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Pt 3 (Rome) of 31 day Italy itinerary-can you help?

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Jul 15th, 2012, 10:32 AM
  #1
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Pt 3 (Rome) of 31 day Italy itinerary-can you help?

Hello all,

I am posting this itinerary in several parts, hoping to get experts on the areas we'll be visiting.
To briefly summarize, I'll be traveling to Italy in 1 week (!) with DH and two teenage sons (14, 16), and I'm hoping that the experts out there can help me to refine our itinerary.

Here’s the overview of the whole trip:

Fly into Venice. Stay 4 nights
Train to Florence. Stay 5 nights
Drive to San Gimignano. Stay 2 nights
Drive to Siena. Stay 4 nights
Drive to Orvieto. Stay 1 night
Train to Rome. Stay 4 nights
Train to Naples, private driver to Positano. Stay 7 nights
Return to Rome. Stay 2 nights
Fly home from Rome

This post relates only to the Rome part of the trip.

Part 3: Rome

Day 17: Arrive by train, and buy Roma Pass at the newsstand. If anyone could help us with transportation tips to get to our hotel at Piazza della Rotunda (Pantheon), I’d appreciate it. I know that taxis often try to overcharge tourists, so if anyone knows how much it should cost, that would be a help.

We’ll be staying at Albergo del Senato, facing the Pantheon-this is something we’re all looking forward to! After check-in, we can explore the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and hopefully have time for that fantastic dessert treat that I believe is called tartufulo (warm brownie with ice cream in the center-yumm!)

Dinner: Pietro al Pantheon
Most of the restaurants I’ve booked are right near the Pantheon so that we can walk, and are highly recommended on TripAdvisor.

Day 18: We’d like to tour the Colosseum, Forum and Capitoline. Looking for suggestions on whether we should use Rick Steves audio guides on our iPhones or book a private guide (which seems more expensive here than elsewhere).

We also want to leave time for a leisurely lunch on the edge of a piazza, and savoring Rome. Any suggestions?

Dinner: La Fontana di Venere, which is near the Trevi Fountain.

After dinner we can walk around the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps area. Does anyone know how long it takes to walk from Spanish Steps to Pantheon, and whether it is a safe walk at night? Otherwise, we can take a (overpriced) taxi.

Day 19: St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museum. We do have a private tour booked for that already at 9:00 am. I know the rules about proper dress, but do you think my boys will be allowed in with long shorts? If not, they can wear the zip-off pants we’re bringing.

After that we’re open, so if anyone can think of a nice way to spend the afternoon I’d love to hear.

Dinner: Casa Coppelle

Day 20: Borghese Galleries and Park
I have not pre-booked our entrance yet, because I’m a little confused about how it works with the Roma Pass, and the youth discounts. If anyone could help with this I’d be most grateful.

Our afternoon will be free, and it might be nice to go to San Pietro in Vicoli to see Michelangelo’s Moses, but if anyone else can suggest an alternative that would be helpful, too.

Dinner: Al Duello

Day 21: Train to Naples, and on to Positano

I’ll put that part of the trip in another post. We will be returning to Rome for the last two nights of our vacation, so if anyone can think of suggestions for those last two days we’d appreciate that.

Thanks again to all who have read this itinerary. I’m so grateful for any help you can give me as I refine things!
cybertraveler is offline  
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Jul 15th, 2012, 10:51 AM
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If your sons are wearing capris they should be allowed in the Vatican. If by long shorts you mean above the knee - no - that won;t cut it. Only children (as in 8/9 and below can get away with shorts) not full size people - no matter their age.

And please note that while this is officially enforced at the Vatican (by the Swiss Guards) it may or may not be enforced at other cathedrals and churches - and/or anyone considered to be disrespectful in dress is likely to hear it in a very loud way from elderly local worshipers. (When we were in St John Lateran a couple of female clods from a tour group - wearing shorty shorts and very low cut tank tops - were driven from the church by a couple of elderly ladies who were highly offended by their lack of dress.)
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Jul 15th, 2012, 10:55 AM
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>>>Our afternoon will be free, and it might be nice to go to San Pietro in Vicoli to see Michelangelo’s Moses, but if anyone else can suggest an alternative that would be helpful, too.<<<

This is by the Forum (a block or two up via Cavour)or Colosseum (not far from here either). You should visit while in those areas.

When using the Roma Pass for the Borghese, you must call to book your entrance and tell them you are using the pass. Keep in mind that your pass is valid for three consecutive days. Your first two entrances will be the free ones. The Colosseum/Forum/Palantine count as one entrance. You can book a tour of the Colosseum through their official booking for only 5-12€ (higher priced tour includes the underground).
http://www.pierreci.it/home-page/it/...zo-ordine.aspx
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Jul 15th, 2012, 11:17 AM
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Thanks to both of you for the advice! I think the zip-off pants will be the way to go for the boys, and I'll put San Pietro with the Colosseum.

kybourbon: Thanks for the tips on the Roma Pass. Since it is only good for 3 days, perhaps I should wait to buy it until the day we visit the Colosseum. That link is very helpful.

Maybe you could help me decide which of the three ticket options would be best. Here is a copy of the text on the webpage:
>>card combines admission to museums and monuments and transports; it also proposes discounts on guided tours and purchases

[email protected] lets you purchase you admissions ticket on line and print it at home, thus avoiding the queue at the ticket desk

ticket on-line lets you purchase your admissions ticket on line and gives you a code to present at the ticket desk<<

My thought is that the "card" option sounds a lot like the RomaPass. I'd like to bypass the queue, but still take advantage of RomaPass pricing. This gets pretty confusing!

Thanks again!
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Jul 15th, 2012, 05:16 PM
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Does anyone know which option above I should use for Colosseum tickets if I'm using the Roma Pass?

-"card"
[email protected]
-ticket online

Thanks!
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Jul 15th, 2012, 07:37 PM
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You can walk from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi fountain to the Pantheon to Piazza Navona in a very easy and scenic walk.Part of the wonder of Rome is to walk and savor the experience in the alleyways of the people,shops and restaurants.
Just remember to not over plan your days (especially at this time of the year with the heat) as you will be wiped out early.
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Jul 15th, 2012, 07:39 PM
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I believe you have to call Pierreci to book a tour if using the Roma Pass for entrance. I don't think you can book it online. You can buy the Pass through ticketclic, but I wouldn't as you may want to use the transport portion to reach the Colosseum.

>>>Since it is only good for 3 days, perhaps I should wait to buy it until the day we visit the Colosseum. That link is very helpful.<<<

The three days activates when you start using the pass (either the transport or site entrance). I would not want to be in line at the Colosseum to buy it. If you are arriving at Termini in Rome, I would buy it there. Here's a list of places to purchase.
http://www.romapass.it/p.aspx?l=en&tid=8
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Jul 16th, 2012, 09:24 AM
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I never had a problem with taxis overcharging in Rome. They have a meter; just make sure to watch it and see what it is when you get in and when you get out. Since I took Italian in college, I always ask the driver if he can take me where I want to go in Italian. I don't know if that helps or not (i.e. he figures I can read the Italian signage in the cab).
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Jul 16th, 2012, 09:43 AM
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It cost us ten euro to get from the taxi stand at Chiesa Nuova (not right next to the Pantheon, but on the other side of Piazza Navona) to Termini last year. I posted a thread asking about prices that might be helpful - kybourbon posted a link to typical prices there.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ay-morning.cfm

The Forum is the one place I really wish I'd sprung for a tour, or at least familiarized myself with Rick Steves's plan so I could use his podcast (we started at a different place than he did and it was more confusing than helpful to me). If you can fit it in your budget, I'd really recommend it.

After the Borghese morning, you might walk down to Piazza del Popolo and/or Santa Maria della Vittoria (where St Theresa in Ecstasy is, if you haven't gotten your fill of Bernini!). I actually like that you have some spare time built in; it'll give you time to go places you see along the way that look interesting, or just wander around.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 10:51 AM
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Taxi from Termini to Pantheon is in the 15E range. With 4 people that's about 7E more than four bus tickets will cost - very worth the extra 7E or so - especially with luggage. You can save elsewhere.

For instance, use the I-phone audio tour (or buy a brochure) and save the cost of a private tour guide at Colloseum. We usually have someone in our group read from an in depth brochure and act as our "tour guide". Then you have the book as a souvenir...I've got nothing for you regarding a lunch spot on a piazza near the Colosseum/Forum area (are there even any nice, quiet, people-watching piazzas nearby?). Hope someone else here can help.

St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum can take a long time. Hopefully you'll have a long relaxing lunch break between them. I could easily spend 4 hours just inside the Basilica (without climbing the dome). You should walk there - maybe Via dei Coronari on the way there and Via Giulia on the way back. Both very charming streets. You might then cross the Ponte Sisto (at the end of Via Giulia) and walk to Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere for dinner before taxing a taxi (about 15E) back to the hotel.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 11:07 AM
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>>>For instance, use the I-phone audio tour (or buy a brochure) and save the cost of a private tour guide at Colloseum<<<

Except you can't get in the underground without a tour.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 11:37 AM
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From your hotel, you can easily walk to many places, and can easily do so even at night; all these areas are safe. This includes Piazza Navona, Campo de' Fiori, Spanish Steps (IMHO, less interesting than the other areas), Trevi Fountain.

Other areas to explore, the afternoon after the Vatican & Vatican museums and/or after your time at the Colosseum, Forum, Capitoline. Palatine Hill - more ruinous than the Forum area; we visited here with a guide (ContextTours), and we very glad we'd done so. Visiting all of these sites in one day might end up in ancient-Rome-overload.

Trastevere is a fun neighborhood, and has some beautiful churches as well.

Other churches that we (and our daughter) enjoyed: San Celemente (near the Forum, BTW, a beautiful church built on top of an older church, built on top of a Mithraic temple and a Roman home, all of which you can visit); Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Michelangelo’s “Christ Carrying the Cross”); St. Ignatius (really neat trompe d’oiel dome); San Agostino (Caravaggio’s “Santa Maria of Loreto”); San Luigi (three paintings by Caravaggio, about St. Matthew). And the theater of Marcellus.

Another items we've found very helpful are little books, I think you'll see them at souvenir stands near the Forum, that have overlays showing you how the sites look now vs. how they looked "back then."
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Jul 16th, 2012, 12:07 PM
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I'm amazed at the amount of great advice! Thank you!

dutyfree-It's good to hear that you can walk between all of the areas. It's hard to tell that from a map. We'll take it easy in the heat---we're in no rush!

kybourbon-thanks for clarifying when the RomaPass activates-I will definitely pick them up at the station. That link will be very helpful.

Delaine-love the idea of telliing the driver the destination in Italian--I'll practice before we get there!

jent-much as I'd like to save the money, I'm thinking we might need to think again about booking a tour at the Forum. We do have that little book with the overlay, but I think the boys (and we) will get more out of it with a guide. Is there much to do in Piazza del Popolo? I know that unlike many of the other piazzas, there is vehicular traffic.

bardo-I did download the Rck Steves audio tours and they are quite good. My original thought was that we'd each have our headsets in and just use the iPhones. When I look over the budget again, maybe we might rethink the Forum tour. It will cost about 250E, according to at least one company. Ouch! Maybe the underground isn't that exciting...

Lexma-it's good to hear that those areas are safe at night. Walking is by far our favorite way of getting around, and at night it's much more comfortable. Thanks fort the suggestions on other things to see.

I hadn't considered walking to the Vatican. Since it's such an early tour, we might wimp out with a taxi there, but walk back. I'm sure walking along the bridge would be lovely!

I am humbled by your generosity in taking the time to help with planning this trip! Thanks again!
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Jul 16th, 2012, 01:24 PM
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No, there's not much to do at Piazza del Popolo. As you've gathered, it's not really a "sit around and people-watch" kind of piazza. There is a church at the southern end but we didn't go in (I think it was closed for lunch when we were walking by). We went through because that's where we came out of the gardens, and I thought the arches and the obelisk were interesting, but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to see it unless you have a particular interest. The piazza does, however, lead you to Via del Corso, which is a major shopping area. Checking out the European chains was fun for us, but if you're not into shopping at all you might avoid it. It was really crowded the afternoon we were there (Thursday in mid-May).

If you don't have something to guide you, the Forum just looks like a bunch of ruins that you think must be important but you have no idea why! I'm not sure which tour is €250, but the official Colosseum-only tour we did, including the underground levels, was around €30 a person. I haven't been paying attention to whether those are going on again this year, but if it is and you had to, you could always do that and then use Rick's podcast at the Forum, maybe listening to it a bit beforehand to know where to go first. I also had a Blue Guide that had some helpful information in it, though you might check out the Green Guides or other guidebooks too, if you go that route.

As others have mentioned, Rome is VERY walkable. We walked everywhere from the Piazza Navona area, save coming from the airport and getting to the train station to leave.

Whatever you do, you'll have a great time. I would love to go back!
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Jul 16th, 2012, 01:53 PM
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I don't know if it's just me, or anyone else, but this itinerary seems a little heavy on museums and history for a 14 and 16 year old boy, unless they've studied up on art history, and LOOOOOVE to go to museums all the time at home. What are you boys like? What do they do at home?
Believe me, if they're like 14 year olds I know, the "natives will be getting a little restless" Perhaps you may need advice on what teens like to do in Rome. Please don't take offense.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 02:16 PM
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Cybertraveler,

Congratulations on your trip plans. I don't think you'll be disappointed by Albergo del Senato--love that place! The staff there are so nice and helpful.

I was thinking the same thing as NoCaliGal--though unfortunately I don't have any specific advice as I have not travelled to Italy with teenagers. I would echo what someone else said, however, that you should leave some free time to just wander around. The narrow cobbled streets, especially in the area around the Pantheon (shops, gelato places, Romans hanging out in doorways conversing) are great. I would think both the teens and the adults would find that intriguing. The hotel staff also might have some recommendations for things the teens would enjoy.

It is definitely safe to walk from the Trevi fountain or Spanish Steps back to your hotel at night.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 02:23 PM
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I have to disagree somewhat with the statement that there's not much to do at Piazza Popolo. There's not that much in the piazza itself, but Santa Maria del Popolo is located there. It is a beautiful church with 2 magnificent Caravaggio paintings, a Bernini sculpture and a very interesting kneeling skeleton floor mosaic. There is also a beautiful view of the Piazza from the end, which can be reached by stairs from the Piazza or from the top via the Borghese Gardens. The 3,000 year-old obelisk in the square was brought to Rome by Augustus from Egypt.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 03:10 PM
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Delaine, Santa Maria del Popolo was the church we didn't to go into because it was closed - you're making me wish we had! "Not that much in the piazza itself" was exactly what I meant.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 04:14 PM
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Yes! Do go to SanPietro in Vincoli. Walking distance from the colosseum. Breathtaking to see Moses and the chain of St Peter. You have planned a wonderful trip. Well done!
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Jul 16th, 2012, 04:19 PM
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Your lucky sons should be able to skip a grade after this trip!! What an education.
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