Tours in Rome

Old Mar 5th, 2008, 10:41 AM
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Tours in Rome

Many people appear to be using tour guides for the main sites in Rome. Is this advised for "newbies"? I see the names "context travel" and"through eternity tours" used- anyone else have other suggestions? It will be me and My husband for the trip- we are in our late 30's. Usually when we travel we don;t take tours and just do it ourselves, but this does not seem to be common for many of the more popular spots in Rome.

Thank you,

Mikkih is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2008, 10:52 AM
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Hi Mikki, I never booked a tour until my third trip to Rome, and that was pretty much the first time I had ever booked a tour of any kind as part of a trip. (I booked an Underground Rome tour through Context as a surprise for my mom, since she is really interested in ancient history.) So like you, I'm not the tour-taking type. I know a lot of people swear by them, but I prefer to explore places at my own pace and take lots of photos, which can be difficult when you are being herded around on a tour. You can absolutely go tour-less in Rome but if you really want to understand the extensive sites like the Forum and Palatine Hill, you need a good guidebook. I bought the DK Eyewitness Rome guidebook for my last two trips and found it worked really well - lots of pictures and short explanations of what we were looking at, and I could go back and read in more detail later on. You could also look for ParadiseLost's walking tours here on the Fodor's forum - he has done an awesome job!

If you decide to do a tour, make sure it is with a reputable organization and the group size is guaranteed to be kept small (I believe Context tours are limited to 8).

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Old Mar 5th, 2008, 11:01 AM
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It is very common for people to see Rome without guides. I did on my first trip there.
If you have good guidebooks and plenty of time, you'll do fine without taking a tour.

However, on subsequent trips I have gone with Context for more in-depth understanding of the Forum-Colosseum than I could ever decipher from the ruins, even with a good map. They are also valuable in a place as massive and dense with art as the Vatican Museums, which would take several days to cover. The guide knows shortcuts and can lead you to just the sections you are most interested in.
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Old Mar 5th, 2008, 12:47 PM
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I too had never used a tour guide until a repeat visit to Rome. We used the Fodors Top sites guide that has a great map and were fine.

Like kayd, we took an Ancient Rome tour to get more info on the Colosseum, the Forum, etc. Our tour guide was actually an art historian who we saw guiding a tour the next day in the Vatican. I'd highly recommend the Context Rome tours if you plan to take one but we didn't find them absolutely necessary at all.
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Old Mar 5th, 2008, 04:26 PM
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I used icon tours for a tour of Forum/Palatine/Colosseum. Good price, nice 3hr overview & some in depth perspective. I would recommend them. The Forum is a site where it is helpful to have a guide explain the ruins and the history.
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Old Mar 5th, 2008, 04:38 PM
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this recent thread may be of interest
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Old Mar 5th, 2008, 06:42 PM
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Another not big on tours person, for example I would never take a tour of any museum and don't even use audioguides in museums. But on second visit to Rome used Context for the Forum/Palantine/Colosseum-not so much for Colosseum because I had been before and found DK Eyewitness to be helpful-but it really brought the Palantine and Forum into perspective. Also I didn't want to be constantly consulting a guidebook to figure out what I was seeing and explain it to my sister!! Was it necessary, no; did it enhance the experience, yes. Same with Pompeii BTW.
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Old Mar 6th, 2008, 04:06 AM
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I agree that a guide for the Forum is especially a good idea. The forum does provide an inexpensive 45 minute one. There also are tours of Palatine Hill available,but we haven't done it yet.
We caught up with a tour group outside the Colloseum that really was quite good.
We have done the audio turs at most museums and that works well.
Last year, we talked with a guide about customizing and "Early Christanity" tour, but found ( as I discussed their recommended options )that I knew as much,or more, as they did about this subject and what I wanted to see.
There's usually a "free" tour of St. Peter's that's good and the 2 scavi tours at the Vatican are great.
We have done the on/off bus "tour", but found it fine for sitting down and enjoying a drive around Rome on a beautiful day,but gave very little information.
I've used Context in Florence for a private Micheangelo tour. They are well respected.
kayd mentioned what I consider the key: "time".
If you have very little time in Rome, tours can really help.
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Old Mar 6th, 2008, 02:33 PM
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My philosophy in this regard was that I don't know when I will be back to Rome & some places there are so condense and/or large that to NOT use a knowledgable tour guide would mean that I missed a number of important areas-I did not use a tour guide for everything(we saw almost all the Caravaggios by ourselves) but for the biggies(Vatican, Forum, Borghese) you need a guide-we used Context in Rome & Florence & they were outstanding. Check other reviews & Good Luck
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Old Mar 6th, 2008, 02:42 PM
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We never, ever book tours either. But, in Rome we decided that if we wanted to truly understand what the Forum and Colosseum had been like over 2000 years ago, we would need a guide to help us visualize past today's ruins. We did a tour with Through Eternity and thought it was well-worth the money. That, however, was the only tour we took. We felt that using good guidebooks we found out what we wanted to know about the rest of the places we visited.
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