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opinions on tours in Rome, specifically Vatican and Colosseum/Forum

opinions on tours in Rome, specifically Vatican and Colosseum/Forum

Jan 19th, 2008, 01:52 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 50
opinions on tours in Rome, specifically Vatican and Colosseum/Forum

We (2 adults and one 17yo)will be in Rome for 4 days. I am looking for opinions on seeing the Vatican and the Colosseuum/Roman Forum via a small tour. Each would be about 4-5 hours and not on the same day. Thoughts? Tours you have taken that you liked/didn't like? We are looking at small tours numbering 6-10 folks. Unfortunately, I can't find any private tours (like Helen's) for the days we are there. So I don't have to anguish over where I should pay the price. Thanks.
sunnyflorida is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 01:57 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 613
We joined Rome Walks for the Vatican and Forum/Coliseum, and thought they did an exceptional job.

Anna Roz
anna_roz is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 02:16 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 435
We used Daniella Hunt with Mirabilia Urbis Tours, www.rome-tours.com, for a private tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum. She was terrific - very knowledgeable, passionate and fun. Used Context Rome for our tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's. Small group; our tour guide did a great job. Daniella will customize for you.
Uma is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 02:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,959
I had a wonderful tour of the Forum and Colosseum with ContextRome. Small group and very informative guide. It also covered Palatine Hill which was quite interesting as well...I think it was just about 4 hours long.
amyb is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 03:45 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 89
If you want to be rushed thru places you would like to stay longer and stay longer in places of no interest to you take planned tours. We stayed one hour in the sistine chapel the first time we visited it... i heard a tour guide tell the member meet here in 15 minutes at the far door of the Sistine to leave. Do you own planning it take a little study but it is well worth it. Visit my web site emilyandjim.info for some ideas...
Oscar_James is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 04:00 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,444
Hi, sunny,

when we took our kids then aged 15 & 18 to Rome, we made the mistake of NOT having a guide for the Forum. None of us could take the leap of imagination required to make sense of those heaps of stones. there are lots of recommendatinos for good tours on this forum - eg context roma usually gets good reviews.

as for the Vatican, you should be able to deal with this yourselves, with a good guide-book and comfortable shoes. IMO the only point of a guide is getting you in past the queues. there are threads on this too, including quite a recent one. to get the most out of it, go straight there, in a cab, and don't try to do anything else that day.

once you have had your fill [and assuming you haven't used one of the audio guides so you haven't got to go all the way back to return it, and then walk all the way back around the walls again,] you can probably slip out of the back door of the sistine chapel marked group exit, which takes you out down some steps, round a corner to some other steps, and then deposits you in front of the door to st. Peter's without having to queue and go through security again. [thank you Rick steves for that tip, if for nothing else].

my kids also liked the churches with mosaics [rick steves has a good walking tour of those], our trip to ostia antica, [metro and then local train], and just wandering about to see what fabulous sight was around the next corner.

and freshly squeezed blood orange-juice. they were in season when we wre there at easter, nearly two years ago, so you may be lucky.

have a great trip,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 971
Our family (kids aged 19, 16 and 13) used RomeWalks for both the Vatican and Collosseum/Forum. Both were really worth it.

I agree that I can't imagine doing the Forum without a guide to bring it to life. The kids really enjoyed the Vatican tour though.

Both guides we had (different for each tour)were fabulous. The guides have their specialty areas.
aussiefive is offline  
Jan 20th, 2008, 02:06 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,469
Context Rome all the way!
massagediva is offline  
Jan 20th, 2008, 06:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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We are not typically tour group people, but I agree that a tour is needed for the Colosseum and Forum if you truly want to understand what went on there. We went a week and a half a go with Through Eternity tours and highly recommend them. When are you going? They have a winter discount on their website now.

As far as the Vatican, are you taklking St. Peter's or the museum or both? I know some will disagree with me, but we enjoyed time on there on ouw own. We spent 5 hours in the museum alone and would have stayed longer if they weren't closing. A good guidebook will help with the biggies that every tour covers. Then, you will still have time to wander off and follow your own interests.
julies is offline  
Jan 20th, 2008, 06:27 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 81
I wholeheartedly join those voices endorsing Context Rome-we did the very tour you are inquiring about & it was excellent. See their website & read other opinions of their tours. Good luck
The_Judge is offline  
Jan 20th, 2008, 08:18 AM
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Posts: 50
Thanks for the personal experience. We are going in June. I have already emailed about a reservation for the scavi/excavations tour at the Vatican. I suspect we will do the Vatican/Sistene Chapel/St Peter's otherwise on our own, but use a guide for the Colosseum/Forum. But I really needed some feedback on your experience with tours, and recommendations. One of us (my sister) is an artist, and my sister and I were educated in parocial schools. So the vatican I think we can do and relate without a guide. But I am thinking we will all learn something, and get more out of a guide at the ruins. Thanks.
sunnyflorida is offline  
Feb 1st, 2008, 05:49 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 418
bookmarking for June, 2008.
travlintoes is offline  
Feb 1st, 2008, 06:17 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 252
Another recommendation for Context Rome and the Forum/Coliseum tour. Only 4 to 6 members of the tour and the guide really brought the area to life. A highlight of my trip to Rome.
roadlesstraveled is offline  
Feb 1st, 2008, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,617
another vote for Context Rome, I did their tours for the Colosseum/Forum. Outstanding in every way. Guides were native American speakers, schooled in history and art, but entertaining and good with handling a small group. Great experience.

I once made the mistake of going on a tour of the Vatican Museums with a Vatican-provided tour guide, and another guided tour of Domus Aurea.
Both guides spoke English with very strong Italian accents, to the extent that we couldn't understand them. I'm sure they wouldn't be able to understand my Italian either, but then I'm not hired to be a group guide.
elaine is offline  
Feb 1st, 2008, 11:24 PM
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Posts: 10,298
We used Rome Walks for both Vatican and Coloseum/Forum tours and they were both great
jamikins is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2008, 05:08 AM
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sunnyflorida, I would second what Oscar James said. My wife and I spent four days in Rome last fall, and visited most of the main tourist sites without a guide. Based on what we observed of the dozens, maybe even hundreds, of tour groups we saw, I'm glad that we did. If you study up on the places you'll be visiting before hand, I think you can have a richer experience, and you can linger or rest whenever you wish. One of the things we enjoyed most about Rome was wandering in between the places we wanted to visit, in an unhurried manner. I can hardly imagine being able to soak in the immense beauty of St. Peter's Basilica while being jockeyed around by a tour guide in competition with the all the other tour groups in there. In fact, we found many of the tour groups to be quite annoying, since they had no hesitation about engulfing or cutting off individuals like the Mrs and me, while flying through buildings that took hundreds of years to build. And while I'm sure there are many small group guides who are very good, we of course could hear these people blabbing all over the place, and some didn't seem to convey any more knowledge than you could get in the average tour guide, e.g. Rick Steves. Maybe the Forum and Palatine Hill would be the exception, but there are books you can get that reveal the history of the place in brief, and you can also buy these books outside of the Forum that show pictures of the main sites in the Forum, Coliseum, etc., with plastic overlays that show what they looked like originally. Tacky, maybe, but very useful!
smetz is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2008, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I am a visual learner, a former teacher and am thinking of what may really be appreciated by the 17 yr old. In addition to a guided a tour, I loved was one of the books (they have at most of the news stands) that has an overlay you place over the picture of the ruin showing what the building or moument looked like originally. You can most certainly get plenty of information out of a larger tour if they use headsets so you can hear the commentary.It can get pretty noisy in the Colosseum.
wondering is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2008, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 662
sorry for the bad wording...mind working faster than fingers....
wondering is offline  

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