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Recommendations now that most things are closed?

So the news about the museum closures came a night before our flight to Rome and it’s a little too late to cancel... any recommendations on what we can do now?

We are on our honeymoon and were really looking forward to the Vatican city and Borghese gallery :(

We are supposed to be in Florence as well on the 14-19.

Any advice?

Posted by
17088 posts

Back when I was just out of college, I traveled several times to Europe on a shoestring. I spent very little time inside tourist attractions because I didn't really have the money for the entry fees. I loved (and still love) walking around historic districts and marveling at the architecture, the shop displays, etc. To tell the truth, I still haven't been inside the Colosseum; it's pretty darned impressive just from the outside. Believe me, you can have a great time even under these challenging conditions.

I am not particularly knowledgeable about Rome, and I haven't been to Florence since the 1970s, but here are a few thoughts:

  • Look for walking tours. They are usually very interesting and they rarely go inside sights, so you won't be getting a watered-down version. The walking-tour companies may be cutting back the frequency of their walks because of lower demand, so if this is something you want to do, I'd check into it soon after you arrive in each city.

  • Check your guidebook for self-directed walking tours.

  • You can probably walk part of the Appian Way (Rome); that's something I haven't done.

  • I thought the Protestant (non-Catholic) Cemetery in Rome was interesting. I imagine it will remain open; it's not the sort of thing that attracts mobs of people. It's outside the core tourist zone, though, so it would be best to check with the tourist office or ask your hotel to call.

  • Take advantage of the fact that (I think I'm right about this) churches remain open.

  • Ask your hotel staff and/or the tourist office about interesting neighborhoods to explore. Trastevere is an obvious possibility.

  • Take a day-trip to Orvieto. If the cathedral is open, go inside. If not, just enjoy the lovely historic center.

  • While in Florence, consider day-trips to Siena, Lucca and/or Pisa.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you so much. The walks do sound like an interesting alternative and have heard that Rome is one giant outdoor museum. We will try to make the best of it.

Posted by
69 posts

I'm in a similar boat, arriving in Rome later this week. You should look at Atlas Obscura, which has a number of interesting sites, some of which are totally off the tourist radar.

Posted by
11700 posts

Kevin, here's the website for Parco Appia Antica in Rome:

Downloadable walking routes are here (you'll want anything labeled ENG):

While the catacombs and archeological sites involving entry fees will be closed, there's still plenty to see along the way, Pick a sunny day! I'm hoping there will be a fair amount of churches still open in all of your scheduled locations. Oh, the Protestant Cemetery (Cimitero Acattolico) in Rome was suggested - I'll 2nd that one - and you might take a long walk in Verano. Monumental Cemetery as well. Bring the camera for making some photo studies of the more interesting sculptures.

San Miniato al Monte in Florence, up above Piazza Michelangelo, has an interesting cemetery as well (Cimitero delle Porte Sante.) Of course, the view is just another reason to go!

Posted by
14014 posts

Every church is a museum. Many have works by famous artists and may be open. For instance San Luigi has several Caravaggios (it's very close to the Pantheon). Their website says they are open to visitors, who must remain 1 meter apart from each other.

Posted by
212 posts

St. Peter's should still be open, although the Vatican Museums are closed.

Posted by
2235 posts

Kevin, I’m confident that you’ll enjoy your honeymoon even if just strolling around these wonderful cities. I trust the principal sites will remain illuminated at night, as they are really beautiful. I also recommend a day trip to lovely Orvieto, just 70 minutes from Rome by train. Same goes for day trips from Florence, to Siena, or to Lucca/Pisa, wine country, or others.
I hope that during your trip, you can find a few minutes to share with us your impressions and experiences, during this difficult time, especially for Italy and Italians.

Posted by
5899 posts

Look at Elizabeth Minchilli’s EAT ROME and Eating Rome for excellent food tours.

Posted by
197 posts

In Florence, we were wowed when we first saw the Duomo/Bell Tower up close, but when we were walking off dinner and happened upon it lit up at night, it was magical - the marble glowed. The views of Florence from San Miniato were also incredible. On our day trip to Siena, we spent time hanging out on Il Campo rather than going inside to more museums as it just had a wonderful vibe.

Posted by
1160 posts

To the fellow arriving in Rome later this week: think again. We are waiting for another decree in few hours limiting movements of people over all the national territory.

Posted by
4 posts

In addition to a day trip to Orvieto (they have beautiful pottery there), you could also do a day trip to Villa d'Este in Tivoli (if they are open). It involved switching trains (check at your hotel for information), but it was so worth it. The gardens are stunning, although I don't know what will be in bloom this time of year, however, it would still be a romantic stroll among the fountains. We are scheduled to fly to Rome on April 16 and are waiting to see what happens. Enjoy your honeymoon!

Posted by
1160 posts

I hate to give bad news, but due to COVID epidemic the Italian government has just restricted travel between cities to people having serious and documented reasons to travel. Day trips are out of question and I wonder if the OP will be allowed to move to Florence.

Posted by
500 posts

And yet they still get on planes......
Great deal of empathy for all Italians and this horrible impact on both health and finances.

Posted by
4509 posts

Kevin - Your post indicates that you do not fly out until tomorrow (10th). If that is so, and based on the new decree from Italy, you need to think long and hard about your trip. Most of your reservations should be refundable under the circumstances, but even if not, weigh that with what happens if you arrive and nothing is open and you are not allowed to travel within the country, and what happens if the US bans or quarantines those returning from Italy in the near future.

No good options...

Posted by
1043 posts

No amount of money that has already been spent is worth risking going to Italy right now. How can you enjoy your vacation? If you can get into Italy, will you be able to leave when you want to leave? If you are able to leave, will you be quarantined in the US? Most of us have lost a lot of money in the stock market today. If we had a crystal ball and knew what was coming, we could have cut our losses. Those who are going to Italy can see into that crystal ball. You can make the right decision by not going, even if you lose what you paid for the trip. Be smart!

Posted by
500 posts

Yosemite1- great observation and warning. But sadly it will go unheeded by many. I make a very good living off of fixing businesses because of human nature failures (I know and hear every executive to line supervisor excuse in the world).

I have professional friends who simply don’t get the concept of cutting losses. They will mention in a very negative way they saw movie X. I’ll reply that I heard it was crap. They are very upfront in describing how horrible it was from the first scene. I’ll ask how long did they last before leaving the theater. In return I will receive a blank stare- kind of like a 60s/70s pinball arcade machine that went “tilt” and shut down. They will stutter “leave”.... as in the form of a question.

Yes- if it was that bad and not getting better why didn’t you just leave. Tilt, tilt, could they leave....they bought a ticket....they paid $10 (Nor Cal movies still cheap)...they bought a ticket...they can’t leave.... So they sat through 2 hours of a movie they hated, received no entertainment because they bought the leave would be losing money.... Now, having spent thousands on a trip....tilt, tilt, tilt

Posted by
2040 posts

I think the events of the last 12 hours strongly support yosemite1's suggestion. Things have changed ENORMOUSLY in the last 72 hours. You really have no idea what sort of precarious situation you may be getting yourself and your bride into. Care more about yourselves than money.

Posted by
1846 posts

Agree totally with yosemite's posting.
Cancel your trip, and honeymoon at a more predictable time......otherwise (as was posted previously) if you can even fly into Italy (with the now country-wide lockdown in Italy), you may be able to go no where and could have a chance of being quarantined somewhere (there or here upon return).
Overseas travel can be tiring and stressful in the best of times, why start your married life together with additional major risk issues with this trip?

EDIT: I just re-read your original you might be in Italy now? Different will very likely have to stay in whatever city you are in right now (assuming your flight got you there).

If you are in Rome right now, please post what you are seeing, doing, experiencing (re: the lock down) so others can learn from you. And, it could be you are currently sitting at a computer trying to arrange a flight to a country that is not on lock down? That is always an flexible and go elsewhere, if you have already flown across the ocean. Flights within Europe are usually pretty reasonable.

Posted by
1043 posts

I have gone back and re-read some of the postings regarding travel to Italy at the beginning of the Coronavirus. A lot of people were so wrong in their opinion of what the risks were. Many comments were along the lines that the virus was blown out of proportion and that they were willing to take the risk. They had already paid for their vacation. The common thread was that their love of Italy was worth taking a risk. Now we see what has happened in Italy. I love Italy. I am so sorry for the people in Italy and what has happened there. We need to take a step back when making a decision to travel into any area where there are risks. The joy that we have had in our travels, blinds us when we want people to experience the same joys we have had in our travels. Sometimes though, we need to give advise that will upset people. It is no fun to tell people not to go on the vacation if it has their dream to go especially if they will lose financially by not going. I think it is more important to have a vacation of joy than a vacation of uncertainty even if means postponing it for a while.

Posted by
364 posts

My wife and I watched this video last night.
The creator lives in Positano and they're doing a trip to Tivoli.
Tivoli looks great
You could perhaps do simple day trips

Posted by
991 posts

Evan, not sure they are allowed to do any travel within Italy right now. The country is shut down to unauthorized travel.

Posted by
11700 posts

Kevin and Daniel, as both of you were scheduled to be in Italy currently or very soon (Daniel?) and the situation there has become even more restrictive since this thread started, what did you both decide to do? Daniel, do you still even have a flight out?

A note about Catholic churches in Rome:
It had been reported that all had been ordered to close but apparently there has been some backpedaling on that edict. Reuters piece published in today's NY Times:

Rome Churches Remain Open After Catholics Rail Against 'Christ in Quarantine

VATICAN CITY — A cardinal on Friday modified his order to close Rome's
churches to help contain the spread of coronavirus after Pope Francis
cautioned against "drastic measures" and Catholics took to social
media to complain.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis issued a new decree less than a day after
his initial order. Many churches in the Italian capital will now
remain open.

Some Catholics accused the cardinal of caving in to the government
after his initial decree on Thursday night. Andrea Fauro said on
social media the move had put "Christ in quarantine".

Understand that I'm not flippantly advocating sightseeing of the churches but as those were discussed as possibilities previously in this thread, that's where things appear to be at.

Posted by
125 posts

Please, remember that the Italian Government Ordered to avoid any unnecessary outdoor activity in Italy until 3rd of April!. There are controls on the streets of people moving both on cars, trains and even on foot. Moving for tourism is not considered "necessary", so is forbidden.
Of course if you are in Italy, you are authorized to travel to the airport (or the dock, or the train station) to come back home.
Don't respect this law is considered a penal crime, so you are not simply fined, but you could be even arrested.
Tourists are required to stay in the hotel (or B&B, or flat), waiting for the flight back. You can leave your room if you need to purchase food or medicine. Even for a very short walk, but without wander far from the room. In any case is required to avoid crowded places and keep 1 meter of distance between people.
Remember that restaurants and bars are closed until the 25th of March and between that date and the 3rd of April will be opened only between 6am and 6pm.
This is valid everywhere in Italy.

Posted by
11700 posts

True, but respectful reflection or prayer is why the doors of churches are still open, as well as providing safe harbor for unfortunates with no other place to go. It's possible anyone wishing access to one for any of those reasons would not be prevented from doing so.

Anyway, that's why I mentioned "not flippantly advocating sightseeing of the churches."

LOL, on live cam, I just watched a guy take video of his girlfriend sitting in the middle of the Spanish Steps. No polizia in sight.