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Rome Itinerary: 1st trip, 6-days, kids


Sep 10th, 2011, 12:15 PM
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Rome Itinerary: 1st trip, 6-days, kids

So here's my first stab at an itinerary. I consider this a framework and not a rigid schedule. I've tried to group the Roma Pass activities as well as group things somewhat geographically (though that could use some more attention). Please let me know where you see holes/omissions or overly optimistic ambitions. I do have some flexibility towards the end to relax or catch things we didn't get to.

Family: me + DW, DD12, DS9

Experience: first time to Italy for all but me (quick business trip to Milan a few years ago)

Timing: 7 nights/6 days coming from the UK (no jet lag). Last week of October (Sat-Sat)

Apartment: on Governo Vecchio near Piazza Navano

Style: get going early, go strong, peter out by 4-5. Generally not the drink coffee and people watch types. May need to adjust to the Italian way (12-3 breaks). May return but not anytime soon (certainly not with the kids this age). Plan to hit the biggies plus some "mediums"

Saturday: arrive in evening, check into apartment

Morning: walk and self orientation in the morning including Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori, Pantheon and perhaps Trevi and even Spanish Steps.
Afternoon: Galleria Borghese and park (assuming reservations granted)

Morning: Colosseum, Forum, Palatine (private tour to explain it all)
Afternoon: St. Peter in Chains and San Clemente after restful lunch (time and energy dependent)

Morning: Capitoline Museums
Afternoon: new excavations under Palazzo Valentini

Morning: Ostia Antica
Afternoon: If time, whatever or nothing.

Morning: Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Afternoon: St. Peter's (to the top!)

Morning: Cripta dei Cappuccini
Afternoon: Aquaduct Park (from Ron in Rome) or whatever we feel like

We generally aren't good for much after dinner (or with a late dinner) but I hope to take at least one walk at night (Pantheon/Trevi). I also need to do some more research on the churches. Reviewing bus options to save some energy as well (future post on that).

indy_dad is offline  
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Sep 10th, 2011, 01:26 PM
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well, indy-dad, I think you've cracked it without any help from us!

a few ideas/tips perhaps:

If you can get hold of it, there is a great walk in rick Steves round some of the churches of Rome which feature mosaics of which San Clemente is one. you might like to have it in reserve to add onto what yo have planned for this day.

while you are near the capitoline museums, you might want to pop over to the galleria doria pamphillji - a huge palazzo and picture gallery with the great advantage that there's hardly anyone there.

you haven't mentioned Trastevere at all. although it is not knockdown to tourists, it's a place where romans are in the ascendant and is great for atmosphere, wandering etc. also the lovely church of Santa Cecilia - do go down the crypt to see the mosaics in the chapel of st. Agnes.
another option is the ghetto - some terrific restaurants and the chance to tour the synagoge of Rome which you/your kids may find interesting.

Personally i would put st. Peter's first [or even on a different day]. if you do justice to the Vatican museums and Sistine chapel you may find that you are unable to enjoy St. Peter's to the full. After we'd spent a morning ++ there, my feet had had it, and all i could do was sit in a corner and cool them on the marble floor. also,in the afternoon, the queues to get through security into St. Peter's and then to get up the Dome can be VERY long. Having seen this when we did the Scavi tour [which gives access into St. Peter's without queuing at all] when DS and I wanted to climb the Dome, we got to St. Peter's at about 9am, and more or less walked in. in fact the Dome had only just opened and there was no queue at all for tickets.

when we came down, the queue for the dome was massive and the lines to get through
security to get into St. Peter's itself were right across the piazza in front of the Basilica.

I love where you are staying BTW. we stayed near there and the area is full of little bars, cafes, restaurants, especially if you walk towards the end of the castel san angelo bridge. [ponte san angelo]. the area where the via del panico meets via coronari is particularly interesting. I'm sure that you will allow time just for wandering around - perhaps after your afternoon naps, as a stroll before dinner, when a surprising number of shops are still open.

have a great trip - I'm sure you will.

PS - if you click on my screen name, you should find my trip report from our weeks' stay in Rome with our DS just under 2 years ago, which may be of interest.
annhig is online now  
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Sep 11th, 2011, 12:28 AM
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"knockdown"? this predictive text thing is getting me down.

"unknown" obviously.
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Sep 11th, 2011, 05:48 AM
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Thanks, annhig. I'll give your report another read (I did read it some time ago). The Rick Steve's walk was my next chapter, too.

If doing St. Peter's on a different day, how would you shuffle things around? I think I'm leaning on trying it early (i.e. swapping the order), but we'll see.

Glad you also like the location. It appears to be centrally located -- not so good for the metro though. Did you venture on to the buses to save your feet through the week? Think a family of 4 can manage?

Anyone else have any thoughts?

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Sep 11th, 2011, 08:07 AM
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no point in going to St. Peters on sunday or Wednesday.

and lots of places are closed mondays, so the colosseum [which isn't] may be busy.

you could swap the days round so that you go to Ostia on a different day and go to St. Peter's first. Ostia is a half day at best and there is a decent restaurant there or you could eat in the town first [I gather there is one particularly good restaurant there] and then see ostia in the afternoon.

that will be plenty of time.

as for saving your feet, the buses are good. Because Rome is built on layer upon layer of history, the metro doesn't go anywhere you will want to go unless you want to go out of Rome - you will need it to get to the station to get to Ostia for example. for a guide to the buses, look at www.roninrome.com - an excellent guide to lots of roman stuff. but basically, you need a ticket per person per journey, and you can buy any number of them from a "tabac" which shows the sign that it sells tickets. we bought 12 [4 each ie two return trips] at the beginning of our week and that did us for the whole trip. they were €1 each when we were there so not expensive. you have to validate them in the machines when you get on the bus - a bit like the trains.

the main buses you will want, the nos 64 and 40 [express] go up and down the corso vittorio emmanuale [the main street that links the monument of the same name with the bridge over the river Tevere that leads to Saint Peter's]. they get very full but are frequent and fast. beware of pickpockets and angry roman matrons!

also cabs are not horrendously expensive and with 4 of you, may even be a bargain -eg when you've all had it after a day at the Vatican.
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Sep 11th, 2011, 04:00 PM
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I traveled with a 9 year old to Rome in June. Leaving in flexibility, as you've done, is good.

Unless your kids really, really like art, or unless you do a good job of hunting for specific highlights you think will be appealing, you may find that you do not wish/need to spend an entire morning at the Capitoline Museums. Especially if you are also spending a half-day at the Vatican Museums. Going up to the Piazza di Campidoglio was definitely worth it however, and my niece became more interested in the architecture when I explained it was designed by Michelangelo.

If I went back to Rome with a child that age, I might pursue a suggestion of our landlord that we didn't have time to follow up on, which was a visit to the (nearby) Galleria Doria Pamphilj. It is supposed to have a good audio tour featuring narration by someone who actually grew up in the residence as a child. http://www.doriapamphilj.it/ukstoria.asp

If you haven't already seen it, I recommend picking up a copy of Rome with Kids, by J.M. Pasquesi. She has a number of great suggestions for kid-friendly visits to various museums and other monuments. Unfortunately, I left it on the kitchen table instead of bringing it to Rome with me -- I relied on some of her suggestions from memory, but I think our trip to the Capitoline Museums probably would have been more rewarding if I had it in hand.

Good luck!
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Sep 11th, 2011, 05:41 PM
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Sounds like you're got things planned well indy_dad, and annhig's notes on the busses and walking the main areas is spot on - even if the Linea C on the Metro was completed (don't hold your breath - gotta love finding archaeological bits when you're constructing a metro!), you would still be walking the bulk of the ground you want to cover. Which is a v good way of seeing the city and experiencing it a little more.

A few things to keep you and your kids occupied when not sightseeing:
1. Pizza by the square (al taglio) at the Vatican - probably the cheapest thing you'll find in that area, and tastes amazing. On via della Grazie, street leads of the road that runs between the columns of St Peter's and the entrance to the Vatican Museums, there is a newsstand on the corner, as you turn into the street, you'll see on the right a small pizza sign with a few steps at the front. Go inside, marvel at the selection, point at the one(s) you want and they will show you a size they think you want (you can have small, large, huge), cut it and heat it (if the ingredients call for it). You take your slice(s) and go outside to eat, it's a very small shop frequented by nuns, priests, suits, the works. If you want more, head back inside, rinse repeat.

2. Gelati (plural, it's always plural!)- there are many places you'll pass on your walks around the city, some are great and some are the mass produced (yet still ok...you are eating it in Italy afterall). If you want to treat yourselves, then head to San Crispino. Once a small, unknown and hard to find tiny store, it's now teeming with people wanting to taste the unusual (and also usual) flavours and handmade award-winning product. They even have an outlet at the airport now, yikes! At any rate, when you're around the Trevi fountain, face it and take the road leading off to your right, between the church and the other Gelateria on the corner. Second street on your left is via della Panetteria. Walk down it and a few paces on your right is San Crispino Gelateria. Delish. Also try Gelateria del Teatro at Via di San Simone, just off via dei Coronari (as noted by annhig), which is about a 5min walk from your apartment! Down a little street with a courtyard at the front - excellent!

3. Thursday is Gnocchi Day in Rome - not sure of the origin of this tradition, but it's a good one! Some of the older trattorie in the city serve Gnocchi on Thursdays as a specialty, so keep an eye out for the boards at the front of places as you walk past, or head to La Pollarola near Campo dei'Fiori (at Piazza Pollarola, just around the corner) for a decently-priced lunch of Gnocchi, along with other Roman seasonal specialties. If you want more of an education on pasta, you might like the Museum of Pasta (Meseo della Paste, English language version www.museodellapasta.it/index.php ) for a bit of fun, not far from Baberini Metro stop, and near the Cappuchin Monks.

4. Passagiata - the evening stroll is a good idea, either the night you arrive or one of the other evenings before/after dinner (with gelato as an incentive!). The walk from Pz Navona to the Trevi will take 40mins as a relaxing stroll, quicker if you need, but use it as a way to sightsee in the centre section with very few cars to worry about (except crossing via del Corso, but that's not hard). From Pz Navona, stand with St Agnes in Agony church behind you and walk towards the Pantheon via the crossing, past the pharmacy on the left and down the little road, via del Salvatore, leading down the side of the Italian Senate building. You'll get to the end and turn right, faacing the Pantheon. If you get there before 7.30pm (7pm on Sundays) you can go in and view it in the evening light. From there, with your back to the Pantheon, take the road leading directly off to your right, which is Hadrian's Walk. Leads to his temple (Tempio di Adriano), which is now an exhibition space but you can see the columns and lean over the railing to see how far down the foundations go. Continue past the temple towards via del Corso, cross over at the lights at the end of that street that leads on to the corso and walk past the stands of photos and pictures. At the end of that street you'll pass an excellent Forno (pizza, bread, etc) and an amazing Alimentari (after the McDonalds on your right). Then turn left and you'll see/hear the Trevi. Throw your coins, grab your gelato and enjoy - even with the crowds and persistent junk-sellers.

That should give you some more things to see/do/eat in between the other sightseeing - have a great trip!
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Sep 11th, 2011, 06:00 PM
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You have quite a bit of time for Rome but IMHO too many tours and a visit that's too structured. You need more time for just exploring, for serendipity.

I don;t understand the ned for a Vatican tour - we've visited several times and taken just the Vatican tours (Scavi and gardens) nothing else. A good guide book can tell you a lot and your eyes and mind will tell you more.

I do understand the idea for a tour of the Colosseum and the Forum. We didn;t - but my degree was in history -- and I knew a lot before I go there. But I have seen a lot of tourists without a clue - being without the background they didn't even get the SPQR inscriptions (Senate & People of rome - inscribed on all public works - including manhole covers on the sewer system). They somehow thought these were current inscriptions - not 2000 years old.
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Sep 12th, 2011, 09:40 AM
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It is supposed to have a good audio tour featuring narration by someone who actually grew up in the residence as a child. http://www.doriapamphilj.it/ukstoria.asp>>

we used the audio-tour of the doriapamphilji which was very interesting and completely comprehensible as the member of the family who does it is very english indeed. once you come to the end of the tour of the palazzo you then enter the picture gallery, which is described as being hung in the traditional fashion which means that every corner is crammed with pictures.

most interesting and very few people.
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Sep 12th, 2011, 09:58 AM
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On Via Governa Vecchio is my favorite gelateria - Frigidarium. It was just down the street from our accomodations and we visited every day. Really yummy gelato! Don't miss it.
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Sep 12th, 2011, 10:09 AM
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No critiques. Good planning!

It's good that climbing the dome at the the basilica is the last planned thing on Thursday. I imagine you'll all be sore and exhausted afterwards and will head straight to the apartment to collapse!

Aquaduct Park is pretty low-key.

We did it as part of the Archeobus tour (kind of a "hop on/hop off" for the Appian Way) and 30 minutes was plenty for us.

I DO love Ron in Rome's info (with photo directions!) - here it is for others:

And the Archeobus option:
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Sep 12th, 2011, 10:37 AM
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Thanks everyone -- I appreciate the comments, suggestions and confirmations.

MoonGirl -- I'll look more into the Capitoline Museums to see if it's appropriate and will also check out doriapamphilji. I do have Rome with Kids and will plan some of our walks around that (in particular the Pantheon Treasure Hunt).

madamtrashheap -- thank for the specific food recommendations. I loved Gelato and pizza in Milan and I'm looking forward to the comparison while being able to share the experience with my family this time. We've had gelato in Madrid and Paris and are always out of the ultimate experience. Minimum once per day if not more.

nytraveler -- we work better with a plan to modify rather than no plan at all. We tend to like guides as well but our foundation isn't as strong. We'll try to leave some flexibility in though.

annhig - thanks again. I'm working my way through your TR as well.

hazel1 - thanks, we'll be sure to try it

bardo1 - thanks for the comments. I'm still working out the logistics for the Vatican / St. Peter's day and will take that into consideration. DW and I are both engineers so we might geek out at Aquaduct Park for a little longer. I figure we can use the down time by the end of the week as well.
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Sep 13th, 2011, 06:50 PM
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Hi indy,

Looks like a fantastic trip to me! When you're at San Clemente, you'll be fairly close to San Giovanni e Laterno which is one of the 4 basilicas of Rome. It's very impressive and is far enough off the beaten path to not be brimming with tourists like St. Peter's always is. Not that you shouldn't see St. Peter's - you absolutely should!
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Sep 13th, 2011, 10:38 PM
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@JBX -- thanks for the comprehensive set of links. Nice to have in 1 place.

@TexasAggie -- thanks for the suggestions. I'll see what we can work in. It's nice to have options to see which way the wind blows.
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Sep 14th, 2011, 05:09 AM
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Looks like a good tentative plan to me. Sounds like you plan like we do - buy tickets where necessary, and have ideas for what to do on which days, but with the thought that you'll switch things around depending on interests and weather.

When we took our 10yo daughter to Italy, we all enjoyed spending time sitting in cafes and people-watching. It was a chance to take a break, and one of the few places we allowed her to play on her iPod.

Tre Scalini, on Piazza Navona. We took her here as a surprise and ordered the tartufo as a surprise - she loved it!

We're big walkers, and didn't ever take the bus.

You may find that everyone's so excited the first day that you spend time in the evening visiting the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain.

They'll LOVE San Clemente. Also good is San Luigi (trpompe de l'oile dome).

We (including 10yo DD) love art, so we also visited Piazza Barbarini. In addition to being a Palazzo, it's got some great pieces, including Raphael's La Fornarina.

When we visited Ostia Antica, we took food and made a picnic of it. There's one place to eat within the area, then restaurants not real close nearby outside of that. The picnic was great!

We've visited the Vatican Museums on a guided tour (on a trip without kids) and without (including the trip with DD), and prefer taking our own guidebooks and doing it ourselves. I love paintings and sculpture, and it was frustrating on the tour to whiz past something I dearly wanted to see. We ended up spending a lot of time at the museums and not much time at St. Peter's, but I think that's just personal preference.

Definitely eat pizza bianco.
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Sep 23rd, 2011, 03:03 AM
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Bookmarking for the great info in this thread
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