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One week in Rome

I'm planning a week's vacation in Rome and I would really appreciate any feedback on my "potential" itinerary. This is my first trip to Italy (I've been to London and Germany), and I'd like to hear from some experienced tourists. We'll arrive on a Fri and fly out the following Thurs. Just a little background, I'm a big history buff, whereas my friend is more interested in general culture. I'm also the more organized of the two of us, and the more experienced traveler, so she gave me the freedom to plan the whole trip. However, I'm trying to balance our different interests, rather than bore her by running from historical site to historical site. Besides, I could definitely learn a little from her more spontaneous approach to life. :-)

Friday (our flight arrives at 9am): Go to St. Peter's first, go up in the Dome (I like to start with the most recognizable to site to let it sink in that I'm "really here"), afterwards go to Piazza Navone, and maybe the Pantheon, depending on time (if not, we'll definitely squeeze this site in later).

Saturday: The Colosseum, Palatine, Roman Forum, Capitoline Hill area.

Sunday: Trastavere/Jewish Ghetto area (no specific plans, except for the Synagogue, this is a kind of a spontaneous, enjoy Italy day).

Monday: Train to Pompeii/Vesuvius

Tuesday: Vatican Museum, Spanish Steps, Shelley/Keats memorial, Trevi Fountain, Villa Borghese

Wednesday: Walk the Appian Way, and then "be spontaneous."

Like I said, I'd appreciate any feedback, especially if I've overplanned (or underplanned) our schedule. I'd also specifically like feedback on the Shelley/Keats memorial, and on our hotel (Hotel Colors, near the Vatican).

Thank you in advance for any feedback!

Posted by
10344 posts

Good planning!Arrival day is jet lag day.Reserve ahead for the Borghese, if you haven't already.Charles of Katy TX and Ron of Rome (he lives in Rome) are the specialists on Rome--maybe they will see your itinerary and offer suggestions. (And the rest of us know a few things too)When you refer to the Shelley/Keats memorial, do you mean the graves of those two in the Cimitero Protestante in the Testaccio neighborhood? Or do you mean the Casa di Keats in the Piazza di Spagna neighborhood?

Posted by
2297 posts

I don't think you really overplanned your schedule. It's great to leave some time open to be "spontanous". I would only reconsider doing two major museums like the Vatican and Borghese in one single day. Split them up on two different days so you won't feel too overwhelmed.

Posted by
10344 posts

Ann: For a first trip to Rome and with a strong interest in art, architecture, and history, I would be influenced by the listing of Michelin 3-star "must sees" in the Rome Michelin Guide. My personal favorites from among the Michelin 3-star sights are:St Peter's BasilicaVatican Museum (lines can be a problem)Sistine Chapel (lines can be a problem)Borghese Gallery (reservations needed)ColosseumArch of ConstantineRoman ForumImperial ForumPantheonNational Museum of RomeCampidoglio-CapitolinoPiazza NavonaTrevi FountainSpanish StepsSanta Maria Maggiore (church)San Giovanni in Laterano (church).Rome is a feast for the "history traveler." So much has happened there. Happy travels!

Posted by
1317 posts

I have two concerns about the current plan: one would be whether you will have enough energy to tackle the Dome on your first day there, right after an all-night flight. On the other hand, exercise is a good way to combat jet-lag and you have enough free time built in elsewhere to shuffle things around if you need to.

The other is that doing the Vatican Museums and the Borghese Gallery on the same day could give you art-shock. There's only so much art that a person can handle looking at in a single day, and it would be very sad if you or your friend were too burned out to appreciate the Borghese because the Vatican is just so big and overwhelming.

Otherwise, it looks very well laid-out. I think you will enjoy having the time to just soak in the ambiance of Rome, and if by some chance you get bored, you can always add in something like the National Museum of Rome or the Catacombs later.

Posted by
21 posts

Hi, Ann. I spent a week in Rome this past April and used an itinerary, too.

Okay, your flight arrives at 9am Friday, but with the Leonardo Express train to Termini, and having to pass through immigration at the airport, you probably won't get to Rome itself until 10:30am.

For Friday, I would go to the Piazza Navone and the Pantheon, have a light lunch, then hit the bed at the hotel in the early afternoon. You will be more tired than you realize!

Your Saturday, Sunday, and Monday sound fine. However, if you didn't want to take the long train ride to and from Pompeii/Vesuvius, consider going to Ostia Antica, which is just outside Rome, is a shorter train ride, and has better preserved ruins than Pompeii.

For Tuesday, visit all of your sites EXCEPT the Vatican Museum.

For Wednesday, do the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's, and the Dome. While the Pope is speaking to the crowds in St. Peter's Square that morning, you'll easily cruise through the Museum and Sistine Chapel. Get to the Vatican Museum EARLY, say around 9am.

If you have any time left on Wednesday, hit the Appian Way. However, I've heard the trek out there is kind of tricky with narrow sidewalks and bad traffic, so look into it further.

Those are my suggestions, and I hope they help! ~Joseph~

Posted by
2207 posts

Ann - looks like you have much you want to see. I would have to agree that climbing the Dome on your first day might be a bit of a push. It will be HOT and there's no AC as you climb those stairs! For a great "first" view of Rome with less stress, jump on the 115 or 870 bus and ride to the top of Janiculum Hill - or climb "some" stairs and then take the elevator to the top of the Vitoriano (7 Euros). Both give you outstanding views of Rome.

Know that the train to Pompeii and back will be a FULL day... probably not back until very, very late!

I also would spread out the Borghese and Vatican Museums as suggested. It's a lot to see and each should be given it's own "space!"

If you have any specific questions, send me a PM and I'll try and answer. It may be a couple of days before I reply as I am currently in the process of moving. All of our stuff is downtown... with the exception of the internet/Vonage phone. So to check messages, etc. we have to journey back to the Cassia each couple of days. It takes a MINIMUM of 21 days to get internet set up in a new residence in Italy (some vendors told me 3 months- OUCH!).

You'll have a GREAT time in Rome and sounds like you have a good idea of what you want to see!!!


Posted by
261 posts

I think your Tuesday is a real push. Allow 3 hours in the Vatican museum. Look at the RS walking tour of Rome at Night. We did that in the morning. The Spanish steps are close walking Distance to Gorghese Gallery. We comfortably made a 1:00 Reservation time. You could also do the Jewish Ghetto area, it's close the Piazza del Fiori.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you so much to everyone for all the great feedback! I'll definitely change around the Tuesday schedule to do the Vatican Museum and Borghese Gallery on separate days, and probably move the Dome to later in the trip as well. After I look through all the responses in a little more detail I may have more questions too :-). Also, someone asked which Shelley Keats memorial I was referring to. I was planning on going to the one near the Spanish Steps (the room where Keats died).

Thank you again for all your help!

Posted by
239 posts

Hi Ann--I really like Joseph's revision. I understand wanting to hit a recognizable spot first for the "I can't believe I'm really here" feeling, but you will definitely get that from standing in front of the Pantheon! Being in the center of the old city is fantastic, so walking around and soaking it in will be great. You'll be glad you split up Borghese Gallery and Vatican Museums; I noticed you wrote Villa Borghese rather than the gallery, so I hope that means you plan to spend some time just enjoying the park in addition to seeing the art. Consider renting a power-assist bike and exploring a bit; it's lovely. I also saw that you had Trastevere for Sunday and wanted to remind you when you are reworking your itinerary that the Porta Portese flea market is Sunday mornings so keeping Trastevere on Sunday is a good idea. Have a fabulous trip!

Posted by
527 posts

On our 4th visit we made it to Rick's "underappreciated" Galleria Doria. It was delightful as you visit a beautiful palazzo and the interactive headsites explain the rooms, society, some politics and the beautiful artwork at your own pace. It's quiet and cool and very easy to get to off the Corso. I personally enjoyed it more than the Borghese which is great. I've tried many times and find the Spanish Steps & fountain so crowded plus the steps are under construction (06/08) that I just go home and watch Roman Holiday. We love Pompeii but really enjoyed Ostia Antica as much especially if it's hot and its only one hour and one euro away. The archeology musuem in Naples with Pompeii's artifacts is amazing especially if your passing through Naples. Another 20 minutes after Pompeii is Sorrento a very lovely place but probably too much for a day.

Posted by
192 posts

I don't think you need a schedule that you have to follow - seems too much like work and not a vacation. You have listed everything you want to do and see and only the trip to Pompeii and the Borghese require a definite time. The rest of the sights can be seen at your leisure. You will find that you will be easily distracted as you go from one place to another, so trying to keep a schedule becomes more hectic. If you don't see the Spanish steps or the Trevi fountain on Tuesday they will still be there on Wednesday. Whatever you decide you will have a great time. Enjoy!

Posted by
32198 posts

Ann, you've got some great suggestions so far! I have a few to add as well.

St. Peter's Dome - you have the option of walking all the way, or taking an elevator part way. I'd recommend using the elevator option.

Borghese Gallery - as the others mentioned, reservations are compulsory. Visitors are only allowed two hours inside the gallery. There's a large park surrounding the gallery, which can be interesting to wander around, and the gardens next to the gallery are beautiful! The Borghese is VERY strict regarding items taken into the gallery - you'll have to check Purses, Daypacks and just about everything else.

Colosseum, Forum, Palatine Hill - you might check Rick's books regarding the "easy" way to avoid lineups by buying a combo ticket at the office on Palatine Hill. I found that method worked really well! I used the "official" guided tour inside the Colosseum, which was quite reasonable, and I'd certainly recommend that over an audioguide. Our Guide warned us about the scammers out front offering "english tours". At the Colosseum, just after you go through the airport-style security, look for the booth with all the "blinking lights" (audioguides charging). That's where I booked the tour.

Trastevere / Jewish Ghetto - if you want a REALLY interesting tour of that area, you might consider booking a tour with Francesca (listed in Rick's book). She's an incredible guide! You might include the Museum on Capital Hill as well.

Safety - be SURE to wear your Money Belts! I've never had any problems there, but it's a good idea to be cautious, as there IS petty crime. The #64 Bus has a reputation for this, but be vigilant on the Metro as well.

Audioguides - if you decide to rent Audioguides (St. Peter's or wherever) you'll have to leave your Passport or Driver's license as "security". I normally use my D.L. for that sort of thing.

I was in Rome in April and can hardly wait to return. Have a great time!!!