My husband and I will be on a cruise that spends a day in Rome. We don't really want to book an excursion through the cruise line, but would rather explore the city on our own. Is it fairly easy to get around the city on your own? How does the bus system work? We are fairly new to traveling in foreign countries and are a bit nervous about exploring on our own. Any advice would be helpful!
Lauren, Rome is very easy to navigate though the best way to see the city centre is on foot (with a map). The most important thing is to know when and where you are dropped-off or picked-up by your cruise. I imagine that it will be docking at the port in civita vecchia and would suggest you best arrange transfers to the city centre with the cruiseline if you want to be safe about times/schedules and directions.
Once in Rome proper, the metro is not very prolific in the ancient city (it's not easy to do work underground when the whole town is an archeological site) so the main stops that may be of use are Flaminio (Piazza del Popolo), Piazza Di Spagna (Spanish Steps) and Colosseo. Trams and buses are better and you can get tickets at a 'tabaccheria' (a tacaconist or newspaper/grocery store) or vending machines but remember to also validate the ticket once you are onboard the bus. People are friendly to tourists so ask for directions at the bus stop if you aren't sure which way to go. Also taxi's are easy to catch and cheap (although beware of the notorious traffic) but you should make sure to have a map that you can point your destination on and also insist on a meter.
Personally, I prefer walking and you can do alot on foot in a leisurely day. If this is your first time in Rome then I would imagine you want to see the famous city highlights. I am not sure where you will be entering the city from but, assuming you have choice (or taxi options), I usually like to suggest the following turn:
1-2hours: start at the Vatican City as the area is much less busy in the morning, before noon. You can spend a day visiting the St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican Museums (book ticket) but if you want a taster St Peter's Sq (Piazza San Pietro) and 30mins inside the church should be sufficient (you can also climb to the top of the dome for the most stunning views over Roma). From there, walk down the Via della Conciliazione (the main avenue leading from the square) towards the Castel Sant'Angelo all the way to the Lungotevere Marzio. Cross the river on the Ponte Sant'Angelo as you admire the beautiful angel sculptures and the river views. Then take a right until you meet the next bridge and walk down the main avenue of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II (or take a taxi/bus, this is a long avenue!)
1-2hrs: At this point you are entering the area of the Campo Marzio. Walk down Corso V. Emanuelle until you reach the Palazzo della Cancelleria where you can turn right into the Campo de' Fiori market square. This is one of the city's main markets but in the late morning and afternoon it becomes a favourite lunch spot. If you are looking for a taste of local produce, Il Forno Campo de' Fiori is a famous bread bakery (one of the best) and Aristocampo makes excellent traditional Roman sandwiches (I love the porchetta). From Campo dei Fiore walk towards Basilica di Sant'Andrea della Valle church and then head north on Corso del Rinascimento. Take a left at Via Canestari to the Piazza Navona. When you are ready to continue, head directly East, cross the Corso Rinascimento again.
1hour: You are heading towards the Piazza Rotunda (Pantheon). I suggest a quick stop at the Biblioteca Universitaria Alessandrina - La Sapienza (university) The interior courtyard houses the beautiful and unusual Sant'Ivo church, a baroque masterpiece. Coming out at the Piazza di Sant'Eustachio you may want to try a capuccino or espresso at the cafe of the same name (Sant'Eustacchio coffee is my favourite in Rome).
Enjoy the Pantheon, arguably Rome's greatest building, and, if you have a sweet tooth, make sure to duck into Piazza della Maddalena for a San Crispino gelato.
1hour: From Piazza della Madalena, you go East on Via in Aguiro to the Borsa or the Stock Exchange (housed behind a facade of the Temple of Hadrian), keep on the Via di Pietra to the Piazza Colonna. Cross the Via del Corso and continue on the Via dei Sabini until you reach the Trevi Fountain.
1hour: You can now walk back to the Via del Corso and head north until you reach the Via Condotti that will lead straight to the Piazza Di Spagna and the Spanish Steps. You can then either walk back down the Via del Corso towards the Piazza Venezia or take the metro to the Coloseum stop. Assuming you walk:
1-2hrs: Once you arrive at the Piazza Venezia you are standing in front of the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (known as the 'wedding cake'). If you are feeling energetic, a climb up the monument will be rewarded with stunning views of the Roman Forum and Colosseum -- best at sunset). To the left of the monument, walk up the stairs of the Capitoline Hill to the Campidoglio. Keep to the right of the main City Hall building as you walk to the back of it, you will reach a terrace with beautiful views of the Forum and the Coloseum. You can finish your day here or walk (bus/taxi) the lenght of the Via dei Fori Imperiali to get a closer look at the Coloseum.
This is by no means an ideal or extensive itinerary but I wanted to give you an idea how long it may take to walk and explore some of the more iconic places in Rome. My time estimates obviously depend on your pace, I like to consider a steady walk with a few stops for food and shopping but didn't account for museum visits.
I hope this gives you a good overview of what you might be able to achieve on foot, and to decide when buses and taxis may be more convenient.
Safe travel and enjoy Roma!
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Hi Lauren, Roma is fairly well-connected by the Metro. While booking your stay (if you haven't already), try and get an accommodation near a Metro station. For instance; Milton Hotel Rome is a comfortable stay while being a few steps away from the Metro station Manzoni which will further connect you to MMetro Vittorio Emanuele (MA). This station will connect you to various other lines in the subway system which are very close to all prominent sights and places in Roma. That's how I planned my travel around Roma. What's better? Roma allows 3-day Metro cards (also available at different denominations, look out for Tourist cards/Travel passes in the station) at a substantial rate which allows you to travel across, swipe in unlimited in those 3-days.
Hope that helps :)
Rome is easy, don't worry!
One day trip to Rome from Civitavecchia port:
The train stops in more then one station in Rome, you can get off at Stazione di Roma San Pietro and have a walk visit of city centre.
From the station walk to Piazza San Pietro, from there a visit to Musei Vaticani could be nice but you will finish your time in the museum so I would suggest a walk to Castel Sant'Angelo where you can have a nice stop in the bar of the roof top terrace.
From Colosseo take Metro B to Stazione Roma Termini and then a train to Civitavecchia.
Here train timetable https://www.lefrecce.it/B2CWeb/search.do?parameter=searchOutputViewer&cFID=vRdJV5mjCkHK or check out trenitalia.com
A car from the port to Rome city centre cost between 120 and 140 EUR there are many NCC services in Rome, my favourite is Cimarelli, i'm working with them since i've opened my B&B 6 years ago.
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Hi Lauren, hopefully the cruise will offer a shuttle to Rome, or a tour that says something about Rome on your own. Yes, it is easy to get around on your own. with a good map you can walk from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain to Pantheon to Piazza Navona and than the Colosseum. If your into churches, that's even easier.
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As cheesy as this can be, I think taking one of the big red bus tours can be a great way to explore a new city. They are catered to tourists and stop at all the major spots, and since you can hop on and off, it's a really easy and great way to explore a city, especially when you don't have a lot of time, and/or are a bit nervous about traveling on your own.