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Leaving in 10 days to Italy - help please!


Leaving in 10 days to Italy - help please!

Old May 31st, 2017, 10:58 AM
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If food is fairly important to you I would probably reserve most of my dinners in advance. Just 1-2 days ahead of time is usually sufficient. If you don't feel like going through a bunch of reviews on TA or the like a good shortcut is an app like Eat Rome by Elizabeth Minchilli or Katie Parla's Rome. My personal favorites in Rome were Renato e Luisa, La Pace Del Palato, and La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali. Whatever you do don't eat at a place on a scenic piazza where one of the waiters is trying to flag you down. Have fun!
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Old May 31st, 2017, 11:31 AM
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Blisters aside, Skechers that have a stretchy knitted top can be a bit treacherous in Italy (including Rome) because of all the uneven ancient stone surfaces + the very many stairs one typically climbs. With the stretchy tops, it is easy for the foot to slide inside the shoe, beyond the support of the sole bed, forwards or sideways. That's tough if you are descending steep inclines and tough on your ankles if the side of your foot goes in the crack between two cobblestones. And there plenty of opportunities for that in Rome:



Sorry to sound obsessive about footwear (and maybe you bought a different kind of Skechers. Lace-up Skechers probably wrap around the foot more firmly than the slide-on kind. ) But the amount of walking you will do in Rome on uneven surfaces that do not resemble modern sidewalks is hours and hours every day -- and being happy & secure with what's on your feet is actually a big part of enjoying Rome.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 11:32 AM
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Shoes, new, on vacation: Did it once, nice walking shoes, comfortable in the store. After one day in Paris I had to learn the word for blisters (les ampoules). So for you, starting today, wear those new shoes every day to break them in. Pre-treat your feet with lubricating foot cream on long walking days. I recommend Gold Bond Ultimate.

Check out Context for quality day tours and Walks in (of?) Italy for walking tours.

Resto rec: http://www.osteriabarberini.com/en/
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Old May 31st, 2017, 11:45 AM
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Rick Steves' books are great for first time visitors. He gives the highlights and explains things in very easy to understand terms. I have long ago graduated to other tour books for my favorite repeat cities but relied on him very much in the beginning. I am now a seasoned European traveler and can do things on my own.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 02:05 PM
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Good news on the shoe front - they have shoe shops in Rome! I'm really not being sarcastic - we had to buy new shoes for our DS as few years ago when his disintegrated in the unexpected snow, and at the same time I bought myself a pair that I'm still wearing as they are so comfortable.

Whatever you do, I suggest taking some of those special blister plasters for the first few days till your feet become acclimatised [yes I know they have those in Rome too, but you might not have found the right sort of shop to buy them by the time you need them].
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Old May 31st, 2017, 02:37 PM
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Since it's a bit late in the game, yes I would stay in Rome the entire time.

I travel with a 24" roller bag that I check on the plane. Especially if you stay in one place then that's not too much. I can't get behind the carry-on only style of travel myself. But certainly that's possible if you make it a priority.

I would buy a regular hard-copy guidebook for Rome and read it on the plane ride over.

Some people do, but I'm living proof you don't have to over plan a European trip for it to turn out wonderfully.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 02:57 PM
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If you are going to stay in Rome the whole time then you definitely don't need to worry about doing a carry on only. If you are going to go other places the most important thing is that you are able to lift your bag yourself on and off the trains.

When you mentioned tours I thought you meant things like getting a guide to show you through the Colosseum and forum, or the Vatican, etc. Those can be nice to do on a first visit. They aren't necessary, but can definitely be helpful and often allow you to skip the lines at the places you want to see. But you can always wander around with a guide book as well.

Rick Steves does has some walking tours in his books and he also has an app with free downloads that have audio tours. I know that we used his audio tour when we visited the Pantheon in Rome. Download them before you go and then you can listen without using data.

Before my first trip to Italy I worried about using the train system, but it was so easy and comfortable!
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 12:25 AM
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I've never ever booked a restaurant in Rome, in fact in 8 trips to the country I've only booked one (my wedding meal), the trick to finding good food and service in Italy is look for the noisiest place and squeeze in. Italians love food and like to talk, if you see a quiet place with no one in it, then there is a reason.

On another point, you will find hustlers outside many restaurants in Rome, they are there because tourists don't know how to choose and few locals would eat there. Go for it once by all means just to see the process, but the food nah.

The other trick I've learnt, is find a portly middle aged, well dressed, couple walking towards a restaurant. That will be good.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 12:57 AM
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If you do know where you want to eat, make a reservation. Even when we are just walking around, if we see a restaurant we like, we make a reservation for the evening, etc. We are then received as guests and with more courtesy.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 01:13 AM
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sassa is right
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 01:38 AM
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So many restaurants now have a greeter outside that I can't consider it the mark of inferior food. I also have never heard any of our "local" friends say, "Let's not eat here, there's a hustler outside." But I have heard Italian friends say, "Let's go somewhere else, this place is too noisy." My very Italian husband absolutely refuses to eat in a noisy restaurant.

When you're in Rome (or other tourist-mecca city), any portly middle-aged couples you see are likely to be some hicks in from the provinces, who don't know any more about restaurants than you do. Likewise, just because some people are speaking Italian in a restaurant doesn't mean they're locals. More than half the tourists in Rome are Italian tourists, and again, they're just as likely to be taken in by a tourist trap as you are.

Many Italians, especially those middle-aged and above, rarely eat out and don't really expect to find great food in restaurants. They tend to choose based on price. If you look at restaurant reviews on the Italian Tripadvisor site, you'll see many, many reviews that are downgraded because of a perceived high price. Some are restaurants that seem quite reasonably priced to me, and some are restaurants that should be expected to have high prices.

My rule is to observe the other diners. Are most of them eating, or do a lot of them seem to be impatiently waiting for something to arrive? Do they look cheerful or grumpy? Does what they're eating look appetizing?

I also avoid restaurants that have too many offerings on the menu, as that's a sure sign that most of it is just being reheated.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 03:36 AM
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Definitely take lots of moleskin. Plus some tiny scissors you can carry with you during the day. You will need it with any new shoes and I will guarantee it will save your trip!

Breaking in mew shoes for a few days around the house or office is no prepararion at all for your European trip. Trust me.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 05:46 AM
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There are lots of Rome tips in earlier posts on this board that you can skim if you have time.

We enjoyed our prebooked Colosseum tour that took us down below and up above (may be too late to book that) and got us through the line quicker. Used some of the Rick Steves audiotour for other sites. Agree that for first timers that his suggestions for grouping of sites can be good. I also like walking tours on Frommers.

We did go to Siena from Florence and had a great day. We used the bus instead of the train (probably followed a Rick Steves suggestion there).

I understand your desire to see something in addition to Rome. The Tuscany region and Florence are quite different as are Naples and the coast. With 10 days you can do it with little additional work.

Agree that if you have some great price on the apartment for the week that you might want to double book a hotel for an overnight or two somewhere else with just a smaller bag. That is what we should have done in Paris rather than taking day trips. We would have lost some money, but gained time sightseeing.

Rome is a great sightseeing city. You will love it.

Another tip that cuts down on blisters if your shoes are large enough is to wear liners + socks as I do when hiking. Otherwise I wear thick socks and take along moleskin or bandages and put them on as soon as slight rubbing identifies a problem area. I've shared my supply with tourists on walking trails in Switzerland and other places.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 11:05 AM
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I only have two tips to add to all the great advice you've received.

1. Compeed. Available in any Farmacia (green lit up cross) Perfect protection from blisters, rubbing, and hot spots.

2. Don't overlook Ostia Antica (mentioned above). This is truly terrific. I like it a 1000x more than Pompeii. It's easy to do (a snap from Testaccio) and your Rick Steves' Rome guide book will give you specific directions.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 11:28 AM
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Rick Steves does has some walking tours in his books and he also has an app with free downloads that have audio tours.>>

we very much enjoyed his tour of the churches with mosaics, [remember to make sure that you've got some small change to use in the machines to illuminate the mosaics] and found all his tips about how to get to different places very reliable.

As for how to pick a restaurant, there are no easy answers. I agree that there are more hustlers nowadays and that it doesn't necessarily mean that a place will be bad, but on the whole, it may not be a guarantee of quality. My Italian teacher likes to walk up to someone who looks like a local, and ask them for a recommendation - not something that us brits feel very comfortable with. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

My best advice is this - if you find a place you like, keep going back!
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 11:32 AM
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I was introduced to Compeed by a Roman pharmacist 20+ years ago! I don't go on any trip without them now.

I've found a Band-Aid brand version at CVS, "Advanced Healing Blister," that works as well as Compeed. Compeed and Band-Aid versions are both available on Amazon, and both brands offer different sizes (heel, toe, etc.). Compeed has a variety-size package as well as a bunion plaster that my husband says works well. You leave the bandage on for several days, so you don't need a large quantity for a typical length trip.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 01:52 PM
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I would agree that tuscanlife that Rick Steves' Rome book had the best explanation of what we were seeing in Ostia Antica, and compared to the other major guidebooks too.

If you were up for paying for an overnight or two in Florence, it would be well worth it. If you decide to do Florence in a day, pick your day now, order the train tickets now. Make it an early start and a later coming home to take full advantage of your day.

If possible, pre-order tickets for at least one of the big museums in Florence, the Uffizi or the Academia Galleria. The Uffizi is amazing for Renaissance art. If ordering tickets or long lines aren't something you want to worry about, there is a lot of other great art in Florence.

If you do want a half-day or day guide for one of your days in Rome, I would recommend Daniella at Mirabilia Urbis Tour. Our family really enjoyed her tour and she has a lot of knowledge but is fun in how she shares it. Definitely not free, but was well worth it.


Other daytrips you could consider include this castle in Bracciano, about 1 hour regional train ride from Rome St Peter Station. We went in off-season, but I think there are also boat rides on the lake in the summer.

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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 01:54 PM
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Forgive me, it is accademia with two c's.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 02:00 PM
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You have lots of great tips here, and you're going to have a memorable and fun trip! Here's my two

It sounds obvious, but do what you want to do & what you like to do. It's Rome! You can't see it all. I can joyfully do museum marathons, but I've traveled with friends & family who can take an hour of art/antiquities, whatever, and then they're done. We've been the happiest when we did not force ourselves to meet others' travel expectations.

I think one of the most fun things to do in Rome is hanging out in cafes just soaking it all in. Savor it!

You mentioned Rick Steves. I recall that his Rome guidebook has a good walking tour of Rome by night, hitting a lot of the lit up sights & fountains. Make sure to throw that coin in the Trevi fountain! Then grab a gelato.

It took me five trips to Rome to see the Sistine Chapel (long story), and when I finally did I wanted to
soak it in; I had brought binoculars so I could focus on the details, and we hung back along the walls (the guards try to scurry you through). It was amazing. I loved the map room that we slowly worked our way through waiting to get into the Chapel. We did get advance tickets reservations easily once we got to Rome, but there was still a bit of a wait.

One of the countless churches of Rome is the Basilica di San Clemente; what's cool about visiting it is that it's Rome in layers: a mosaic-filled church built on top of, I think, an ancient Roman house built on top of an early temple to Mithras/Mithra, a Roman/Persian deity. Fascinating!

Kind of nearby is the Boca di Veritas ((I may be mangling the name) the Mouth of Truth that Gregory Peck takes Audrey Hepburn to in Roman Holiday. I always wanted to go there and do the goofy stick your hand in the mouth thing, and so I did so with one of my friends on the last trip. Fun memory.

When it was hot or my feet needed a rest, I'd duck into any nearby open church and sit quietly in a pew for awhile, enjoying the cool dimness or maybe looking at my map/guidebook/ phone, etc.

Agree with the good "shoe" advice you've received; take a broken-in pair and start wearing the new ones right away. If possible, I like to change shoes during the day, maybe before going to dinner. I've taken out a few clothing items before the final zipping of the suitcase to stick in an extra pair of comfy shoes.

As for suitcases I took a carry-on on a month trip to Italy & Spain (extended it and checked it going home) because of some of the connections & the itinerary, but I've checked my bag on trips, too.

I like the small purse size Top Ten guidebooks; they aren't super detailed, but they are easy to carry around.

Ditto on the advice about the pure drinking water from the fountain spigots!

I split up how I carry money/ valuables. I like a small neck pouch tucked under my shirt more than a money belt, but whatever you use, keep a small wallet with bills/coins handy so you don't have to dig into your "secret" stash for buying that gelato, postcard, bus/cab fare.

We rented the audio tours at the Forum and liked using them so much we did the same later on in Pompeii.

Read about the food specialties of Rome and try some. We found a restaurant right near our hotel that we liked and went back a couple times; it was fun to feel like we had a hangout.

If I were you, I'd take a side trip for a couple days or do a day trip or two. You have some good advice here already about options.

I bought a small modern (unframed) print from an artist in his gallery in Trastevere on the last trip, and I enjoy looking at it on my living room wall every day. I've done that on other trips and found these to be some of my favorite travel souvenirs.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 02:20 PM
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You've got more tips than you can remember by now, but here's another one: ancient Rome is stunningly beautiful at dusk and after dark. Nice time for a walk.
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