My sis and I have booked our Eastertime flights to Rome. We will be in Rome March 23-April 2. If you were planning to take some interesting day trips from Rome at that time of year, where would you go? Pompeii? Assisi/Orvieto? Florence/Pisa? Venice? Would Capri be nice that time of year? My sister is 14 years older and can't walk far. We'd like to take scenic routes to and from. Any suggestions? Travel time estimates would be appreciated. And which forms of transportation and/or commercial tours would you recommend? Assisi tops my list. Venice/Florence top hers. Thanks for your help.
Ostia Antica was a nice day trip.
Good to know, Jaimie. About how long did it take? Did you go by bus, with a tour group? Any tips about how to best enjoy this day trip? What did you like most about it? Thanks for your help. I have heard about it, but I'm not sure what it is? Catacombs? Ruins? I can Google it, too.
Approximate one-way train times are listed below. You'd have to add time to get to the train station in Rome and from the train station to the tourist hotspots at your destination. You can see the schedules yourself on the Deutsche Bahn website. For fares, go to TrenItalia and use the Italian city names (Roma, Firenze, Venezia).
Assisi: 2 hr. 9 min.
Orvieto: 1 hr. 15 min. (plus time to take funicular up to the historic town)
Florence (Firenze): 1 hr. 30 min.
Pisa: 3 hr., or 2 hr. 30 min. for the 9:15 departure
Venice (Venezia): 3 hr. 45 min.
As you can see, Venice and Pisa are really too far. But I'm more concerned that your sister cannot walk far. There are not necessarily park benches available when you want them, though if you're in a touristy area there are usually plenty of sidewalk cafes. Understand, though, that in Italy you sometimes pay a lot more to consume refreshment while sitting at a café table.
Assisi is lovely but very hilly. The basilica is magnificent, and you could take the train to the town and then get a taxi to the church, though I'm not sure how close the taxi could get you to the door. Seeing the town itself will probably be impractical because of the terrain. Do you want to spend over 4 hours (and it could be longer) basically to see one church? Aside from your sister's physical limitations, Assisi would be a full-day sort of destination, not a place I would combine with Orvieto on a single-day trip.
Orvieto would be easier than Assisi. It is not level, but the slope is mostly gradual. After taking the funicular to the upper town you can get a bus to the heart of the historic area (which is somewhat higher) and then walk around. But the streets are old and narrow, and I think you won't find benches there. You'll just need to budget for beverage or snack breaks so you can rest as necessary. It is a lovely town.
Florence and Pisa I'll leave to others since it has been so long since I've visited them. I'll just note that Florence is a destination in and of itself. Pisa is a brief stop, which is sometimes combined with the more-interesting Lucca. I wouldn't try to combine Pisa with Florence under any circumstances.
I'm afraid Venice would be a nightmare for your sister because you'd constantly be crossing bridges over canals, and those bridges usually have several steps up and several steps down. I suppose you could go for the day and take vaporetto rides along the Grand Canal, etc., and not plan to walk around much. This is a gallery of photos of Venice. You can see the types of bridges I'm describing in several of the pictures. This is a long-distance trip on an expensive train, unless you can still snag promo tickets.
Capri requires a 1 hr. 10 min. train to Naples, then a transfer to the hyrdrofoil dock, then a 1-hour trip to the island, so it is doable in a day. But I think once you get to Capri you're in hill country again. That's another place I haven't been recently enough to be sure.
Pompeii: requires two trains totaling 2 hr. 15 min. I don't know about the terrain, but every archaeological site I've ever been to has very uneven ground, not paved walkways. Would your sister be able to manage that?
Aside from Orvieto and maybe Florence, I think you might be better off with a bus tour that would drop you close to each sight, but I'm not familiar enough with the terrain of the nearby beauty spots to say which would be most suitable. I'm sure others can give you some good suggestions.
There is so much to see in Rome that you will not run out of things to do even if you never leave the city.
gracialynne, it might help if you clarify more exactly "can't walk far" means? Venice, Capri and Pisa are too far for a day trip, and Capri is largely pedestrianized so involves a lot of walking. Pompeii is HUGE so one has to be able to deal with at least a couple of hours on one's feet on very uneven surfaces. We spent 5 hours there and weren't able to cover it all.
Florence might be OK as it has a public transport system, although it still has areas which are entirely pedestrianized. Anyway, if walking is an issue, that's going to determine what you can do.
Thanks for the greatly detailed info, acraven. Very helpful, just what I was hoping for. I've sent it to my sister, so she can see what she thinks. I'm going to let her decide. I don't want to be blamed for exhausting her... HAHA. She thinks we can take the Flixbus from Amsterdam to Paris, and perhaps rest in Paris at lodging, and then continue on a Flixbus to Rome. I don't know... Seems like a lot of riding to me. But if she gets overly tired, we have the 23d of March through April 2 booked in one motel in Rome, so she can rest up there. I can sightsee while she's resting, if need be. She thinks we'll see a lot of Tuscan scenery on the Flixbus ride from Paris to Rome.
Pompeii? Assisi/Orvieto? Florence/Pisa? Venice? Would Capri be nice that time of year?
Pompeii: Too far and LOTS of walking. Long day, at least 12 hours
Florence/Pisa: Too far for a day trip. Same with Venice.
Capri: Again a LONG day, probably 12 hours or more to go to and from and visit
Assisi: Too far (2 1/2 hours by train each way)
Orvieto, Castel Gandolfo, Tivoli, Viterbo all are better options, IMO.
Do you have a Rick Steves' Rome guidebook? He covers day trips very well including transportation details.
Forgot to say, I agree Ostia Antica is a good option, as mentioned by jaime. However, it requires LOTS of walking from the train station to the site, then through the site.
Also, Flixbus from Paris to Rome is a LONG LONG day. The train is bad enough, but more pleasant. Scenery is not great from a highway. Better from a train. Advance purchase of tickets from Paris to Milan makes them quite inexpensive, then you buy tickets from Milan to Rome, perhaps after spending a night in Milan.
I think with your sister's walking limitations, Orvieto is by far the best choice. Only an hour plus by train from Roma Termini station, then very close by is the funicular up to the plateau of the town. Pretty level once you get up there. There are a lot of little streets that can be walked down, but not necessary. The cathedral plus many really solid eateries are right there within a couple minutes walk.
We were there mid-March in 2017 on a warm winter Friday and it was quiet, peaceful & absolutely beautiful. One of the highlights of our trip.
Enjoy your planning!
I'm confused as to why you'd take a 20+ hour bus ride when there are at least 5-6,5 hour (bus 15 min. Plane 2hrs. ,train 30 min.) combinations, not including connection times, with Vueling air and easy jet. Which would not only be faster and less expensive than either the bus or the train.
As far as scenery, the TGV goes so fast thru most areas, that what you see are vistas, not villages.
Gerri, What is "TGV?" Is that the fast train? Good point about vistas, not villages. My sister wants to see villages. We got burned on our plane flight to Rome from Zurich last April, when they had two major delays on our flight, causing us to miss a whole half day's worth of sightseeing in Rome, and our time was limited. They did not compensate us in any way for our lost travel time, other than giving us a heart-shaped chocolate. I did talk them into a voucher for a free meal for each of us, too. My sister loves to save money, and she thinks she can rest on the long bus rides. Also, she wants to try the Flixbus Pass, where you can go to 5 destinations in Europe, as long as they are "direct routes" for only 99 Euros total. She thinks that is an incredible bargain, even with the extra travel time added in. She's always loved riding the bus, and I usually don't enjoy it. I agree I think it may be a big mistake, but I'm only the kid sister. What do I know? And I don't want to be blamed by her family, if she gets exhausted or sick on the trip. I figure if she makes the decisions, it wasn't my doing... But I'm sharing your posts and ideas with her, so she has good information at her disposal. Thanks for your comments.
Acraven, my sis said to thank you for your detailed info. She looked at the Venice photo gallery and thinks she can manage those steps just fine.
Jay and Laurel, the Orvieto trip sounds awesome. That is where I want to go, and Ostia Antica also, but I think my sister sounds like she is currently more interested in the more famous "Biggie" places-- Venice and Florence. I like the lesser known, myself. But I'm going back at Christmas with hubby. I got terribly bitten by the travel bug-- both times in Rome. I can take hubby to the lesser known with me. He'll enjoy them as much as I will. My sister is 14 years older, so this trip is going to be about her. Who knows how much longer she'll be around? This could be her last trip to Europe, so I want it to be what she wants it to be. She's not sure about Assisi, and that's the place I really want to visit. But I can wait until December on it, I guess. I can walk anywhere. It does sound to me like it would be too much for her, so thanks for the great info.
I think my sister sounds like she is currently more interested in the
more famous "Biggie" places-- Venice and Florence
But again, Venice is not a day trip from Rome. It's nearly 4 hours by fast train so you'd have to spend 8 hours of the day just getting there and getting back to Rome. And you'd have to be able to hit the ground running with your map. If she really wants to do this, I'd alter the hotel reservations so that you can stay at least one night, if not two.
You mentioned that your sister in interested in saving money? Fast train tickets are the most expensive unless you are able to purchase non-refundable super-ecomony or partially refundable versions well in advance. She could end up spending a considerable amount for a short visit involving as much time on a train as sightseeing the city itself.
I'm thinking the same about Flixbus from Paris to Rome? I figure that for what we pay for airfare just to GET to Europe, every hour I spend sitting on public transit is time that I could be seeing something wonderful. Up close. As much as we do enjoy some of the views out the window, it's still time that's not as valuable as what we can do OFF a train or bus. Time is money, if that makes sense? If you felt monetarily cheated out of half a day because of some flight delays, wouldn't you feel the same about 20-23 hours sitting on a bus when you could get there and start having fun much more quickly? I know you're already not wild about the idea but that argument might make sense to her?
I do understand that this is "her" trip so her wishes are important but those many, many hours of sitting may land her in Rome more stiff and tired than if you'd flown, especially if that trip ends up being overnight.
Oh, I forgot to clarify, Kathy, that she mentioned maybe saving Venice to go to via bus, after we depart Rome, and staying there a while, not just via a day trip from Rome. Then going to Milan via bus and taking the bus from there to the Matterhorn. I appreciate your well thought out arguments and will send them to her. She did say she'd like to try the Flixbus and see how it goes and that we might need to reconsider if she gets too tired. The big Grand Finale is the tulips in Keukenhof. We are planning to kill time visiting fun places until the tulips are at peak and then heading to Keukenhof, staying at Lisse. She wants to spend at least 3 days tiptoeing through the tulips. It has always been her dream. I just hope she's not too tired to tiptoe by the time we get there! Peak Day in the tulips is usually about April 22, depending on the Spring's weather. We have a good long time to get to Rome and stay there, unlike last Spring's trip, when we were there only 2 days and had reservations booked in Paris, so we couldn't make up that lost 1/2 day due to Air Berlin's delays. We flew Vueling and EasyJet while in Europe, too. Saw a lot of cities on that trip, but now we want to focus on the countryside, and my sister thinks the bus is a cost-effective way to do that, viewing villages and rural scenes en route to city destinations. Of course, a lot of travel will be at night, so she's trying to plot out the most scenic areas for daytime bus riding times.
Kathy, we were pleased to get our airfare to Europe for under $500.00, RT, including travel insurance. I think that was a pretty good deal, considering how late we waited to book. However, had we acted faster, I saw a deal for just $280.00 RT, but it didn't last long, and when we checked the next day, it was already gone. Also, it was RT to Rome, and we will be departing Amsterdam, so that would have been a bit hard to orchestrate, the return to Rome for departure, so we are pleased with our under $500.00 RT deal. That's far less than hubby and I paid for our recent Christmas flights. I have managed to get us $500 RT flights to Rome for next Christmas, though, so I'm happy about that, too. What do you usually pay for RT airfare to Rome?
It'a probably because of where we are located but we've never been able to get decent flights to continental Europe (no more than 1 change and no long layovers) from Minneapolis for under $1000 RT.
she mentioned maybe saving Venice to go to via bus
Flixbus again? You're looking at another long day to get there; somewhere between 7 - 9 hours. Ugh.
Thanks for the info, Kathy. Yes, people in LA and NYC can get much better deals consistently than those of us who are landlocked. I am pleased SLC started direct flights on KLM to Amsterdam recently. Do you happen to know where I could find a listing of which Metro Stations in Rome have closures (due to construction and such, planned)? I booked us a place to stay near the Vittorio Emmanuele Station (only .2 of a mile away from our lodging, nice and close for my sister's walking problem), but then I read it was closed for construction last August. Someone was able to check and find out for me that it is currently open, but I can't find where she saw that? I looked on the Metropolitana di Roma site (translated to English), but I couldn't find that info, although the dates of strikes were noted there. Do you know of a link that shows all upcoming metro station closures? Thanks so much for your help.
Just trying to piece together your trip. You leave 3/20 and return 4/25.
You want to see: Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Venice, Milan, Lucerne(?) and Lisse.
You will stay in Rome for a week.
Which gives you about 4 1/2 nites in other locations. Is this pretty close?
You want to do most of these locations by bus, using the fixbus 99€ special. With 2 of those trips taking over 20 hours.
While it might be economical, you will lose about 3 full days in transit times and at least 2-3 days for recovery days. This amounts to 6 days of vacation time. Are you sure you want to do this?
Would suggest you use a combination of air (Paris-Rome) (Zurich-Amsterdam) then train or bus to connect the other cities.
You'll have a much more relaxing trip.
Nope, I don't (have a page for closed metro stations) but haven't read that any currently are.
Vittorio Emanuele and 6 others on Line A were reportedly closed for about a month last August for construction work on a Line C station but they've been open since fall. Keep in mind that sometimes things happen without a lot of advance notice though, as was evidently the case with the closures mentioned above.
A google of "Metro stations closed, Rome" will usually bring up any relevant news in English. Maybe someone else can give you some sort of page link on the ATAC site, and my guess is that it would be in Italian.
Was just in Rome and Lucca in January.
As far as day trips from Rome,
Ostia Antica is a nice half day trip.
Take the bus to the Appia Antica. Lovely easy walk in the country, Visit the Catacombes of San Calisto.
For a bit farther away. I would recommend Florence. Get an early train from Termini. The Duomo is an easy walk from train station as is Michelangelo's David. If you do Rick Steve's walk from the Duomo to the Ponte Vecchio it is less than a mile. You would be able to see the biggies without a lot of walking. Rick's tip about the outdoor cafe on top of the La Rinascente Department store on Piazza Della Repubblicca was super. Great view of the Duomo and Tower and city. Not over priced. Only had to climb tens steps stairs after riding the escalator. Great place for a little snack and rest your feet.
You need to get your sister off this idea of the cheap bus. You will HATE it and so will she. Why not trains, with the ability to walk around, get a meal or a snack, take a picnic on board? The bus is false economy and she will not be able to rest like she thinks, crammed into a bus. Very bad for circulation to sit so long, too.
You asked for advice. This is it from nearly everyone. NO ONE has said "you should take the bus."
Thanks so much, Gerri. That is very helpful. My sister is focused on saving a bundle of money, Laurel. I will share your thoughts with her, too, about false economy. Thanks, Kathy. I'll bet it IS in Italian.
Lynn, loved your Florence trip info! Did you guys do this trip as a day trip from Rome, or did you stay overnight? How long did you spend in Florence? Marvelous suggestions-- the café Rick Steves recommended and nice to know this is all within a reasonable walking distance. Hubby and I went to the Appian Way over Christmas and loved touring San Callisto. So interesting. I wish I'd bought a little guide book while there at the gift shop, though I did find a nice book here at our local library on the Early Stations and Catacombs of Rome which has good info about it. I think I'd like to take my sis to tour the tomb of Cecilia Metella there and then take her to a the café Cecilia Metella I have read about. I didn't see it when there. We took the bus to the Appian Way and headed west. The cobblestones to the east were much bigger and older looking, but the Rick Steves guidebook said to concentrate on the area from Cecilia Metella on toward the Catacombs. I want to walk the Appian Way in the opposite direction this time. There were lots of bikers on it. Did you walk the whole Appian Way, or just the one portion like we did? I'm curious as to what the other direction is like, whether it's worth taking the time to explore.
Your sister cannot possibly be cheaper than I am, but I'm going to join the chorus. I have no problem with European buses. I'm short and don't have bad circulation. I have taken an all-day bus, spent the night in an obscure city in southern Serbia, and gotten on another long-distance bus the next morning. But I was on a 4-1/2 month trip (not in a rush) and there were no trains. I suppose I could have flown, but it would have required two flights, and this trip traversed a lot of beautiful rural countryside and back-of-beyond villages. I'm not sure the same can be said for a bus from Paris to Rome that follows express highways. That's the thing: buses are fun if they're on scenic backroads and perhaps taking you through picturesque villages. That's not what you'd be signing up for with the trips you are considering. Think highway roadstops selected because they have a lot of toilets available (they're usually clean, at least).
Here's a review of a FlixBus ride on another website. It is very positive, and I'm sure many people have good experiences (as I said, I've had few issues with European buses, given how many I've taken). However, have your sister scroll down to the bottom and read the comments. All is not rosy in Flixville. In particular, be aware that--no matter what the advertisements say--you never know what you'll get on a bus in terms of toilets. I've been on buses with toilets that were kept locked; in fact, I've had more locked toilets than not-locked toilets. (I've never taken Flixbus.) A locked toilet is really not very helpful, is it? It's worse than no toilet at all if it means the driver's schedule doesn't allow him to make stops. It appears that the seats are significantly more cramped than they are on trains. I'm 5'3" at best. How tall are you and your sister?
The way to see charming towns and villages is not to take buses between huge cities. It is to take buses or trains to smaller towns. But keep in mind that even buses do not necessarily stop at every little burg. Those cute small Italian hill towns? The train station will definitely be down below, and even the buses may stop there, rather than driving up to the town. If you buy a ticket to Cortona, for example, you get off the train a few miles away and take a little local bus (or a taxi) up the hill. This is not something you can do on your way from Paris to Rome! You need to plan specific trips that allow you to see those charming (if sometimes touristy) smaller places.
I have a recommendation for you. Up in northern Italy, stretching between Milan and Venice, are some charming smaller cities, very conveniently connected by train. Each has some important sights. They are written up in guidebooks, but they do not have that big-city feeling. I think you'd both enjoy them. I give you: Verona - Vicenza - Padua. Padua is larger than Vicenza and was my choice as a place to stay because there was a lot to see. Vicenza has a much more laid-back feeling; once you're in the old-town area of Vicenza, it feels like quite a small place. You would, however, want a bus or a taxi from the train station, because it's a fair walk, though about as flat as a pancake. I have never been to Verona, but others here like it a lot. Note, though, that this is northern Italy, and I cannot guarantee you warm, dry weather for a spring visit.
Thanks for the recommendations, Acraven. I can't wait to forward your comments to my sis, because I've been trying and trying to talk her into Verona! Perfect!
Took train to Florence from Lucca as a day trip. The train trip from Rome to Florence is about the same as Lucca to Florence. 1.5 hours. I think we took the 8:10 train. Took the 3:40 train home. That was plenty of time to do the biggies, we did not go threough the Uffizi. We were very lucky as we did not have tickets for David, and we literally walked right in. You may think about getting tickets online, it may get more crowded in the spring. Our train ticket was about 15,euros round trip. Bought that at station the morning of.
Wow! Thanks for the helpful info, Lynn! Sounds very doable, then. Was David just gorgeous?! I loved The Pieta at Christmas in St. Peter's. Prettiest sculpture I've ever seen. Can't wait to see David!
I was wowed by David and with it being very empty it was especially nice to have David to yourself.
Regarding the Appian Way. Walked the 20 minutes or so through the park. ( From the visitor information to The Catacombs of San Sebastián). At that point you go from the nice level path to old Roman side walk next to the original stone road. Walked another 10-15 minutes on the cobbles to the junction of Via Cecelia Metella and the Appia Antica. It looked more residential after that junction. Two restaurants and a bike rental there. We went on Sunday, Cars prohibited on the park path on Sunday. That was nice. Park path is closed on Wednesday as are the Catacombs of San Calisto. Enjoy your trip.
Did you walk the whole Appian Way, or just the one portion like we
The "whole" of the original "Queen of Roads" was very long; extending Southeast some 365 miles, although I'm sure not all of it can be walked today, and the park brochure I picked up only covers about an 8-mile stretch closest to Rome. We did an, oh, 5-6-mile or so section from Casal Rotondo to Porta San Sebastiano, hitting some of the attractions along the way, and tacked 3 churches + Baths of Caracalla on once we'd passed the Aurelian Walls. It was a very long day on our feet - and you wouldn't have to do the extras we did - but was been our favorite day in Rome to date.
Yes, the further out sections are well worth doing but how we got to our jumping-on point is probably not a method I'd recommend for most folks; a long-ish walk from the Torricola train station with a good portion of that along a busy road with little shoulder. There are other ways but that one worked for us at the time. Next time we think we'll take a bus out to Ciampino and walk in from there: while it's going to add a few miles, those miles are flat and it's not far to a jump-on point near the airport.
Obviously these are distances you probably don't want to attempt with your sister or husband but there are buses to points further Southeast than where you started last time.
There is a website with maps and oodles of other good information!! :O)
The brochure/map I used for our walk can be downloaded and printed out from a PDF found under this link:
Click on "AppiaAnticaeng2015.pdf" . You will see that there are additional brochures in English under that link.
Some bus numbers to various points:
Wow, thanks for the wonderful info, Kathy! Hubby and I really loved the portion of the Appian Way we strolled, too. It was on December 23, a perfect, sunny, warm winter day-- our wedding anniversary! Fun way to celebrate. He got so many good photos, and there were gorgeous cats at the ruins, which made our pictures even better-- old and new, hard and soft contrast. I can't wait to walk more of it, now. I'm glad you guys enjoyed it so much, too. Did you see the mini Mouth of Truth at the little store? We had a fabulous Sicilian meal at (I can't remember the name of the restaurant), but I have a picture of it. Tulu, or something like that, after you cross the road at San Callisto. Did you tour San Sebastian? We toured San Callisto. I've heard they are quite similar, but I liked the fact Callisto is where many Popes were interred and San Sebastian was closed. I believe San Callisto is closed this month.
Did you see the mini Mouth of Truth at the little store?
No, we didn't stop into any stores or restaurants, and there really aren't any of those at all along the further reaches. Brought granola bars with us for breakfast along the way.
Did you tour San Sebastian?
Yes. It was interesting and I'm glad we did it but the our particular guide's narrative little too heavy on the religious material (I am not a Catholic, and a respectful skeptic when it comes to unsubstantiated claims). The pre-Christian mausoleums and early Christian iconography were probably of most interest to me. No photos allowed but that's standard for all of the catacombs, as far as I know.