Organizing our 8 day Roman visit

Old Feb 26th, 2017, 04:49 AM
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Organizing our 8 day Roman visit

Folks, you've given me a ton of information on my earlier planning thread:

Now I'm trying to figure out my priorities AND how to organize them into a reasonable version of an itinerary. We don't want to run from place to place so it's clear that we're not getting to everything; nonetheless, there are many places we'd like to go to. From the following list, recommendations for organizing would be much appreciated. I realize this is going to be subjective but anything that you feel is LESS exciting/interesting, please give me your very biassed opinion!

We arrive on Sunday, March 12 at noon & leave Monday March 20 @ 2pm. So our full days will be from Monday, March 13 through Sunday March 19.

We have tickets for the SCAVI tour for 11am on Thursday, March 16.

So places that seem to be priorities (but I don't think we'll get to them all)
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valenti
Casa Romane (which I only just realized is different than the above)
Villa Farnesina
Villa Borghese (been before but plan to go again)
Villa Giulia
Baths of Caracalla
Trajan's Market + Via Biberatica
Villa Farnese
Capitoline Museums

Basilica of San Clemente
Santa Maria in Trastevere
San Pietro in Vincoli
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane
Sant' Andree al Quirinale

Possible if convenient
Doria Pahmpilj
Villa Barberini
Crypta Balbi
Diocletion Bath Museum

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts as to how to organize this as it's not clear to me how much to do at a time. Again, I know this is subjective but a sense of how things relate to each other would be helpful. We do go to museums regularly and enjoy them spending about an hour (2 at the most), so we would not need to spend a long time any one site. Again, I'm not expecting you to give me an itinerary, but help me understand how sites relate to one another and which might be seen together.

Many thanks for your help so far -- 2 weeks away and can't wait.
progol is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2017, 05:57 AM
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Just want to add - we are planning on going through the Forum again but probably not visit the Colosseum or Vatican, which we've done in the past. We also plan on exploring neighborhoods such as Monti and Testaccio.

Just trying to make sense in how to put it all together.....

thanks for any feedback you can provide!
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 08:06 AM
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Hi Progol! We will spend 2 weeks in Rome and do not plan to revisit the 'biggies' on this trip either. This is how I have planned out my days. Most likely things are not going to happen according to plan, but maybe this gives you an idea or two about how to group... I know I have struggled enough trying to come up with a coherent and practical schedule.

I'm also looking forward to the feedback you will receive.

We will arrive on Good Friday...YIKES! Found out after purchasing airfare!

Saturday, April 15, 2017
Trastevere: Sta Ma / Sta Cecilia
Sta Maria al Trastevere
Sta Cecilia
S Pietro in Montorio

Sunday, April 16, 2017
(Easter Sunday - avoid crowds at any cost)
Pal & Chiesa S. Ivo Sapienza 9am-12.30pm Sun (at least try)
Bocca della Veritá area

Monday, April 17, 2017
(Bank Holiday)
Galleria Doria Pamphilij (need to confirm that it will be open)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Doria Pamphilij (if not possible the day before)
Sta Ma Sopra Minerva (church open all day, cloister closed for lunch)
Pal & Chiesa S. Ignazio (closed for lunch)
S. Luigi dei Francesi (closed for lunch and Thu PM)
Il Gesu (closed for lunch)
St. Andrea della Valle

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Palazzo Farnese (only tours: Res required 1 week in advance)
Sant'Andrea della Valle
Palazzo Spada
Michelin Rome Walk P.120

Thursday, April 20, 2017
Vatican SCAVI 10:00am (already confirmed /Paid)
Museo Altemps (9:00-7:45; Closed Mon)

Friday, April 21, 2017
Catacombe Priscilla (tour only, closed Mon?)
S Constanza & S Agnes fouri le Mura (closed lunch)

Saturday, April 22, 2017
Domus Aurea (Sat-Sun 09.00 - 16.45) Tour required
San Martino Monti
Santa Prasade
Palazzo Massimo
Aula Ottagona (only open for temp exhibits)

Sunday, April 23, 2017
Palzzo Quirinale (only Sun 8:30 - noon)
Barberini Gallery
Sant'Andrea al Quirinale
S Carlo 4 fontane
Pal & Chiesa S. Ivo Sapienza 9am-12.30pm Sun (try again)

Monday, April 24, 2017
Corsini Gallery? If not museum-ed out. Closed Tue / 14.00 – 19.30 Sun AM and PM open

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Musei Capitolino (Closed Mon)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Daytrip to Villa D'Este (Closed Mon)

Thursday, April 27, 2017
Cripta Balbi (9:00-7:45; Closed Mon)

whatever must-see sight has been left unseen...
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 08:50 AM
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For Progol:

The Domus Romane under Palazzo Valentini is near the Capitoline Museums, the Roman Forum, and Trajan's Market, so you can group those together. It would easily fill a whole day. I think the Domus Romane has its English language tour at 1 PM, so you might want to visit the Roman Forum in the morning. I would go to Trajan's Market after the Domus Romane, because they've added a virtual tour of Tajan's column (outside the "market") to their tour, and the information would enhance your understanding of the column. You could fit in the Capitoline Museums wherever it best suits your schedule. There are great views over the Forum from a terrace in the Museums. It looks especially nice after dark, when the Forum is lit up. They close at 7:30 PM (last admission at 6:30) and I think it should still be dark at that hour in March, so you might want to go there last.

Since you want to take things easy, you might want to split this into two days. In that case, you could visit the Basilica di San Clemente on one of those days, and San Pietro in Vincoli on the other, because they're in the same general vicinity. The Monti district is also part of this area.

There is no Villa Farnese; I think you mean the Palazzo Farnese, since you mention the Villa Farnesina separately. The Palazzo Farnese is not terribly far from the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, which you have as a "possible" visit. Both are in the general area of the Campo de'Fiori, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, etc. These could possibly be done on the same day as the the Villa Farnesina and Santa Maria in Trastevere, since you can easily walk to Trastevere from the Villa Farnese, crossing at the Ponte Sisto. However, the Villa Farnesina closes at 2 PM, so you might want to visit that in the morning, as well as the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, then have lunch in Trastevere and visit the Palazzo Farnese in the afternoon.

I myself would move the Galleria Doria Pamphilj from the "maybe" to the "definitely" category, even if you have to sacrifice something else. Three palazzo/villa visits may be too many for one day, so you might want to do this on two separate days.

I think you also mean the Palazzo Barberini, rather than "Villa Barberini". One of my favorite art museums, featuring mostly Italian paintings from late medieval to early modern times, is in the this palazzo. They've just finished a long restructuring, and it's supposed to be greatly improved in its layout and services, but I haven't been there since. They have a marvelous ceiling fresco, by Piero da Cortona, which was not visible during part of the reconstruction.

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme and the Museo delle Terme di Diocleziano are on opposite sides of the Piazza dei Cinquecento, the big piazza in front of Termini station. I would also visit the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, which is right in front of that piazza, on Piazza della Repubblica. This beautiful basilica, designed by Michelangelo, was built into part of the ancient baths (terme). Termini station gets its name from these baths, by the way.

San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and Sant'Andrea al Quirinale are both near the Palazzo del Quirinale, the Italian presidential palace. It's worth seeing from the outside, even if you don't go in during its limited opening hours. There's even a changing of the guard, but nothing on the scale of Buckingham Palace.

The Case Romane are on the Coeli Hill, on a very delightful little street, dating from Roman times. At the end of the street is a very ancient Roman arch, which is thought to belong to one of the old original city gates, in the Servian wall, the first city wall of Rome. There are also some pretty medieval features on the street. I encourage you to visit the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, above the Case Romane. It has a beautiful Cosmatesque floor dating from the middle ages. The bell tower of the church (detached from the church itself) is built on the ruins of the temple of the deified Emperor Claudius.

The Borghese Gallery and the Etruscan Museum in Palazzo Giulia and both in the Villa Borghese park, so you could visit these on the same day, and take a stroll through the park. I suggest passing by the Pincian Overlook, where you can get a great view of the city, overlooking Piazza del Popolo.
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 08:56 AM
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For Marigross: There should be no problem at all with a visit that starts on Good Friday. Rome is a big city, and while there will be big crowds on Easter Sunday at the Vatican, in much of the city there won't be any unusual crowds. On the afternoon of Good Friday, there's a procession that ends in the Colosseum, in which the Pope usually takes part, so that part of the city is pretty much off limits for touristic visits in the afternoon and early evening. Otherwise, everything is business as usual on Good Friday.

The Doria Pamphilj (note the spelling) Gallery is closed on Easter Sunday, but open on the Monday. Many museums are closed every Monday. However, some usually have special openings for Easter Monday.
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 09:28 AM
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I look at this and just groan. You asked for biased advice, here's mine. Throw the itinerary away.

Get a map, mark all the places of interest on the map and then fold up the map and put it in your pocket. Walk out the front door of your hotel, flip a coin to decide whether you turn right or left and start walking. Make a few left and right turns until you are thoroughly lost and then get out your map. Figure out where you are, see what you have marked that is of interest nearby and go visit that one. Then go sit at a sidewalk cafe and take the rest of the day off.

I sometimes wonder what some people's idea of a vacation is. Some read like a research list. If your real name is Dan Brown and you are researching a sequel to The Da Vinci Code, then fair enough but otherwise, learn to relax. The list by Marigross reads like an army route march to me, not a vacation.

I've visited Rome several times, never had a list, certainly haven't seen everywhere that might interest me and hope to never have done so. If I had, there would be nothing to look forward to next time.

As for the words 'coherent and practical schedule', they don't belong in any thinking about a vacation. A vacation is about getting AWAY FROM schedules.
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 10:05 AM
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Many thanks everyone! Marigross, I love having your itinerary to work from and will see if/how I might adapt it.

bvienci, your suggestions and advice are incredibly helpful. You've given me so many good suggestions and I'm very grateful. I will see how it unfolds, but your many ideas give me a great place to start.

dogeared, much as I'd like to be just free and easy and do whatever, I prefer to have an outline as there are many places we'd like to see. If we don't see them all, so be it, but I do want to make an effort to get to the many remarkable sites. And it really does help to have a plan.
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 10:20 AM
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progol and Marigross, have a great time. You know what you want.
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 12:08 PM
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I've roughed out an itinerary which takes into account the days that sites are closed (as best as I could figure out), and a vague sense of what might work together. I suspect that we won't be able to see everything but I'm identifying the places that really appeal and that we'd like to see. These are not in order, of course, but that will come.

Again, thanks, bvienci, your feedback is extremely helpful.

Here is the outline; if anything feels blatantly off-base, feel free to comment.

Rome visit - arrive Sunday, March 12 (around noon) and leave Monday, March 20, around 2pm. We are staying in an apartment on a street off Campo dei Fiori.

Arrive Sunday March 12 – midday
Explore area,
Jewish Ghetto

Monday March 13
Trajan’s Market + Via Biberata
Trajan’s Column
Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valenti (mid-day tour?)
(Monti – explore?)
Pantheon (early evening?)
Dinner : 7:30pm – Armando al Pantheon

Tuesday, March 14
Quirinale area:
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
Museum of the Baths of Diocletian
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane
Sant' Andree al Quirinale

Wednesday, March 15
Villa Farnesina (closes at 2pm)
Santa Maria in Trastevere
Capitoline Museums (closed Monday, seen today?)
Testaccio (explore/eat)

Thursday, March 16
Scavi tour (11am)

Palazzo Barberini or Doria Pamphilj

Friday, March 17
Monti, Esquilino, Celio, Cracalla
Baths of Caracalla
Church of San Clemente
Casa Romane del Celio
Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo
San Pietro in Vincoli

Saturday, March 18
Villa Borghese
Villa Guilia
Pincian Overlook

Sunday, March 19
Testaccio (if not already seen)
Palazzo Barberini or Doria Pamphilj (whichever we did not see yet)

Monday, March 20
Leave late morning for mid-day flight

Many thanks!
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 12:50 PM
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progol, you are welcome. To me, your schedule looks reasonable!

I have stared at that map of Rome for hours and I'm still not entirely pleased. I found that the Michelin Green Guide to Rome has a lot of 'walks' around concentrated areas which -seem- to be practical.

The first time we went to Rome (3 days; 18yrs ago; pre Fodors) I intensely disliked the city. I mean, I loved the sites we visited in Rome but hated being IN Rome. I was completely unprepared and overwhelmed. I did get to see the 'biggies' but the experience was not very enjoyable.

The second time (5 days, 9 yrs ago) I did tons of research. I was ready and loved it. We actually saw about 75% of the things I wanted (biggies for our 1st-timer DD and secondary sites for us).

I do think Rome is better served by having a good plan to start out with... and then slack on execution as needed, lol. ;-)

I have found that starting the day with the must-sees and tapering off as it goes by is what works out for us. If something needs to be ditched, then so be it. We tend to go-go-go during the day promptly followed by plunking down in a café for late afternoon aperitivos to watch the world go by.


bvlenci, thanks! I began to worry about the Holidays interfering. And then I also got caught in the April 25th and May 1st holidays. Oy. You have pointed out a few more sites I would love to see....


dogeared, I guess it is good I lead a mostly unscheduled 'regular' life. But yes, to each our own and by now we know the travel style we love (and when to abandon the plan).


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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 01:15 PM
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Hi progol,

Well, time to crank up Google maps and street view and start calculating. Here are some suggestions for two big clusters. The first would take a full day. The next one could gobble up as many days as you want to use.

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme + Santa Maria degli Angeli (=Diocletian’s Baths) + San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane + Barberini Palace (museum gallery) = a very full day. Be satisfied with a sandwich somewhere in the middle or some meh pasta—this neighborhood is not a culinary paradise. Your head will be spinning afterward, full of ancient Rome, Michelangelo, Borromini, and Renaissance painting; grab a couple of negronis, quick!

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme – a two minute walk southwest of the Termini station. After this, another two minute walk west to…

Santa Maria degli Angeli (this is a large chunk of the Baths of Diocletian, refashioned into this magnificent church by Michelangelo; many of the interior columns and much of the visible structure are actually parts of the immense ancient baths)
You are in front of the Piazza della Repubblica (metro is Repubblica, duh). The impressive curved buildings on the southwest side of the Piazza trace part of the exedra (arcrade) of the baths.

San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane - From the Piazza della Repubblica, walk down the Via Nazionale about 4 blocks, hang a right (northwest) onto the Via delle Quattro Fontane, go a couple of blocks to the intersection with the Via Quirinale. You are at the “four fountains intersection” and San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane is on your left. This is Borromini’s geometric tour de force, a dizzying piece of baroque construction (but not loaded with garish decoration; the geometry is the star).

Palazzo Barberini - From San Carlo, walk downhill on Via delle Quattro Fontane half a block and on your right is the Barberini Palace (you are walking down the Quirinal hill, one of the seven hills of ancient Rome).

Next: The Piazza Venezia cluster

Several of your sites cluster around the Piazza Venezia/Victor Emmanuel monument:
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj (note the spelling): it’s open every day but there is a superb baroque concert and guided tour in English every Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Judging from your earlier trip reports, which have been invaluable to us when planning trips, I think you would really love this. You must reserve ahead of time, but you will probably be able to still get tickets since the place should not be mobbed in mid-March when you are there. The palace web site does not spotlight the tour information very much but the info is there if you poke around. Here’s a direct link to the concert information (they call it the Caravaggio concert tour):

Other places clustered in this neighborhood:
Capitoline Museum
Trajan’s Market
Domus Romane
…and the Forum
…plus the church of Il Gesu, which you do not mention; this is a very important church in the development of baroque architecture; the frescoed ceiling of the nave is extraordinary

A couple of suggestions for “what to cut” – when planning a visit to Rome, this always comes down to the question of “which five-star world famous astounding contribution to civilization shall I not see on our trip?” Anyway, my thoughts are: cut the Villa Farnese and San Pietro. For me, the main draw of the Villa Farnese was Raphael’s fresco of Galatea and the star of San Pietro for me was Michelangelo’s Moses. The rest of those two places are merely very beautiful. Ho hum. So if you are a dedicated Raphael and Michelangelo fan, go for it. But think of the opportunity cost as our economists are wont to say—what will you not be able to give time to, if you take time to see these places?

Final thought: there is no wrong way to see these things. Enjoy! (and don’t forget the negronis)
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 01:46 PM
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Thanks, EYWandBTV,

I'll look more carefully at the outline, but if you see my day by day overview, I've got Palazzo Barberini on another day from Palazzo alle Terme. My husband wants very much to see the Porta Pia, so I think we will have to leave the Barberini for another day and end the formal touring at the gate.

I've already eliminated the Palazzo Farnese from my day by day, as I suspect we'll be on Palazzo/Villa/museum overload.

Now you've got me having to rethink my Saturday -- I'm thinking that we'd really enjoy going to the Villa Borghese and Villa Giulia on the Saturday and enjoy being in the park. By the end of the week of touring that sounds like a nice thing to do. But you're suggestion of the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj and the concert & tour sounds tempting.

Maybe to ease up on some touring, can we place the Borromini & Bernini churches with the Palazzo Barberini midweek? That way, we can concentrate more on the Palazzo Massimo and the Santa Maria degli Angeli (=Diocletian’s Baths)?

I think San Pietro in Vincoli is a priority for both of us for the Michelangelo statue of Moses, but I know we will be pretty ready to chill out by the end of the week, so we'll see.

Many thanks for the great feedback - much appreciated!!
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 02:39 PM
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Re the Villa Farnese: our Italian friends call it the Villa Farnesina. It's on the northern edge of Trastevere, just north of the Ponte Sisto.
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 03:22 PM
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I think I keep mixing up my villas and palazzos -- I meant that I've dropped Palazzo Farnese which is different from Villa Farnesina. Were you suggesting that we drop Villa Farnesina?
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 05:43 PM
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Yes, if push came to shove and you had to eliminate one thing from 57 wonderful things...and of course it all depends (hate that expression). You may be a lover of Raphael's work, in which case I would say go see the Galatea at the Villa Farnesina. But the overall structure and gardens are "merely" outstanding, one of so many outstanding things in Rome. For me, the Galatea was the attraction and we really enjoyed our visit.

Yes, it's a good combo: San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, at the intersection of Via delle Quattro Fontane; then walk down half a block to the Palazzo Barberini (a marvelous museum of Renaissance painting), then come back to that intersection and walk half a block down the Via Quirinale to Sant Andrea (=Saint Andrew, not a female saint) del Quirinale. That way you can do a "compare and contrast" essay in your mind between Bernini's work (Sant Andrea) and Borromini's work (San Carlo). As well, you would have seen each architect's stairway at the Palazzo Barberini; B. and B. each did a stairway, on either side of the main entrance. Both worked on Saint Peter's, as did so many others. They loathed each other, by the way.

Re the concert at the Doria Pamphilj: do, do, do go to the concert! I think you would love it. This is not a traditional concert where you sit down in one space and listen to music. Instead, the English-speaking guide greets you in one of the galleries, describes the baroque period, and then takes you into one room after another. In each room, you follow the baroque quartet--they set up, and the singer positions herself, and they perform a piece which would have been performed in that particular room (e.g., music for a ball, music for an afternoon reception, etc.) Toward the end, you have a little performance in the papal reception room with the papal throne (yes, one of the family members was pope Innocent [sic] X). After the music, you continue through the galleries, chock full of masterpieces, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Brueghel...and Velazquez' magnificent portrait of Innocent X. GO!!
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Old Feb 26th, 2017, 08:39 PM
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You've already gotten some great advice about clustering.

I’m sure you know both of the general tricks that I find useful, but thought I'd mention them just in case:
- Pick one thing that will be your highest priority for each day, and remind yourselves that everything else is “icing on the cake.”
- And think about how your travel proferences typically wax and wane over vacations -- Do you have more energy at the start, middle, or end of your trips? Do you like to start with a relaxing day or two, or spend a few nights at the end relaxing? Plan your "main events" according.

Have fun!
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Old Feb 27th, 2017, 02:06 AM
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Great suggestions to keep in mind! I try to do this in planning and will keep them in mind during our trip as well,

The concert does sound like fun -- I will see if we can make it work.

Thanks all for your help! Less,than 2 weeks to go!

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Old Feb 27th, 2017, 11:24 AM
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One more thought:

You can visit the Villa Borghese and Pincio on Saturday or Sunday. If Sunday is a warm spring day, think about reversing to be in the park on Sunday.

There is something special (to me, anyway) about seeing the Romans at play in the Borghese park. Weather dependent, of course.
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Old Feb 27th, 2017, 12:03 PM
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We try to see/do some new things on each trip to Rome. Last trip we took the elevator to the top of the Victor Emmanuele Monument for fantastic views. This could be combined with visiting Santa Maria Aracoeli Church which is incredibly gorgeous. It has been a long time since seeing the Diocletian Bath Museum but I found it disappointing. The ticket to the Coleseum may be combined with the one to tour the Forum. The Pantheon is a must see on any Rome trip imo.
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Old Feb 27th, 2017, 03:26 PM
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Thanks -- for some reason, I thought the Borghese gallery was closed on Sunday but it's open and I like the idea of visiting the park then.

nini, many thanks -- I'm looking at the list as a foundation but not a rigid itinerary. Even as I look at it, I'm moving things around a bit. I'd love to get to the top of the Victor Emmanuel monument if we can and keep in mind the church. I do appreciate the feedback about the Diocletian Bath museum! We've been to the Colosseum and don't plan on visiting again -- but will definitely return to the Pantheon, one of our favorite structures.

Thank you all! I think it's coming together!
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