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Aching Canadian has 2 1/2 Days in Rome and Foot Issues

Hello anyone and everyone,

first of all, many thanks to Rick Steve's for providing such useful resources and a great site.

So ... in less than 2 weeks I am taking my best friend on a SURPRISE TRIP to Italy - something we've wanted to do since we were children. We arrive in Rome Tuesday September 18th just before noon. We will have Tuesday afternoon, all day Wednesday and all day Thursday in Rome before renting a car Friday morning to drive through some of the Tuscan region, then down to the Amalfi Coast and returning to Canada on Tuesday September 25th. My issue is that I have a bone spur and plantar fasciitis - no treatment has helped, and a cortisone shot is scheduled in a few days. Walking is painful and limited - the thought of visiting Rome where walking is king, is giving me a tiny tinge of anxiety. Unfortunately, I cannot reschedule this trip of a lifetime. Any suggestions for a some of the best sites to see in Rome, what order to see them (best time of day/evening) considering two major factors: my time frame of 2 1/2 days; and my slower pace (with enough breaks to sit and rest)? I would like to book tours of the Colosseum and Vatican, but not sure if I could keep up with a tour group.... I understand that Rome, let alone Italy, cannot be fully visited and appreciated in one trip, but needing a good starting point for our very first trip.

Any assistance/tips would be much appreciated.

A Grateful Canadian,


Posted by
91 posts


Just a suggestion, but Thorlo ( sells padded socks specifically designed for plantar fasciitis.

One style that I looked at for you is the "OEXU Unisex Outdoor Explorer," $18.00 USD. Buy big because the padding makes the sock feel tighter.

You could call them to see if they if they ship to Canada. Maybe they can make some other suggestions for your problem feet. I think the style that I mentioned is a high-quality sock.

Good luck.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you very much for your time and for the suggestion. I will definitely look into these socks.

Posted by
6439 posts

You have 2 days in Rome to do serious touring. The half of Tuesday will be good for a bit of wandering ( if you foot permits) of your local neighborhood.

10 days out your options for tours may be limited. At this point I would scope out some possible tours and once you have your shot and see what benefit it provides you can decide on booking tours or just plan on a more laid back approach if the walking isnt working

Use the search bar at the top of the page to look for 'Vatican tours" and "Colosseum tours" you should find hours of reading and excellent suggestions

Be Healed!

Posted by
5378 posts

1) Taxis are your friends.
2) Rick Steves has free self-guided audio tours (find them on this site) which you can do at your own speed, with lots of sitting time.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you Joe and Laura! You guys are great! Definitely helpful tips.

A friend of mine just returned from a trip to Italy and said he really enjoyed the self-guided tour audios that Rick Steves provides.

I heard taxis can be expensive and because I'm footing the entire trip bill for both myself and my best friend there will be budgetary restrictions but something I will consider if I can walk no further LOL.

Posted by
293 posts

What an exciting trip! The element of surprise intrigues me and I hope you post more about the trip and your friends reaction!

I also have plantar fasciitis, and this is what I did last year in Vienna for a week.

I took 2 ibuprofen each morning, upon waking,
When I came home in the late afternoon, I soaked my feet in cold water by sitting in a chair near the sink with my feet up in the sink. I took 2 ibuprofen again after that.

i never let my bare feet touch the ground, always had memoryfoam flip flops nearby. also took Dr Scholls insoles for maximum comfort.

Good luck and gave fun!

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you dear Shelly. I shall follow your prescription of daily treatments of ibuprofen and soaking feet. Hope you had a wonderful time in Vienna. I'm praying that your feet feel better today.

Aside from my foot pain, I am beyond excited for this trip. She's been my friend since we were two years old. Four decades later, we've never had a fight or an ill word spoken between us. She's a hard-working single mama who so deserves this.

Thanks again.

Posted by
31055 posts


I've also suffered from Plantar Fasciitis when in Rome, so I can very much relate to your dilemma. I tried several off-the-shelf inserts from Dr. Scholls and others and found them to be pretty much useless. The best solution I found was to visit a Podiatrist and have custom carbon composite ortho inserts manufactured. I haven't had any problems with PF since! I'm not sure what to suggest about the bone spurs, but I'm sure your Physician has given you the best advice on that.

Unfortunately I have a new "foot issue" that's really slowing me down, and I haven't yet found a solution for it.

Your profile doesn't indicate which part of the country you live in. Is your family doctor providing the Cortisone shot? Given the short time until departure, your options will be limited. With that in mind, I agree with the others that Motrin or other anti-inflammatory / analgesic med's may be your best option.

If you don't have one already, I would highly recommend that you pack along a copy of the RS Italy 2018 guidebook, as there's a LOT of good information there to plan touring, museum opening & closing hours, getting reserved tickets for attractions, etc. If you'll be travelling with an iPad, Kindle or other E-Reader, you can download the E-book version in a few minutes for very reasonable cost. If you'd prefer a standard book, you should be able to find one in larger bookstores in your area.

Regarding your proposed Itinerary, you may find that you don't get a lot done on arrival day due to jet lag. I'd suggest not planning too much for that day and just see how you feel. If you're arriving just before noon, you probably won't get to your hotel until mid-afternoon. How are you planning to get from the airport into Rome?

You're going to be covering a fair distance from Rome to Tuscany to the Amalfi Coast. A GPS unit or at least a good map would be prudent.

You may already be aware of these, but a few more important points to mention.....

It's important to note that for driving in Italy, each driver listed on the rental form must have the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. These are valid for one year, and easily obtained at any CAA/AAA office (two Passport-sized photos required, which may be provided by the issuing office). Failure to produce an IDP if requested can result in fines on the spot! Failure to pay the fines when requested may result in the rental car being impounded, and further charges for towing and storage. You may find THIS recent thread interesting.

You may also want to have a look at some of the other posts here concerning the dreaded Zona Traffico Limitato (limited traffic) areas that are becoming increasingly prevalent in many Italian towns & cities especially Florence, which is almost saturated with automated ZTL cameras. EACH PASS through one of the automated Cameras will result in a €100+ ticket, which you won't know about until several months after you return home! This website provides more information -

There's also the issue of parking tickets, high fuel costs, tolls and automated speed cameras including the devious Traffic Tutor system which measures not only instantaneous speed but also average between two points. Violate either or both parameter and expensive tickets will follow.

If you'll be using the Metro, Buses, Regionale trains, etc., you must validate (time & date stamp) your tickets prior to boarding on the day of travel, or risk hefty fines which will be collected on the spot!

What a wonderful thing to do for your best friend! Despite the above issues, I hope you both have a great time!

Buon Viaggio!

Posted by
3307 posts

Not about your feet.

I noticed that this is your first forum question. Please forgive me if you've already done lots of preparation, but I have to ask.

Is this your first trip to Europe? To Italy?

Have you researched all you need to know about renting a car and driving in Italy?

Are your passports current?

How about how to get money? Or how to try to avoid pickpockets and protect your valuables?

Although it's a surprise for your friend, she should know these things, too.

Your time is short, but Rick's Travel Tips should be very helpful. Just click on this link to get there. Car rental and driving info is under Transportation.

The Explore Europe section on Italy should also be helpful. Click on Places for your destinations.

Most of all, have a great time!

Edited to add: Ken was typing at the same time. He provided lots of good info and links on driving in Italy. It can be a lot of fun, but knowing what to watch out for is very important. He did a great job of telling you about that.

Posted by
8 posts

Dear Ken and Lo,

appreciate not only all the advice and links, but your genuine care for a stranger you have not met.

Ken, I'm sorry to hear about your new foot condition. Trusting for solutions and healing. A local podiatrist has been treating me with laser treatments and orthos will be seriously considered - thank you. I live in Calgary, Alberta. A radiology and ultrasound government clinic will be administering the cortisone (referred by my family doctor). I will definitely be picking up the RS Guidebook! As for driving in Italy - what is required and what to expect - I have researched it extensively, but nevertheless am grateful for the helpful links you provided. Thank you!!!

Lo, this is indeed my first time to Europe - long overdue. As mentioned, I have indeed researched driving in Italy. I lived in Southern California for several years, driven in Manhattan as well as crazy rural parts of southern India, and have driven stick-shift since I was 17, so I am undaunted about driving outside of Rome. And yes, to money and pick-pocketing awareness. My bestie thinks we are going on a business trip to Seattle WA and Vancouver BC (she is not just my bestie, but my employee) - so she will be ready with passport in hand and I have versed her well on international travel which she has done before.

Thanks again Ken and Lo for taking time out of your day/night to assist me. Sending virtual hugs and blessings your way. If you are ever in Calgary, I would love to take you for coffee :).

Posted by
154 posts

We took this tour with Walks of Italy, of the Colosseum and the Forum. It was fascinating, only went up and down a couple of flights of steps, it was not alot of walking, because the area is pretty compact. I think/hope you'd be fine on this tour.
They also have a hop on hop off 7 day ticket, way under $100, which looks interesting because you don't have to commit in advance:

What a lovely friend you are! There are not many like you out there, have a great time. I've had plantar fascitis, and it is no picnic. I'm hoping the cortisone will help (took me 2 weeks to see relief, for my knee, so don't give up hope if no effects immediately!).

What is your plan for Amalfi? Yikes so many steps there....

Posted by
45 posts

Hi there! I also have mobility issues (knees) that require me to sit periodically and/or limit the amount of walking. Rome will still be manageable and you will enjoy your trip! Some thoughts below...

Consider a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus as your primary transportation rather than taxis. Stops are (usually) convenient or close to major sights. I usually do a 48-hour ticket. The first time I hop on, I will ride the bus without getting off so that I have an overview of the city and a glimpse at sights that are interesting but not enough to explore in depth (e.g. Circus Maximus). You can search online for the HOHO buses in Rome. Their sites will have downloadable maps so you can plan what sights to see and in what order.

Start your day early to avoid lines, and if the budget allows opt for the "skip the line" tickets for the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum and the Forum.

Sit on the Spanish Steps and people watch.

Grab a table at a cafe or restaurant. The nice thing about Italy and Europe, in general, is that the waiters leave you alone and you can sit at your table for as long as you want.

Small neighborhood churches -- even the larger ones -- are a great place to sit and be refreshed yet still take it Roman culture, art and daily life. Roman churches are chockful of beautiful art, many of them by the masters.

What I would NOT recommend: 1) using the Metro - escalators and elevators can breakdown, you don't see much of the city; 2) tour groups - this is a lot of walking at someone else's pace.

For comfort, I wear Alegria sandals. They have a thick sole that helps absorb some of the shock -- especially from the cobblestones. I pack my Aleve and aspirin along with some Salonpas or Thermalcare heat patches. I learned my lesson last year when the "closest" pharmacy from my hotel involved a lot of painful walking in Venice. Bananas and, if you can find it, coconut water might help ease the pain. And then, of course, the nightly soak in a hot bath if you have a tub in your hotel room.

In Portugal, I saw a woman using a small, lightweight aluminum stool - like the kind hunters use. Compact. Lightweight. Perhaps that's also an option.


Posted by
1623 posts

We always travel with small, foldable tripod stools that we bought at REI. They’re great.

Posted by
3307 posts

I'm so glad to hear about your research. You'd be surprised to learn how many people write in about a specific challenge, having not even considered the potential differences between home and where they are going.

And what a great ruse to get your friend to the airport! I'm sure she'll figure it out soon enough. Be sure to take some pictures to record the "reveal."

Now about the feet. Having had plantar fasciitis, I feel your pain. Fortunately, with exercises and a radical change in footwear, I've managed to overcome it. However, I still get tired and take frequent breaks on trips.

I haven't taken the HOHO bus in Rome. It sounds like it might be a good idea for you. Last time I was there, I just used the regular buses. I never used the Metro. I prefer seeing stuff along the way.

I've been to the Vatican 3 times. In the summer of 2017, I took a Dark Rome tour. It was this first entry tour of the Sistine Chapel and more. The advantage of going so early is that there is practically no one there compared to later in the day. There are benches lining the walls and you can sit to look around. It was empty enough when I was there that I could find places to sit in a variety of locations in the Chapel. It was early enough that we were in St. Peter's when the floor was being cleaned with a zamboni-like machine. And I loved going to the crypt. However, there was absolutely no place to sit after the Sistine. My issues have switched up from my feet to my knees, but this was not a fast-paced tour, and I was able to keep up.

A fun but rather expensive option for getting around and seeing stuff is Scooteroma. I did a shortened street art tour on the back of a Vespa, but y'all might enjoy going on the Piaggio Ape Calessino tour toward the bottom of this page.

Before driving it, be sure to look at some videos of driving the Amalfi Coast. A fairly recent one is "Driving the Amalfi Coast Road" dated January 23, 2016. If you drive from Sorrento toward Salerno, the water and cliff edge will be on your right. A few years back, my husband and I went the other direction by local bus. That was close enough for me. This is a verbal description of the drive.

Posted by
16788 posts

I don't think you'll find taxis very expensive. From Termini train station for instance, expect about €7 to the Colosseum or €15 to the Vatican. Pick up white taxis at official taxi stands. Make sure that they use the meter, not quote you a random price up-front (which is sometimes still close to right, but I'd prefer the meter rate).

When visiting a single site like the Colosseum or Vatican Museum, standing is usually more of an issue than fast walking.

Posted by
6439 posts

Are you going to let her 'expense acct' clothes when you get to Italy?

Dressing for biz trip to Seattle and Vancouver in late Sept and Italy for vacation at that time seems to be VERY different clothing needs

Posted by
7756 posts

Please, please immediately go and order the MELT Method foot/hand treatment kit bundle ( balls and dvds) I hope they ship to Canada. I have been able to make PF pain go away after 3 treatments. Do them along with the video to start then take the balls with you to Italy.

I am not connected in any way with this product other than being a happy consumer.

After the pain is gone, then also get some kind of insoles as suggested above.

Posted by
3470 posts

Some recommendations that may help if you're having problems. We used these last year when some in our group couldn't walk.

I know it's expensive, but it allows you to see so much more without walking. They have set itineraries but will follow any alternate path you wish. Note, this is sightseeing and photo stops, not entries to sites they will drop you off at the end of your tour if you wish.

For the Vatican, they have free wheelchair rentals. You must request at least a day ahead.

Do NOT use the hoho busses in Rome. They just don't get you close to anything, most times you end up walking longer. Instead use the city busses, trams (get a good bus/tram map) and taxis. You'll end up saving $$
Compared to 2 tickets on the hoho.

Hope this helps and have a wonderful time.
You're a great friend.

Posted by
786 posts

I've had several long intractable bouts of PF. The only thing that ever fixed it was very consistent calf and arch stretching, at least twice a day. I now keep a small block of wood (for calf stretches) and a half ball of hard rubber (for foot/arch stretches) in front of my bathroom sink and use both every time I brush my teeth or wash my face. The half ball thingy is what it sounds like - a very hard rubber ball (think lacrosse ball consistency, tennis ball size) that looks to be cut in half so it is stable on the bottom. I step on it with all different parts of my foot, especially the ball and front part of the arch. Even though the pain is mostly in the heel, it seems to be reduced by stretching front parts of the foot. And the calf.

Not a tomorrow fix, but it will work, along with supportive orthotic inserts (I don't have custom ones, I use Vionic Orthaheel ones in all my shoes. Available at SoftMoc in Calgary.) I took the half ball with me on my recent trip and continued to use it twice daily.

For a trip as near-term as yours, I'd start the stretching but definitely rely on ibuprofen, ice and cold soaks during it.

Posted by
575 posts

Nothing helped my plantar fascitiis until I got custom made orthotics --- NOT the ones where you step onto some foam to get an impression of your feet, but the ones where the podiatrist makes an actual plaster mold of your feet and the orthotics are made from that. I no longer have to wear the orthotics, but I wore them religiously for the first few years.

I have been to Rome and elsewhere in Italy many times and have put some thought into what I would do if my feet were still hurting like they used to and I only had two days in Rome. I realize that I have quite idiosyncratic opinions, but I am often mystified as to what people like about many of the famous places, e.g. Piazza Navona, the Spanish steps, even the Forum. My only bad experience in Italy was the Vatican, but if you can pay for it, an early or late tour of just the Sistine Chapel without the crowds would be worth it. I would go to the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Borghese, and to somewhere with a view of the whole city. Eat meals in some great places. You will be jet-lagged as well as having painful feet. Yes, take taxis.

Good luck with your trip. Do what you can. Let your friend go off on her own sometimes while you rest your feet. Return to Italy.

Posted by
45 posts

Unrelated to mobility issues....

Have you considered telling your friend about the trip a few days before you're at the airport? There are a few logistical factors to consider from your best friend's perspective so that her experience will be just as wonderful as you have imagined it will be.

Money - You mentioned you are footing the bill yet she may want a modicum of financial freedom to use her credit card(s) and take out cash using her ATM card on this trip. An accurate travel notification to her financial institution is important. It's one thing for the bank to expect transactions in Vancouver and Seattle. It's an entirely different matter if the transactions are coming from Italy.

Emergency Contacts - Is her family aware of this surprise? They should know where she is and how to contact her in case there is an emergency back home. Returning from Seattle/Vancouver is much faster than returning from the Amalfi coast. Her family should be made aware of this to properly set expectations.

Medications - If she is on prescription meds, it's prudent for her to bring a copy of her prescription(s) in case of an emergency. While it's fairly easy to get scripts filled in Italy and in Europe, generally, it may not be as simple as a Seattle pharmacy calling her physician to get it filled.

Attire - Another poster addressed this above and I echo his sentiments, especially as it relates to footwear. There is a lot more walking on a leisure trip than on a business trip. And it's figuratively and literally a pain to buy new shoes abroad and break them in.

Posted by
4281 posts

Re ibuprofen, it's a great drug but I suggest caution about taking a lot for a long time. Try to take it with food if you can, and avoid too much alcohol. Pay attention to the cautions on the label. End of sermon.

Posted by
619 posts

Hi Sophi,

You have already received such great advice. I know how painful plantar fasciitis can be. A cortisone shot will help, but you will need to be strategic on your walking. Here are a couple of suggestions that can help that have not already been mentioned:

  • Check out the tours and advice from Sage: They specialize in accessible tours and have advice and some tours (such as a golf cart tour of Rome) that may help. These tours are private and therefore pricy, but the price may be worth saving your feet for the rest of the trip.
  • Take advantage of any of the accessible services at the sites that you visit (e.g. the Colosseum has an elevator). The Spanish Steps is 138 steps, but there is a lift next to the Metro Station. We didn’t take it, but understand that it will get you up the steps.

Have a great trip,

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you everyone! I have read and re-read all your messages and am deeply grateful for your time and suggestions. <3

Specifically and as briefly as I can be ...

Joan - thank you for the links. I'm sorry that you have suffered with PF too - my heart goes out to you. As for Amalfi - we will be driving our rental car to Sorrento where our hotel has free parking and free shuttles to town. We will either use the bus or a private driver to go further to Positano and the ferry over to Capri from Sorrento's port.

Rae - great advice! I like the thought of just sitting and resting in local churches which also are steeped in history. Despite your mobility issues (which I'm sorry to hear about), I'm glad it has not stopped you from getting around. Venice, Portugal - that's wonderful! And yes, I shall look into Alegria sandals.

Becky - foldable tripod stools - neat idea - thanks!

Lo - Wow, the Vatican 3 times! The Dark Hour Tour is something I've looked at - thank you for your feedback on it. Yes, I have spent many a late night watching videos on driving not only the Amalfi Coast but Italy in general. I like the thought of Scooterama - I will see if it will fit in the budget.

Laura - I guess the word "expensive" is relative to each person's budget :). Unfortunately our weak Canadian dollar doesn't help.

Joe - as a part-time event planner, I am all about details, so appropriate clothing is covered. No sense boring you with how I convinced my bestie to take clothes that will be suitable for Italy, but I did :). Thank you.

Pam - I haven't heard of the Melt Method but will definitely look into it. Thank you!

Gerri - thanks for all the links and resources, and the warnings too :). Thank you for your help and your sweet well wishes.

Nelly - oh dear, you've had many bouts of PF! This is my first, and I just ache to think of people having to suffer this multiple times. Nevertheless, things can always be worse and we count our blessings. Yes, I too have been stretching numerous times a day for the last 2 months and today I had an appointment with an amazing Physio Therapist who has magic hands. I have been using a golf ball thus far, but will look at alternately using a hard rubber ball. Thank you!

Nancy - yes, custom orthos is ringing through my ears :). I'm glad you have had the opportunity to visit Italy many times. Thank you!

Rae - I have weighed many times whether to tell my bestie or not, but being a detail-oriented person, and as someone who knows her bestie inside and out (down to what kind of undies she will bring lol), I believe I have everything covered. I definitely appreciate you bringing it up though, as I have now triple checked my list (money, emergency contacts, meds, attire, etc). The TALE of our trip to Seattle/Vancouver involves business on only 2 days (where she'll be packing light dresses that she can wear for evening dinners in Italy) and the rest a mini vacation for us, so she will be carrying comfy clothes and shoes. I know the bank cards she carries and that they can be used in Italy, should an emergency arise or if she wants to pick up small gifts for her family. A couple key family members who can be trusted with tightly sealed lips know. This trip has consumed many of my weeks in planning, to ensure that she will be comfortable and prepared when she hears the words, "Actually, we're not going to Seattle/Vancouver....We're Going To Italy!" Thanks dear Rae.

Dick - thanks for the warning with Ibuprofen. I'm careful with painkillers as I understand they're just a bandaid, and I'd rather heal the issue than cover it up, but will be taking a few on this trip. I don't drink alcohol (yes, I know I'm going to Italy LOL), so no worries :).

Sandy - thank you for reminding me to be strategic in my walking and to use whatever resources may be available to me. I appreciate your well wishes.

Blessings, Hugs And All Things Good To Each Of You!


Posted by
45 posts

Sophi, I love that you are on top of this!!! Have a wonderful adventure!!

Posted by
8 posts

Hello from Western Canada,

this is Sophi again. I returned from Italy last week and wanted to take one last opportunity to thank everyone in the thread who took time out of their day to provide such wonderful advice. So grateful for all of you!

The cortisone shot I took prior to the trip helped immensely with the pain. I walked between 3 and 7 hours every single day of our week long trip - which I did not think was possible. We did a combination of trains, buses and taxis (when I could literally walk no more). We visited Rome, Orvieto, Sorrento and Amalfi Coast. It was the perfect combination of city, countryside and sea side. I also drove from Tuscany down to Amalfi and though my best-friend was white-knuckling it the whole time, I would definitely drive again. If you are timid in any way of driving, don't do it. It is not for the faint of heart but exhilarating for those of us who love to drive and can go with the flow of how Italians drive (many who make up their own rules, but nevertheless, I did not see one accident the whole time - so that says something about their skills).

I cannot wait to do Italy again! Loved every single aspect of the trip (aside from being a sloppy pool of sweat from the heat and humidity which this arid Calgarian is not used to). My best friend and I remain on cloud 9, reminiscing about this trip of a lifetime which took almost a lifetime to get to.

Many thanks again to the Rick Steves Community :). Happy trails to all of you! Love and blessings and all things good from Calgary!

Posted by
1500 posts

hey sophi
congrats on your adventure. how truly shocked and surprised was your friend? these memories will last a lifetime, laughed about the white knuckles and your driving. :) always the case when you want to plan your next trip before you get back home. next trip is the northern part of italy. there is so much to see and can't see it all but you made good use of your time seeing all you did. next trip is either earlier like may or october because of the heat. these posters here on forum are great and will tell you good bad and ugly. you took the advice and paid off in the end thanks to your planning, it helps.

Posted by
4281 posts

Welcome home, Sophi, and thanks for following up with this report. Glad you and your feet held up and you both had such a good time. Now it's your turn to share your knowledge and experience with others who post questions. Who knows, it could lead to a career in podiatry! ;-) I know I learned a lot about foot care on this thread.

Posted by
7756 posts

Sophi! Thanks for checking back in with us. So very glad you and your friend had a great time!

Now is the time to work on a plan for healing your foot before your next trip, lol.