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julies Dec 14th, 2007 05:46 AM

We were happy for 10 days in a Paris apt. Will we feel the same about Rome?
We've done a lot of European traveling in the past 10 years or so, but I was only in Rome once and that was 2 days 35 years ago. I don't remember much about the city. Now we've bought last minute tickets to Rome and are trying to decide what to do with our time.

We had an 11 night stay in an apartment in Paris in March two yers ago. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and would like to repeat the experience except in better weather. But, we'd had a 3 day stay in Paris several years before we made that trip, so we knew we'd really like to spend a major chunk of time in the city.

I've been doing a lot of reading about Rome and keep reading about how sprawling, noisy and chaotic it is. I'm starting to wonder if we should commit to a week stay or longer stay in Rome without having a feel for the place first or having sampled it first.

I've been thinking back on what we enjoyed about Paris to see if that will help when making a comparison. We walked nearly everywhere, only using the metro to take us from one side of the town to the other. We really enjoyed shopping in the local markets and taking food back to our apartment. We loved the charm and ambience of the city and spent much time just walking about rather than doing actual sightseeing. We enjoyed strolling along the Seine. We loved Pere la Chaise, even in the rain. We enjoyed the smaller more intimate museums; in fact, we never did find time to make it to the Louvre because we were so busy with these. We took in several classical concerts at more intimate venues. Even though we are not Catholic, we enjoyed attending mass several times at churches known for their beautiful music. We had a cozy apartment and many nights we'd head back in after a long day out and just stay in for the night with our bottle of wine and food from the local charcuterie or deli.

If you've had long stays in both places, can you give me some thoughts or comparisons or suggestions? Thanks much.

sacc Dec 14th, 2007 06:26 AM

Julies, I've had short stays and long stays in Rome and I actually think the longer you can stay, the more you'll enjoy the city. And for pretty much the same reasons as you've outlined as to why you've loved Paris!

Rome, particularly in late spring through fall, can get pretty hot and crowded. And if you have a only few days to spend, it's difficult to not get swept into rushing around too much. To me, that can make it feel really unpleasant. But if you can go slowly and not cram too much into each day, it shouldn't be a problem.

I find the historic centre in Rome is actually quite compact and very, very walkable. If you have an apartment in the centre, you can easily walk to most of the major sites -- which is something I really prefer to relying on public transit.

There are good food markets and delis in the centre so its very easy to take a break and spend a quiet (inexpensive) evening in your flat, having a bite to eat. The later, you can go out and stroll around, maybe get a gelato for dessert or enjoy a late glass of wine in an outdoor cafe.

When are you thinking of visiting Rome? If it's a bit off season, all the better! If you have time to slow down and take Rome at your own pace, I don't think you'll find it overwhelming or chaotic. Aim to find an apartment on a quiet street (and not directly on the Campo de'Fiori!) Perhaps read reviews on a site like Slow Travel, where people post some pretty solid reviews of apartments, including how noisy they actually are. Then, I don't think you'll be bothered by noise.

I mentioned the Campo de'Fiori because I really like the area, it's fun and central, but I wouldn't want to stay directly on the campo!

Good luck planning!

highflyer Dec 14th, 2007 06:32 AM

If you enjoyed apartment life in Paris I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy it in Rome too.

We recently got back from Italy and stayed in an apartment for 4 nights in Rome (and an hotel in Florence).
We loved the apartment for the following reasons.
The location, very central
The space (only slightly bigger than 2 hotel rooms but it had a terrace)
The ease of having a small kitchen for snacks and if we wished; to cook simple meals with a few fresh groceries from a local market.
It was in expensive compared with a couple of hotel rooms in central Rome. I wrote a brief trip report too if you're interested.

This is where we stayed.

julies Dec 14th, 2007 06:43 AM

Thanks for the thoughts. Actually we're going in the dead of winter--in a couple of weeks. This is a last minute trip for us, so I'm scurrying about trying to plan what we'll do.

Another huge issue is the abyssmal state of the dollar. We'd vowed we wouldn't take another European trip until the dollar strengthens, but we found fantastic airfare and here we are. Because of this issue we may end up staying a little further out than usual and rely on public transportation to get in to the center. Plus, part of our trip we'll be overlapping with the high season for New Year's and prices are even higher then.

bardo1 Dec 14th, 2007 06:56 AM

Be aware that the subway does not go to the historical center. Unlike every other city in the world, the subway in Rome only skirts around the edges.

There ARE inexpensive in the historical center, especially near the Campo dei Fiori. What is your apt. budget?

Here are a ton of well reviewed places:

rosetravels Dec 14th, 2007 06:58 AM

Hi Julies,
Last December we spent a week in a an apartment in Paris and then a week in an apartment in Rome. We loved them both. My husband like Rome better, my kids were split.

All that you've described of Paris you'll find in Rome as well. We walked everywhere, the center is a wonderful place to just wander.

I would not stay on the outskirts of Rome unless there's a big price difference. I think I'd find the commute tiring and it would detract from the fun. If you can find an affordable apartment in the city center, it's a great experience. There's plenty of markets and inexpensive (relative to Paris IMO) restaurants. It's so nice to tumble out the door and be right on a narrow, cobblestone street with great sites a 10 minute walk away.

We stayed near the Vatican and I didn't like our apartment that much (but it was pretty inexpensive) but I did love walking through St. Peter's square to get where we wanted to go. We also went up to Janiculum Hill to see the light over the city about 4 times, different times of day. We may have walked more than most people would have in Rome but we really enjoyed it and never took a cab or bus. Every street was interesting.

We were very, very sad to leave Rome.

highflyer Dec 14th, 2007 07:03 AM

In the dead of winter it would be more important to me to be more central. It will get dark early and will probably be fairly cold so make the most of your time by staying where the action is rather than 'commuting'.

How long do you have? Do you intend to go anywhere else apart from Rome on this trip?

julies Dec 14th, 2007 07:39 AM

Length of stay is the dilemma. We arrive at noon on 12/30 and fly out 2 weeks later, so we have 13 nights.

Currently we are vacillating about what to do. One thought is Sicily for 8 to 10 nights and Rome for 3 to 5 nights. This option would give us time in a warmer climate and also give us the opportunity to check out Rome for a future longer visit.

Another option might be going up north and combining either Venice or Florence for 4 or 5 nights with the rest of the time in Rome. I'm leaving this one up to my husband since I've been to both Venice and Florence (although many years ago) and he hasn't.

I'd thought about combining Rome with Naples, but this isn't drawing a lot of enthusiastic votes from my husband. We were together in Naples about 35 years ago, and he wasn't that impressed then. On that trip we visited Herculaneum and Vesuvius. We have not been to Pompeii.

These are the planning dilemmas one faces when trying to plan a trip on very short notice. (We only bought the plane tickets 3 days ago.)

We typically prefer the countryside and smaller places, but that is in nicer weather. I am definitely taking into account here that days will be short and the countryside probably won't be so attractive looking.

Once again, thanks for the comments.

I'm cheap. I would like to keep a rental under $900-$1000 a week. I've been through the slowtrav site already. We are looking for a real bed, comfy couch or chairs with good lighting for reading, a real kitchen, not totally cramped space, quiet, a nice non-touristy neighborhood with small local shops and tratorrias. Am I being totally unrealistic?

scdreamer Dec 14th, 2007 07:56 AM

I don't think you're being unrealistic ... especially since you will be renting during the off-season.

Have you checked ? We've rented a number of apartments from the website and all with good results - in Rome, Venice, Paris, Canada, and the USA. You rent directly from the owners, so it's a bit different than renting from an agency, but there are many options. We have had very positive experiences with VRBO.

In looking at VRBO possibilities in Rome, I saw a few that looked like they might be what you're interested in - for example near Pizza Navona is "Vacation Rentals by Owner Listing #87816" - it's 590 Euros a week, well within your range, and looks nice to me.

We were in Rome for two weeks about three years ago in the off season - we rented an apartment, and then also took the train to Florence for three days about halfway through our stay (we kept our Rome apartment and carried along just what we needed for a few days). Stayed in a charming smaller hotel near the train station in Florence, and had a great time. We loved being able to see everything without the oppressive crowds common to the summmer season, just be sure to bundle up, as it's cold in Rome and Florence in winter.

scdreamer Dec 14th, 2007 07:57 AM

I meant PIAZZA Navona -- hee, I must have Italian food on the brain.

bardo1 Dec 14th, 2007 08:23 AM

I was about to say that 98E a night for an apt. in central Rome WAS a bit unrealistic until I looked at the VRBO listing from scdreamer. Guess I was wrong! It looks great.

anniemackie Dec 14th, 2007 08:31 AM

Last March we met my mother, who is 70, in Rome and spent a week in an apartment on Via Panico. To highlight earlier posts, staying within the historical district in Rome is much easier, cheaper, and more relaxing than staying farther out. We were able to walk to most of the major sites and cab fare to those a little further out was not expensive.

We are also "country" people and were worried about that length of time in huge, bustling city. However, the rhythm of our days slowed down because we knew we had more time. We have also spent a length of time in Paris and are split on preferences. My Dh would go back in a shot to Rome, while I'm still dreaming of Paris. It sounds like we travel in much the same style so I could heartily say a week in Rome would be as lovely as your time in Paris, but your heart may still belong to Paris afterwards.

Are you ruling out car rental? If not, then perhaps staying in a small town in Tuscany or Perugia would help satisfy that "country" preference. As you probably already know, smaller towns are much more inexpensive, and sometimes far more interesting, than the usual touristy hotspots. Good luck with your trip planning, sometimes that is the best part!

Lexma90 Dec 14th, 2007 08:59 AM

Julies - To follow up on your original question, and based on your own thoughtful analysis of what you enjoyed about Paris, YES, you will very much enjoy 10 days in Rome (or less time, if you go elsewhere).

We've been to Rome 3 times, and liked it more each time. It feels like a real city, with real people living there. Yes, it's busy and as dirty as any other city (including Paris). But keep in mind, for one thing, in the historical center (unlike Paris), car traffic is restricted. So depending on where you stay, and where you go during the day, it could be very quiet. On our last trip, we stayed at delightful Residenza Canali ai Coronari, which is right off via Coronari, a pedestrian street with lots of little high-end antique shops. And it was only 1 block from Piazza Navona. I know you're looking for an apartment, but that's to show you can be centrally located near wonderful places to sit and people-watch, AND it's quiet. On our last time we visited, I loved the time we spent in Trastavere - I kept telling my husband that on our next visit, we should stay in that neighborhood, in an apartment!

We walk a lot, and walked almost everywhere we go in Rome. There is a metro, and it's good for some places, but it doesn't have a lot of stops right in the center.

There are a number of smaller museums and beautiful churches that we enjoyed. One was, I think it was called, the National Museum of Rome - great mosaics and frescoes. Eyewitness guide has a great walking tour of churches with great mosaics (I love mosaics); they're spread out throughout the city, and it gave us a good focus on seeking out these lesser-known (at least to us) churches.

suec1 Dec 14th, 2007 09:00 AM

Well I would suggest you at least head out of Rome for a few nights. I don't think Rome is quite the same as Paris with alot of things to do in so - so weather. You may luck out though and it be quite pleasent. Assisi is several hours away by train and I think it would be magical around Christmas time - you could probably explore some other towns near there too - car might be best but train / bus might work too. I really like Rome but the smaller cities have more charm. Even with the bad exchange rate you should be able to eat well - I think Italy has very tastey inexpensive food and the house wine is very drinkable in my humble opinion.

julies Dec 14th, 2007 09:20 AM


scdreamer--I really like VRBO too, and we've rented successfully from owners several times. I checked out the place you mentioned. It does look nice, but I don't know if it is available when I need it because the availability calendar there conflict's with the owner's website calendar. So, I contacted the owner.

VRBO 13150 is a place I had been thinking about that is reasonable but further out in the Via Veneto listings. The owner says it is about 1 1/4 miles or a 45 minute walk or a 20 minute bus ride to the center of the city. It looks nice and has great comments from past guests, but I do wonder about the location especially when I see all the tall apartment buildings in the distance in one of the photos.

By the way, anyone reading this thread who wants a nice, affordable Paris recommendation should look at VRBO 43745. We stayed there and were happy enough we'd go back. Current price is E550 a week, just about what I'd like to find a rental in Rome for.

Thanks again.

julies Dec 14th, 2007 09:26 AM

One more thing. Someone had mentioned Assisi for a few days to complement Rome. I too had thought about this or perhaps Perugia. Any thoughts on this idea for dead of winter? We could use trains or rent a car.

anniemackie Dec 14th, 2007 12:52 PM

Julies, while you are in Rome, think about a daytrip to Orvieto. People mention it here for very good reason. In addition to the regular spots there, we took a hike down the well. For some reason, the well journey is what my DH remembers most about Orvieto.

As for Assisi, we spent four nights in a small inexpensive hotel built into the city wall. Our days were spent wandering from town to town and exploring many backroads. It was wonderful to be back in Assisi at night after the crowds left. We felt this area definitely equaled Tuscany and, as an added benefit for us, it was much cheaper.

NeoPatrick Dec 14th, 2007 01:12 PM

Your interests sound a lot like ours, and we have now been back to Rome for a full week, four different times (after several 3 and 4 night stays). You sure won't run out of things to do or atmosphere to enjoy. We've returned to Paris even more, and often for 10 days to 2 weeks at a time, but Rome will hold up its end of the bargain.

annhig Dec 14th, 2007 01:59 PM

Hi, julies,

I vote for the long stay in rome option, rather than trying to stay in 2 or even 3 bases. being able to stay in one place for over a week gives a completely different feel to place - you begin to get a sense of how people live there, to have neighbours, and a routine.

there are plenty of day-trips to choose from if you get bored with Rome itself. [unlikely, IMO].
it is a fabulous place for stolling - not just something interesting around every corner, but before the corner and on the corner too. take a good guide [like the blue book] and you can stroll to your hearts' content.

regards, ann

wliwl Dec 14th, 2007 06:09 PM

We actually enjoyed being in an apartment in Rome more than in Paris. Be careful about noise though - ROme is a loud place. A week in Rome is NOT too much. It is heavenly.

And Rome is actually MUCH more compact than Paris. Not sprawling at all (at least for the tourist).

Brush up on your art before you go. Read the Agony and the Ecstasy.

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