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ROSEBROOK Apr 10th, 2004 04:49 PM

If you had never been to Rome before and had 2 1/2 days, how would you spend them?
We're going to be in Rome in September - arriving mid day on Tuesday and leaving on Friday morning. We've never been to Rome before and want to experience the 'favorite' and 'not-to-be-missed' places. Where should we go?
We're not against doing it 'on our own', but also appreciate the advantages of guided tours.
We're not HEAVY into the arts or history, but want to experience, learn, and enjoy what Rome is all about. To see the normal tourist sights and also, discover some of the off-the beaten path sights. Of course, this could take a month and we only have a couple of days. Help!
We're staying at the Rome Sheraton, so will be using their shuttle back and forth to center city.
Any 'must see's' or 'do not miss' or be sure to 'eat at' or ???
Thanks much!

cyberUK Apr 10th, 2004 05:16 PM

Search for Scala Reale and check out their tours, neighborhood walking tours, orientation tours are great, and will give you some ideas of what to see/do. You can see plenty in 2 1/2 days if you like walking. Even if you don't think that you would like a museum, please reserve tickets to see the Borghese villa, you will not be sorry. It is only 2 hours.

jv827 Apr 10th, 2004 05:44 PM

Hi. I'd suggest you also read through the Fodors destination section on this board to get an idea of what would interest you most. However, here's an itinerary a friend and I followed for a similar short visit to Rome (I'd been before and my friend hadn?t, so it was important that she see the main sites, but still have down time.)

Day 1 (afternoon/evening) Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain (our hotel was in this area) We also had a 1.5 hour orientation stroll with Scala Reale that covered the Spanish Steps area and beyond (this was free at the time because we had signed up for a Vatican Tour the next day.) But even if we hadn't, we'd have walked there on our own.

Day 2 Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's (Scala Reale tour), random exploring, shopping and gelato :)

Day 3 Borghese (9-11) and then Colosseum and Forum in the afternoon

Not saying this is the best way, but maybe it will give you ideas and help you get started. Enjoy your planning!

Rich Apr 10th, 2004 06:07 PM

The first morning I would spend riding the hop on, hop off bus. It will give you a good perspective and let you decide what you want to do more of.

Enjoy Rome . . Rich

brando Apr 10th, 2004 06:29 PM

Short and sweat--- one day vatican and everhting within, one day forum and colesuem, next day pantheon, spanish steps, and find a non touristy plaza not nazona and grab some great food. I promise if you eat in a toursity plaza you will get horrible food at crazy prices anybody who disaggrees does not like to explore and find a hole in the wall.

Iregeo Apr 10th, 2004 07:28 PM

Hey Rosebrook. I am not a huge museum person, but I was positively smitten by the Borghese Gallery. I consider it a must see. It is small, and can be done in a short period of time, with an english audio guide to many, many once in a lifetime treasures.

Do look into Scala Reale guided tours. We did their Roma Antica and Vatican tours. They are very worthwhile.

You have a short period of time and a lot to choose from. Have a great time.

LeslieC Apr 10th, 2004 07:47 PM

Unless you must stay at the Sheraton for some reason, may I suggest that you instead pick a hotel in the historic center of Rome near the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon or near the Spanish steps. This will give you a much better experience and waste less of the short time you will have in Rome.

The first afternoon in the city, I would roam the Piazza Navona and the Piazza della Rotonda and inside the Pantheon. If time permits, go inside the church call Santa Maria Sopra Mineverva which is at the Piazza della Minerva, very near the Pantheon. Have dinner and then go to the Fontana di Trevi after dark.

Day two, I would take the Ciao Roma Trolley Tour in the morning (this is the one I know as the hop on/off tour). Take the full circuit which is about 1.5 hours just to get an overview of the city.

Afterwards, (with a good map in hand) I would go to the Piazza Venezia. After admiring the Monumento Vittorio Emanuale walk around to the right of the monument and then up the wide steps on the left leading to the Campidoglio, perhaps visiting the museum on the piazza at the top.

Then, while facing the back of the Piazza del Campidoglio, walk to the left side of the building called the Palazzo Senatorio and look down over the Roman Forum, Cesars Forum and the Arch of Septimo Severo. From there walk down the pathway to your left as this will lead you back down the hill to the main street called Via Dei Fori Imperiali. Turn right and follow this to the Colosseum. Take a tour of the Colosseum. When finished, hop on the metro at the station across the street from the Colosseum and go to the Spanish Steps. Climb the steps, enjoy the Piazza di Spagna. Then take a lovely stroll down the Via Condotti for some fancy window shopping.

Day Three - grab a taxi and go to the Vatican Museum about 1/2 hour before opening time. Make a beeline to the Capella Sistina, after which enjoy the museum at leisure. After this, visit St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican Square. This may take the better part of a day, but might leave time for you to fit in something else you'd like to do, perhaps the Villa Borghese or the Via Veneto.

alexandria Apr 10th, 2004 08:21 PM


My greatest advice is to watch your purse and pockets in Rome. My husband was pickpocketed on the metro. If you go to an outdoor restaurant, do not put your prse on the ground because "gypsyies" will crawl in the bushes to take it. Also be careful about buying art on the street, a friend of our was robbed as he took out his wallet.

That aside, my husband and I love Rome. The food is great and all sights are wonderful. If you do not have to stay outside of the city, I recommend staying in the city because dining is often at around 8:30 to 9:00 so it is nice t tour all day and then rest before the city comes alive at night. WE found it to be very safe to walk in Rome. Unless you feel you must see the Vatican, I would not do so because of the long lines. Even tour groups waited along time. We found tour groups were able to get into the colleseum faster. We went on one from the American Embassy but most hotels would have suggestions.


forbwj2 Apr 10th, 2004 08:56 PM

I agree with the ideas mentioned above, particularly LeslieC and j827, However, in my opinion whatever you do DON'T MISS the Vatican Museum or St. Peter's. The Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Stanza are some of the most incredible sights in the World. Also, being September, if you get there early (get in line before the museum opens) and head straight for the Sistine Chapel, then backtrack to the Raphael Stanza then hit any other areas of the Museum you find interesting you can avoid some of the crowds. One part of the Museum I found extremely aweing is the collection of heads and headless sculptures, it is amazing to look at the vast collection of Greek and Roman sculpture, so imense that they are not even certain what goes with what.

Also, there is a backway out of the museum near the sistine chapel that puts you out beside St. Peter's (given that you under such a time crunch this would save time)

aeiger Apr 10th, 2004 09:04 PM

If you only have 2 1/2 days, have you considered staying closer to the city center? We had 3 1/2 days and stayed at a hotel by the Pantheon. Everything was within walking distance, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navone, Colloseum. Anther place that was interesting was the old Jewish Ghetto. Narrow streets, interesting restaurants and bakeries. It was also withing walking distance.

Surfergirl Apr 10th, 2004 09:22 PM

And if all else fails, rent the video, Roman Holiday, then follow the same route to the Mouth of Truth!

ROSEBROOK Apr 11th, 2004 08:29 AM

Thanks everyone for your great ideas! We'll sort it all out and try to fit everything in if possible. Unfortunately we do have to stay at the Sheraton - I would have liked to stay in city center.

selltile Apr 11th, 2004 08:30 AM

walk everywhere

ccthomp Apr 11th, 2004 08:05 PM

If I could see nothing else, I would not miss The Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. The tour guide we have reserved suggests that it is preferable to wait til midday to tour due to the large lines which begin early in the A.M.

Nikki Apr 12th, 2004 04:17 AM

The tip to go out the "back entrance" of the Sistine Chapel is a good one. To do this, however, you must see the rest of the museum before getting to the Sistine Chapel.

When you are ready to leave the Sistine Chapel, the signs will point to the exit door on the left as you face the rear of the chapel. This would take you back through the museum to the entrance. There is another exit door to the right, with a sign saying that it is for guided tours only. This door leads out directly to the entrance of St. Peter's. There is a guard outside this door, so you should wait until a tour group goes out that way and follow along with the group. Many people were doing this when we were there.

If you do not take this exit, you have to walk all the way back to the entrance of the museum, then around the Vatican wall, and go through security again before entering St. Peter's. Going out the back way saves much walking and much time.

grosenb Apr 12th, 2004 09:58 AM

Hire a private tour guide and a car. This will save you time traveling between sights and allow you to enter the Vatican without waiting in the long lines. It can be expensive but worth the money because you will be able to cover alot and receive alot of information while sight seeing.

Two and half days is not alot of time in Rome. We did this and it was the best use of our money.


cmeyer54 Apr 12th, 2004 10:09 AM

Day One: St Peters/Vatican Museums
Day Two: Colosseum and Forum
Day 1/2: Trevi Fountain and nearby Piazzas, Spanish Steps.
We used Eden Tours for the forum and a walking tour of Rome at night that was great. Colosseum was on our own; had a guide for St Peters as well which was worth it. the shuttle will drop you right at Vittorio Emmanuel's monument which is close to the forum and colosseum. You can easily walk to those; you'll need a cab to St Peters however from the drop off point. Be aware that traffic is pretty bad in rome so the shuttle will take much longer than you think - take the earliest one into the city if possible.

Shane Apr 12th, 2004 12:06 PM

cmeyer is correct. I can't add anything to what this wise person has recommended.

craisin Apr 12th, 2004 02:07 PM

lots of good suggestions here. I would recommend the Borghese gallery and gardens as well. You say that you are not "heavy on the arts or history" so this is a small enough, not-too-overwhelming museum for you to enjoy--lots of beautiful Bernini sculptures, of course. And, you'll have a nice "garden"/state park(!) to enjoy when you're done with the museum.

Before you leave, I would also make sure to stop by and throw a coin into the Trevi fountain to ensure your return to you can see MORE!!! enjoy your trip!

ROSEBROOK Apr 12th, 2004 06:21 PM

Thank you everyone!!!
Gail, for the private car/guide.....who did you use and approx. how expenside? Sound good if we can afford it.

CMeyer, who did you use for your guide to St Peters and the walking tour?

The Borghese gardens sounds lovely also.....oh for more time.....

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