Tour Rome with / without guides?

Jul 1st, 2005, 02:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Tour Rome with / without guides?

An opinion q... is it better to book guided tours through Rome or plan your own route and destinations?
lacey_pjs is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 02:42 PM
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I don't know, let's see who else answers, for other opinions. But we took a guide book or two, walked all over the place on our own, saw a lot, and had a great time. The main attractions are pretty obvious.

- Larry
justretired is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 02:46 PM
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Lacey, when my husband and I visited Rome for the first time, we took an overview tour of the city in the evening, with EnjoyRome. That gave us our bearings and for the remainder of the days, we went off on our own to get second looks at the things that interested us. We didn't find Rome very difficult to get around in. We had a good basic guidebook or two, a handful of notes garnered from Fodor's posts (there are tons of good posts about Rome; just look!) and sturdy walking shoes. That did the trick.
mermaid_ is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 02:49 PM
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We have not had guides on either of our trips to Rome, but unquestionably a good guide can point out much about given sights that are missed otherwise. There were students in the Forum who were making money as guides and we joined with one group for a short time. The pay was just for tips, as I recall. He was fun and knowledgeable and did a short scene from Julius Ceasar for us. Like Larry, I like to just take a guide book and wander around. Rome is incredible. You will learn a lot regardless of how you see it. PJK
PJK is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 02:50 PM
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I've been to Rome twice. On the second trip, I booked guided tours and was happy to spend the money to have experts lead me thorugh the Vatican Museum and around the Forum-Colosseum area, both places I had been the first time.
I thouroughly enjoyed my first trip, but got so much more history and context out of the second, when I covered some of the same areas with Scala Reale scholars.

Either way, Rome is magnificent.
kayd is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 02:59 PM
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Everything depends on what you like to do. If you want somebody to decide what you see and how long you look at it, you should definitely use a guide.

If you want to discover the real Rome, you should buy a good map, a good guide book and comfortable shoes. Even if you miss something, you'll have a better feel for the city than you'll ever get from a guided tour.

My friends who only take guided tours don't agree.
Hal8999 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 03:14 PM
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Hi lacey_pjs, I do not think there is a right or a wrong answer. The very first time we were in Rome (in the 1970's) we did do a guided Tour of the Vatican. Why I do not know. Personally we didn't really enjoy it. It was so long ago I do not know who we used. Never hired a guide again.

If one knows something about the history of Rome and has good information, maps etc. one probably does not need a guided tour. But many visitors do book guided tours and enjoy them, many reports here from travellers about their wonderful experiences.

No definate answer IMO. I would suggest you utilize the search box here on Fodors (although it is not the best), to read about other travellers experiences. Than make your decision after doing some research taking into consideration what you are seeking and your knowledge about Rome etc.

Whatever you decide, have a beautiful time in Rome!
LoveItaly is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 03:14 PM
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We generally don;t do guided tours - unless it a day trip outside a city that's difficult without the bus transport.

In Rome the basic tours are so least common denominator (you can get better in the average guide book - and you can;t help hearing them as you wander around the sights) that I think they are a waste.

Some of the more in-depth, sophisticated tours are probably very informative - but I believe are also VERY expensive.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 03:35 PM
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The only place I've paid for a guide was at Ephasus in Turkey...I wish I'd had one for Topkapi in Istanbul...and other than that, I've never felt the need. When I was at the Uffizi in Florence, I learned the art of lingering near a guided tour group that was speaking my language, and hung out a few moments to hear the explanation of the painting in question (in this case, "The Birth of Venus" was worth listening to an interpretation of the symbolism).

I do think Palatine Hill (the home of the Caesars on the hill above the Forum) is probably the one place I could have used a guide in Rome. Primarily because once you start seeing a lot of ruins, it sure would be helpful to have someone describe in a way that would bring it to life. There were times I felt like I was just looking at a bunch of crumbling rock.

That said, I have made do with a good guidebook and comfy shoes overall...and Rome is easy to see and a fun place to spend just wandering the streets.

There's no right or wrong answer on this. I think people who get a guide are not likely to regret it, any more than I don't regret usually not getting one.

Happy travels,

jules4je7 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 07:16 PM
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I used to be the "wander around with a book and a map" type.That works fine for most places,but I believe if you do that,you're likely to miss SO much.I'm a big fan on Context Rome (formerly Scala Reale) and feel that I know Rome so much better than I would have otherwise.It doesn't mean I spend every waking hour with a guide,there's still lots of opportunity for la dolce vita,but I become very enthusiastic about learning about the layers of history when I'm there.
massagediva is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 10:00 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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We 2 adults and 2 teens just returned from 5 weeks in Europe. We spent lots of money, but the smartest money we spent was on tour guides. We contracted with Vatican Tours and Beyond for Pompeii/Napoli Museum, 5 hours in the Vatican, Papal Audiance, Scavi Tour, Florence, Old Rome. Worth every last cent. Even the teens enjoyed it. When we did a "day on our own" we were more tired, cranky, couldn't find what we wanted, didn't know which way to go, had to keep reading the books, and the teens were more bored. And so were we. We felt as if we were in art history class each time we took a guided tour. I would eat cheaply, stay in apartment (we stayed in St. Peter with Comfortitalia)and cook just to use guides.

BTW, we used tours in Parma, and several places in France. I regret not using one in Venice.
Amart is offline  

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