For six days, we intend to see Coliseum and maybe a winery/ estate, but what else? Appreciate your suggestions. Myself, sister and bro in law, in April . Also planned to end for two days in Florence. She has Rick Steeves books on Rome and Tuscany I think she said. Rome hotel is Hilton sort of near Vatican.
Hi sallyg! Rome is my favorite city. I recommend the Hotel Apollo on Via dei Serpenti. It's a quirky, family-run hotel not far from the main train station and easy walking distance to the Colosseum and Forum areas. There's also a good hotel just around the corner from the Vatican Museum - I think it is called Best Western Hotel Spring House - but from that area it's a long walk to all the other sights. You can book hotels in Italy by by using http://www.venere.com where you can view all the customer feedback comments. April is definitely a good time to go, as the weather will not be too hot, and there will not be crowds of tourists. Just outside the main train station you can buy tickets for tour buses that circulate to all the major sites - the ticket allows you to jump on and off the buses all day. If you are going to visit the Vatican museums, be prepared for a line-up lasting several hours even if you arrive before museum opening time! Don't miss the Pantheon, Trevi fountain (arrive early in the day to avoid the crowds) and the Spanish Steps. From the top of the Spanish Steps, make a left and walk along the road, past a little restaurant (highly recommended) on your left, and you will see on the right some steps leading up to an enormous park. The park is a great place to unwind, or hire a bicycle, as the mood takes you. Also, try to visit an open-air market, of which Rome has many. The EuroStar train is an excellent way to travel between Rome and Florence, but don't travel on a weekend in case you get caught by a strike.
As far as euro rail it is cheaper to buy it here because it is very expensive to buy there.I can not remember the hotels that we stayed at but it was fairly nice, a 5 star we were told but looked like a 3 star by US standard and it was cold. June Otario summarized it very nicely, wear comfortable shoes because the streets are cobble stones.With 6 days you might be able to add another city if your travel time is not included.I think April is still cool, perhaps a light jacket.The main complaint of some friends who went last summer is the devaluation of the $$$ compared to Euro.I love the open markets!!!! Bellie
We just spent 8 days in Rome. Wonderful! We stayed in the Ancient City, by the Imperial Forums.
It was a great location for walking tours. We took a cab once - to get to an early tour of the Vatican.
We reserved tours & tickets via Select Italy (www.selectitaly.com). This is how we reserved a tour
of the vatican - walked right by a huge line and went in w/a guide and then after his 2hrs tour, we spent
the rest of the day on our own. I loved the old statuary- went to Galleria Borghese (must reserve ticket)
and to Capitoline Museum (walk-in). One thing I wish we'd done was down load the MP3 tours.
We bought the audio guides at a few of the place but it adds up. Select Italy has them but since we didn't
use them, I can't swear they are good.
At the Rome Hilton, you will certainly be in the lap of luxury! You'll be missing the true Rome hotel experience of cramped rooms, tiny showers, creaking stairs, traffic noise, and mono-lingual desk staff, though. The Hilton location may be a bit far from the central historic sights, which are mostly on the other side of the river, but I believe the hotel offers some kind of local transportation. If not, no worries, Rome has an extensive bus and subway system.
I assume you will be eating breakfast and probably dinner also at the Hilton, but for your lunches take to the back streets and look for small restaurants that are serving food to locals, not tourists. Not only will the food be better, but the prices will be lower. If you have traveled in Europe before, forgive me for telling you what you already know, but Italians tend to eat lunch around 1 p.m., so if you want to avoid the rush find your restaurant around noon or 12:30. Also, to drink with your meal, order mineral water and/or wine. Order coffee with or instead of dessert. Italian coffee comes in many guises. If you like it black, order caffe nero or espresso lungo. I'm lactose intolerant, so I can't vouch for the cappuccino or the caffe con latte! You may be offered "American coffee" made with instant coffee powder, but be warned it is sometimes truly awful.
Your hotel will book sightseeing tours for you. A nice day trip outside of Rome would be a guided excursion to the ruins of Hadrian's Villa (Villa Adriani) and a nearby beautiful garden (the name of which escapes me at the moment) in the hills overlooking the coastal plain.
Thanks for all the suggestions.
I'm nervous about getting from the airport to the hotel by myself, (cab?) and may have to go from Florence on train back to Rome/ the airport by my self too. I'm a big chcken, can you tell?
Sally - the train system isn't bad at all. We bought a ticket from the airport
to Rome's Termini Station and then walked about a mile to the hotel. We
took a cab from the hotel to Termini Station on the way home though. The
airport has ticket offices with english speaking clerks so it was easy.
There are ticket machines in the rail stations - you can select english and
it was fairly straight forward to figure out how to get tickets. We went to
Napoli round trip from Rome via train
I have always enjoyed Italian trains. If the run is long enough and you chose to buy the sit down meal, you can truly dine, white tablecloths, silver and all, from one stop to another. Nothing to be afraid of on the trains.
My husband and I have driven all over Italy. Yes they drive like maniacs, but they are very skilled at it. We have never had a problem except with getting lost and whenever we get lost we discover something new and wonderful. Our greatest adventures are ones we had while driving.
In Italy, once in a great while, a street turns into a flight of stairs. We actually drove down one of these once by accident. We only got about 4 stairs down when we realized our mistake and were lucky to be able to back up the stairs to the road. It was embarassin -- all the Italian ladies were leaning out their windows to watch us back out. But we did so and drove on. We have been laughing about that one for 20 years. But don't worry, there aren't very many of these street/stair arrangements in Italy.
My guess is that you will find it easy to get around in Italy and I have always found it very safe except for the purse snatchings.
Definitely study Rick Steve's Rome guide. He has lots of good tips. One thing he always recommends for European travel is to wear a money belt to hold your passport, money, credit cards etc. Defnitely wear one as there are pickpockets. I recommend the free tour of the Colosseum. I can't remember the time it is offered but try to get there for this tour.
Also if you are interested in more in depth walking tours of Rome, I'd suggest checking out:
As a former resident of Rome and veteran of several gypsy snatchings I had to come to the reluctant conclusion that they were just better at finding my money than I was at hiding it. I learned only to take whatever cash I was willing to lose. Don't be afraid to go out in Rome, just be aware. They are pretty bold around the Coliseum and on the buses to the Vatican.
Since this is Dave's Garden, in Rome you should see the Orto Botanico in Trastevere, the nympheum on the Palatine Hill (admission is via the Forum), and the Papal Gardens. There is a spectacular iris garden among an olive grove in Florence which might be beginning to bloom in late April. The Boboli Gardens in Florence are nice enough but the highlight of that garden is a back garden called something, something Cavalleri; beautiful roses and peonies with a view to the Tuscan hillside that is memorable. Another fabulous garden outside of Rome and well worth a day trip is Ninfa. You probably need a car to get there unless the Hilton can arrange transportation for you. They are not open all the time so best to check up on their schedule. Tickets are purchased at the Palazzo Caetani in Rome. Their website: http://www.grandigiardini.it/EN/scheda.php?id=70
I am finally ready to give my post trip comments- partly because I just finished an article which'll run in two days.
I loved Rome!! there was sure much more to see than we could cram into about five days. Here is what I would say to someone planning a first trip, -things that stuck out to me:
My credit card was NOT approved to work in the Italian ATM, even tho I called the companies and told them I'd be in Italy. They didn't tell me I'd need some other approval to use it for cash!!! There is an AMEX office very close to Piazza de Spagna, saved my behind.
Most attractions did NOT take credit. Restaurants and shops did.
The train was easy. Even coming fresh off the plane and in somewhat of a tizzy I easily bought a trian ticket (with the same credit card) and got to Termini. Then it was easy to find the taxi and they were eager to drive me. 20 E got me to the Hilton outsdie town. Most taxi rides were around ten E
Subway was easy just like others. We avoided rush hour by staying in town during dinner hour- why not?? Head for the ends of the station to get the less full cars. We used the newer style backpack with one strap across- that was easy to wear in front for crowds and subway, then switch to back for comfort in other places. We did not lose anything o pickpockets, but the outer pocket of one pack was unzipped and may have lost a map or notes. Still not sure.
Gelato all over for 2-4 E. One Aussie gal told us she'd paid 12 E for one --eeek!
Street vendors everywhere--If it rains they instantly switch from sunglasses/tripods to umbrellas. Clever.
Loved everything we did- regret some things we didn't but you only have so much time or energy in a given day!
Palatine Hill- I really enjoyed. Super view of ruins around, although its hard to get your bearings and figure out what it all is for awhile. You get to walk around and in rsome ruins here too, which you can't (walk thru) the main ruins anymore (well, I think by lining up you can take a path thru the Forum ruins) Palatine ticket gets you, same day only I believe , into Colosseum also so we did that right after. I'm sorry we didn't realize Bocca de Verite is right behind Palatino, we missed that but its something my kids would like.
Colosseum just wows you right out of the subway station. We bypassed a big line by having our Palatino passes (cash only for passes!) first. Its really impressive. That's an understatement. ! At the time we sort of just took it all in. There's practically no signage or information there- take it with you. However, on reflection we all agree we were glad we went thru it. Of course there are gladiators for pictures. If you want one, hold out to find cute guy, not all gladiators created equal. And I hope he uses deodorant...
Next day we took shuttle and subway to Colossoe again but walked up the road past all the ruins. Between subway and ruins there is a visitor center with bathrooms and printed info/maps. Again, take you background info with you. I think you can walk on a path thur the Fourm ruins if you wait in line, but we didn't. Did Capitolin Museum, lots of neat stuff. Out the back and lunch in Jewish Ghetto, saw Cat Sanctuary and Pantheon. (Had to wait at Pantheon for a wedding to disburse-- imagine getting married there) Over to Piazza Navona where you find a whole lineup of restaurants catering to tourists, menus with pictures and a host dragging you in, each one saying the other guys use frozen stuff nad theirs is all fresh. We passed them up and found a place we loved out the northeast end of the Piazza. The host was standing at the menu stand outside but toally ignored us until we asked to come in Then he was super. Even told us we'd need to adjust the white balance on our cameras to get good pictures inside. " Fiammetta" Delicious meal.
If I were going to Rome. Tomatoes,Cheese ,fresh bread and chocolate at a little sidewalk cafe in the center.Would be high up toward the top of the list and it would resurface several times.
Enjoy your trip.
Oh, we took a day starting at Piazza del Popolo to walk southeast past Spanish Steps and expensive shopping area, eventually to end at Trevi FOuntain. That was much bigger than we imagined, and more crowded. We didn't shove our way to the edge to throw a coin. We ate at a small place somewhere in the Trevi area, like had a counter area nea the door and a few tables in back, I think a wine store too. That food was good. The surprise was the lasagne here and other places, was much better than what we're used to thanks to realllllly thin pasta. SO I'd say don't feel like you're being unadventurous by ordering lasagne, it's worth it. Oh yeah every bottle of red wine was great And despite fountains all over, when you want water with dinner they bring a big bottle. Only 1 E most of the time I think.
Loved loved loved Villa D'Este- my sister figured out the subway.bus details to get us there thank heavens, but I suppose a decent hotel would help you too. We had lunch in the Villa but tho delicious there was some hitch, like we were too late for lunch too early for dinner or something. But you can eat in the town tha t the villa is right in, and also we liked the string of open shops in the plaza right near the bus stop. Didn't explore that town any more than that, I think we had to be sure and get thta last bus back to ROme and they get crowded, we were sweating that.
Since the bus took us back to subway, we went to Trastavere for dinner, to Alle Fratte de Trastavere which was one in my Lonely Planet Guide. Loved it!!
Most dinners we spent 50- 60 E, ordering maybe an appetizer and two entrees to share between us three plus wine and water
Vatican--whew. We might have gotten off on the wrong stop but we walked ForEver to find the entrance. We are pretty sure we got off on the substop labeled Vatican . You think you are never going to finaly get to the Sistine Chapel but eventually you do. As someone said, that is smaller than you might imagine. ST Peter's is much bigger tho, and beautiful. I'm not sure I would recommend that you take the time and effort for Vatican tour, I think you can go into StPeters without it. The opulence of the whole Vatican does provoke some thought.
Then again, we didn't find uch else to do around there, or else we were too tired to, as we sat at a little table on the sidewalk later waiting ofr Dino and Tony's to open up for dinner. Another one from my book, it has an amazing appetizer thing . Do get it.
Yes we saw sandwich type things (Panini?) at a lot of stores, and pizza, Coke, and my BIL even broke down and got a McD one time. If you have any money, you won't starve there!
I went to a wine store and bought the second-cheapest bottle they had, 1.46 E wich is about 2 bucks and change...Tasted fine to me. I think all their wine is good and they keep the cheap stuff and sell us the expensive stuff . Wine with dinner was around 8 E a bottle.
Oh, every restaurant has a restroom you can use, even when I walked in off the street they were very nice pointing it out. But in central ROme at least, it will probably look kind of outdated shall we say. And there is a different flush thing, not sure what the big and little button is for but I have a guess.