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Beating the lines at major sites

We are taking our 4th Italy trip. In Rome we plan to visit the Borghese Museum, catacombs of Priscilla and Papal audience on Wednesday if Pope Francis is in Rome during our stay mid May 2018. We are not "really" guided tour sorts, but do want to have a knowledgeable experience. Any suggestions? Venice is the bigger question. This is our first trip to Venice. We would like to do what we can to avoid lines and get the best experience. Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Basilica - I see that there are various tours, which is the best recommended and through what companies. We are interested in seeing the deeper and unavailable to the public areas. I there a suggestion for a pass that includes multiple sites? Any other highly recommended sites in Venice?

Cinque Terra - We are wanting to take the Carrara Mine tour any suggestions there?

Thank you so much!
Karen Sortino

Posted by FastEddie
798 posts

I understand you're not inclined to guided tours, but one option to maximize your experience is to hire a tour guide for a half-day here or a half-day there. A knowledgable person explaining the art/ruins/monuments I am looking at greatly enriches my experience. Audio guides are nice, but they don't compare to a personal guide. Many guides will obtain tickets for you to save time.

Posted by ksort27 OP
38 posts

I understand and I feel the same about audio tour. We are leaning that way especially in Venice. Rome we have done most of the big sites, but have never made it to the Borghese. Thank you for your suggestion. I love this forum, it really can help in planning. Karen

Posted by Diane
New York, NY, USA
415 posts

We went to Mass at St. Mark's Basilica. It is not a way to beat the lines, but we did see a part of the Basilica others did not. You must be willing to stay for the entire Mass ( about one hour) . Afterwards, you have about 10 -15 minutes to discretely look at the art work. The entrance is at the left hand side facing the Basilica.
My father is religious Catholic and so we do try and attend Mass on Sunday when possible when travelling. We have had some nice experiences . I have also attended evensong in Canterbury and York. Lovely

Posted by ksort27 OP
38 posts

The friends we travel with are Catholic. We also make an effort to attend mass while in Italy. If you are staying in an area for a period of time it is a wonderful way to meet, mingle with local residents making a memorable exchange for all. I have seen the "Secret Treasure Doge Tour" which sounds intriguing. Wanting to purchase tickets in advance to avoid the lines just wandering what tours ( and tour companies) are the best, reliable and worth the price to get a more experiential knowledge.

Posted by Sherry
Campbell River, Canada
334 posts

Hi Katie,
The best information that you seek is in the Rick Steves Italy guide. It will give you recommendations on timing of your visits, value of tours, costs involved, email addresses if needed etc. All of us here are volunteer posters and don 't collectively have the correct/updated info that the book has. We've been to Italy twice and found RS guide superior to any other guidebooks we perused and the best investment we made for our trips.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
11613 posts

Sorry, but "boots on the ground" info can be much more timely than a guidebook, which gets a final edit many months before it is available to the public. Of course, info from forum posters must be practical and not just opinion.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3566 posts

Get reservations IN ADVANCE for Borghese. It is very popular. I was there in early May and already had bought my ticket online a few weeks earlier. At that time, the next times available were about ten days later. It may be too early to get tickets now, but when you know what your schedule will be (maybe a couple of months in advance) go online and order tickets. You are sent a code, then you pick up your tickets at Borghese an hour or so before your entry time.