Hey guys, I'm starting to get into the detailed part of planning for our trip to Italy. Right now I'm trying to decide how to spend our first day in Rome. Ideally, I'd love to start with the Caesar Shuffle. However, we'll be arriving from Orvieto that morning (Rome is at the end of our trip to Italy), and I'm just afraid it would be too much getting from the train station to the Colosseum early enough to not feel rushed for the rest of it. Not to mention I REALLY want to do the underground tour at the Colosseum, which we have to reserve. Should we just spend that first day at the National Museum and Bath of Diocletian, as it's just outside Termini (we'll probably store our luggage at the train station as our B&B doesn't do check in until later in the day)? I figure we could then do either the Dolce Vita walk or Heart of Rome walk in the late afternoon so we could still get a good taste of Rome that first day. I think I'm just a little sad that I would have to wait to see what I consider the real Rome - all the ruins - until our second or third day. FWIW, we'll be in Rome three and a half days, and we'll devote another full day to the Vatican (well, maybe not ALL of that day) and then the half day to Ostia Antica. Also, would it be too much to try and do the Borghese Gallery on the same day as the National Museum and Baths? For some reason, I thought they would take up a lot of time, but now that I'm looking again, it doesn't seem like that much. Or am I wrong and the museum is huge? Because I just don't see myself trying to stuff the gallery into either the day we do the Caesar Shuffle or the Vatican. That's a lot of walking, it seems.
Hello, Teresa, From the time stamps on my photos, I spent about 2-1/2 hours at Ostia Antica and about 2 hours in the National Museum and church. Granted, I was traveling alone so I wasn't really chatting with anyone about what we were seeing. From what I recall, the Borghese only allows you about two hours before ushering you out and letting in the next group. The walk between the two (according to Google Maps) should take about a half hour. However, if time is a problem, perhaps a taxi will speed your trip. For my day at the Vatican: basilica, museum, and climbing the dome, I spent 7 hours, although I probably could have done it in 6 since I had to wait about an hour between climbing the dome and my museum admission time. By the way, make sure you use the door to the right as you exit the Sistine Chapel. It puts you right back in the basilica so you can avoid the long walk back to the museum entrance and then the long walk back to St. Peter's square. Jim
You could always visit the forum and palatine hill on the arrival day and visit the colosseum and do the underground on the next day. Your entry ticket is valid for 2 consecutive days. If you're going to do it this way you would need to purchase your entry tickets online or at the forum and palatine hill and then call to book the underground tour. Just tell them you already have entry tickets and just need to pay for the tour. I would not combine the Borghese gallery with the Vatican. It would be too much for one day. Also, it seems you're doing a lot of walking tours. You might want to get a guide book and read up on each site on these tours to see if they really interest you. With only 3.5 days you'll need to limit the sites you see to those that are highest on your "must see" list or you'll end up missing a lot of things. Doing walks just because they pass what someone else thinks is a highlight might not allow you to see what YOU consider a highlight. Really read up on these sites to see if they hold your interest or can be put off for another trip when you have more time. Donna
I would see if you can drop your bags at the B&B even though you won't get the room until later, that will save you from going back to the train station. I would also plan a little less and leave some open time for walking around because the "real Rome" is all around you and you will be looking at ruins wherever you go. I couldn't spend an entire day at the Vatican because I would be on museum/crowd overload. There is to much to see and too many people trying to see it that an entire day is to much for me. Definitely do the Night Time Walk. Use the book to plan your meals near the sights you plan to visit. I would focus less on seeing everything and plan more on what really matters, eating well and maximizing the short time you have in Rome. Avoid anything requiring waiting in lines.
Just to clarify a few things: I was thinking of combining the Borghese with the National Museum, NOT the Vatican - that would probably kill me. Also, I have read up on these sites - a lot. I'm really into history, and getting to actually see what I've learned about is what really appeals to me. Food, while good, isn't as important. And really, I can't spend my whole day eating. I'll certainly focus on finding good places (and already have) but really, to visit Rome and not seek out these ancient ruins and works of art? That to me is sacrilegious. And yes, I know I am planning this out a lot, but from what I've read, if I don't plan it out, I'm going to waste most of our time in lines, where as if I make reservations in advance and know which tickets to buy when, I can skip a lot of the lines. Basically my idea was to do the big stuff in the morning/early afternoon, so the rest of the day would be left open to strolling. So please don't dismiss the planning just because it's not something you like. It works for me.
Dropping our bags off at the B&B is a possibility, but as our B&B is out by the Vatican, it didn't seem to make much sense to go all the way out there, come back to Termini, switch train lines and go to the ruins or museums - unless I'm missing something? I'd just rather save time, really. I will look into splitting up the Colosseum from the rest of the walk. And thanks for the heads up about the time spent in the National Museum - that helps! Although I'll still ask - National Museum or the ruins (sans Colosseum) on the first day? Any recommendations on what you did? My other concern about going out to the ruins that first day is I've heard Rome can be really chaotic and that maybe something right outside the station would help me immerse myself into the city.
I'm not saying don't plan, just don't plan as much. I am an obsessive planner and wanted to know every way possible to avoid lines. What I am saying is be flexible in your planning because you will stumble across historic things everywhere you go in Rome. With my limited knowledge of history I found myself wandering around the excavation of Octavia's home built by her brother Augustus which happened to be next to the Jewish Ghetto that I had gone to see. Things like that are everywhere you go in Rome. You won't be using trains to get around the city. The subway is of limited use for touring the city, buses are a better option and if time is an issue the expense of an occasional cab ride is worth it to me. Expect to do a LOT of walking. Don't let all the hype fool you. Rome is busy and there is a lot going on but it is not as intimidating as all the stories you hear.
I have never given much consideration to bus use, but buses seemed to work well in Rome. We plan to try some of Rick's bus line suggestions the next time we visit Paris.
I don't think anyone has said not to plan your days only that you're planning a lot of structured walks without any free time built in. If you confine yourself to just these walks you'll miss a lot of the sites that aren't on these walks as they're not considered important by some guide books. As for planning to bypass the lines, there are only two sites that will have any line to speak of. They are the Vatican museums and the colosseum. For the Vatican museums you can purchase entry tickets online that allow you to bypass the lines or if you go in the afternoon the lines are usually short or non-existent. For the colosseum you can purchase entry tickets online or buy them at the forum or palatine hill. For all other sites you'll basically be able to walk right up to the desk and purchase your tickets. You may have one or two people in front of you but that's it. Donna
As you arrive, go ahead and stash your luggage at your B&B before checking in. Then, get acquainted with the neighborhood. You'll have time to do the walking tours. And, don't forget visiting the Pantheonthe best preserved building of the era. It's not far from the Vatican. My best suggestion is to figure out how to maneuver through the public transportation systembuses. Buses can get you up close and personal with the locals, and they're fast and efficient for the most part. We were there Easter Weekend, and the subway system was running 100% of capacity and trains were somewhat infrequent. Taxis were pretty expensive, but not nearly the wild ride I had heard about.
We did the Borghese and the National Museum on the same day. No problem. We did not go to the Baths of Diocletian but I'm sure you could fit those in too.