We are headed to Rome late November/early December of this year (fingers crossed). We had heard to stay near the Pantheon but we wound up booking a VRBO overlooking the Trevi fountain. We plan on seeing all of Rome but the thing I am most excited for is the Colosseum. I'm thinking about switching our reservation to a VRBO overlooking the Colosseum but I heard it's not great to stay there (not a lot going on). Thoughts? Has anyone stayed in the Trevi area or the Colosseum area that can share your experience? We are a family of five including three teens who are super interested in history and less interested in art so while we will do the Vatican, we probably won't do things like Borghesi Gallery. I also plan on doing two colosseum tours (I know, I know... overkill but I couldn't decide between the night or day tour so we want to do both). I'd love to hear your thoughts!
In 2012 we stayed at a convent within walking distance of the Colosseum. It was so inexpensive that our 16 yr old daughter was able to have her own room. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the convent. I think your family would enjoy the San Clemente church with its different layers of history.
There's a podcast by two Australian women called "Untold Italy." They have an episode about where to stay in Rome. I'd check that out!
Where in the “Trevi area” is the lodging? Which street is important as it can be noisier than a lot of areas. Pay attention to VRBO reviews about noise level and convenience.
Rome is so compact that either area will be convenient. Many people here like the Piazza Navona/Pantheon area as it is very atmospheric in the evening, but Monti, near the Colosseum, is also.
Our VRBO is overlooking the trevi fountain. The reviews said it’s not that loud though because of noise canceling windows. I’m so leaning toward the colosseum but I posed the question on untold Italy’s Facebook page and a lot of people dont like the colosseum area???
About 5 years ago, we stayed in an apartment about half a block away from the Trevi Fountain. We really liked the area, felt totally safe walking around there during the day and night. It's a nice central place and the Colosseum is about a 20 minute walk from the Trevi. And, the Colosseum is awesome! I'll never forget exiting the metro stop there and seeing it for the first time, it took my breath away.
While the Colosseum is something to behold in the daylight hours, we found the night tour to be even more enjoyable. We had toured during the day on previous visits and decided to do a night tour on our last visit. During the day the crowds can be quite large and annoying. We even witnessed two tour guides in a heated "discussion" about one group spending too much time in a location that the other group wanted to view. But on our night tour, we not only were privy to the lower levels where we learned about the inner workings: the animal cages, the portions occupied by the gladiators, the elevator, etc., we enjoyed a relatively scant amount of other tourists. An added benefit for us was that the skies opened up with torrential rains just as we entered this amazing piece of history! :)
Enjoy your visit. I'm sure cit will be memorable!
And, the Colosseum is awesome! I'll never forget exiting the metro stop there and seeing it for the first time, it took my breath away.
That is, by far, the best introduction to the Colosseum. As you reach the top of the stairs exiting the Metro it truly is a magnificent sight. I've visited it many times now and I repeat the experience every time, it's incredible.
I also plan on doing two colosseum tours (I know, I know... overkill
but I couldn't decide between the night or day tour so we want to do
both). I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Cridpath, with your family's interest in history, I'd do a tour that includes the Colosseum, Palatine and Forum versus two of just the Colosseum. The latter two sites - which are very close by the arena - are more complex so the experience can greatly benefit from the knowledge of a good guide.
As you're concerned about "not a lot going on" in one area versus another, can you explain what sort of activity you are looking for? Neither location listed is necessarily wrong but I think Trevi is more centrally located...although I personally wouldn't need to be within eyeshot of the fountain as, for me, it's just a walk-by versus other sites in Rome. That aside, the center isn't all that vast so as Laurel said, it's not difficult, especially with active teens, to hoof it from one end to another. In fact, the city is best explored on foot! That said, do know that there isn't a metro station in the larger Trevi area.
....less interested in art so while we will do the Vatican, we
probably won't do things like Borghesi Gallery.
IMHO, I don't know as I'd recommend the Vatican Museums (not the basilica) at all for a group disinterested in art, even for the Sistine unless really, really intent upon seeing the thing. (LOL, I know I'm going to get pummeled for the very idea!) I think you can get a good look at some great works, but in smaller, more easily digested bits, by just stopping into a select group of churches. History? Sure, some of the oldest have interesting stories to tell, even if you're not especially religious (i'm not), and most are also free so if the teens get twitchy after a few minutes, you're not out anything but the time and bit of shoe leather. Some were even built upon/incorporated into much older pre-Christian structures. Interested? We can provide some suggestions.
How long will you be staying in Rome, and what else besides the Colosseum + Vatican do you have on your list? With teens, I'd love to see you spend a chunk of a day on some of the Appia Antica. There's a lot of really old, really interesting things to see out there, and it's a fun choice for more active families to explore, on a sunny day, on foot or bike.
I agree with Kathy. Skip the Vatican museums which are an never ending crowded walk to the Sistine chapel with shoulder to shoulder people. Now it may be fewer people but they probably scoot you through very fast. See the Borghesi Gallery. Great art but not too much of it. Take a day trip to Ostia Antica as a good alternative to Pompeii. The underground crypts might be fun for the family. Can’t help with housing as we always stay in hostels. Your teens would like them as they are social. You could get a private room in the hostel.
Kathy - I'd love to skip the Vatican but my super Catholic husband wants to go and he pretty much never gets a say on our agenda so I'll give him that! We will be in Italy for two weeks - four nights in Venice, four in Florence and five in Rome. Our Rome agenda is a golf cart tour (includes the mouth of truth which I really want to see and get a lay of the land), two colosseum tours (including Palantine Hill and Forum and the underground), Vatican, pizza & gelato making class, Capuchin Crypt, Baths of Caracalla, Piazza Novona (hopefully some Christmas markets!), the cat sanctuary where Julius Caesar was killed (random, I know), Trastavere, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Trevi fountain and a family photo shoot by the colosseum. We did a family photo shoot in front of the Eiffel tower last year and we had stayed right by the Trocodero so we could walk right over. That is another reason we want the colosseum - the view and we have so many things planned in that area. Our Paris VRBO had a view of the eiffel tower and it made our trip so we were hoping for the same thing in Rome but like I said, another travel group I'm on said not to stay by the colosseum so we planned something else but I'm having doubts. Also, we plan on returning to Italy six months after this trip (in May 2022). That trip will be the Amalfi coast and we will be going to Pompeii then - otherwise, I would have had a day trip to Pompeii on this agenda. My kids are very interested in history and ruins!
Pat - that makes me so happy to hear that you did both the day and night tours and enjoyed both!! I was wondering if it was overkill but it is the number one thing I want to do in Italy so I was just going to go for it!
As a tourist, I divide Rome into "Ancient" Rome, "Catholic" Rome and "Baroque" Rome. Trevi Fountain and the nearby Corso, Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona are the heart of Baroque Rome and I think you'll love it there (although we opted to stay in a convent in "Catholic" Rome. Be ready for street noise though.
I would never counsel against the Vatican Museums. Among the best in Europe. Look for my favourite statue (Laocoon) and one of my favourite paintings (Raphael's School of Athens). You can book a time and its anything but a relentless trudge to the Sistine Chapel, IMO. The Sistine Chapel itself, though, is admittedly overcrowded.
If you can find one - look for an "authorized" before opening tour of the Sistine Chapel. We did one in '19 with adult daughter and three 30 year olds. The company we did it with (cannot for the life of me find the name) took us past the entire AM line - walked us down the vast hallway with a bit of commentary and we waited for the doors to open to the chapel. Actually, you are paying for the access not a guided tour. Even the gift shop at the entry was not open. I have a photo of the gallery with only one person in front of me (huge difference from the jammed ship's tour we did in the afternoon 3 years before ).. The guide left us at the entry to the chapel. She said we were free to stay and explore for the "day" (museums, St. Peters and the chapel). There were @ 50 people in with us (2 groups). Also, we were able to respectfully take a few photos as we sat at the edge of the chapel (small camera & cell - OK - while large camera outfit waving at the ceiling was promptly nixed). Was wonderful to view not just the ceiling but the wonderful end panels - which are probably better paintings but get little mention- without the throngs. The rest of our group was more about saying they had been there than the "history" so we only stayed a bit - but did spend a rather long time exploring St Peter's - it is huge.
Since you will be on that "side" of town, you might also check for a tour/access to the roof/top. RS shows it in his videos - we have not done but have enjoyed other dome views.
Rome is a wonderfully walkable city. The destination is not always the sole purpose of getting out of the apartment. The walk itself can be filled with great discoveries and experiences. I have found that staying in the Piazza Navona area (I particularly like the area behind or across from Chiesa Nuova) puts me 'at home.' It's an interesting and comfortable walk to the Vatican (take a taxi though if you are going to the Vatican Museum). Trastevere, the Pantheon, Tevi are very close by. Even Piazza Populo is easier than you might think and you can relax at the Spanish Steps on the way back or go shopping.. The Forum is a bit of a trek but either take a bus or walk through the Jewish Ghetto area. One moves faster, the other is quite a pleasure. Navona, Fiori and Trastevere are great for nightlife too, which the teens might really enjoy. My favorite late night jaunt is have dinner in Trastevere, walk to the Forum, back to Trevi and Navona then get a good night's sleep.
We stay in Palazzo Navona, Pantheon and Monticello neighborhoods. You get good views of the Colosseum from Monti.
I don't think you can go wrong with staying anywhere near the areas others have mentioned, but I have to wonder whether "noise canceling windows" (whatever that means) will be enough -- the Trevi Fountain is very crowded at night. Your teens may be fine with that but you may lose some sleep.
On the other side of the coin, I suggest you check out early-morning tours that include the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. I know there's one that includes breakfast. For a devout Catholic, the Sistine and the Basilica would probably be the Vatican highlights, maybe also the Rafaels and other Renaissance works in the museum. But a lot of the other art is classical, and if you're not big art lovers it may not do much for you, especially as crowded as it will surely be. The Sistine is magnificent, but much less so when shared by hundreds of other people whose collective noise requires the staff to proclaim "Silencio!" every few minutes.
I'll join the poster who suggested the San Clemente church, not far from the Colosseum, built on top of a temple of Mithras from Roman times. You descend deeper into history with each step.
I'd love to skip the Vatican but my super Catholic husband wants to go
and he pretty much never gets a say on our agenda so I'll give him
Haha! OK, keep the Vatican Museums but yes, I'd look into an early entrance tour: there are multiple suggestions on previous threads for reputable companies who do those (Walks of Italy, The Roman Guy, etc.) The thing is VAST so the best tours will steer you directly to the highlights (including the Sistine, before the worst of the mob hits it) and, unless things have changed, most also get you directly from museums into the basilica via a back stairway reserved just for tours. That saves waiting in the (possibly long and chilly) security line for the church.
We much preferred the Borghese for size, collection and crowd control but I get it. :O)
Since you're doing Terme di Caracalla, you might treat your Catholic husband to a look at San Giovanni in Laterano (that one and not St Peter's is officially the "Pope's church" as Bishop of Rome), and the aforementioned St Clemente? Both are nearby.
Some info + a virtual tour of San Giovanni:
Oh, and that "cat sanctuary" where Julius Caesar was murdered is Largo di Torre Argentina; more interesting to us personally for the excavation than the felines but we're probably in the minority there. You have a very nice list of things to do over your 4+ days!!
Definitely see Saint Peters Cathedral. I still stand by my comment on skipping the museum. I went once because it was my first time in Rome, but the second time was because my husband wanted to go. It was horrible both times. I can only stand so much old church art and the crowds were awful in the long corridor. I don’t like gigantic museums including the Louvre. Give me a small museum in a historic setting or maybe one covering an artist that I like. Your teens will appreciate you not making them spend hours in an endless art museum. Hiking to the top of any building or tower to look over the city is always an adventure. Plan the trip with a little bit of this and that, the end the day with a walk and a gelato. It will be a great adventure.
racquet588 - We definitely plan on going to the top of St. Peter's basilica (I'm actually looking forward to that)! Out of our two week itinerary, the Vatican is the thing I am the least excited about. We plan on doing an early morning entrance so we can run through and get to the sistine chapel before the crowds. I agree about big museums. When we went to the Louve, we saw the mona lisa, napoleons apartment, venus de milo, the underground fortress and one painting that I had my kids research ahead of time and then tell us about while we were there. That's it and that was plenty. We definitely had more fun in the courtyard taking perspective shots touching the top of the pyramid! BUT I feel like I have to go to the Vatican if I'm in Rome (it's all of our first time in rome) so we'll do it in the least painful way possible - spend a lot on early admittance and then run through it!!
I can't imagine going to the Vatican and not seeing the amazing Sistine Chapel. To me, it is the most amazing work of art in the World. I have seen it twice, once prior to the cleaning up of the frescoes and once after. The first time, my six year old son, who wasn't much for art museums, was so amazed by the Sistine's art that he didn't want to leave. We sat on the floor and with a guidebook, I explained to him much of what the art represented. That was in the 1980s and it was less crowded, but still it is awesome.
We like to stay in the Borgo, right outside of the Vatican. It is fun to start and end the day wandering around the almost deserted St. Peter's Square. Rome is not that big, so you can easily get anywhere by walking, buses and Metro, so stay in whatever neighborhood that you want. I feel about the Colosseum the way you do about the Vatican! I DO NOT CARE about the inside of the Colosseum. I'm sure it is interesting, but seeing it from the outside is enough for me. If you only go to one museum for art, I would choose the Doria Pamphilji. It's not too big but is over the top beautiful and almost empty. Be sure to have a snack, coffee, or get some goodies at the cafe in the basement. Since you are going to Pompeii later, skip Ostia Antica, but my husband is a classicist who takes university students on study abroad trips (well, he did in the before times) and says it is better then Pompeii. I insisted on going there, too, because I have a thing for Mt. Vesuvius, but if you can only see one, Ostia is the better choice. We had to cancel our trip last summer for our son's HS graduation gift/trip and we haven't rescheduled yet. I can't wait to show him places we love.
You mentioned your teens were interested in ruins. If you plan to be in Rome on a Saturday and Sunday, have you looked at the Domus Aurea? It’s basically across the street from the Colosseum and was Nero’s Golden Palace. It’s an on-going archaeological site, so they only do tours on weekends.
Last time we were in Rome we stayed at Campo di Fiori. As Laurel said, Rome is very walkable. If I remember somewhat correctly, a nice leisurely walk from Trevi fountain to Navona plaza or the Pantheon would take about 10 minutes. To go to the Spanish steps is probably shorter. The colosseum however, is closer to Palantine hill and the forum. Both Trevi and the colosseum are about the same distance from Trastevere and the Jewish quarter.
Patty - we'll be there Monday-Saturday which is a huge bummer because Domus Aurea sounds amazing. If we have to rebook our trip because of COVID, I will factor that into the next agenda. Thanks for the tip!
LAB - Ostia Antica sounds amazing! I don't know how I missed that in my research. I may try to do it while we are in Rome even though we plan on doing Pompeii six months later. You can never see too many ruins! As far as art goes, we really just aren't into it. I prefer street art or the art of architecture to museums so while Doria Pamphilji and Borghesi et al sound amazing, they are not our cup of tea. We are going to Accademia in Florence to see David but we are skipping the Uffizi which is blasphemous to some people!
geovagriffith - I'm not excited about the Vatican museum but I am super excited about the Sistine Chapel. I wish you could go directly there but since you can't, my plan is to get early admittance to the Vatican museum and high tail it over to the chapel then go to the basilica.
So, the Colosseum area is not shady or anything right? It's just a little less centrally located than an area like the Pantheon? We don't mind walking (in fact, we like it) but I just don't want to feel unsafe. Our agenda is very ancient Rome heavy so I don't mind that it is not centrally located.
I don't know if the Colosseum area is shady, but it is so crowded during the day that it is the only place in Rome where I feel like I need to hold my bag close to my body. I doubt it is actually dangerous, though. One place your kids might get a kick out of is Ristorante da Pancrazio which is built over the ruins of the Theater of Pompey. Have lunch there and go downstairs. It is where Julius Caesar was murdered..."Beware the Ides of March" and all that (he was probably killed at the other end of the building, but still, it's an interesting spot to see). On trips with students, after eating lunch my husband would pick someone to play Caesar and the rest of them would attack and "stab" the poor kid. FUN!
Everyone has their preferences for their own reasons. We have been in Rome maybe six, seven times. About half the time we are passing through so only there a couple of nights but have had several extended stays also. Out of habit, I suppose, we always stay in the Termini area -- Sonya, Aberdeen, Contilia. Wife prefers Sonya because she thinks their lattes are better than Aberdeen or Contilia. We like this area for convenience to public transit -- Leonard Express from the airport. Many bus and tram routes terminate there so if you are deep in the city, maybe a little lost, climb on any bus or tram that says, Termini, and you will be back to familiar ground in short order. It is a busy area with lots of nice restaurants and people. Personally think it has more of a local feel than the touristy feel you get around the Colosseum and especially the Trevi area. I would not stay in either area. But -- again - mostly personal preference.
A family of five and luggage is not going to fit any taxi. So you will have to do two from the airport and that is still probably cheaper than train to Termini and taxis to your B&B. Staying in the Termini area does save the second taxi ride.
One final comment -- the taxis are cheap in Rome and we have never had a problem with cheating. So we walk till we are exhausted and then find a taxi stand (no hailing on the street), hand them a card from the hotel and we are back in 20 minutes or so. Old Rome is easy to see via walking because that was what they were doing two thousand years ago.
I'll second Frank on accommodations walking distance from Termini. We did that last time versus our prior location further away, and will likely do it again. Along with taxis, there are express coaches from Fiumicino that worked just fine for us. They take a little longer than the Leonardo Express train but are less expensive - tickets can be as little as 5 euros, depending on company - air conditioned and very comfortable. They can also handle all 5 of you + your bags. It usually takes about 50 minutes from curb to curb, although a traffic snarl can slow things down; same for taxis.
From the Fiumicino website;
Like others, we have stayed in the Termini area several times. We liked the charming family-run Hotel Residenza Cellini. www.residenzacellini.it It is near the Aberdeen & Sonya Hotels that were mentioned up thread. We appreciated the large pristine rooms, and convenient location. The front desk had 24 hour service. Last fall we had planned to try a different hotel & location. We booked Hotel Due Torri. This is in the Navona area. www.hotelduetorriroma.com. I think either location has it's benefits. We based our booking on many recommendations from this forum.