COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

November in Rome

Old Sep 14th, 2017, 12:00 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 227
November in Rome

Hi all ,I got some great input a couple of weeks ago re my "tagalong" trip when my husband goes to Europe. I am meeting him at the end of his trip, in Rome. We will have 4 days in mid-Nov.

Now I am hoping for a little help fleshing out the itinerary of our days there. I have been to Italy, he hasn't. We are very active people, very curious about history and love sightseeing, but I gotta be honest. A few days checking out museums and churches is plenty for us. I would love any suggestions about unique experiences we could possibly work in. Of course we will visit the Colosseum and Pantheon, tour the Vatican / St Peters, find some good food in Travestere, wander and soak in the piazzas... and the rest will be gravy.

I don't think I visited the Catacombs before and it sounds appealing to the "unique" aspect. Do you recommend it? Is there a popular or standout tour that you went on in Rome that you tell your friends about ?

Side trips - I've been to Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, and enjoyed that a lot. Pompeii disappointed, and I had such high expectations (I think partly I was young and went with a tour operator that really isn't my style. Visit to cameo factory and shameless plugging, trapped in a bus all day, ,just wanted that day back). Orvieto? Naples?

I can (and do) research a lot on my own, but hearing advice from fellow travelers has always gone a long way in making my plans and make trips special. I appreciate any advice!
4sammy is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2017, 12:06 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 86
Somehow I have two different logins depending on which device I meant to say we have four full days in the ground. So, three full to explore Rome and one that I would like to go outside the city for a little different surroundings.
4sammy234 is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2017, 12:07 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Pompeii disappointed, and I had such high expectations>

Give Ostia Antica in suburban Rome a try - less crowds and many here really like it a lot.

Catacombs are a bit south of town - at least ones for tours - can also see old Via Appia nearby.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2017, 12:50 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Or in Tivoli did you also see the Villa d'Este's wondrous water gardens?

http://www.villadestetivoli.info/storiae.htm
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2017, 01:42 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 227
You know, I don't know. I don't remember, and just writing that is enough for me to realize it's worth a re-do!

Would you recommend going on our own or with a tour guide?
I hate being trapped with a group. I think it goes back to the horrible Pompeii day. Hours on end, waiting for the bus to drop every other passenger at their hotel. I finally just said LET ME OFF HERE and took a taxi back to my hotel.... 25 years later I can almost feel the frustration haha. That said, it can be hard to get a good overview of a place on your own so there is a real fine line.

I digress. What do you know / think about Castel Gondolfo ?
4sammy is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2017, 01:46 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,434
Personally, I'd give Pompeii another try. It's one of the more fascinating places I've been to in Italy. If possible, I'd include the Naples Archeology Museum in the same excursion. Almost all of the artifacts found in Pompeii are now in the Archeology Museum. But I'd only make this day trip if no rain is in the forecast.

Perhaps the most interesting thing we've done in Rome was tour the Scavi under St. Peter's Basilica. Reservations required. If you want to do this, don't delay in putting in your reservation request.

http://www.scavi.va/content/scavi/en/ufficio-scavi.html

My favorite "museum" in Rome is the Borghese Galleria. Reservations required there, too. But I find some of the lesser-known museums well worth the time. The Castello, Ara Pacis, Palazzo Massimo Terme... All churches have something of interest to see (art, architecture, history, etc.) but some churches are practically museums... San Clemente, Chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio, Chiesetta Santa Maria in Cappella (in Trastevere and where some of St. Peter's bones were recently found)...

I usually hit one or two sights on this list whenever we go to Rome.

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome
Jean is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2017, 03:33 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,969
>>> very curious about history

The great monuments you have seen around Rome were constructed by the ruling class for themselves or as mass entertainment centers.

What Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Ostia preserved were the buildings for the commoners wealthy enough to own their own shops and houses. They represent history of the different parts of the society.

>>> Would you recommend going on our own or with a tour guide?
I hate being trapped with a group.

It seems you have already answered your own question. Unless you are willing to spring for a private guide, you WILL be trapped in a group. Of course, Pompeii only tour would not include near mandatory commission gift shop stop that come with transport included trips from Rome.

Whether doing your own or guide depends on how much you care to put in and what you want to get out. The site is enormous and a guide would pick only a sample of sites. Even using a private guide, unless you have done your own homework, they would choose which ones to visit, not you.
greg is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 09:41 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 227
Thanks everyone... here is what I've worked out so far. I like to have a loose schedule and fill it in as we get closer. Would love any additional tips.

Thurs 11/16: Arrive Rome 9AM and travel to hotel. I expect hotel room won't be ready (Boscolo Exedra Roma, a Marriott property near Piazza Repubblica). Suggestions for how to spend our day?? Most of the guided tours I've looked at start earlier than we can make, but I think we need something solid (a tour of some kind?) planned so that jet lag doesn't overtake me in the afternoon.

Fri AM: 7:30-11:30 Pristine Sistine Vatican / St Peters (with Walks of Italy). PM: Open. Possibly night tour of Colosseum or Catacoms and Crypts .


Sat AM: 9:30-1:30 City Bike tour (with Top Bike Rental). PM: Open; possibly just revisit sites of interest that we haven't had a chance to spend much time, or possibly spend the afternoon at Ostia Antica.

Sun: Day trip to Orvieto or Tivoli (husband to decide)

Mon: depart to DFW.
**************************
Thoughts? Suggestions (esp for Thurs afternoon)? Restaurants we can't miss?
4sammy is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 09:43 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 227
ETA: Jean - I have sent in a request to reserve the Scavi tour. If possible to do on Thursday that would be a great fit .Thanks for the tip.
4sammy is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 09:51 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 144
Ostia Antica is an easy trip by train. We spent time there and then got back onto the same train line and continued onto Ostia beach area (it was warm weather). BTW, the cafeteria at OA was surprisingly good!

If you have interest in the Jewish Ghetto we highly recommend Micaela Pavoncello at JewishRoma.com as a guide. If you are in the ghetto, be sure to go to the bakery for the "pizza"--a delicious pastry topped with dried fruits.

I also think that a private guide is a must for the Vatican,
benmia is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 10:27 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 86
Benmia, thank you, yes we do want to explore the Jewish ghetto.... !

Re Vatican - private guide meaning what? I'm looking at the walks of Italy tour... that would be a guided tour or do you mean something else?
4sammy234 is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 10:53 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 4,482
Private tour- like walks of Italy- is a group of twelve or so, it allows you early entry, which allows a few minutes in Sistine Chapel without crowds if your group makes a run for it. Context does tours of 6 I think. But you have to navigate some serious crowds, so the main benefit of the tour is that the guide knows exactly where they are going.

Just my opinion, but unless the Sistine Chapel is a must see for your husband, I'd do to the Capitoline Museum and Santa Maria Maggiore instead of Vatican and St Peters. The crowds at Vatican and St. Peter's were so intense that I really didn't enjoy it much, and I am a museum person. Capitoline Museum is amazing, great view of the forum at twilight. And I loved Santa Maria Maggiore.

Another cool place is the synagogue and Jewish Museum. Just very well done and has terrific Roman history. The Jewish Ghetto was one of the highlights for me, so I second the above rec!
marvelousmouse is online now  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 10:58 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 4,482
Oh, you can also pay for a private tour of the Vatican museum.Our guide mentioned they do that for people with money to burn. But I was assuming that's not what you meant- it was some crazy price, like in the thousands.
marvelousmouse is online now  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 11:02 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Castelo Gondolfo is one of the string of hillside towns south of Rome known as the Castelli Romani -where rich Romans fled the summer heat for centuries -Pope too- at Castelo Gondolfo - one of the nicest of the towns - Frascati I liked too.

Can take a train right up there from outside Rome Termini station - small train not part of Trenitalia. A commuter type train.

I would chose Orvieto over Tivoli - Yeh the Villa d'Este Gardens are neat but Orvieto is one of the most awesome hill towns I've been to -literally built on a huge old volcano plug - easy to hew tunnels out of and Orvieto has honeycombs of such tunnels - some open to public. (Some say Orvieto is like a house of cards - may collapse someday because of all the tunnels but I think that is an exaggeration!)

Anyway Orvieto is a cool town itself with usual large plaza fronting a Duomo- take trains to station below town and take a cableway up top - lovely walk to town center from top.

About trains - pretty much only regional trains serve Orvieto from Rome - great - no need to pre-book - flat dirt-cheap fares - seats cannot even be reserved - for lots on Italian trains check www.trenitalia.com for schedules -general info www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

With regional trains do not forget to validate your own tickets coming and going by sticking them in some cancelling machine or be faced with a fine for traveling without a valid ticket.

Orvieto - great choice IMO.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 11:22 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 144
We had originally wanted Francesca Caruso as our guide but she was unavailable. She gave me this list of guides.

[email protected]>



Buongiorno Ms. Ochs,

Thank you for your e-mail. Unfortunately I am already booked on the dates you request. If you like the idea of a licensed guide like me, along with the ones mentioned in Rick Steves' book, consider contacting my good friends and colleagues:

*Ilaria Ceccarelli at [email protected]

*Sonia Tavoletta at [email protected]

*Marta Marsili at [email protected]

*Alessandra Mazzoccoli at [email protected]

*Richard Bowen at [email protected]

We used Alessandra and were very pleased. It was just my husband and me on the tour. This was 6 years ago but I think it was about 150 Euros.
benmia is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 11:23 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 227
My husband is Catholic and the Vatican and St Peters / Sistine Chapel are really the ONLY things he has said he wants to do specifically. Aside from copious amounts of pasta and gelato. To him everything else is just fine and dandy, as long as we do that

I do want to see Santa Maria Maggiore and the Jewish Ghetto... I'll do some research on both of those - maybe the synagogue and museum / ghetto would be a good Thursday afternoon plan.

Orvieto sounds up his alley, and I've been to Tivoli, so thanks for the nudge on that all! Thanks for the info on validating the tickets too!
4sammy is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 11:34 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 144
Be sure to purchase your tickets for the Vatican beforehand to avoid standing on line.
benmia is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 11:52 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,200
In November, I think Orvieto would be preferable to the Villa D'Este, where many of the fountains would be turned off.

There are five catacombs with regular visiting hours in Rome. Three are south of the city center, and two are north. All of them have their own tours, mostly very well done, and quite inexpensive. I wouldn't spend money on an expensive tour, if catacombs are the main readon you'd take the tour.

If the tour is from Walks of Italy, there are some errors and misconceptions in their description. They say they visit the Catacomb of "Santa Priscilla". It's one of my favorites, but Priscilla wasn't a saint. She was a rich Roman lady who sold some land to people who wanted to build a cemetery. They weren't all Christians who were buried there, either, but the only part open to visitors is the Christian part.

They advertise that they have small groups, maximum six people, whereas the official groups could have as many as twenty. I've been to that catacomb several times, on the official tour, and there were never more than four people in our group. After all, as Walks of Italy says, not many people go there. The official tour was always excellent.

The Walks of Italy tour also goes to the Basilica of San Clemente, which is fascinating, and might make the tour worth the money. It's hard to understand the site without a guide.

The "crypt" decorated by monks' bones, in Santa Maria della Vittoria, has only macabre interest in my opinion. I wouldn't bother. It's right in central Rome, and doesn't need a tour.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 11:57 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 4,482
That I can understand. I'm Catholic too! I think the Vatican is a bucket list item for anyone of the faith. Santa Maria Maggiore's relic are boards from Christ's manger, so from a Catholic perspective, it's pretty cool. It's a Papal major Basilica like St Peter's and was also one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome. I'm mostly nonpracticing, but I surprisingly enjoyed the churches and reliquaries of Italy. Just fascinating.

Something to be aware of is that a tour gives you preferred access to St Peters but once you leave the Vatican museum with the group, you can't backtrack the same way. So if he wants to see much besides the Chapel and St. Peter's, you would have to go through the line again or go back another day. (It's possible that you can just stay behind and enter the basilica when you want without the tour, but on the day I went, it was closing early for services. So I don't know. I wanted to see the Basilica without waiting in the hours long line more than I wanted to see the Vatican museum.) a tour basically gives you time in Sistine chapel, time in the gift shop (a chance to buy something with the popes face on it yay) and a few highlights that the guide likes (unfortunately my guide did not have similar interests to me and that was mostly a snooze fest).

Sounds like a great trip! Have fun and please write a trip report! I'm thinking I need to get to Italy again soon
marvelousmouse is online now  
Old Sep 15th, 2017, 12:15 PM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 227
You are all so wonderful. I need to be better about getting on here and giving advice when I can, because I have gotten so much over the years from Fodorites.

Wonderful info on the catacombs, we will do them ourselves. And I think we are fine leaving the Vatican museum when the group does - St Peters and the Chapel are the big draw.
4sammy is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO