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Travelhappyalways May 30th, 2017 06:34 AM

Leaving in 10 days to Italy - help please!
Hi everyone,

Due to an unexpected work situation, my husband and I just booked our trip to Italy leaving in 10 days. I'm trying to read as much as I can on what to do and where to go but I would appreciate any advice you have to offer.

- flights are to and from Rome
- duration: 10 nights
- currently have an airbnb booked in Testacio that we're able to cancel (30 minute walk to Collosseum)
- our first time to italy

1) should we stay in Testacio or book an airbnb that costs $430 cad more and is in front of Testo Brancaccio (13 minute walk to Collosseum)

2) should we stay in rome the entire time (my husband's preference) or travel other areas (my preference - would love to go to the amalfi coast and tuscany)

3) can you recommend any budget friendly tour companies? The day trips on viator are so expensive!

4) how much luggage did you bring? I'm trying to only bring a carry on, but seems difficult at the moment!

Travelling on our own to other cities seems hard with luggage, changing trains and buses and worrting about pick pockets.

Any advice on hotels, airbnbs, tours, trains etc will be much appreciated. Thank you!!

willit May 30th, 2017 07:09 AM

This sounds exciting - there will always be a great deal of conflicting opinions, but here are mine.

1) Rome's public transport system is very good - you can get an integrated transport card that allows you to use all buses, trams, metro and local trains. So if your initial apartment looks suitable, the relative walking distances shouldn't be an issue.

2) There is so much to do in Rome that you shouldn't get bored. It would be possible to do day trips as far as Naples and Florence (both about 90 minutes by high speed train) Other possible daytrips include Ostia Antica, Orvieto, Tivoli etc.

3) With a good guide book, or easily downloadable podcasts, do you need a tour? There are reasonable alternatives for some - for example, several years ago we paid a few €s extra at the Colosseum for an official guided tour. Our guide was a young student who was doing the tours as part of her course work - but it was very good.

bilboburgler May 30th, 2017 07:10 AM

Testacio is fine. You need to get to understand the bus/train/tram system. This is a good write up use google maps to find you local stops.

June will be warm and there is a lot of walking ahead, some of it on cobbles, so use worn in boots not high heels. No flashing of flesh in churches and take hats off (men) if you go inside.

You need very little, does your apprtment have a clothes washer?

10 day is more time than most people spend in Rome, you could do day trips easily enough.

Keiracaitlyn May 30th, 2017 07:19 AM

I agree with the above posters, everything is close to public transportation - so there's no need to change your accommodation. Wear comfortable shoes - those cobblestone roads are hard on your feet! And get an under-the-clothes moneybelt, so you won't have to worry about pickpockets.

If you do not have laundry facilities at your bnb, there are plenty of places that you can drop off/pick up laundry. No need to overpack - carryon is fine.

Rome has lots to do, and you will not be bored for 10 days - but it's easy to hop a train and go up to Florence or other day trips if you want to.

Since you don't mention what "budget friendly" means to you, it's hard to help. You can absolutely see Rome without guides, but I personally enjoy them.

Sassafrass May 30th, 2017 07:21 AM

Don't panic. You have tickets! The rest is fun.

With 10 nights (9 whole days), I would certainly visit other places, at least one or two more. Getting to the Amalfi Coast is a pain, but doable. Getting to Tuscany or Venice is much easier.
You could easily do 3 nights Tuscany, 3 nights Amalfi Coast, 4 nights Rome, or any combination, or just two with day trips, for a more relaxed trip. It does use up time getting from place to place. Three nights gives you 2 full days, 4 nights gives 3 full days, etc.

Using trains in Italy is super easy. Unless, you have some severe physical handicap, getting on and off is easy. I am in my 70s and a bit slow, but still do it with no problems. It is relaxing and trains go from city center to city center - extremely convenient. No parking issues, no worry about driving in the wrong areas. Another worry - gone!

Don't stress about pickpockets. It can happen anywhere, but it is easy to protect yourself. Get some kind of passport holder on money belt to wear inside your clothes. Keep money, credit cards and passport there. Have a little money in easy reach for each day - but secured as possible. Get money at an ATM. Don't carry important stuff in your backpack, purse of day bag - just guide book, umbrella, water, etc. Don't leave your bag on the floor, or hanging on a chair, etc. at restaurants.

Do not stress about only taking carry on. For some people, that is just their thing, but I always have checked luggage plus a small carry on. So, wipe that worry away.

As soon as you arrive in Rome, go directly on to your next place. You will be tired anyway. You can rest on the train.

That way, you put all your time in Rome together at the end of the trip, no checking into hotels twice.

If you do not have any, pick up a couple of guide books, one for info about places and one for onfo on trains, DIY tours, etc.

You can do most tours on your own very easily with a guide book or book local when you are there. You will want tickets to a few things ahead of time to save standing in line. You might want tours to one of two places, but people here will make REC's.

Travelhappyalways May 30th, 2017 07:22 AM

Wow - I love Fodors! I didn't think I would get any replies, thank you :)

willit - We are excited :) I'm actually going to look at guidebooks by Rick Steves. Thank you for your advice on day trips.

bilboburgler - We tend to overpack! I just checked and the apartment does have a washer (no dryer). I'm actually going to get a good pair of walking shoes - I was thinking Skechers. Thank you for the link, I will check it out. My worry was that that if we stayed in a hotel, we could leave our passport and phone in our safe, but staying in an airbnb we would need to carry it everywhere.

Travelhappyalways May 30th, 2017 07:30 AM

Thank you, Sassafrass! We are more comfortable with at least one checked luggage, but it's the thought of lugging that around to different cities on a packed train that worries us. I was unsure whether we should stay in Rome the first night then leave to somewhere else, but you're right, we'll be tired anyways so we should just go to our next destination.

Do you recommend a specific train website?

Calabria62 May 30th, 2017 07:52 AM

Lucky You!

You might want to take a look at Rome Day By Day, a guidebook that I have on my travel shelf. There is a lot of practical information, as well as sights that are categorized by interest, i.e. Baroque Rome, Underground Rome, Churches, Day Trips, etc. You can plot your days, using the map, and avoid backtracking.

I like to travel with just a carryon and a large purse. Since you have a washer in your apartment, no need to bring a ton of clothes. Good shoes are a must though. (I need to take my own advice on that one)

Do be mindful of pickpockets, but don't obsess. Just use precautions as you would in any big city.

Rome is wonderful, enjoy.

Cindywho May 30th, 2017 07:58 AM

One thing about pickpockets - just don't engage with the many people who will try to sell you something or even hand you something. Just walk away.

If I were you, I would definitely plan 3 or 4 nights in another area. Tuscany would provide a nice change from Rome.

Taltul May 30th, 2017 08:11 AM

I always add this to any Rome post. There are little water fountains all over the city and the water is safe and delicious to drink. (Got this tip here on Fodors.) We just kept filling up our water bottles.

bvlenci May 30th, 2017 08:29 AM

I think the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany, in addition to Rome, are too much for the short time you have. There are some day-long bus tours to both areas, but you would spend an awful lot of time on a bus, and just get a blurred look at what you want to see.

The Amalfi Coast is a big area, and a long way from Rome. If you were to go there, it would be better to spend at least three nights, which would pretty much take four days out of your time in Rome, including the travel to get there and back.

A side trip to Tuscany would be easier. If you decide to do that, I would suggest going to Florence for two nights, by train from Rome, leaving early in the day, so that you could see some of Florence when you get there. Then, there are day tours from Florence to rural Tuscany which are pretty well run. Or you could rent a car in Rome and drive to somewhere in rural Tuscany, staying for two nights. In this case, I would skip Florence altogether as it is not a car-friendly city.

If your husband just wants to stay in Rome, a compromise would be to take a few day trips while you're there.

One popular day trip is to Orvieto, a charming hill town. You can easily get there by train from central Rome, and there is a funicular railway to take you up the hill.

The Villa d'Este, a Renaissance villa, famous for its water gardens, in the town of Tivoli, is another easy day trip. You can get there by bus or train. There are also guided day tours from Rome of the Villa d'Este and the ancient Roman Villa Adriana, on the outskirts of Tivoli.

The Castelli Romani, a region of hills and lakes, has several towns that can easily be reached by bus or train. One of these towns, Castelgandolfo, was the papal summer retreat until the current occupant of the Vatican decided he doesn't like pomp and opened it all up to public visits, while he stays in Rome all summer. On Saturdays, you can even get there on the Papal train, leaving from the Vatican!

Without even leaving Rome, you can visit the ruins of an ancient Roman city, bigger than Pompeii and very well preserved. This was the ancient port city of Rome, and preserves centuries of Roman history in a very cosmopolitan town. You can get there by bus and/or metro, and train, all on one €1.50 100-minute transportation ticket.

bilboburgler May 30th, 2017 08:31 AM

start with seat61 to understand how the trains work.

no dryer, well no real reason for one, there will either be a washing line or a washing space where stuff dries, Rome is not in a jungle

Legally you need your passport with you, though you do have 24 hours to show them to the police after an "issue".

10 days, I'd use a carry on. Going for 15 days soon, and will not take hold luggage as you would describe it, but i will take a bicycle

frencharmoire May 30th, 2017 09:08 AM

Pack only lightweight clothes for the Rome heat. Those & underwear will dry on the line or even inside the apartment within a day. Bring one very lightweight windbreaker/scarf for evenings, but you won't need it probably. Just pack very light, do a wash.

Don't recommend buying new shoes. Wear whatever is most comfortable that you have, even if it is old & scuffed. You will be doing a LOT of walking.

I'd stay in Rome. Why not? You'll have a blast. It's always possible to take a day trip somewhere but you'll have a glorious time in Rome. Testaccio is the best food neighborhood.

heart2travel May 30th, 2017 10:11 AM

You have been given great advice so I won't add mine just wanted to say bon voyage!!! I love spontaneous and Rome is my all time favorite city. Read trip report recently written by Marigross on this forum. You will have plenty to do in 10 days!!!!
Enjoy Bella Roma say "hi" for me��

Travelhappyalways May 30th, 2017 03:20 PM

Thank you all so so much! We didn't think a trip would be possible but then things worked out last minute and we decided to book!

I was honestly kind of nervous to ask for advice since I've seen so many people get told off on TripAdvisor by others to go read past similar questions.

You all have been so helpful and I will heed your advice, except for the shoes! Sorry frencharmoire :) My husband and I just bought pairs of skechers. We didn't have good, comfortable shoes for walking and needed a new pair anyway :)

Calabria62 - I am going to the bookstore tomorrow, will check it out, thank you!

Cindywho - I've been reading about pick pockets but didn't come across anything about people trying to sell stuff. We might have stopped to see this so thank you!

Bvlenci - thank you for taking the time to write all of this out. I appreciate it. I am looking into all your links now:)

Taltul - I had no idea! We will bring water bottles for sure - thanks!

Bilboburger - thank you for telling me because I will make sure we have our passport with us at all times.

Heart2travel - you're so sweet, I definitely will.

Kay2 May 30th, 2017 06:40 PM

What are your and your husband's interests? Art? Ruins? Food? Do you like someone to guide and explain or do you like to explore on your own? That will help guide how long you want to spend in Rome and where else you want to go. My husband and I have only once spent more than 1 week in one city (Paris) and that was too long for us. We are usually ready to move on after 3-4 nights.

Last year I think we spent 4 days in Rome (my husband's first trip). Enough time for us to see several ruins, walk out by the aqueduct, visit the Vatican museum, visit fountains, etc. Not enough time to linger or to visit all the many museums, but enough time to see our priorities plus visit some natural areas on foot as well as enjoy a couple of leisurely evenings. We did use all the mass transit. The weather was quite hot in late June, so we could have used 1 more day for some more outdoor activities that we passed on because we needed some recharging with air conditioning and gelato.

I second the recommendation for Orvieto as a contrasting small town, easy to reach from Rome via train. I stayed there overnight one time when traveling north.

We like Florence for the art and architecture. We spent 2-3 days there on a previous trip + day trips. Easy to reach Florence via train. Tuscany is a region, so exploring is more difficult without a car, but you can take some day trips via bus or train. Again, depends on what you want to do/see.

Agreed that Amalfi Coast requires a greater investment of time. I've gone to Sorrento before as base for Pompeii and Herculeum, then day trip on down the coast. It was not a satisfying day trip from Sorrento. I would have liked to spend a few days, do some walking and wander the small towns as we did when we spent 2-3 days in the Cinque Terre some years ago.

Traveling by train with a rollaboard suitcase, especially up to 22 inches is easy. Larger just depends on the weight if you have to lift up/down steps. We try to travel with 1 21-22 wheeled bag and 1 pack each so bags can be checked or carried on as necessary and pack carrying our valuables on board plane and at seat on train when suitcase at end of car. Last year I injured my back, so bought a smaller case with wheels in Venice and finished our trip with the 21-inch and the smaller wheeled bag and nothing on my back. I did fine even when traveling on my own. We do wash clothes in sink, in washer if in apartment, or at laundry on most trips. We take clothes that are synthetic/fast drying. Some are labeled travel clothes and others just good for traveling. We avoid heavy cotton socks, jeans, or clothes that need ironing.

Hope you have a great time.

ElendilPickle May 30th, 2017 07:28 PM

We enjoyed this free walking tour. Just tip your guide for what you think the tour is worth at the end.

I like Skechers, and I brought a pair to New York a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, my feet started sliding around in them, and I ended up with a blister. You might want to bring another pair of broken-in walking shoes, just in case. Also, pack some moleskin in case you do get a blister.

Lee Ann

bilboburgler May 30th, 2017 11:40 PM

broken in shoes, that don't hurt your feet, are the best

you'll walk a lot

Travelhappyalways May 31st, 2017 05:25 AM

We both like to sightsee and are looking forward to the Colosseum and the ruins. We also like to eat - nothing fancy, just good food on a budget. We will probably see at least one museum but prefer to do other outdoor sightseeing.

Rome will offer us good sights to see, but we would also like to experience regions such as Tuscany or the Amalfi coast. That's the dilemma we're having right now, whether we should spend a few days somewhere else (if so where) or stay in Rome and take day trips.

We love doing organized tours. We know we'll have enough days to sightsee Rome on our own, but when travelling elsewhere, we prefer tours - but they're just too expensive! I looked into a 3 day tour to Naples and another region and it was as expensive as our flight tickets to Italy!

Kay2 - I appreciate your insight! We will look into Orvieto.

ElendilPickle - Wow, thank you for that! I'll definitely register for the free tour, that's awesome. We're each going to bring a pair of old running shoes we have (mine is a bit tight, but better than nothing!)

bilboburgler - You're right :)

bilboburgler May 31st, 2017 09:34 AM

You may find it worth while to eat the cost of a couple of nights in Rome and leave all your gear there to go off for a 2 nighter, Orvieto looks good, you might look at say Siena but (from memory) the train takes a time.

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