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To go to Rome or not?

I am traveling in Italy and plan to go to Florence, Siena and hill towns, bike in Umbria, visit Cinque terra. I have 4 more days, five nights before I fly out of Rome. Rome seems so large and congested. I am debating whether to skip Rome and go elsewhere in Italt. Thoughts? Suggestions? Thank you!
I am going at the end of September

Posted by
23851 posts

Will you be upset to miss what you will miss in Rome?

If yes, maybe find a way. If you don't care, do something else. Italy is big. There is plenty of something else if that is what you want.

I won't judge you either way, nor will most others here on the Forum. What you your family will say when you get home, I don't know. I don't know your family - I don't think.

Posted by
1708 posts

That's a hard one to answer as it's really dependent on your personal tastes. How many nights are you spending in the other cities? Do you already have your inbound flight purchased? Into which city?

As to Rome....there's lots of sites there and there are a lot of diehard Rome fans on this site. For me, I've been twice and I'm just not a big fan. Have you already been to Venice? I'd think about adding that if you haven't. Like smaller cities? Then what about's a great spot. Both are a ways from Rome, though, in terms of your flight home, so additional information about your set travel plans/dates would probably help you get more detailed responses.

Posted by
6236 posts

Every large city with top sights squeezed in tight areas is "large and congested"...if that's not your thing, that's ok. I loved Rome and wouldn't miss it - Vatican City, for one thing, doesn't really have many substitutes elsewhere. Only you know the answer...if there's something in Rome that you'd really like to see, don't let its size scare you away...hands down its benefits outweigh the costs IMHO.

Posted by
1769 posts

Apart from Rome's dimensions, are you interested in things like the Sistine Chapel or Michelangelo's Pietà? Caravaggio's Contarelli Chapel? The Bronze Boxer?

The baroque area in central Rome is probably the most beautiful district in the world and it's stuffed with art masterpieces behind every corner, but will you like it?
I mean, maybe you've already seen these things, or you're not particularly interested: nothing wrong with it, but if this the case... don't waste your precious holiday time in a place that has little to offer to you.

Posted by
11613 posts

If you do go to Roma (my favorite city in the world), get a guidebook that has walks for different neighborhoods. The RS guides have some, but there are others. Perhaps if you plan that way, it won't seem so daunting.

If you decide to skip it, there are lots of smaller places, Ravenna and Bologna come to mind.

Posted by
2235 posts

What month is your trip? Lots of places in Italy are very hot in July and August, and big congested cities often seem even more uncomfortable.

Posted by
31055 posts


Rome is one of the great cities of the world, with incredible history and lots to see. It would be a shame to be there and not spend at least a few days.

While it probably will be crowded, chaotic and possibly hot (depending on which month you're travelling), I suspect you'll find the same situation at many other places. Italy is a very popular tourist destination, and it can be challenging at times to find a place that hasn't been "discovered". "Elsewhere in Italy" could be just as much of a problem.

If you haven't been to Rome, I'd suggest hiring an excellent local guide (I can suggest one) to get some sense of the history. One of the "keys" to travelling well in Rome will be to pre-plan your sightseeing, and make reservations where necessary (such as the Galleria Borghese, if that interests you).

Have you travelled in Italy before? There are a few potentially expensive "caveats" to be aware of when using Trains, Metro, Buses and other public transportation. If you need more information, post another note here.

Posted by
2463 posts

Florence is my top favorite city in Europe, venice my least favorite(too dirty and I got sick) . I also love Rome-to me, Sistine Chapel is a must see and the rest of the Vatican Museums is also amazing. the last time we went, we split our hotel nights between two locations-the Alimandi to see the Vatican(its down the steps from the Vatican Museum!) and a convent that was walking distance from the Coliseum and Forum. If you take taxis between the two hotels , this will cut down on your travel stress.

Posted by
1728 posts

I think you could do far worse than spend those 4 days in Rome. In fact, you probably could have 14 days and not see it all.

On our first trip to Italy six years ago October, we opted to spend the lion's share of time in Florence, which we loved but admittedly gave short shrift to Rome, spending not even 3 days there. Hoteled at Campo de' Fiori and visited the Jewish Ghetto & Trastevere, while doing a hop-on-hop-off fly-by of the other attractions. Did walk through the Vatican. It was a whirlwind but I could sense it was not nearly enough.

Thus, we're planning to return next February for 8 nights, basing in Trastevere but I've been intrigued by a fantastic guide book recommended by the American in Rome blog, describing 10 walks in Rome:

Bottom line is that there are hidden gems virtually everywhere, mostly ignored by tour groups. Can't wait!

Posted by
2353 posts

If you have never been it seems a shame to be so close and not go! Rome can be intimidating but that is part of being Rome. If you are going during the shoulder season it is not quite as packed and a little more enjoyable.

Posted by
2525 posts

As you can see, opinions vary. Rome has wonderful sights. It's a big city and depending on when you visit, could be uncomfortably hot. I'll no doubt be executed tomorrow at dawn by ardent devotees when I indicate there's no need to go back (Florence as well). The Cinque Terre is beautiful and crawling with bodies Venice is great...but again, loads of bodies. What's a tourist to do? Accept the fact that prime tourist destinations on season will come with an overload of tourists. My preference is traveling during shoulder and off seasons. Having visited the "prime" cities in Europe, I generally seek out small cities and villages to the exclusion of most large cities. Exceptions of course....e.g. Stockholm.

Posted by
11170 posts

I didn't see Rome on my first Italy trip (of 7 so far). Some friends and family were scandalized - "How can you go to Italy and not see Rome?" Well, I had different interests on that trip, as well as limited time. It was a great first trip (Milan, Venice, Florence, and day trips to Siena and Lucca/Pisa). That first trip, however, ignited a desire to see Rome, so I made that the focus of my second trip. It was great, and now I love Rome. Who knows how I'd feel if I only went out of a sense of obligation rather than genuine interest?

So, if you want to go to Rome this time, do so; if you aren't drawn to it, see something else on this trip, and maybe you will want to see it on another trip. It's all good - don't worry.

Posted by
4292 posts

Rome has so much to see and do it is a wonderful city to walk. There is a METRO if you don't want to walk everywhere. It is congested if you drive, but, why would you drive.

If you haven't been to Rome, GO and love it.

Posted by
14014 posts

Okay, folks, please don't hate me for what I'm about to say. Rome is far from my favorite city. It is big and bustling and noisy, and it takes a relatively long time to get from place to place. . . and both my visits were in February - low season, mild weather (though I was lucky enough to be there when it snowed for the first time in 25 years - now that was great!).

I love the Vatican Museums, the National Museum of Rome, the Borghese, to mention a few. There are lots of great sights and I've explored a couple of interesting neighborhoods. There's nothing like walking around the Colosseum after dark.

On the other hand, Venice is my third favorite city in the world. Some people like apples better than oranges.

If you skip Rome, and your flight out is not early morning, you can get to the airport from Orvieto in about 2 hours.

Posted by
17 posts

Please do not skip Rome! Yes, it is congested but the trade-off is the history, food and just rambling the narrow beautiful streets. We took a day trip to the hill town of Orvieto to escape the crowds. You don't want to travel that far and miss Rome and The Vatican.

Posted by
102 posts

Lots of opinions, all valid. I'll just add mine for what it's worth. We just got back from our trip to Italy. We went to Florence, Venice and Rome. I liked Rome best. Florence seemed more crowded and congested than Rome to me. And it was all tourists. Nothing wrong with tourists, but it is a bit disconcerting to travel all the way to Italy to be surrounded by Americans. We had advance reservations for the Uffizi and the Accademie. Both were quite crowded and we had to wait in line for about 45 minutes total for the Accademie, despite the advanced reservations.

We stayed near the Cavour metro and the Colosseum. We found the metro easy to use. I scheduled an after dark tour of the Coloseum and breakfast at the Vatican, avoiding crowds at both of those sites. No waiting for the Coloseum tour at all (with City Wonders). We did have to wait at the Vatican as we got there 15 minutes early and they kept us waiting 15 minutes past the entry time on our reservations before letting us in to get our tickets and clear security.

So for us, probably due somewhat to logistics, Rome actually felt less crowded than Florence.

I don't think there is anything wrong with skipping Rome if you have somewhere else you'd rather see, but I personally wouldn't skip it because of crowds.

Posted by
381 posts

On first trip to Italy we almost skipped Florence because we do not consider ourselves to be "art people." As it turned out we loved it. Now are going back to Italy in September and spending a week in Florence. My point is maybe take a day in Rome before you fly home to see if it is somewhere you would like to go back. In September we will be returning to Rome for the third time!!!!

Posted by
7737 posts

This is kind of like asking "Should I have chicken or fish for dinner?" For me, the idea of skipping Rome is inconceivable. It's one of my favorite cities in the world. I've been five times and can't wait to go back. You will never run out of things to see and do in the Eternal City.

That said, some people really don't like it. One thing to know in advance is that there is graffiti all over the place. As I often say, "graffiti" is an Italian word, so don't be surprised. One thing I like about Rome (as opposed to Paris) is that the historic center is compact enough to be walkable for most people. (2.5 miles east-west, 1.5 miles north-south)

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to travel. I suggest reading the Rick Steves Rome book to help you decide.

Posted by
212 posts

I think you should give Rome a try, especially since it sounds like you will end up there anyway at the end of your time in Italy. I am going there in late September too, because when I visited Italy two years ago and took the usual Venice-Florence-Rome path, I fell in love with Rome. Even though it is big and congested, it reminded me somewhat of Boston, in that many of the sights you want to see are in a very walkable core, as the poster above noted. Just get yourself a good map when you arrive.

Posted by
390 posts

Rome isn't my favorite city, I like the smaller cities a bit more, but it has so much if you aren't into that, you can skip it (though if your flight is out of Rome, you should be there at least for an afternoon/night anyways)....I would say, make a list of the top things in Italy that interest YOU......and see where Rome might fit into your ranking.....

Posted by
5 posts

Just got back from Italy and did the generic itinerary. Rome - Florence.

Rome - We loved Vatican City and spent all day there, then visited the Colleseum that evening. Not visiting Rome was out of the questions because I absolutely wanted to visit Vatican City. And now that I have, I probably won't plan to visit Rome any time soon.

Loved Florence - Explored Siena and hill towns, hiked at Cinque Terre, and absolutely fell in love with Lucca. Visited Venice as well.

We plan to go back to Italy and spend more days in Tuscany (Siena, Greve).

Posted by
23851 posts

so it has been nearly a week since you posted your question, drsheilab.

What do you think? This is a two way line.

Posted by
752 posts

You are flying out of Rome? That means you ARE going to Rome! So is the question about how many days and nights you should spend in Rome? I think 4 days and 5 nights are perfect for Rome.

You say end of September, you have time to order relevant guidebooks at the online Rick Steves store so you can make the most of your time in Rome, you will feel organized and in control of your trip time. I mean you are going to Rome anyway, make the most of it. You will be glad you did!

You are already seeing the country side of Italy and you are flying out of Rome. So, why not give Rome 3 nights for variation in your travel and to "sample" Rome. You can stay around campo dei Fiori/Pantheon area. You can walk the area and visit the churches around Piazza Navona and Pantheon. (Skip Spanish Steps due to massive renovation issues.). You can visit St. Peter's. Be prepared for a long, congested line to enter St. Peter's church unless you go through Vatican museum which is also congested. The Roman forum and Capitoline hill are completely uncongested and can be easily entered from Via Fori Imperiali road. Visit the Colosseum after 3 pm when the lines are drastically shorter. Or, just view the Colosseum from the outside. For peaceful sites - visit the St. John Lateran Complex, San Clemente, and take an easy metro ride from Colosseum to St. Paul "outside the walls." Have fun!

Posted by
904 posts

So, when you get home and talk to your friends they are going to ask, "How did you like Rome, isn't it spectacular?" And you are going to say, "I don't know, I didn't go there."

Posted by
1623 posts

We love Rome, but other places to consider are Orvieto (a small city about 1 hour by train from Rome). Also liked Padua and Parma. In Rome we try to stay near Piazza Navonna or the Pantheon where you can walk on quieter streets.

Posted by
635 posts

You can walk around the central city for days, get the vibe of the city and see many wonderful things, without ever having to stand in line, fight crowds or pay an admission fee. It's my favorite way to see a city, and it's rewarding.

Posted by
7737 posts

Looks as if the OP isn't returning here to see the responses to her question. That's a shame.

Posted by
11613 posts

Michael, the OP may be checking responses but not posting.

Posted by
25 posts

You can easily see the highlights of Rome in 3-4 days with some planning. Get your tickets to the Vatican and Borghese in advance as well as your tickets to the Coliseum/Forum which will keep you out of long lines. We anchored our days with one of these and then just kind of figured out what we wanted to do from there. Rick's evening walk is a nice way to spend an evening while also finding someplace for dinner. The Pantheon closes at 1900 (I think) so you need to plan around that. We stayed off the Piazza Navonna near the Piazza di Pasquino, lots of places to eat and a cool neighborhood, walk down every street. Also, the bus # 81 which runs down Corso del Rinasciemento will take you to the Vatican (end of the line right near the entrance) as well as to the Coliseum/Forum, very handy. If Rome isn't what you want to do, consider Lake Como, it's beautiful, generally cooler and a good way to wind down. Good luck and enjoy.


Posted by
4356 posts

Know thyself - if you know that Rome will give you a panic attack from the many videos available of the city, then absolutely don't go! I would suggest going...but if you really can't stand it and need to get out, there are many convenient day trips available to you - Ostia Antica, Orvieto, whatever strikes your fancy. Do some research beforehand so you'll have some prepared plans. Also, Rome has several beautiful and large parks - you'll completely forget you're in any city, much less Rome!

I don't find Rome that much more chaotic than Paris, for example. The cultures are a bit different ;-) but that's the beauty of it all. Every street scene in Rome isn't an out-of-control zoo; lots of Rome is actually pretty peaceful to walk through.

As has already been pointed out, you ARE going to Rome anyhow...just do some more research and look around for things that would interest you in Rome...or near Rome. If you like it, they have it.

(FYI my last trip to Rome was 5 years ago in the last week of September; it was 100F there - and most everywhere else in Italy, too. You might really enjoy those cool Roman parks...)

Have a fabulous trip!