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Rome public transport

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Chat' started by IowaRyan, Sep 1, 2013.

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  1. IowaRyan

    IowaRyan Low-Roller

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    My wife and I are going to be in Rome early October for 4 days. She has been researching like crazy and advised me yesterday that she envisions us using public transportation there quite a bit, more so than Florence or Venice. Just curious if anyone has had any experiences in using public transport in Rome, or Florence or Venice for that matter. I’m not adverse to the notion per se, went all over Paris and London using public transport with no issues, just curious if anyone has any experiences they can share. Any other thoughts, recommendations happily received. Ciao.:peace:
     
  2. Guy

    Guy Low-Roller

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    I went on a school trip to Rome in 1988 and used the buses.

    It was a right laugh, there were about 20 seats and 100 people standing. Our Continental Cousins didn't like to queue either so when the bus turned up in was a bundle to get on.

    I'm sure it has not got more civilised since.
     
  3. mutigers

    mutigers Tourist

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    I will be making the same trip in March. Rome - Florence - Venice. Would love to hear how your trip goes.
     
  4. nuggetboy

    nuggetboy Low-Roller

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    My wife and i used public transport for a two week stay in Rome a few years ago. it was easy, cheap and on time.
    Here is my trip report in sections.


    Wednesday 5/15

    Our plane arrived in Rome a few minutes early (8:45 AM). We collected our luggage and headed toward immigration. We knew this was going to be an unusual place when we went through immigration. All over the airport were signs stating that smoking was prohibited. When we approached the immigration lines we noticed one line in particular seemed to move faster than any other line. We jumped in and zoomed to the front. We walked up to the glass booth and put our passports in the drawer. The man behind the window had a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He did not even look up at us, opened our books, stamped them and slide them back to us.

    Off we went to find our shuttle ride. We located the Hotel Reservations desk by 9:25. The girl at the counter said we were registered for the 10:00 shuttle and that we should come back at 10:00. We returned to the desk at 9:55 and stood around waiting until 10:28 when the girl finally called us together and we headed outside to the van. We were with four other couples and were dropped off third. The ride was interesting as it took us by several landmarks including the Colosseum. We arrived at our hotel around 11:20. We checked into the Domus Julia, Suite, 3rd floor, room #30. The hotel is on Via Rasella, a side street near Piazza Barberini. The room was very large and very clean. We threw our luggage in the room and took off. We walked down to the Terminus and picked up the 110 Bus Tour. I thought it would be a good way of getting an orientation to the city without walking around too much. We got on the bus with around 6 other people and took off. I can't tell you too much about the ride, both Mary and I fell asleep somewhere along the way. I seem to remember a few places early and then the end of the tour, the middle is just a blank. Oh well.

    We got off at the Terminus without getting off the tour bus at all. We decided to get a light, early dinner at the Terminus. It turned out to be an interesting meal. We found a Spizzaco and a McDonalds across form each other. My wife went for pizza and I headed for Micky Ds'. We sat down in the "mall like" eating area together and began to eat. Sitting next to us were two girls and a guy, ages 16-18, who were finishing some McDonald's food (they were well dressed).. Suddenly one of the girls looked at my wife, Mary, and began speaking to her in Italian. Mary turned to me and asked me what she was saying (like I would know). I told her just to ignore the girl. The girl got more aggressive and began waving at a fruit cup that Mary had gotten with her meal. She wanted Mary's fruit cup. Mary said no to her in a firm voice and ignored future pleas from the girl. The girl then turned to two young boys sitting behind her and apparently demanded some of their french fires. They refused. The other two kids with the girl with all smiling and smirking over the situation. The three got up and left. As they left, two of them went over to an Asian couple and apparently asked for some of their food. The couple did not understand the request and looked at them bewildered. The two kids then reached over and grabbed their drink cups out of their hands. They said something and walked off with the drinks. The couple sat there flabbergasted. It was an interesting show.

    We left the terminal and wandered around the area as we headed back to our hotel. We stopped in a couple of churches on the way, most notably St. Marie d Vittoria. It was beautiful.

    We returned to our room, washed up a bit and went for another walk. We headed West down to Trevi Fountain (5-7 minutes) and then The Pantheon. Trevi was a great place. The fountain was hidden in a small piazza surrounded by high buildings. You had no idea you were coming up on it until you were in the piazza. It was beautiful. The steps surrounding the fountain were filled with people taking the site in, joking and laughing. The place just seemed to give off "good vibs". We sat for a while and moved on, fearing we would drop if we stayed too long. We headed further south through a maze of streets toward the Pantheon. We turned the corner of one and there it stood, seemingly ageless. It sat on one end of a large piazza with a great fountain in the middle. Each of the other three sides were filled with outdoor restaurants, shops and hotels. It was a busy place but not out of control. There were also a number of street performers working the crowd.

    After gazing at the Pantheon for several minutes we headed back to Trevi to try our first gelato. Several guide books stated that San Crispen had the best gelato in Rome and it was the first one we hit. The gelato was excellent. Satiated with gelato and exhausted we headed home for a well deserved sleep.

    Thursday 5/16

    We got out early and headed out to the Colosseum. We hopped on the subway at Bernini and transferred to the B line at the Terminus and took the line to the Colosseum. We exited at the Colosseum stop and scurried up the stairs. We left the station and bam, right in front of us was the Colosseum in all its' glory. What a sight. We had gotten there by 8:50 and had no wait at all in getting in. The whole area was kind of empty so we just kind of hung around outside the place for a few minutes just soaking it all in. Looking over at the Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill and the Colosseum itself. It was truly awe inspiring. We took a tip from the Fodor Travel forum and got a multi pass at the Colosseum. It allowed us entry into a number of places for 6 days. We wouldn't have to wait in line for anything. We then entered the building. Getting there when it first opens is great, for the first hour it seemed like we almost had the place to ourselves. After 10:00 it started getting rather crowded. By the time we left at 11:00 it was packed and not nearly as enjoyable. We ran around all over the place and snapped 3 rolls of pictures.

    We then crossed the street and headed up to the Domus Aurea (Nero's Golden House). You need to have a reservation to get in and I wasn't able to get through on the phone that morning but I thought I'd take a chance. We got there at 11:30 and got a 12:00 reservation! Yea! This tour was truly a highlight of the trip. Though we only got to tour a small portion of the palace it was truly awesome. Because it had been filled in with dirt by later Emperors, it was far better preserved than almost any other ancient rooms. For this tour you really need to buy the electronic guide in order to know what is going on. Our tour guide did not even give out any information in Italian. She would just say, "you are now in room 6", "you are now in room 7", etc. It made no difference, this was a place that allowed your imagination to take over.

    We exited the Domus and went up to the park area at the top of the hill. We were still more than a little jet lagged so I suggested a nice, long sit-down lunch at a sidewalk café. We found a nice café on the hill above the Coliseum. We sat around the side and away from the front of the restaurant in order to enjoy the peace and quiet. We ordered our food and sat back trying to relax. Just as our food arrived a family of 23 Americans descended on the café and took all the tables around us. The family consisted of 7 adults and 16 children. There was a considerable uproar going on about what the kids wanted and several went to a nearby snack shop. Things began to settle down and we started eating our food. Suddenly we heard one of the adults sitting at the table in front of us exclaim "what's wrong with Martha" while looking past us to the table behind us (with most of the kids). Suddenly we heard Martha vomiting all over the sidewalk behind us. So much for the quiet relaxing lunch. The family was very nice and apologized. They even offered us some wine. The adults all looked kind of beat. We wished them luck and headed out to the Roman Forum.

    We went down the hill and decided to walk down the Via Fori Imperiali toward the Forum. It was hot and getting hotter. We could see the Forum from the street but couldn't figure out how to get in (we didn't know about the Via Sacre entrance from the Colosseum). We walked all the way to the end at Capitol Hill. There we took a side street and found one of several entrances. Before going in we decided to rest a bit and get out of the sun. Our little heads were beginning to show a bit of burn on them. We sat a bit and then headed into Mamertine Prison. An ancient Roman prison that legend says St. Peter was held in. We went down into the basement cell that proportedly held Peter. It was cold and dank with a small spring coming out of the floor.

    We then headed into the Roman Forum through The Arch of Severus and descended into history. The ruins are impressive but they are definitely ruins. You need a lot of imagination to put together how these buildings looked in their hay day. Fortunately, I have a good deal of imagination and wandered the area for over an hour with visions of toga clad men and women running through the streets. We eventually made it to the other end, marked by the Arch of Titus. The Arch of Titus is one of the items I really wanted to see. The Arch celebrated Titus' victory over the Hebrews and his ransacking of Jerusalem. One of the reliefs depicts the Romans carrying off the great seven stick candelabra from the Temple. It is one of the turning points in Western civilization.

    We then crossed the street to the Imperial Forums of Augustus and Trajan. These could only be viewed from the street and were not as well laid out as the Roman Forum. The end of the this stretch of ruins is marked by Trajan's column and Piazza Venezia with it's huge monument to Victor Emmanuel (the King that United Italy). We found a small green space opposite the monument and sat down taking in the beauty of the monument and the insanity of the traffic. As we later found out, Venezia is the center of the road system in Rome. Several main streets fork off of Venezia and so it's always very busy.

    We then began to explore the area as we headed back to the hotel We stopped in to Gesu Church. The church is absolutely beautiful. We were taken back however by something that we were not really prepared for in our religious upbringing. Up near the alter was a large gold box displaying a blacken dried up arm. The sign in front (in Italian so I'm not positive) of the display identified the arm as that of St. Andre, a martyr. The church also contained someone's hand. We later discovered that almost every church in the city had some body part in it as a relic (including St. Peters' head). We then wandered the streets back to our hotel.

    After dumping everything off at our room we headed down to Trevi fountain to have a gelato dinner. Neither of us were all that hungry with the memory of Martha still in our heads). We sat at the fountain until dark watching all the people and enjoying the beauty of the water.
     
  5. nuggetboy

    nuggetboy Low-Roller

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    Friday 5/17

    After being burned to a crisp the previous day we decided on an indoor day and headed out to the Vatican Museums first thing in the morning. We got there around 9:15 and had a 30 minute wait in line to get in. The place was packed but because its' so huge it didn't seem that crowded. The artwork on display was fantastic. The highlight of course was the Sistine Chapel, though the work of Raphael almost brings me to tears. Even without all the artwork, the tour of the building would have been worth the price of admission. We spent 4 ½ hours viewing everything and could have spent several more hours if we hadn't been so tired. We had a late lunch at the cafeteria, which was actually pretty good.

    We then exited the museum and walked over to St. Peter's Basilica. The distance between the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's is a good bit and has little shade. It probably just seemed longer because we were so tired. We came along the side wall and entered St. Peter's Square. The long columns and fountains were a great preview for the Basilica. The square was filled with people and they were setting up for some outdoor event. Much of the square was sectioned off. We took a few pictures and headed toward the Basilica. We had to wait in line for 20 minutes or so in order for our bags to be searched. The intrusion was minimal but it was really sad. We quickly ran up the steps and looked back at the square. The view of the Colonnades is great. We turned around and ended the Basilica. St. Peter's is vast and beautiful. The art work inside is breathtaking and the architecture of the building enhances every item. When you first enter you feel dwarfed by the vastness of the building. The holy water recepticals are as large as small bathtubs. The huge vaulted ceilings seem to rise forever. As you walk down the nave, the huge canopied high alter seems to be half a mile away (it might be). The bronze canopy (some of which came off the Pantheon) covers the high alter (which is actually an alter from a Roman temple) and sits above the grave site of St. Peter. Above the canopy is the immense dome of St. Peter's. The dome is supported by four huge columns. Each of the four columns contains one of the four relics of the Basilica (St. Andrew's head, part of the spear that pierced Jesus, part of the cross and the veil that was used to wipe Jesus' face). Behind the high alter at the far end of the apse is the chair of St. Peter mounted on the wall. The chair is believed to be have been used by St. Peter himself. We toured for a couple of hours taking in all the side chapels and statuary. We left by going down into the basement area and visiting St. Peter's grave site. The basement was also full of several tombs of Popes. We exited the basement and found ourselves outside the Basilica. Directly across the exit was the entrance to the Dome. Since I have a major case of vertigo there was no way I was going to try the Dome. Mary however was eager for the task and took off. I decided to spend some time shopping and wandering around the Basilica some more. We met on the front steps an hour later. It was a good thing I didn't try to go up with her. The dome area was very crowded and had only a small rail to safe guard anyone from going over. I'm getting dizzy just thinking about it. We picked a few things up at the souvenir shop and headed back.

    For dinner we got a bite to eat at a great little pizza place just outside the subway stop. You order your pizza by weight, they cut off a large section with a pair of scissors and heat it up for you. It was excellent. It was getting late so we again dropped our stuff off at the hotel and headed back down to Trevi Fountain. We got our gelatos and sat down to enjoy the fountain and the crowd. In a few minutes two young girls came up to us exclaiming "you look safe". They were two recent high school graduates from Detroit who were touring several countries in Europe for three weeks. They explained that we looked like we would not charge them for taking their picture. It seems that while at the Colosseum this morning, a man dressed in a gladiator outfit told them to pose with him for a picture. They did and he then demanded 10 euros from each of them. They had no idea that these guys expected to be paid. They plead him down to 5 euros and where a bit more careful about who they asked to take their picture. They were having a blast. We talked for a while, took their picture, gave them some advice on hotels in Paris and wished them well.

    Saturday 5/18

    We were now ready for another "outside" day and headed back down to the Colosseum. We went back inside for a quick look (a free benefit of the 6 day pass) and then headed out to our intended target, Palatine Hill. We exited the Colosseum passed the Arch of Constantine and headed down Via Sacre toward the Forum and Palatine Hill. However when we got up to the entrance the gate was locked with a small sign that said "Closed for Union Meeting 9-11". It was 10:00 and there was obviously no Union meeting going on because the employees were sitting around inside the gate (not together). This was obviously just one of the Union strikes being called to demonstrate their lack of support for current government policies. I had read about several such strikes involving air traffic controllers and train operator before we had left the US. I had managed to work our travel schedule around all of them, however this one I missed. I was a bit ticked off and went up a public side street from Via Sacre that headed up the Palatine. I figured I'd just go up it and see whatever I could see. Not much. The street had high walls on either side and you couldn't see any of the ruins. It dead-ended at a Church that had a small crowd in front of it. I thought they may have just come out of service and were waiting for rides. Mary and I sat down on a stoop to rest and wait. Suddenly more people showed up and then a bride. It was a wedding. Well at least it was entertainment. We sat and watched the wedding proceedings for around a half hour and then headed back down the Hill to the entrance gate. By now the gate was open and people were streaming in. We didn't have to wait in line for tickets (our passes were good for here) and headed into the archeological area quickly. There are very few ruins along the entrance route but dozens of building complexes on the top of the hill. The Palatine Hill was where the Emperor's had built their palaces. In fact that is where the term palace comes from "house on palatine". There were several large structures on the hill and a huge private stadium for the Emperor (called the Hippodrome). We toured the ruins and a small museum on the hill and headed off to the corner of the hill that overlooked the Roman Forum. The views of the Forum from Palatine hill are supposed to be fantastic. We were very disappointed however. All of the viewing areas on hill that overlooked the forum were closed off. Most had obviously been closed off for quite some time (overgrown grass and flowers). We wandered down the side back toward the entrance. There were a couple of platforms for viewing some of the Forum but none really had a overall view. We headed all the way down and reentered the Forum. We retook some pictures (the weather was better today) and wandered around a bit (it was still really hot there). By now we were beginning to wear down again. We exited out one of the side exits of the forum (behind the Temple di Antonino e Faaustina, directly on to Via Imperiali). Almost directly across the street was a large outdoor restaurant. The outside eating area was surrounded by shrubs and covered by an awning of ivy. It looked like a great place to have a long lunch (we'll try again). We sat down and order the roast pork dinner with homemade vegetable soup and lasagna, it was great. Martha was no where in sight and we enjoyed a 2 hour lunch. I did make one mistake though. I ordered a beer and the waiter asked large or small. I ordered the large figuring it would be around 16 ounces. He brought a huge liter sized mug of beer. It was delicious but I was a little light headed when I left the table. I almost had my picture taken with a gladiator. We crossed back over the street and headed up the Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio). We wandered around a bit enjoying the view of the Forum from the top of the hill and admiring the replica of the bronze statute of Marcus Aerlieus in the square. The square was a beautiful site with the long graceful white stairs leading to the top. We then entered the Capitol museums. I'm sorry to say they were a major disappointment. The museum was not very well organized and it had no explanation or identification on much of anything. My wife and I agreed it was the most disappointing site we visited on the entire trip.

    We spent a little more time wandering around the forum and headed back to the hotel. We dumped our stuff off and headed out to . . . Trevi Fountain for our usual evening of gelato and people watching.
     
  6. nuggetboy

    nuggetboy Low-Roller

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    Sunday 5/19

    We got up early and were greeted with dark overcast clouds. We surveyed the skys and decided to take a chance. We headed out to the National Roman Museum near the Terminal. It was fairly interesting with several displays on the cultural development of the various people in Latium, however the Baths of Diocletian area was closed off and looked like it had been closed for a long time. We were a bit disappointed but headed out to the Circus Maximus intending to view the area and jump over to the Baths of Caracalla nearby. We ran into a problem on the subway however. When we got to the Circus Maximus stop we stood at the door and waited for it to open. It didn't. All the other doors opened but not the one we were in front of.. We quickly learned that you have to push a button near the door in order to get it to open and that you have to push it before the train stops. We continued to the next stop, got out and crossed over to the other track. We stood on the platform waiting for the next train with around 100 Italian Boy Scouts (or similar group). It would be an understatement to say they were charged up about going somewhere. They had found a plastic drink bottle and were having an impromptu soccer game with the bottle up and down the platform. It was interesting and very loud. Eventually our train came and we retraced our journey to Circus Maximus. The delay actually was a blessing. Just as we emerged from the subway station it began to rain very heavily. If we had gotten there ten minutes earlier we would have been stuck out in the middle of the downpour. We stood in the underpass for around 15 minutes until it passed and then headed up the street to the Circus Maximus overlook.

    We looked down on the huge oval below us. What was once a huge stadium for chariot racing that could hold as many as 300,000 people was now little more than a huge indentation in the ground with no "hard" ruins to identify the structure. It was now an area for joggers and dog lovers. While little was left of the Circus Maximus, the ruins on Palatine Hill that we had visited the previous day were even more impressive from this viewpoint. On the opposite side of the overlook rose several huge vaulted structures and the ruins of several impressive buildings. We stood there for awhile as the rain started to come down again. The sky did not look like it was going to lighten up so we changed battle planes. We headed indoors.

    We ran back down to the subway and returned to the central Terminal area. We then began searching for a bus that we take us to the Borgehese Villa and Gallery (up until this time we had used mostly metro connections). We found the 109 bus and headed out. This Gallery requires a reservation but I was hoping our luck would hold out. We got there at 1:30 and I immediately got in a rather long ticket line. After 30 minutes I got to the front and asked if they had any openings that day. The young lady said the earliest one was at 5:00. I thanked her and scooped up the tickets. This place has some of the most beautiful artwork in the world and in order to insure that everyone gets to enjoy the sights they limit entry into the place to groups of 280 people every 2 hours. Our tickets meant that we would be allowed in the museum from 5-7 PM. We then wandered over to the snack bar and got a couple of sandwiches for lunch. Mary had a ham and cheese and I took a chance and had the interesting thing in the corner. It was cheese and spinach sandwich. Not too bad but not one I'll order again.

    After finishing our meal we still had 3 hours to kill so we put on our stupid poncho rain gear and went walking through the Villa area. The Borghese Villa is a huge park area just north of central Rome. It is a wonderful green space that I'm sure would have been even more beautiful if it had not been pouring. But we were not wandering aimlessly. Our goal was the Etruscan Museum at the opposite end of the park area. We got there in about 20 minutes and wandered in. The museum is housed in a country palace built by one of the Popes. The building itself was gorgeous with a wonderful array of gardens but the huge assortment of Etruscan artifacts was amazing (at least to history geeks like me). We wandered around the place for a couple of hours while the rain let up. We then headed back to the Borghese Gallery for our appointed tour. We arrived just before 5 and got in line to enter the museum. Several guide books had told me that the best thing to do is to head to the second floor while everyone else tours the first floor and then go down to the first floor and tour it in peace and quiet. No such luck. They now require you to go to the second floor first. Only after touring the second floor do you head downstairs. It really didn't matter all that much. Because of the limited number of people the place never seemed overcrowded and you never felt rushed in viewing any of the beautiful works of art. The second floor is filled largely with masterpiece paintings. It is a very impressive collection. After an hour we headed down to the first floor for the grand show, the statuary. The statuary at the Borghese is almost worth the trip to Rome all be itself. My favorite was Apollo and Daphne. We spent an hour wandering around enjoying the artwork but could have stayed several more. I do understand why they have a time limit.

    We left the museum after 7:00 and headed back to the main street. The bus stop were we had gotten off was almost opposite the gate. The guidebooks said that the bus stops going the opposite direction are just on the other side of the street. Following that advice we started walking down the street in the direction we wanted to go looking for a bus stop. We kept going expecting to find a stop any minute. Some 30 minutes later we had walked all the way to the Spanish Steps (where we wanted to go anyway). We found out later that the buses going south were on another street.

    We arrived at the top of the Spanish Steps and looked down. I had purchased a beautiful poster at the Borghese of Daphne. I put it down on the steps in order to take a picture. I ended up forgetting about it and left it there, much to my chagrin. The area at the bottom was packed with people. Slowly we made our way down the steps to the fountain at the bottom. The crowd of people got larger as we went down. At the bottom the crowds just seemed very busy. People moving all over the place. It seemed that people where coming and going into the square from each of the four directions. There were very few people sitting and enjoying the place, just a lot of people in a hurry to go somewhere. There were no good vibs here. Neither of us cared for the place so we took a few pics and headed out for guess where . . . Trevi. We had two helpings of gelato and returned to our room exhausted.

    Monday 5/20

    We got up early and headed out to Circus Maximus in order to catch the bus out to the Baths of Carraculla. This was the trip we had tried the previous day but got rained out. We took the subway to Circus Maximus and walked to the Baths. It is a fairly short walk along a well treed street. There is a modern athletic complex just before the Baths and the contrast is interesting. The ruins of the Baths are very imposing. A large number of the huge exterior walls are still standing and it gives you a good indication of the vastness of the complex in it's hey day. We had the place pretty much to ourselves for the first hour as we wandered from room to room. The use of many of the rooms was easy to deduce, while a few were a bit confusing. The tile floors that were left were amazing. Many depicted athletes in various poses. There were also a number of frescos that could be seen on the walls and arches. It was very interesting. We spent several hours touring the site.

    After our tour of the Baths we decided to head out to the Catacombs on the Appian Way. According to our map we were only a couple of miles from the Appian way but I had read several postings on the Fodor board and in several guidebooks that strongly suggested NOT walking. After we got there I understood why. There is no sidewalk on any parts of the Appian. In fact in several places it seems its' not even wide enough for car traffic. The narrow road has 8-10 foot high walls on either side so there's absolutely nowhere to go. It would be really scary to try walking the road (as we later found out). In any case we found the correct bus stop near the Baths and headed out to the furthest Catacomb that we planned on visiting (San Sebastian). We got there around 11:30. We entered the Church of San Sebastian and followed the signs to the holding area for a tour. After a brief introduction we descended into the catacombs and wandered around for around 45 minutes. The catacombs are ancient burial grounds dug underground because of a lack of room. The burial catacombs were used by both Romans and early Christians. The tunnels are cut into a soft volcanic rock that becomes very hard when it is exposed to the air. The burial chambers are cut into the side of the tunnels and are scattered over 5 levels. Besides the large number of "regular" side slot graves there were several chambers or chapels set up in different areas, usually around the burial site of a religious leader or saint. The tour ended directly under the floor of the Church at the burial site of San Sebastian. We exited the catacombs through the Church. The church itself is also very beautiful.

    The plan was that we would have a quick tour and eat a relaxing lunch at a recommended restaurant nearby. That plan didn't work to well. The two restaurants that were near the catacombs were closed (Monday is a holiday in Italy). We decided to head back on the Appian to the San Calisto Catacomb. Because of a confusing series of turns and one way stretches we couldn't figure out where the bus stop was that would take us in the desired direction, so we decided to walk back to the San Calisto Catacombs as it started to rain. That's where we found out why so many books suggested not walking on the Appian. The cars were flying by as we hugged the wall in trying to avoid getting run over. There were even several stretches that we ran because there was so little room. It is not easy to run on cobblestones. We eventually got to San Calisto around 1:00. We entered the gate and began to walk up the hill. Unlike San Sebastion, this catacomb was very well developed for tourists. There were several large buildings centered around a huge park area (which we later found out comprised the catacombs) with a large parking area for cars and buses. We walked up to the ticket booth and we were greeted by a sign that informed us that the Catacomb was closed until 2:30 for lunch. There weren't any restaurants on the site and we knew there weren't any where we just came from so we exited out the other side of the park area. There was a large area for buses to stop off and a little lunch place. We checked it out and didn't think it looked to good. We had an hour and half to kill so we decided to take the bus to the great restaurant by St. John's that we had been at a few days earlier. We jumped on the bus and in 20 minutes were in St. John's square headed to our restaurant. We both got the ravioli with a little salad. It was excellent and very filling. Full we headed back to San Celisto. Now that we understood the road system a little better we got off the bus and headed up to the Catacomb. We purchased our tickets and stepped aside. They were calling groups of tours by language. This was obviously a very well organized site. They had large groups going down together in a number different passages. Even though we were one of 5 or 6 other large groups we never ran into each other. The place is huge underneath, several stories deep. Anyway they eventually called the English group and we jumped up. Much to our surprise our tour was conducted by an Irish monk we sounded like he had just gotten off the boat. It was a real hoot touring Roman ruins with an guide giving information in the thickest brog you've heard since South Boston. The catacombs were ver similar to the previous ones. My advise would be to just do one unless you're really into that sort of thing.

    We got out after a few hours and headed back to town for dinner and then to the Trevi for people watching and gelato.
     
  7. nuggetboy

    nuggetboy Low-Roller

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    Tuesday 5/21

    This was going to be our big out of town day. We decided to spend the entire day at Ostia Antica, an old abandoned Roman City at the mouth of the Tiber river (in ancient times anyway). We hopped on the subway near us (Triton) and headed out to a rail connection toward the south. We arrived a few minutes before the train was scheduled to leave. The train ride was included in our metro pass and really was more of a streetcar than a train. Anyway we jumped on board and headed out. During our 40 minute ride out we got some great entertainment. We were standing near the back of the car with four 13-14 year old Italian boys. Standing beside us were two very attractive 20 year old Italian girls. It was funny watching the boys try to look at the girls and "not get caught". The girls knew exactly what was going on and played up to them a bit. It made the train ride go by very quickly.

    We arrived at the train station at Ostia at 9:30 and had to cross over the road to get to the ruins, everything was very well marked. You walk down a short road to a ticket booth and suddenly you see lines of burial crypts. They line either side of the roadway that heads into the city. The burial site was interesting but I remember from a guidebook that we shouldn't spend too much time there because there was so much to see in the city. We moved past the burial crypts and went through the old city gate. Immediately on the right you saw row upon row of storage rooms, just like along the old wharf in Boston. These were the old storage rooms from the trade areas. They had originally all been connected by a great vaulted patio that had covered the sidewalk along the entry road. We moved along and came upon the first great public bath house. Ostia Antica is famous for it's mosaic tile floor work and the first bathhouse was a great example of it. You climbed a small stairway to the second floor of an old building and looked down into the bathhouse, there on the floor is a great picture of the God Neptune riding in a chariot pulled by great white horses. It was beautiful. We stared for awhile and began to get a bit antsy.

    We were a bit tired and decided that since we were spending the entire day here we could relax a little with a cup of coffee before we really went too far afield. We headed toward the coffee shop for a hot cup and some organizational time. The coffee shop is very nice with several outdoor tables. The only problem we noted was the Bee Gees music being played over the sound system. It made me feel a bit woozy. Mary grabbed a table while I went and tried to get coffee. The closest thing they had was a latte. I got two and came back. They were Ok but not really our cup of tea. Anyway I spread out the map of the place and began to get our bearings. The site is huge, covering several acres. The city used to be the major port of trade for the city of Rome. Material would be brought into Ostia from around the world and then forwarded on to Rome or traded on the spot. Finished goods would be brought down the river Tiber from Rome as trade items. The city itself is very well preserved because it was abandoned. The Tiber river changed its' course and thus made the port city useless, thus leaving it to the wilderness. There are a large number of well preserved ruins through out the site and we spent the next seven hours going through them all. The place really gives you a feel for an old Roman town. You walked down the same streets they used to and can see exactly how the lived and worked. We spent a lot of time at the theater area which also contained the marketplace. The marketplace is also famous for its' mosaics. Each stall in the marketplace could be identified by the mosaics in front of it. If it was a fish seller there were mosaics of fish on the floor, a shipper would have boats on the floor, etc. It was very interesting. After a while we noticed the place was filling up with Italian school kids out for the day with school groups. The place was so big we really didn't notice them once we left the central area. We wandered around for several hours looking at the temples, baths and public bathrooms of the ancient romans. In mid day we decided to have a late lunch, early supper and headed back to the snack bar. We both got a generous serving of Lasagna with a salad. It was pretty good, however the Bee Gees were stilling coming out of the sound system. Not the best meal companion. After our meal we then headed directly to the furthest end of the town and walked back. The last building in the city was another public bath. This one was fairly isolated on the outskirts of town. It was interesting because of its mosaics and it even had a hot tub in it. We crawled around the place and slowly wandered back to the main entrance.

    As dusk began to arrive we discovered that we had spent over 7 hours running around the place. We slowly made our way back to the train and to the city. Of course, after dropping our stuff off we again headed for Trevi.

    Wednesday 5/22

    Today was moving day, the day we changed hotels.

    I knew we couldn't arrive too early at our new hotel so I planned on visiting the Via Veneto and the church of Santa Maria della Concezione. The church sits up just off Piazza Baberini and is very nice by itself. We were given a tour of the church and all the backrooms by one of the guides standing near the front door. However, the church is best know for its' crypt. The church is run by an order of Capuchin friars who after they die have their bodies dried out and their bones then arranged in a variety of designs within the crypt itself. Some of the monks are hung from the wall itself. They had used the various bones to make chandeliers, chairs, tables, etc. It was strange to say the least. We didn't stay too long and headed back to our hotel to get packed and out.

    Our stay at the Domus Julius had been pretty good but the last few days some problems had developed regarding the shower and a lack of both water and hot water. Several attempts were made to remedy the problems but they were never solved. We were ready to move.

    We got a cab to take us the few blocks to our new hotel near the Pantheon. It was the Hotel Nationale. The hotel is next to the Parliament building and is in the middle of an pedestrian only square. It was a very nice place, well worth the extra money.

    The ride over was short and easy. It gave us no inkling of what was to become our taxi ride to hell in a few days. We arrived at the hotel a few minutes before noon. Our room was not ready but we were free to leave our bags with the bellman and take off site seeing. Which we did.

    We hopped the bus over to St John's Lateran. We toured the church and then the baptistry that was built by Emperor Constantine. It seems that when the Emperor converts, everyone is supposed to convert.

    We then headed down the side street to our favorite restaurant again for another big plate of ravioli. While there we meet another couple who say they keep coming back to the same restaurant also. They think it's the best in town.

    We left the restaurant and began to wander the streets heading toward the Coliseum. The plan was to visit some of the churches along the way. Things don't always work out they way you plan however. We arrived at San Clemente only to find it closed for lunch until 2:30. We were very disappointed. I did not want to stand around for an hour waiting so we headed out of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. It was a long walk. We went through the church but it just was not as appealing as the other churches in the City. We left and headed for a bus stop to take us back to San Clemente. We stood waiting for the 204 bus for over 40 minutes. Finally we decided to walk. By now our feet were killing us. We made it back to San Clemente and found it open. More important to me, the crypt was open. In the crypt of the church are the remains of a a pagan shrine dedicated to Mithrias. I had that on my top ten list from the start. We went into the basement and the crypt. Like so many of the other churches it was very interesting. The church had been built on the foundations of a pagan temple and then rebuilt on it's own foundations. Thus the current church is actually two stories higher than street level in Roman days. We wandered around for a an hour or so and then headed down the street to the Coliseum and just stood in awe of the place. We took a few more pics (one for our Xmas picture) and headed back to our hotel. By the time we arrived back at the hotel we were totally exhausted. We had been on our feet all day had clocked in several hard miles. The bellman showed us to our room. It was a great corner room with windows on two of the walls. Great ventilation. The room was very nicely decorated with plenty of room. The bathroom was immense by European standards with marble decor. Best of all, the shower had full pressure and all the hot water we could want. YEAH! We rested a bit, went out to dinner and of course headed back to Trevi and gelato.
     
  8. nuggetboy

    nuggetboy Low-Roller

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    Thursday 5/23

    This morning we headed back across the Tiber to Vatican City. We wanted to tour the Castle San Angelo and then revisit St. Peter's Basilica. The Castle was originally the Mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian. Over the years it was converted into a defensive fortress and the some luxury apartments were added on the top by several different Popes. These conversions started in 590 when Rome was being decimated by the plague. Pope Gregory made a plea to God to stop the plague and then had a vision of the Angel St. Michael sheathing his sword on top of the mausoleum. The plague ended and the Pope had a chapel built on top of the Mausoleum. There now sits a huge statute of the Angel on top of the present structure. The original structure is a simple round block building. However several turrets and outer walls have been added. There is even a protected walkway from the Vatican Palace to the Castle so the Pope can move in when in danger. We toured the apartments and had a beautiful view of the city and St. Peter's Basilica from the top of the structure. After a couple of hours we headed back to St. Peter's.

    We walked the Via della Conciliazione with it's majestic columns to the Piazza and to St. Peter's. Security seemed a bit tighter this time and it took a lot longer to get in. We basically wanted to hit the gift shops and just take in the beauty of the structure without worrying about pictures or anything. We walked around for over two hours. The magnificence of the artwork contained in the Basilica cannot be expressed in words. We stood for several minutes in front of each of the huge murals and statutes along the side. It really was breathtaking.
    We ate a very late lunch at a great little pizza place near the train station and headed back to our side of the river. We decided to wander around the traditional sites and just enjoy being in the city. We got off at the Spanish Steps to see if it appealed any better to us. It didn't. We headed out after browsing at a few stores and headed to Trevi. We poked around a few of the souvenir shops in the area and headed to the Pantheon. We arrived in mid afternoon and toured the inside.We headed over to the Piazza Navone and sat down at one of the café to enjoy the street performers and the crowd. This is definitely a great place for people watching. Even the locals get in on it. One of the locals brought a folding chair and a bottle of wine with him each day. He would sit by the main fountain with his wine tied to his chair via a string. He was always drunk when we saw him.. I think his sole purpose was to ruin any tourist picture. One thing we did notice was the large number of people running around with huge cones of Gelato. We followed the crowd down the side street by Saint Agnese church. There we found the best gelato place in Rome.. It was short distance down the street called Quinto's. They gave huge servings of delicious gelato. This place needs to be put on maps! We got a couple of cups and returned to the Piazza to do some more people watching and enjoy the artists.

    That night we had my favorite meal of the trip. We sat down in the front row of outside seats at McDonald's in Piazza Rotundo, directly across from the Pantheon. The food was crap but the view was spectacular. As we sat there, the Piazza and the surrounding streets became dark as the sun set. Soon everything was enveloped in the darkness, except for the dome of the Pantheon from which the golden glow of the sun reflected off of in an indescribable brilliance that was absolutely awe inspiring.

    After enjoying the warm glow of the Pantheon, we of course headed back to Trevi fountain for another gelato. There are at least 6 gelato places within 50 feet of the fountain, we tried each one during our trip. Often two a day. We would get our cups and sit at the Fountain, watching the beautiful water and the happy people. It was great.

    Friday 5/24

    Today was a major rain day, so we decided to keep it inside. We headed back near the site of our first hotel, Piazza Barberini, to visit Barberini Palace and museum. The museum is an a huge palace built by a famous Cardinal in the 17th century. The upper floors where all restored to their original decor. We took a guided tour through the premises. It was interesting but not as impressive as so many of the other places we visited.

    We left the palace and headed back to the Borghese Gallery. I was hoping to replace the poster/picture of Apollo and Daphne I had lost at the Spanish Steps. Sure enough, they were out of the poster I wanted..

    We spent some time looking through the gift shop for anything else but nothing else could compare to the picture. Oh well. I'll try to order it over the internet when I get home.

    We headed out and caught a bus to the far north end of Rome (Piazza Del Popolo). It was real easy now that we knew the buses going north were one street over. We got to the Piazza in short order. The rain was still coming down hard so we ducked into the church at the far end of the piazza, Santa Maria del Popolo. It was a rather austere church compared to most of the churches in town. However it was still grand by American standards. I had hoped to get some good pictures in the Piazza but the rain was too much. We stood under the protection of some overhangs overlooking the square for awhile. By now we were pretty wet. We decided the heck with the rain, put on our ponchos and headed down the street to Augustus' Mausoleum. It was a few hundred yards down one of the streets off the square. I was very disappointed in the fact that it was closed. We walked around the site and took a few pictures but really weren't able to see too much. It did give an idea however at what Hadrian Mausoleum looked like before they turned it into the Castle San Angelo.

    By now we were not happy, wet and tired. Good time for food. We headed back to Trevi and ate at a delightful little restaurant off a side street. By now the rain had let up.

    After the early dinner we headed out to Piazza Navonne. We toured St. Agnese in Agone. The church was very beautiful inside but rather small compared to the other churches we had been in. We then went over to one of the outside cafes and had some drinks while we people watched. This piazza is always filled with a multitude of "characters" and artists and provides a great site to just sit back and enjoy the city. After an hour or so of people watching we went down the side street from St. Agnese and headed toward our favorite Gelato place, De Quinto. We took our huge scoops back to the Piazza and wandered around, getting a closer look at the people and enjoying the beautiful fountains. Not a bad ending to a long wet day.
     
  9. nuggetboy

    nuggetboy Low-Roller

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    Saturday 5/25

    We hopped on a bus that took us directly to the base of the huge Capitoline Steps. We walked down the road a bit. A short distance from the steps was the Theater of Marcello. It was an ancient theater with huge arched columns. What remained of the building had been incorporated into a more modern building. It was impressive looking but you really had to use your imagination. Also in the area was supposed to be the Temple of Apollo. We looked around and couldn't find anything on the street side. Of course nothing was identified.

    We gave up and headed down the road. We passed a small middle ages church that had an ancient Roman wall incorporated into it and a few columns in front. The road then widened and intersected with another road. In the middle of the artery were two small temples in the middle of some green spaces. Both temples were surrounded by a large fence so you couldn't get in either. The temples were named the Temple of Vesta and the Temple of Fortuna Virile. Though they had those names the guide book said that the actual use of the temples was unknown. We moved on to our real destination, the Church of Saint Maria in Cosmedin. The church is best known for the infamous "Mouth of Truth" and its' huge square bell tower. The mouth of truth is located on the patio of the church. It is an old roman drain cover probably from the Roman Temple of Hercules. The cover has a huge face on it with an open mouth. Supposedly, if you tell a lie while your hand is in the mouth, it will be snapped off. We both posed for pics with our hands in the mouth and wandered to the back of the church. Across the street from the rear of the church is the Circus Maximus. You really get an appreciation for the size of the area when you are on ground level looking down the entire expanse. We returned to the church and took some more pics.

    We then started to head back up the street in order to cross the Tiber onto Isola Tiberina but we had to find a rest room for Mary. We wandered down a side street and found a bar that had a restroom and also the Temple of Apollo that we had been looking for earlier. It was undergoing major restoration work and was closed off to close examination. We then headed to the island and crossed over. We didn't stay on the island very long, we took a few pics of the various views and crossed at Ponte Cestio into Trastevere. Trastevere is supposed to be more of a residential area with more "real" people. We were kind of disappointed. The streets were filled with several groups of homeless young males washing themselves in public fountains and drinking wine at 11:00 AM. It was the only time on our trip that I felt unsafe on a few occasions. We kind of hurried through the district, seeing what we wanted and moving on.

    We wandered through the archaic streets to the church of St. Cecilia. A beautiful jewel hidden down some side streets. We visited the church and headed down the streets to the church of St. Maria in Trastevere. The church is filled with amazing mosaics.

    We then headed up a long steep staircase to get to the church of St. Peter in Mortorio. This church is built on the site where Peter was crucified. The church is on a high hill and has a great view of the city. You don't appreciate how high the hill is until you walk up all those steps. We got up to the church and promptly sat down to catch our breath. A wedding was taking place while we were there so we couldn't go in. We looked around the outside and appreciated the view of the city below. I then asked Mary to stand under an arch in the church side wall to pose for a picture. Just like in a three stooges episode, as soon as she took her place, a huge bird turd landed on her. It was funny as heck. She however failed to see the humor in the situation. I sure did. We cleaned up Mary and headed up the road in front of the church.

    We passed a beautiful fountain that a wedding party was posing in front of. We moved up to the top of the hill via a lush tree lined street that we discovered was part of a park complex. We arrived on the top to find a huge statute of Giuseppe Garibaldi on the top of the hill. There was a viewing platform area at the top with a great view of Rome. There was also a number of young people running around on top in work out spandex. They were on top of a platform trying to get people to participate in aerobic exercise with very little success. They were also handing out free bottles of water and energy bars. Those we participated in. We sat on a park bench on top of the hill just appreciating the city, eating a light late lunch of energy bars and apples..

    We then decided to head down to the Villa Farnesse, which was located at the bottom of the hill by the Tiber river. We tried to walk through the park but it was closed off. We wove our way through a number of steep side streets to the Villa only to find it closed for the day (it closed at 12:30). We were disappointed but headed across the river to Campo Dei Fiori. We just wandered around a bit and headed over to Torre Argentina. Again we just wandered the streets a bit and appreciated the parks. We eventually came to the Area Sacred Del Largo Argentina. It was a very interesting collection of Roman buildings in the middle of a modern square. We walked around getting a good view of everything but by now we were both really exhausted.

    We found a bus that took us to Piazza Navone. We sat down at one of the cafes, ordered some drinks and just sat watching the people. After relaxing for a while we headed back to our hotel to change and freshen up a bit.

    We had dinner near Trevi and went gift shopping after dinner. We went through all the shops along the way looking for something besides the typical tourist stuff. We weren't too successful but we had fun. We found our way back to Piazza Navone and had some great Gelato.

    Sunday 5/26

    This was our last full day in Rome. We decided to head off toward the city center and work our way through to the south at a leisurely rate.

    We left our hotel and walked to Piazza Venezia. We were surprised by the huge number of police in the square, many carrying automatic weapons. I'm not talking about a few officers, I'm talking about dozens of then.. There must have been 40 officers alone in the Piazza. We walked over to the Capitoline steps and walked up to the top. We stood on top taking last looks at the Statute of Marcus Aurelius and the high view of the Forum. We walked down into the Forum and wandered through it toward the Colosseum. As we exited the Forum and walked through the Arch of Titus we heard and saw a large gathering around the Colosseum. There were thousands of young kids (6-18) dressed in different bright colors. They were dancing around the building carrying balloons to some techno music that was really annoying. We got a last look at the Colosseum and headed to the subway station, getting off at Circus Maximus. We walked to the summit and then proceeded to go up Aventine Hill into Aventino. There was a park directly across from the Circus and they were having a flower show. We walked around for awhile and continued to the top of the hill. We arrived at wall lined street and followed it to the Orange Park. The Park has a nice view of the city. It was filled with many locals with their kids and dogs. Both were running around just having fun. We left the park and headed further down the street to the the Church of Santa Sabina. It was a very old church that, though staid, had an aura about it that was very soothing. We then headed back to the Orange Park for a light lunch of apples and energy bars. By this time we were both pretty pooped. The days of long walks had taken their toll. We decided to just go back to our favorite haunts and mostly just people watch. We took a bus back to the Piazza Navone and had some gelato. We wandered back to our hotel by way of the Pantheon and changed for dinner. We decided to have our last dinner at a restaurant we hit near Trevi Fountain. It was a nice place and we had a relaxing meal. We finished up and returned to the fountain for one last night. It was a nice relaxing way to end the trip.
     
  10. nuggetboy

    nuggetboy Low-Roller

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    Monday 5/27

    Because of the heightened security in Rome due to President Bushs' visit we decided to hire a private cab to take us to the airport. We made the arrangement through the front desk. The cost was double the shuttle we arrived in but it would let us sleep as late as possible and not wander around Rome picking up other passengers. We asked for a 7:00 AM pick up. We got our bags packed and in the lobby by 6:50. Check out was a breeze and Mary went down to the breakfast room to see if she could get some food while I dragged the bags outside the front door and waited for the cab. At exactly 7:00 AM a sleek looking unmarked Mercedes pulled up. The driver got out, doffed his cap at me and asked if I was waiting for an airport transport. I said yes and he began to load the bags into the car. I began to wonder if I should ask him to wait for Mary when she suddenly came bounding out the front door with several clear bags of biscuits and rolls. We climbed into the car and off we went. The ride to the airport was one of the most terrifying events of our lives. As we exited the city the driver ran stop lights and wove in and out of traffic continually. On several occasions be barely missed several pedestrians and other cars. But the real fun began once we got out of the city and onto the freeway. He traveled at speeds that would make Mario Andretti nervous. He averaged 160 KPH and hit 170 KPH several times (that's about 110 mph). Combining the high-speed with his tendency to tailgate and his continued conversations on his cell phone made us sure that we would never reach the airport alive. He received at least five calls on his phone while we were heading to the airport. Each time he spoke on the phone he made animated gestures with his hands that we thought would result in our deaths at any minute. It was one of the few times in my life I put on a seat belt in the back seat (though at that speed it wouldn't have done any good). He also had a tendency to tailgate. Well maybe not a tendency, more like an addiction.

    We finally stopped at what I assumed was the airport. Mary and I jumped out of the car and just looked at each other. We were both shaking. I handed the driver his fee and a generous tip, hoping to never see him again. We headed inside and headed for the Delta gate, after quickly checking in we headed into the terminal and the nearest coffee shop. I needed a coffee, even the mud in Italy would do right now. It took over 30 minutes for both of us to calm down begin to relax for our long flight. We wandered through the airport for awhile and headed for our gate. The flight home was once again long and uneventful. The stopover in New York was interesting. The new security gates where really backlogged and several people missed their connections. We were lucky and made it with 8 minutes to spare. We hopped on board and headed out to Atlanta. No problems.


    We loved the place and will return to explore and experience more.
     
  11. IowaRyan

    IowaRyan Low-Roller

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    Nuggetboy: thank you very much for all of the information. We only have 4 days so I'm afraid we won't see nearly as much.
     
  12. Terry Benedict

    Terry Benedict VIP Whale

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    I went in 2008. We stayed a few blocks south of the Campo de Fiori. We actually walked everywhere, did not use public transportation once. We walked to Piazza de Poppolo, on the northeast side of the city. We walked from the hotel to the Colosseum to the lighthouse just south of Vatican City on the same day. If you don't have health issues, I believe Rome is walkable. Just get Vegas-quality shoes.

    I think if you use the subway or busses you will miss the opportunities of spontaneous sightseeing. We happened to come across the Presidential Palace as a marching band was signalling the beginning to the changing of the guard. You may miss a thousand-year old tower, or a beautiful church. Or nuns talking to goth kids.

    If you just want to hit the highlights, public transportation may be the way to go. You could easily spend ten hours in the Vatican Museum. And the next day inside the Basilica.

    As with Las Vegas hotels, your transportation decisions in Rome are determined by what you want to get out of your trip.
     
  13. nuggetboy

    nuggetboy Low-Roller

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    Iowa.
    I understand your time limitations.
    The reason i posted the whole thing was to give you an idea of what is possible just using public transportation.
    Have a great time
     
  14. IowaRyan

    IowaRyan Low-Roller

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    Nugget and Terry: Thanks to you both for all the tips. a questions for each of you: what you you say are your "Top Ten" sites to see?
     
  15. nuggetboy

    nuggetboy Low-Roller

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    That is tough as everyone has different tastes, but here's my shot:

    Vatican Museum
    San Angelo
    St. Peter's
    Colosseum
    Palatine Hill
    Roman Forum
    Nero's Golden House
    Ostia Antica
    Trevi Fountain
    Piazza Navone
     
  16. UTE

    UTE Plastics

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    Definitely use public transportation. Taxis are expensive there and service can be spotty. Renting a car is great for the rural areas but the lack of parking in the city is a major problem.

    Bill
     
  17. makikiboy

    makikiboy VIP Whale

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    I visited Rome this past June on a trafalgar tour (also visited London, Paris, amsterdam, venice, florence, nice, lucerne, the rhine valley, etc.). We had 2 days to explore Rome, luckily our tour driver drove us around the city to get our bearings and pass by the sights. I took the group tours to the vatican and the colosseum which was good because we skipped the lines to get in.

    Since I didn't take the other optional tours I had a lot of time to explore the city. I was able to walk all over the city, from the pantheon to trevi to St. peter's to san pietro's (not in that order though). Basically visited all the tourist sites. Since I had a lot of time I just walked all over. I did see the bus service but with all the traffic I decided to just hoof it all over. was great for me because I was able to browse shops and areas (had a lot of gelato and pizza, lol). I also didn't realize that the streets were so narrow so the buses had to take the main roads to prevent delays. I burned a lot of calories walking all over so could eat whatever I wanted on my trip.

    as another poster mentioned, taking the public transit is better than taxis which are very expensive and with traffic even more costly. my friend took a cab, he found the cab took a more roundabout route which cost even more and also hit the busy streets which even added more time to the fare. If you can walk I would also recommend it since it isn't very far to get around IMHO.

    Venice is an island so no real transportation other than taking the canals. Expect to do a lot of walking to get around, basically you will ride a boat (train, etc.) to get into venice and then walk around from there. Find the tour maps so you can find your way around. the signs on the buildings are confusing, while st. marks square (san marco) is the main area, many signs will point to san marco but will actually take you away from the square so best to look at the map so you don't get lost or far away from where you want to go to. expect crowds everywhere and beware of pickpockets and "gypsies" who will distract you while trying to steal your things.

    in florence our tour bus drove us all around so we didn't have to worry about transportation but once you get into florence it is quite easy to walk all around.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
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