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Critique our itinerary?

We will be visiting Rome in mid-March for pretty much four full days. I have a tentative itinerary and just wondered what all y'all think.

Day 1 - arrival
Scheduled to land at FCO at 8:40am - taxi to Grand Palatino after going thru Customs. Not sure if we will be able to check-in
Capitoline Hill
Circus Maxiumus
Giardino degla Aranci
Santa Sabina

Day 2
First Entry to Sistine Chapel - best way to get to meeting point by 7:15am?
11am - Scavi Tour
St Peter's Basilica
Castel Sant'Angelo
Trastevere - Santa Maria and dinner

Day 3
The Pantheon
Piazza Venezia
Imperial Forums
1:30pm - Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill tour

Day 4
Spanish Steps
Piazza di Spagna
Via del Cors
Trevi Fountain
Piazza Navona

Just about every day we are done with touring by 5pm which leaves the evenings free to rest, relax or head out and casually explore. My wife is interested in maybe doing a ghost tour - maybe a crypt tour?

So what say ye? We (she) isn't really too interested in art galleries or museums as much as I am which is why you don't see Borghese and the like and why we don't have much time scheduled for the Vatican Museum (I know......) At that time of year I'm thinking it might be more manageable and not quite so Griswald type touring......


Posted by
244 posts

It is essentially fine. The first day you may be jet lagged and not get to everything. Plus you say things like " Capitoline Hill". Do you mean just go up there to see the square, the view, etc., or do you mean go into the museums? Totally different amount of time.

Day 2 looks fine Day three take the Pantheon and move it to day four because it is between the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona. Both the Trevi and the Pantheon can be absolutely mobbed mid day so consider getting up and out early and get to them before the crowds. Otherwise day 4 is fine - the things you mention are square and streets and fountains, how long you spend at them can be quick or not but they are not museums or things which can take hours.

Other than the Colosseum/Forum and the St Peter's/Vactican Museums everything else on your list are just things to see rather than spend a lot of time in. And in fact I would get a good walking tour (Frommers and Rick Steves both have them as do numerous other guide books) and add in other things to see as you walk from one destination to the next.

Posted by
178 posts


Thanks for your reply and the suggestion of moving the Pantheon to Day 4

Yes, on the first day, the idea is to simply go up to Captoline Hill to see the square and views. As I had stated, my wife is not much of a museum fan in general.

I do know that as we get closer to departure, she may change her mind but we'll see......

Posted by
841 posts

We like art and museums well enough but pick and choose carefully so we are not spending all of our times in them.

IMO- the Borghese is a must see. It is more than a museum. The sculptures are simply breathtaking. I'd encourage you to visit even if that is the only "museum" you visit in Rome. You can book a timed entry (I believe you have do that) and be in and out in an hour if necessary. After the visit walk down thru the park and end up at Spanish Steps (which is not really much to see at all)

Day 4- with Pantheon looks like pretty much RS Heart of Rome Walk.

I would take a cab to Vatican for your early am tour.

Posted by
9537 posts

I don't think the plan is so bad either. Isabel's question regarding what you intended to DO at some of the attractions was a good one though: walking a bit of Capitoline Hill versus doing the Capitoline Museums are two different things! :O)

So as you don't intend to do the Capitoline museums, your first partial day looks pretty good as most of your sightseeing will be outside; Santa Sabina (which is a personal favorite) being the exception. I would move Piazza Venezia to this day as it's RIGHT in front of Capitoline Hill.

Day 2 could be a bit much. If you're all but done in after the Vatican, I might rethink Castel Sant'Angelo, other than maybe the bridge (Ponte Sant'Angelo; another favorite).

Day 3 could be Roman Ruin Overkill but are you just going to walk by the Imperial Forums/Trajan's Market, or visit the museum too? If just walking by, then it's fine. I would move the Pantheon to Day 4 per Isabel's suggestion.

Day 4: You shouldn't have an issue getting it all done even with moving the Pantheon to this day. I'd love to see you allow a pop or two into some of Rome's more interesting churches, though. Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, for instance, is right next door to the Pantheon. Anyway, other than the Pantheon, ALL of the sites on this day's list are just walk-bys or walk-throughs and will not take all THAT much time so you could take in a church or two.

If looking for things to do in the evening, you might consider freeing up some daylight sightseeing by seeing Trevi and Piazza Navona after dark?. Rome takes on a different atmosphere when lit up at night.

Posted by
178 posts

Thanks for the replies so far!

At first I thought that Day 2 (our first really full day) might be much but as our First Entry Sistine Chapel tour meets at 7:20 and our Scavi Tour is at 11, we really don't have all that much time in the Vatican Museum before heading out to the Excavation Office and then St Peter's Basilica afterwards - not sure how much an overload that might be.

I kinda got my wife interested in Castel Sant'Angelo by saying that parts of the movie's plot "Angels and Demons" (she's a Robert Langdon buff, LOL) takes place here.

As for visiting places after dark, we plan on it which is why I mentioned that the itineraries for each day ends by 5pm to take advantage of a less structured evening of walking around.

Will have to see if I can convince my wife about visiting the Borghese

Thanks for all of your input!!

Posted by
8393 posts

Will you first entry tour on Day 2 be done in time to make it to the Scavi tour? When we went with Walks of Italy on an early entry tour, it ended about Noon and included the Basilica,

Best way to get to the meeting point so early is definitely by taxi. Where are you staying?

Posted by
178 posts

Laurel - the tour we are taking with Dark Rome/City Wonders is the First Entry Vatican Sistine Express. We meet at 7:20am and enter the Sistine Chapel and then we are free to wander the Vatican Museum. We will then leave for the Scavi Tour which winds up in St Peter's and finish up there.

We are staying at the Grand Palatino Hotel - a couple of blocks from the Colosseum. Looks like taking a cab will be our best bet.....

Posted by
867 posts

Hi Herf,

As the countdown begins for your Italy trip, I thought you (and maybe others) may find this an interesting watch. I came across this YTuber. He is excellent. He holds the cam steady, does not have silly or loud background music - none at all. He does not add voice over commentary.

What he captures is Italy - just everyday stuff - locals and travelers alike. It's like "you are there walking along too."

He has videos for different areas of Italy he has traveled. One (full Roma) is over 5 hours long!

He also adds captions of the historical significance for monuments, churches and attractions; which is a nice touch.

I hope you enjoy!

Posted by
867 posts

Another idea: if it means something to you - stop the video at 13:45 (v= - The Cherub Angels holding the Holy Water Font - I filled a little glass bottle I brought from home. No one stopped me. They do sell little glass bottles in the gift shops for €3 (with Mary's picture on it) if you don't bring a bottle.

St. Peter's is my favorite. This past trip, I visited the Basilica three times.

Posted by
1591 posts

St. Peter's is my favorite. This past trip, I visited the Basilica
three times.

Mine too, far surpassing the fly-by at the Sistine Chapel. And that's saying a lot, in a city full of world-class sights.

I know it's kinda hard to do, but try to research St. Peter's in advance. We didn't, but we bought a 'Skip the Line' self-directed tour for I think 15 Euro, in which included they give you earbuds to attach to your phone and you download an app for a running commentary. It didn't work hardly at all, was pretty much worthless, as we were futzing around with it when we should have been absorbing it all. But getting to the front of the line saved us over an hour and was worth it on its own.

Pretty much the history of Catholicism, and even as a lapsed one I was truly moved. After about 3 hours of walking the perimeter alcoves it became sensory overload and we had to depart, probably without seeing 25% of the Basilica. In hindsight, I'd have read up on it that night and returned for another go. It's that good. Right, Girasole?

Posted by
867 posts

Totally agree, Jay! :)

Oh, while I did not do a structured tour, I agree, it is overwhelming and very moving - true. I went at different times of the day - early morn, early afternoon and again, closer to dusk --- magical.

Posted by
178 posts

Thanks for the tips and the links to the YouTube vids - I tend to avoid those types as they get me a little motion sick but these look like one of the better ones!

Posted by
867 posts

You are welcome Herf. Yes, agreed - some videos are too "jerky" and make one dizzy, or, they spoil it with silly background music. This guy's videos seem to be very, very good.

Even if you watch these videos of Rome itself or The Basilica, you will still get a totally different feeling "once you are there." Seeing the Basilica in person - statues and mosaics - 5 inches from your face - an experience that will consume you. The Pieta is my favorite. Experience Rome "in person" - no video or a person's opinion can capture your first feeling. I love other parts of Italy I have visited, but Rome got me. lol

Posted by
1744 posts

Since you are on this site, have you checked out Rick Steve's Europe app? I like his audio tours for places and though I don't know what he has for Rome, he might have some coverage of the areas you are planning to visit.

I like mausoleums, graveyards and crypts, so I would consider a crypt tour. If skeletons and dark are too much, you might want to still pop into the Capuchin Crypt during daytime hours. When Europe ran out of burial ground the monks unearthed the bones and made them into art. Some find it creepy, I find it fascinating. The capuchin crypt museum has daylight. The Roman Catacombs are underground.

Posted by
9537 posts

Just about every day we are done with touring by 5pm which leaves the
evenings free to rest, relax or head out and casually explore. My wife
is interested in maybe doing a ghost tour - maybe a crypt tour?

I'm unsure if you mean doing these tours at night or during the day but as far as I know, the catacombs aren't open at night. Just a quick glance for available tours shows start times during the day. You might be able to do one of those on Day 4 if you take in some of the other listed attractions during the evenings.

I will say that the catacombs are considered sacred places so a certain amount of decorum is expected, such as attire which covers knees and shoulders (mentioned in Walks of Italy's tour linked below). Also, photography is usually not allowed.

Posted by
178 posts

Kathy - I'm aware of the operating times and dress codes. Just that I've found some ghost/haunted crypt tours and didn't know if they would be worthwhile or not. We've done them in Charleston, Savannah and a few other places in the Southeast US - some were good and some were hokey.....

Posted by
9537 posts

Oops! Dug a little deeper and see that Walks of Italy DOES have a "new" after-dark catacomb/crypt tour (no ghosts, though). Apologies for missing that.

Their tours are consistently so highly rated and praised by so many on the Italy forum that I wouldn't hesitate to book with them if this is something that appeals.

Posted by
72 posts

Speaking of movie, be sure to stop by Santa Maria in Cosmedin to see the Bocca della Verità when you are on your way from the Capitoline Hill to Circus Maxiumus. It is also a very beautiful church.