Last minute Rome questions

Nov 10th, 2008, 12:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Last minute Rome questions

Hi All,

I've been planning my first trip to Rome and doing a whole lot of lurking here, but little posting. You all have been so very helpful to my trip without knowing it at all!

So, we're leaving on Sunday from MPLS to Rome! I am getting excited and nervous, like all trips. The apartment is rented, the flight is booked, the dogs have a reservation at the kennel, I even know where my passport is.

My boyfriend has even told me in no uncertain terms that I cannot climb into the Trevi Fountain and pretend to be Anita Eckberg. Party pooper. In his defense, I do seem to get a silly idea like this into my head at least once a trip, and he's become used to my whims.

It feels like we're about ready to go.

I just have a couple small questions.

We're staying near Piazza Navona. Is there a grocery store in the area? I'd like to get a few essentials to keep in the apt. Or am I better off looking for small specialty stores?

Also, is there a tourist office nearby that could help in booking tours and generally giving advice. I'm sure we'll need some along the way, and it's much nicer to talk somenone in person. Well, that and I answered the phone in a call center for years, and really hate the phone.

Oh, and should I reserve my tickets to see the Vatican musemum NOW or just wait till we get there and be sure to get in line early? It's November, so I'm hoping the crowds are smaller. Am I dreaming?

Next. Do rental apartments usually have all the linens I'd need (well, except for washcloths)? Sorry if this sounds dumb, I've always stayed in a hotel before.

OK, I'm sure there are more important questions to ask, but for some reason these have been on my mind. Hey, I tend to stress about small details over big things.

Thanks everyone! Any advice would be great. General advice about Rome would be awesome too.
AnnaLiffey is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 01:07 PM
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I will say that even in December, the line to get into the Vatican museums was extremely long. Of course it all depends on what time of day you get there, but don't assume that winter time means no lines. I would book any needed reservations for the Vatican now. You should email the rental agency about washcloths, since they could vary from apt to apt. Ours near Campo dei Fiori had no washcloth but had all other needed linens.

I would prefer researching and reserving tours ahead of time instead of picking blindly from a tourist office, but others may disagree. Hopefully you can get answers to your other questions.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 01:10 PM
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RE groceries: There was a thread on which this was discussed some time ago. I remember posting this advice.

Yes, there are shops. Not right in the P.zza Navona, of course, but nearby. I can think if at least 4.

There's a cool one in the Piazza Nicosia -- it's a vaulted space on the main floor of a palazzo on the east side of the square. Small door, easy to miss.

The largest shop in the area is just south of the Corso V. Emmanuele, in the via Monte della Farina. IE it's due S from Navona. It has a small opening onto the street but expands hugely inside.

Right on Corso V Emmanuele, there is more than one nice, modern, clean supermarket. One is a chain called sthg meaningless but catchy, like "Di per Di".

West of Navona, about 10 minutes by foot along the glorious via dei Coronari, there is a small shop -- just before the street ends by the Tiber.

There's also one around the via della Pace but I can't be more specific on location.

Nicosia is my favourite, followed by Farina.

RE linens: Impossible to generalize -- there is no state-administered standard for linen supply. But I have never lacked for basics (towels, dishcloths etc), in our 4 Rome rentals of the past 4 years.

Facecloths are not assured, however.
tedgale is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 01:22 PM
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We rented an apartment in Rome and all the linens were provided (can't remember about washclothes - if it is a must - probably put a couple in your suitcase to be sure)

We had a reserved tour at the Vatican but walked right in so didn't need it (this was last November). We went on the day when the pope gives his address - figured most people would be at that and betted correctly.

We didn't use a tourist office - had our trusty guidebooks and the information off of this forum.

Our apartment was near the Piazza Navona as well and we frequented a grocery store just up the street from the Pantheon - the name of the street or store escapes me now....
illnative is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 01:30 PM
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Our apartment is fairly close to Corso V. Emanuelle, so I'll check those grocery stores out. Actually, I really like grocery shopping and seeing all the different foodstuffs available. I may check out a few stores.

It sounds like it's a risk to not reserve tix for the Vatican Museums ahead of time. I'll see if I can pick a day before we leave. It looks like the open hours are pretty short now, so I'd like to get there early. It's easy to loose one's self in a museum.

I'm thinking of seeing the entire Vatican over 2 days. One day at the museums, and one to see the basillica and relax in St. Peter's square. I'd like a more relaxed pace. Or do most people see everything in a day? Is it too busy of a day?
AnnaLiffey is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 01:53 PM
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There is a grocery very near the Pantheon. If you stand in Pza della Rotuda facing away from the Pantheon, there's a street that goes off to the left... I think it's Via Giustianni. The store is only a couple of doors down on the right.

For tour guide, consider Sonia Tavoletta. [email protected]
She's wonderful.

And---what the heck---get in the fountain! Just make sure there are no police around.
JeanneB is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 02:19 PM
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There's also a Supermercato on Via Monterone, which is off of Corso Vittorio Emanuele just east of the Piazza Navona.

The apartments I've stayed in have always had linens (except no washcloths), but the rental agency should be able to confirm that yours will have them. It is usually listed right on the website.

You're staying in my favorite area of Rome. After dinner, go to one of the cafes on the Piazza Navona, order a Limoncello, and enjoy watching the people, performers & artists. Have a great trip!
SusanP is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 02:35 PM
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Yes, there are several markets within a few blocks of where you are staying. Once you get situated, just wander around and you will find them. The area is the best, in my opinion. Be sure to walk over to the Bridge of Angels at night, it is amazing.

There is also an WiFi cafe (I'll try to remember the name, if I can) in the same area, just south and west of Navonna. If you have a laptop, access is free, as long as you buy a drink or something.

I would definitely try to book a tour through the Vatican. Even if, after entry, you decide to not use the actual tour guide, bypassing the line is well worth the extra cost. Do not go on the last Sunday of the month, as it is free and packed.

Usually linens and towels are provided as are utensils. I will usually pack in some stuff to bring over, just so I don't have to worry about immediately shopping. I'll take some sugar packets, some instant cocoa, some mayonaise/ketchup packs, and a few of the Folger's coffee bags. I have some of those salt and pepper packs, all thanks to my local Burger King. Also, a roll of toilet paper may come in handy, along with a bar of soap. But the local markets will have everything you need.

Have fun,


daveesl is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 02:48 PM
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Do the coffee bags work in the those little aluminum expresso pots?

Anna, this is what I've found in every Italian apartment I've rented...
JeanneB is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 02:59 PM
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You really can't compare previous winter lines at the Vatican museum to this year. In past years the Vatican switched to winter hours October through March which were very short. This is the first year they aren't reducing hours in the winter. To book a tour directly with the museum:
kybourbon is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 03:57 PM
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With regard to the Vatican and long lines. I have been twice in October, once in 2004 and again in 2008. Both times I went after 1:00pm and there was no line. I walked right in, went through security and bought my ticket. In both instances there were long lines before 11:00am.
nwtraveler is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 04:08 PM
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Hi Jeanne, hee hee

Everyone makes fun of my little Folgers coffee bags. UNTIL it is 7am and I have my cup of coffee without having to get dressed and go out. Then EVERYONE wants a cup, but NO I horde my stash.

Oh, and to make it worse, I even carry some of those flavored coffee creamers. Southern Butter Pecan is my favorite.

HA HA HA, I'm a sick, sick person.
daveesl is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 05:43 PM
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Thanks for giving me a good chuckle!
SusanP is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 05:54 PM
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I always carry several Folger's coffee bags too. Another alternative are single serving coffee pods. They came in handy when breakfast where I was staying (a convent) only had instant coffee.
kybourbon is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 06:20 PM
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Hrm. I was going to bring some tea bags with me just to get a quick caffeine fix before getting some groceries. I am, however, really looking forward to nice strong Italian coffee. mmmmmm.......

Since you all are so knowledgeable, does anyone know where to get good quality coffee grounds for my morning brew? Is that a supermarket thing, or does one go to a specialist? I do love a coffee shop, and always try to check out local roasts when I'm travelling.

Wow, I'm getting excited. Now, I have to find my camera before I leave, or get a new one. Perhaps I should watch La Dolce Vita once more for atmosphere... erm, maybe not. Every time i see that movie the desire to hop in the fountain get stronger. heheeee....

Oh, and thanks for the tip about the Vatican not switching to winter hours. I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of art and the short hours. Now I can be overwhelmed by art without being hurried!
AnnaLiffey is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 06:48 PM
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Coffee? I think most Italians are very proud of their commericial coffee products and pick up their Lavazza or Illy or other favorite brand at the local supermarket for home brewing--when they're not ordering from their favorite bar.
ellenem is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 07:01 PM
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Since you will have an apartment, you will probably have some type of coffee maker. Buying coffee/tea at the market won't be a problem.

I don't think you will be tempted to climb into the fountain at this time of year.

Usually you don't find washcloths supplied in Europe unless you are staying at better hotels so many people like to pack the Dove disposable washcloths. I don't care for them so I pack baby washcloths. They don't take up much room in your luggage and they dry fast.
kybourbon is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 07:19 PM
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While looking the Vatican website, I discovered they are now selling tickets online. I've started a new thread so people will see the information. It appears you must purchase your ticket within 60 days of visiting.
kybourbon is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 07:33 PM
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Be sure to get the best pizza in Rome at DA BAFFETOS. It is right off of the Piazza Navona and it was wonderful.
letsgo39 is offline  
Nov 11th, 2008, 05:29 AM
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To answer your question about the whether coffee bags work in the mocha pots, the answer is no. That pot is for stovetop espresso. You have to buy the finely ground espresso, found in any Italian grocery store. Fill the bottom with water up to the line, fill the removable piece with coffee and tamp it down a bit, screw it all on and put it on the flame. I 3-4 minutes you will have stovetop espresso.
sandi_travelnut is offline  

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