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RS 7 Days in Rome - Your favorite free time sites

I have booked Rick’s 7 day Rome tour. It has been nearly 50 years since I visited Rome. I would appreciate hearing about your favorite sites and attractions that were not part of the tour. I love to have a plan for free time. Architecture and ancient building techniques are of particular interest, but not the only interest. Thanks!

Posted by
1808 posts

LOL...Nothing "new" in Rome that I was interested in seeing. Probably will be quite a bit more crowded than it was 50 years ago. Enjoy.

Posted by
1875 posts

My favorite spot in Rome is the Torre Argentina. It is a block left undeveloped to show the Roman ruins AND there is a cat sanctuary in the ruins. So, you see lovely cats enjoying the sun on ruins which include the exact sport where Julius Caesar died. Here is a link
https://www.gattidiroma.net/web/en/

Posted by
8239 posts

About 20 miles south of Rome is a small town of Zagarolo. That's where the Roman solders' helmets were made, and where they had gymnasiums to train Roman gladiators.

A short distance away is a mountain with a small city and church called Castil di San Pietro on top. We were carried up there and then we walked down 2,500 year old walking trails to the town of Palestrina. The end of WWII Allied bombings on the hillside re discovered a large pagan temple that had been built over. It's now been restored and is a very interesting museum.

The suburbs of Rome have many great tourist sights--many of which are not visited by those just limiting their time in Rome.

Posted by
7 posts

I took this tour in 2019 and from my understanding there are a few sites that are no longer included such as the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and the Coliseum. These are places that you may want to visit on your own time. On my visit I decided to visit the Domus Aurea (tickets required) https://www.rome-museum.com/domus-aurea.php, the Ara Pacis https://www.rome-museum.com/ara-pacis.php and the Capitoline Museum https://www.museicapitolini.org/en/node . Pre-tour I study the guidebook and make a list of my must see sites that are not included on the RS tour. I hope this helps. There is so much to see and do in Rome - its hard to fit it all in. A reason to go back. Its a walkable city - so take advantage! Have fun; I love Rome.

Posted by
160 posts

Thank you! I so appreciate the suggestions and am researching each one!

Posted by
160 posts

Fransusand, from what I have read the 7 day Rome tour skips the Vatican but does go inside the Colosseum. The note on the Italy trips about the crowds is a bit scary. On my last visit I don’t remember needing a ticket to get into the Colosseum and there were just a couple other people milling around there and the Forum. We basically had the place to ourselves :)

Posted by
910 posts

I like wandering through the Ghetto area with its ancient ruins, poignant WWII reminders, interesting restaurants…..or a visit out to Aquaduct Park to explore the impressive ruins of Rome’s ancient water supply.

Posted by
795 posts

Yes, Rome is far more crowded than even 20 years ago, so planning your days & getting out early really help. If you add one museum, I would suggest Palazzo Massimo, across from Roma Termini with incredible mosaics, Greek & Roman statues & even ancient frescos. Here's our Dec 23 TR. Google lots of places to eat as many require reservations, no point in being out without sustenance. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/rome-was-jammed-over-ny-but-still-fun

Posted by
7453 posts

Hi Kathy, we toured the Vatican with the RS Best of Italy tour several years ago. The crowds there make it something I am not planning to see again, but I do enjoy stopping in each church I pass briefly as I am walking around in Rome. Many of them have gorgeous ceilings, etc.

I recently inquired about some good outdoor jet lag places to see as I arrive and want to walk around. This might be helpful for you, too.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/ideas-for-jet-lag-outdoor-walking-near-roma-termini

Posted by
679 posts

We took this tour last October. One afternoon in our free time, we visited the Baths of Caracalla. They were most impressive and a real plus was that it was not crowded! The mosaics that are still in place were amazing and abundant. They were one of the highlights of our time in Rome.

Posted by
14250 posts

I did Best of Italy in Oct 2022. I skipped the group visit to the Colosseum/Forum because I'd been several times before. I took myself off to the Capitoline Museum which is excellent.

Your group does the Borghese which is excellent.

I added in the Domus Aurea, Nero's golden Palace which was buried by subsequent Emperors and now sits completely underground. It is only open Fri/Sat/Sun as it's an archeological dig the rest of the week. This was just amazing to me....loved it although it's a pain to get booked in to the English tours.

In retrospect, I wish I had skipped the Vatican Museums. I'd been a couple of times before but it was just so crowded and not a pleasant experience as the guides have to herd you thru fairly quickly to stay on their time frame.

Depending on where you are staying, you may be near the church that contains the Bernini statue of the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa...it is amazing and was less than a 10 minute walk from our hotel. You may be in a different area, though.

Posted by
4473 posts

The only Gothic Church in Rome, Santa Maria sopra Minerva is near the Pantheon and has a statue by Michelangelo.

Posted by
7645 posts

Go to the Eating Europe Website. They do food tours in several major cities in Europe, including two in Rome. We really enjoyed the Testaccio tour, in the neighborhood at the south end of downtown Rome. It’s now considered the gourmet part of Rome, but has a down-to-earth market and several local places the tour visits. There’s also a fascinating manmade hill from 2,000 years ago, an exceedingly massive pile of broken jars that gives the neighborhood its name. The food tour covers all of it, plus a great lunch in a restaurant set into that hill. Historic, informative, and delicious.

Besides the Borghese Gallery are a couple other grand mansions with amazing art to see:

The Doria Pamphilj Gallery, downtown, around the corner from the building with the balcony from where Mussolini gave his speeches to his followers, has a fascinating interior, with an incredible collection of paintings and statues and by renowned artists. It’s been in one family for many, many generations, and the current prince and princess still live there. The prince even narrates the audio guide. Almost no one was there when we visited.

Across the Tiber River from downtown Rome, the Villa Farnesina has tremendous ceiling frescoes, art and artifacts, and also seems to be way off most tourists’ radar.

Posted by
594 posts

We toured the Doria Pamphilj on our own also on our 2022 South of Italy tour. Well worth the time!

Posted by
160 posts

I have made note of all the suggestions and I appreciate the links provided. I was a bit worried that a week in one place would be too long, but I think I will enjoy getting to know Rome better. Thank you!

Posted by
27417 posts

If you're interested in more modern architecture, I recommend the Coppede District not too far from the Borghese. It's Art Nouveau and a nice change from being cooped up indoors.

Posted by
14250 posts

"I have made note of all the suggestions and I appreciate the links provided. I was a bit worried that a week in one place would be too long, but I think I will enjoy getting to know Rome better."

Oh no....one week in a major city just barely gets you into the rhythm of the city! I've not done best of Rome but I did Best of Paris mostly because I didn't really like Paris and wanted to see what it was that attracted people to it. Wowser!! I can't get enough. Just having the guide give you tips, tricks and learn more about how a city works is wonderful! Have a great time and you'll have more than enough to do in your free time!

Posted by
795 posts

If you get tired of the hustle and bustle of Rome, just take a day trip to Ostia Antica for ruins, or Tivoli for amazing gardens & Hadrian's Villa, both easily reached by public transport.

Posted by
11368 posts

If Rome gets too hot then do as our guide did with us, go to the town where the Pope’s summer residence is located, Castel Gondolfo, to get a break from the heat. It was such a relief and we enjoyed seeing the town.

Posted by
486 posts

We have done the 7 day RS Rome trip in 2018 and then spent a week there last year while my daughter was a student at the Loyola Chicago campus in Rome and we still did not see everything on my must see list. Now have been to Rome 5 times. Still lots to see.

This last trip we did two Eating Europe tours. Love them. Two private tours and a small tour about the Jewish part of town. We are not Jewish but it was really interesting and informative
A museum I did finally see was the Centrale Montemartini. Highly recommend no crowds very cool. A former power plant featuring Roman & Greek statues. Very steam punk. It is part of the Capitoline museums.

Enjoy!

Posted by
135 posts

Hubby and I did this tour several years ago. I know it is a touristy area, but I absolutely loved the vibe at the Trevi Fountain! Everyone was so kind about moving so others could take pictures. Seeing the wonder on faces at the sheer joy the fountain evokes was kept drawing me back several times during our week at various times of the day. If your tour does not do a group food tour I would highly recommend one of those. We did a food tour in Trastevere as a RS group and it was a highlight of the week!