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Best of Rome in 7 days May trip-Any advice or feedback?

I have some questions after researching our trip. There will be two of us going on the 7 day Rome trip May 19.

1. I'm torn as to if I should bring a few Euros rather than get them at the airport-mainly because we are not seasoned travelers and the least amount to think about upon arriving may be the best. Will have some Euros for tipping etc.

  1. We will be arriving at 9:30 am and have the arrival day, a full day and the 1/2 day before the dinner meeting on Sunday.
    Our hotel is Lancelot near the Colosseum. Any ideas for restaurants and also for sightseeing the full day we are there.

  2. I only need to communicate using my Iphone with my son who also has an Iphone while we are on the trip and sightseeing. We have the 12G plan from Verizon and I know we can pay $10 for each day it's used on the International Plan. Would there be a need to purchase a SIM card since we are not calling to the US?

  3. Any other tips and ideas for this trip is appreciated.

Posted by
2760 posts

We stayed there on this tour last May. Very good hotel with very good breakfast. We choose to eat our non-tour dinners in several close by places that were recommended by the hotel staff. We choose to eat early to avoid the crowds that come later. In going to Europe for 16 of the last 18 years and taking 16 RS tours, we have never purchased any European currency in the US before leaving here. We have always been successful in getting whatever local currency we need as soon as we arrive at our destinations airport using a debit card at an ATM machine making sure that the ATM machine is not connected to one of those currency exchange rip off companies. Our 2 debit cards are tied to two different financial institutions here in Seattle so that we always have a back up in case something goes wrong with one of them. We do the same with 2 different credit cards. You should read the RS article on "Cash and Currency" listed elsewhere on this web site.

Posted by
7634 posts

Well you’ll get different opinions on Euro vs no Euro. I’m in the “get some from your bank the first time” category. I feel really fuzzy when I land and as a solo traveler I don’t want to deal with a foreign ATM right away. It’s worth the poorer exchange rate to me to have some ahead.

Now, of course, I just pull out some Euro before I return home so I’ve got some seed money for next time.

You really won’t need much if any for tipping, BTW.

Posted by
2310 posts

I’m with Pam on the currency issue. I always arrive brain dead and not willing to seek out an ATM at the airport while trying to watch my belongings. I have 100-200 Euros when I arrive. As for the phone-no you will not need another SIM. With the plan you have your phone should work just as it does in the US. BTW we are on the tour two weeks before you! We are spending our full day prior to the tour on a day trip to Orvieto.

Posted by
741 posts

On our two overseas trips, we've kept our phones in airplane mode and relied on wifi to keep in touch with two sons back home, using Facebook Messenger and Skype. Since you and your son both have iPhones you can use iMessage and FaceTime on wifi. On our VFR tour in 2017, I turned on the Verizon $10 plan for one day. If you're not making a lot of calls in Europe, I don't think you'd find much need to get a new SIM card.

Posted by
1256 posts

Re: money - before you leave the U.S., you'll need to notify your bank or credit union that you'll be using their card(s) overseas, so they don't think it's fraud.

Posted by
1159 posts

Hi Carol:

I have been on the Rome tour twice, in 2008 and again in 2013 and loved it. Rome is amazing and you will learn so much on this tour!
I too only need to communicate with one person, my mom and she has a landline. I have an IPhone and use the skype app which is free to have and then put money on skype and it works great. I can talk to my mom on my Iphone and she can use her landline phone. It really is inexpensive and for about $20.00 I talked to her over two weeks.

As for tips of this tour, the churches are amazing and they are the museums! They have all the artwork and they are beautiful. pay the euro to light up the paintings, it is worth it. See the RS Rome book for the chapter on or section on Rome churches where he lists them all and get to as many as you can. You will not be disappointed! Make sure you wear short sleeves or bring a light weight jacket as even the churches and not just the Vatican may not allow you to wear sleeveless tops.

Rome is a hard city, so make sure you bring comfortable shoes. You will walk alot in Rome!

The whole city outdoors is one big museum so walk around and you will discover this amazing old city.

Have a great time.

Posted by
1106 posts

You can also save the $10/day international plan if each of you downloads the Whats App app.

We have used this for years to call and text our children back home.

You do need wifi, but we always get it at our hotel and at any cafe during the day.

We use the $10/day international for emergencies ! We are on ATT and if you make a call at 3 pm, you have the "plan" for 24 hours, until 3 pm the next day. It's not for a calendar day.

Posted by
129 posts

I’ve been on the Rick Steves Rome tour in May. IMHO, the included Vatican Museum tour was sheer torture due to the heat, crowds, slow-shuffling pace, sights that did not interest me and the shouting guides of other tours who weren’t using the audio system. Due to the crowds, your tour group will progress slowly to the Sistine Chapel.

That said, the Vatican Museum is still a must-see on my list but I would execute my own strategy if I was on a RS tour. If I had to do it over I would download the guided walk from the RS Audio Europe collection. I would enter the museum with the tour group and once the tour started I would go off on my own, see the exhibits I wanted to see and then, following the signs, proceed to the Sistine Chapel where I could spend as much time as I wanted and then follow Rick’s tips for exiting to St. Peter’s. Enjoy Rome!

Posted by
20599 posts

After near fifty years of traveling to Europe I still like having a hundred euro in pocket when I land. If I haven't save it from the prior trip paying a $10 service fee for hundred euro in the US is not a deal breaker. Just one less thing to worry about on landing. We are so old that an I-phone isn't critical to our lives. We get by with hotel internet in the evening for contact back home. Will the time difference calling is always a problem. We turn off the I-phones and rely on the I-pad for wifi.

I would not plan much activity for the first day beyond being in the sun with a lot of walking. And from experience we find a two hour nap, mid-afternoon, is our best approach for dealing with jet-lag. The stay awake all day never worked well for us.

Posted by
690 posts

I think Ray has a great idea. I was on the Best of Italy tour and found the visit to the Vatican uninspiring.
I suggest that you decide if you want to research the art that is available at the museums you are visiting ahead of time or if you want to see the things that your museum guide will pick out for you and enjoy their explanation only.

For example: I was super prepared for the Uffizi in Florence. I checked the big Uffizi book out of the library and became familiar with the different rooms of the Uffizi and made a list of what I wanted to view. Ahead of our tour with a local guide, I reviewed my list with our tour guide. She let me know which pieces weren't likely to be covered on the tour. Then, when we were in a room or passing through or near a room of a piece I wanted to see, I just branched off briefly to see the piece and then caught up again. I was able to see everything I wanted without having to go back around the museum after the tour.

At the Vatican, I had some pieces picked out, but I didn't research their location. So, I did not see "The School of Athens". Also at the Vatican I don't think you can go back once you have exited. The process of getting into the museum is worse than going to Disney. Knowing what I know now, I would skip the Vatican and do something else.

Posted by
485 posts
  1. I'm torn as to if I should bring a few Euros rather than get them at the airport-mainly because we are not seasoned travelers and the least amount to think about upon arriving may be the best. Will have some Euros for tipping etc.

Bring some Euros, say 200€, get more with your ATM card if needed. One less thing to worry about!

We will be arriving at 9:30 am and have the arrival day, a full day and the 1/2 day before the dinner meeting on Sunday.
Our hotel is Lancelot near the Colosseum. Any ideas for restaurants and also for sightseeing the full day we are there.

Your flight, if it is on time, may at 9:30 AM, however by the time you get through passport control etc and arrive at your hotel in Rome proper will be more like noon or 1:00 PM. Plan on a light lunch, walk around and see the sites plus get yourself oriented and an early dinner.

I only need to communicate using my Iphone with my son who also has an Iphone while we are on the trip and sightseeing. We have the 12G plan from Verizon and I know we can pay $10 for each day it's used on the International Plan. Would there be a need to purchase a SIM card since we are not calling to the US?

Use your international plan with Verizon, save using an European SIM for another time.

Posted by
116 posts

I've never had a problem getting Euros at a BANK ATM (NOT currency exchange or non-bank ATM) in the airport. Just exercise caution as you would at a US ATM.
In addition to the good breakfast buffet at the Lancelot when I was there in 2014, they offered a surprisingly good, restaurant quality dinner - I actually ate dinner there twice (2 different entrees) while on the 7 Day Rome tour because it was tasty. You have to sign up for it at the desk a few hours in advance (they post what the night's offerings will be) and it is extra, not included with the room, but quite reasonably priced. That may be a good option for you, especially the first night.
I would not skip the Vatican Museum tour even though it will be crowded (what major museum in Europe is not crowded in May?). And remember, you've already paid for it.
Caution: when ordering fish at a restaurant in Italy, watch the pricing; it is likely to be listed as per 100grams. If the fish portion you get is 400g, you will be charged 4 x the menu price.

Posted by
22 posts

First trip to Paris with ATM’s, no problem. Got our Euro’s in airport. Secind trip, All ATM’s in airport were down, line at currency exchange snaked thru whole terminal and word was, they were running out of Euro’s. Thank goodness my mother had $100€ from her bank for transportation to hotel. I won’t go again without some €’s.

Posted by
116 posts

I was on this tour in March 2017. I skipped the Wednesday papal audience and went to the Museo Storico della Liberazione. It was in an apartment building and served as a prison during the Nazi occupation. It's some history of Rome from a period that you don't hear as much about. It's close to St. John Lateran, close to your hotel. I think it's worth spending an hour or so.

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you to all for your great tips! One more question. There is a Trastervere food tour listed on Day 3 of the tour.
I have seen some food tours offered privately and read from others that the food tour is a great experience. Any opinion on the Rick Steve's food tour? Would anyone suggest a privately offered food tour?

Posted by
1507 posts

Carol - if you choose to get Euros ahead, when you order from your bank or AAA, be sure to be sure to ask them to get you small denomination bills. So for 200 E, ask that you get nothing larger than a 50 E note. Though you won't need much, if any tip money, some smaller restaurants and vendors don't like (or won't) break a big bill.

Also, let me clarify your phone question. Is your son on the trip with you, and so you want to communicate with him, in Italy, while you are both out sightseeing? If you don't have an international calling plan, you'd both need to find WiFi to message each other (iMessage works over WiFI, but if no Wifi is available it needs a cellular network). If you don't set it up with Verizon before you leave, this could result in surprise bills. If your son is at home, and you want to connect to him while in Italy, then you could just chat with him when you have WiFi at the hotel.

Posted by
187 posts

I was on the Rome tour in February and the food tour was one of its highlights! So many yummy things to eat. The local food guide was delightful.

I also took the Sunday food tour with Eating Europe (find them online). It included the area in and around the Jewish Ghetto. It was also a fun and delicious tour. I found out that our Rick Steve’s food guide also works with Eating Europe. Not altogether surprising since Rick seems to contract services with the best.