Rome for a week until 11/5. This is my 6th trip and the third visit (all a week at a time) in the last 4 years.
Tuck has it right on.
You barely have enough time to scratch the surface of what you would like to see.
It will be dark around 5:30pm. Shorten days mean less opportunity to see all you may want to.
I'd first do a search here and see what others have done.
Then come up with a proposed schedule that we can all look at.
Going back to the Vatican is not that major a problem, but I'd skip the mass.
jabez is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 09:11 AM
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Hi gayle_ann. So glad that you are getting the chance to experience Rome - favorite city of ours! We will be there in Nov. also (5th-14th). Our favorite time of year for Rome.

Here are my opinions; hope it gives you some help - If my husband wanted to attend Sun. mass, we would attend Sun. mass. Personally, I don't think you can overdo Vatican City. So if I were you, I wouldn't fret over the 3 trips there. None of the visits will take a full day; plenty of time to do & see other sites on those days.

I suggest that you get your Galleria Borghese tour scheduled so you can select a day & time that fits best into your touring plans.

Don't know how you will do with jetlag. We don't sleep on the overnite plane trip & arrive early am. We checkin to hotel, drop our bags, & head out. About 2-4pm we take a nap & then head out again. So actually our day of arrival is almost a full day. On our arrival day, we go to bed about 9pm & we are OK from then. Each subsequent day, we hit the streets about 8:30-9am each morning to beat the crowds & watch the city come alive; sometimes, if necessary, we rest short while in afternoon & head out again.

Don't know where your hotel is located. You could spend the 1st day around your hotel so if you want to go back to rest, you can. For instance, if you are close to the Ancient City area, see the Colosseum & Palatine Hill (same ticket). After a nap (if you decide to do so), stroll around & absorb a part of the city; maybe Trevi Fountain; maybe photos of the Colosseum of night; many sites from which to choose.

Sunday mass, then walk to the Campo dei Fiori, P.Navona, Pantheon, & Spanish Steps. Along the way, stop in the little shops, eat gelato, rest & sip some coffee, & eat lunch at a sidewalk cafe. If you still have energy & time left, in the evening go to P.Popolo & take the Italian evening stroll down Via del Corso; goes all the way to Ancient City area. Or, after Sun. mass (I don't know what time it ends), you could go to the Porta Portese Flea Market (7am-1pm) which extends over several streets in Trastevere. Or, if Sunday mass does not end too late, go to the Appian Way since it is closed to vehicle traffic on Sunday.

Monday - sleep in & go to Scavi tour. Or, stroll around until Scavi tour. We visited the Vatican souvenir shops before our Scavi tour. After tour, lunch, then about 2-3pm, rest of day & evening to explore. You could hop a bus & tour the Roman Forum. We don't worry about going from one side of the city to other, because the buses are so convenient. Your hotel staff can help you with where to catch buses & which numbers. Or, you could tour Castel de Angelo - we loved it, but if you go, be sure to get the audio tour set per person.

Tuesday - If you want, stay in the city & continue touring; still lots to see. Or, take your day trip. Our favorite is Ostia Antica; 25 minute cheap train ride from Rome. This will satisfy your hubby's desire for Pompeii, which we feel is too much for a day trip from Rome (others do not agree). Also, OA is minus the crowds of Pompeii & the sites are hands-on, not hands-off like Pompeii. When we go, we spend the entire day. There is a cafeteria onsite - cheap & good food. Be sure to pull aside vines & explore the partially excavated areas that others do not see. Climb to the top of the buildings via ancient stairs & stand on top floors & marvel at the view. Can't do any of that in Pompeii.

Wed. - Your last day to enjoy Rome. Do as you want - museums, churches, walk an area, or go to the Appian Way if you didn't get that done.

Thursday - while leaving Rome, I'm sure you will be talking about & planning your return trip!

Have fun, Julie
Julie_Hurst is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 11:51 AM
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Hi Gayle ann, you're getting lots of good advice here so I'll try not to duplicate. But in terms of going to Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, it's celebrated at several different times every day, so that might give you some flexibility. And I think it's a good idea -- I've caught Mass there and really enjoyed the atmosphere. BTW, almost all the Masses are celebrated in Italian, but I think that kind of adds to the atmosphere. However, I don't believe the Pope celebrates public Mass very often.

Here are the Sunday hours as posted on the website of Santa Susanna, which is the American church in Rome. It has some other helpful travel information, so you might want to check it out.
9 AM: Mass for Parish of St. Peters
10:30 AM: Mass at Altar of the Chair (in Latin)
11:30 AM: Mass in Chapel of Blessed Sacrament
12:15 PM: Mass at Altar of the Chair
4 PM: Mass at Altar of the Chair
5 PM: Vespers at the Altar of the Chair followed by Mass at 5:45 PM

sac is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 01:56 PM
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I agree that you don't have time for a daytrip.

It is rather unlikely that the Pope will be celebrating Mass that Sunday, so if that's his only reason for wanting to go, you can skip that. Of course, if he just wants to go to Mass, that's another story. For what you want:

On Saturday, plan an easy day, keep walking out in the fresh air to help with jetlag. This would be a good time to walk from the Piazza Navona over to the Pantheon, then to the Trevi Fountain and up to the Spanish Steps (if you don't get to the SS, don't worry, they're really not that great).

Sunday do the Colosseum and Forum. If you have more energy when you're done, go to San Clemente nearby and see the layers of Rome built on previous eras.

Monday do your Scavi Tour. You might want to check other tour companies so you could do the Vatican the same day while you're over there.

Tuesday, make a reservation for Galleria Borghese in the morning, then come down to Santa Maria Concezione for the crypt with 4000 monks' bones arranged in many unusual decorations, followed by Santa Maria della Vittorio for Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Theresa (amazing). (If you have to go with the Tuesday tour of the Vatican, move these things to Monday afternoon.)

That leaves Wednesday for whatever you want. There are dozens more churches, all worth seeing, if you're interested in that. I would also see the Piazza Navona and Trevi at night during a stroll after dinner. And my favorite thing is to end the evening with a drink (Limoncello for me ) in the Piazza Navona.

Get a map immediately and you will be able to see where these things are!
SusanP is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 01:56 PM
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The Santa susanna website mentioned in the last post has lots of great information including general tourist information about seeing Rome
I don't believe the Pope's schedule for November is available yet but eventually it will be posted on the Vatican website. He travels quite a lot and as mentioned doesn't celebrate many public masses.

I would try to persuade your husband to go to Ostia Antica, a short easy train trip from Rome, rather than to Pompeii, a very long day trip.

Even though it will get dark fairly early, you will still be able to enjoy wandering around in the piazzas into the evenings. Also most churches other than St. Peter's and the Pantheon close for a few hours mid day but are open until 7. there are so many wonderful churches it is hard to pick but it makes sense to see some of those that are close to the Piazza Navona/Piazza della Rotunda (Pantheon) : Santa maria sopra Minerva, San Luigi de Francesci.

I agree with Julie about getting out early to walk around the city. that is a good time to visit the Campo dei Fiori.

where are you staying?

Vttraveler is online now  
Sep 10th, 2007, 05:02 PM
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Thanks everyone for all the great advice, tips, and suggested activities - I really appreciate the help and have a much clearer idea of what to expect with our days in Rome. I've started reading my guide books but its so helpful to get personal experiences.

We are staying at the Hotel Raphael which is close to a lot of sights so it should be easy to walk around on our first day. We like to get an early start too and make the most of our time but also want to relax a little bit as well. We did a combo trip to London and Paris a few years ago - it was wonderful but we were exhausted at the end of it. So I'm trying not to cram too much in one day and leave time to leisurely stroll through piazzas, eat a lot, and shop! I also like the Ostia Antica idea instead of Pompeii - seems a lot easier and a similar type of experience.

I mistyped my original post - I know the Pope doesn't actually say the Sunday mass but he does do the papal blessing at noon. We're Catholic so we thought it would be a memorable experience to hear mass in Rome. I appreciate the encouragement to continue to leave it in our itinerary and plan to do so.

I am still working out the kinks so this is a first, very rough draft of an itinerary....

Day 1 - walk aroud central rome in the morning Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, etc.) Do you think I can do Campo de Fiore in the afternoon?

Day 2 - Sunday mass am, Borghese Gallery reservation in the afternoon.

Day 3 - Scavi Tour and St. Peter am, Ancient Rome afternoon

Day 4 - Vatican Museums. Depending how we feel after it, just planning shopping and more wandering.

Day 5 - Day trip to Ostia Antica.

I'd like to fit in Castel Angelo & Campo de Fiore somewhere in the schedule. Also interested in seeing Santa Maria Concezione and Santa Maria della Vittorio (as previous posters were so kind to suggest).

Any opinions/feedback would be great appreciated as always.

Thanks again for getting off to a great start.

gayle_ann is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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You are going to have a WONDERFUL time. Ok, so here is another thought on the days...

Day 1 - If it is nice out, take the one trip 110 bus (don't do the full day). That will go by many of the sites and give you a good idea on where things are. Lasts about 2 hours. You are in the area of everything you posted for your first day, so it would be fairly easy to see it all, even with the 110.

Day 2 - What you have, plus you can go over to Piazza del Popolo after the Borghese. You may even have time to walk by Mausoleum of Augustus, depending on when your Borghese reservations are.

Day 3 - Looks good, you can easily to Scavi morning, then Colosseo/Palatine/Forum/Campidoglio afternoon. BUT LOOK AT WHAT I HAVE NEXT...

November 5 (whatever day this is)...It is your 10th anniversary, want something REALLY special? Do Helen Donegan's Afterhours tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. Yes, it is expensive (250 euros each), but hey, this is really special. Instead of insane crowds, you are almost alone for 3 hours. Tell Helen that Dave B told you about her, maybe she can squeeze you in.

If you end up doing that, then that takes care of the Vatican Museum tour and frees up an entire morning.

Ostia Antica is well worth it, on a nice day. Be sure to bring a picnic lunch and drinks. You can easily do it in 4 hours, leaving a half-day for other stuff.

If you are interested, here is the link to my Rome itineraries page.

Happy Anniversary. We're going back over Christmas for ours.

daveesl is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 06:59 PM
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Wow, I'm just amazed at all the great tips I've gotten!!

Julie - What is the weather like in Nov? I was nervous about picking that month but like the fact that its not the height of the tourist season.

Sandra/Vttraveler - Thanks for the Santa Susanna link and schedules to Sunday mass. I'm thinking of just going to the first mass and enjoying the rest of the day (unless we decide to sleep in).

Dave - I love the idea of a private, after-hours tour. It is a little pricey but would be well worth it! Maybe an early anniversary present (ours is on the 7th) Will also take the time to peruse your links. Thanks for letting me know that I'm putting together a reasonable itinerary. Happy Anniversary to you too and enjoy your trip in Dec!!
gayle_ann is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 02:49 AM
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I went for couple of days in Rome last month and i did this tour:
Actually, it was great, i recommend it. I discovered many things in only one half day...
soizic is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 04:00 AM
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Gayle ann
the Hotel Raphael is definitely a good central location both for getting to the Vatican on several different days and for seeing other sights.

You asked about visitng campo de' Fiori in the afternoon. The reason I would recommend trying to go there in the morning is that the food and flower market runs only from morning to early afternoon (I think 7 to 1:30) Monday to Saturday. There are also lots of restaurants/cafes/food stores along the piazza and the surrounding streets so it is not exactly deserted other times but the market is worth seeing. In the evenings there is a pretty lively scene but it seemed to be lots of teenagers -- certainly more so than Piazza Navona or Piazza della rotunda.

On day 1 you might want to start at Campo de'fiori to see the market, visit the nearby Piazza Farnese then head up toward the Pantheon (I'd go via the Area
Sacra dell' Argentina)and up Via dei cestari then to the Trevi fountain. all of these are within an easy walk of your hotel with lots to see in between. You will be virtually on the Piazza Navonna so will have plenty of time to enjoy it at different times of day.

different people deal with jet lag differently. I have found I do better without an afternoon nap, pushing myself to stay awake into the evening the first day. It helps that I am excited about being in Europe
Vttraveler is online now  
Sep 11th, 2007, 07:24 AM
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Vttraveler - Thanks for the advice. We would definitely love to wander around the market and if its only open in the mornings, then I agree with your suggestion to head there on Sat. I feel so much better knowing that our hotel is central enough that it will be easy to get around. How long do you think it will be to get to the Vatican from there? Is a cab the best option or public transporation? Thanks!
gayle_ann is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 11:15 AM
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gayle_ann, you got lots of good info; good for you. The hard part will be deciding what to eliminate!

Re: Nov. weather - we love it. Always go in Nov. We live in Indiana & do not enjoy touring in warm/hot weather. Last year, we had very little rain, but still always wear our raincoats with hoods on the plane & keep them handy for touring.

On some days it was cool enough that I wore my liteweight raincoat with a sweater underneath & a blouse under that. We were there the first 2 weeks of Nov. & on 2 days, my hands were cold enough for gloves & I wore my winter neck scarf. But on all days, as we walked & the sun warmed the day, some of the layers were peeled & taken back to our apt.! The other days we began with a lite jacket or sweater. And then many days we walked around in shirt sleeves! Basically, the key is to pack layers plus gloves & scarf, just in case.

Another bonus in Nov. is the lack of crowds. There were only about 20 of us at Ostia Antica - great! But do check your opening & closing times; sometimes shorter in Nov.

As Dave suggested, we really liked the #110 double decker bus tour with included audio. We took it the first day to become familiar with the city. Can hop on/off as want & get some of the sites done with easy transportation.

Re: transportation within Rome - we didn't take taxis. The bus system is so easy to use - AFTER you figure it out! If you are interested in the buses & click on my name, my posts will be listed on the left side. Then scroll down to "How We Used the Rome Bus System". I'm verbose (as you can tell), so please don't let the length scare you off. We got around so fast & easy with the buses (& cheap). Plus didn't have to worry about being ripped off by taxi drivers! I also have a Rome trip report, if you are interested.

Have fun with your planning, Julie
Julie_Hurst is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 03:32 PM
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Gayle ann
Like Julie, I used public transit rather than taxis in Rome. A lot of people on this forum seem to take taxis and find them relatively affordable. OUr family tries to use public transportation in most cities for economic and philosophical reasons. (I was also quite frankly frightened by the traffic in Rome and have often been unhappy with the way taxi drivers drive in major US cities.)
We walked a lot and took buses for longer trips from the apartment we rented near Piazza Mattei in the old Jewish ghetto neighborhood.

Julie's instructions on using the bus system should tell you everything you need to know. We found it pretty easy with a good map. It is definitely better not to count on being able to buy tickets at the automatic machines either for the buses or the trains. The tobacchi stores and newstands are much safer.
I don't have my good map of the Rome bus system (left it at the apartment) but from the one in my guide book I think you could get a #492 bus from your hotel to the Vatican area. The hotel website estimates a 20 minute walk to St Peter's and 20 to 25 minutes seems pretty accurate to me depending on your route. At least once you might want to walk along the old Via dei Coronari (old medieval pilgrimage route where rosaries, coronari, were sold) and cross the Ponte Sant'Angelo with its Bernini angels.

I am sure you will fall in love with the Piazza Navona and enjoy exploring it at all different times of day. When we were there in early March the fountain of the four rivers was covered with scaffolding and I hope that is gone by the time of your visit

Have a wonderful trip
Vttraveler is online now  
Sep 11th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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Julie/Vttraveler - Thanks so much as always for your detailed is so appreciated. I feel like Rome is slowly coming alive for me through your recommendations and I am excited! We like to use public transportation as much as possible too so its good to know that the system in Rome will be easy once I figure it out. I do lots of studying before we leave on a trip so that I feel somewhat prepared and confident to tackle and experience a new city. Plus, DH never bothers to do any reading/research on any place we go to and relies on me to be his personal tour about pressure!

Julie, I will definitely check out the posts you recommended. Thanks again to you both and to all the other Fodorites who were kind enough to point me in the right direction!
gayle_ann is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 04:14 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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I think your trip is coming together nicely.
Do not skip the Forum and Colosseum. I recommend a tour of them.
We bus everywhere. Make sure and get a Roma Pass.
jabez is offline  

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