Please what is a good approach to planning a week long itinerary in Rome? Tips, suggestions???
Rome is wonderful, Robert! What time of year are you visiting?
I'm going to make two assumptions is this answer, just for the sake of simplicity: 1. You don't want to leave Rome for the countryside, even though if you have time, you should consider trips up to Florence and down to Naples. 2. You're not looking to run yourself ragged every day, instead opting for 1-2 things per day. That said...
Day 1 - The Big Stuff
On one of your days, be sure to do the big three: the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon. They're within walking distance of one another, and can easily be done in a day, at a leisurely pace. The ultimate tip for cutting down the lines at the Colosseum is to get the access pass for both there and the Forum, at the Forum entrance gates, and to do the Forum first. The exit from the Forum puts you out right near the Colosseum entrance, and you'll get to skip the longer line because of having already purchased tickets. The Pantheon is a pretty walk away, passing the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II on the way, and you can stop off for coffee or a quick bite to eat too.
Day 2 - The Vatican
In itself, Vatican City can take an entire day. Let it--do the museums and see the Sistine Chapel, even though the lines are atrocious. Spend plenty of time in St. Peter's Basilica and walking around the plaza. Depending on what time of year you're visiting and your interest level, you could try and have an audience with the Pope, and time your trip for one of his talks. It's definitely and interesting thing to see, even if you're not Catholic.
Day 3 - Dig into the history
Head down to the The Catacombs of St.Callixtus, one of the most famous catacomb systems in the world. This is where you'll see all of the tombs that have been depicted in movies and other things, and it's definitely worth the 'slog' to get out of the city for this.
Day 4 - Wander through Il Borgo
This neighborhood is just near the Vatican, but has a very different feel. Explore Castel Sant'Angelo for more history, and spend time wandering along Viale Giulio Cesare for a little shopping or a bite to eat.
Day 5 - Back into the City
If you break up your days of wandering through the biggest sites, you won't burn out on the crowds of people you'll have to wade through! So take a day to do things like a leisurely lunch in the Piazza Navona, drink wine on the Spanish Steps, and throw a coin (and take obligatory selfies) at the Trevi Fountain. These places are all pretty touristy, but as you walk from place to place, you'll get to wander through the alleys and streets and start to get a feel for the Roman lifestyle.
Day 6 - Explore Roma Trastevere
This neighborhood is, I believe, the 'trendy' neighborhood right now, full of bars and restaurants and winding alleys that are stereotypical for Rome. It's a great place for late night pizza and gelato, or to sit and enjoy a long dinner under the stars with locals all around. Two of the oldest churches in Rome, the St Maria in Trastevere Basilica and Santa Cecilia in Trastevere are in this neighborhood, if that kind of history is interesting to you.
Day 7 - Rest!
At least one day, take it easy in whatever neighborhood you're staying. Ask the concierge/your host for the local secrets and just go exploring. This isn't the best location-based advice, but Rome is one of the friendly cities where you can do this and have as much fun as you'll have exploring the tourist destinations.
Have a great trip!
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Choose a hotel that is easy walking to at least one place you want to explore in depth: the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, Piazza Navona, the Jewish Ghetto, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, whatever you love. Map out several walking trips from that location, to include places you've not been before, and seek out hidden gems in those neighborhoods. Get a good walking map, use at least three days for major walking - you can walk easily between "famous tourist must-sees"--- too many to mention. Walk down small streets, take your time, don't try to cover it all in one week. Use a day or two for cab rides to outlying places such as the catacombs which are too far to walk. Get up very early one day, take the train to Florence, and arrive back in Rome by nightfall - an amazingly beautiful trip! Try to avoid planning your days around special restaurants - there are wonderful restaurants everywhere, leave room for surprises.
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Remember a lot of places are closed from 2:30-3:30pm for afternoon naps
La Terrazza dell'Eden IS MY FAVORITE restaurant in Roma - THE VIEWS!! but also $$$$ - so go for lunch rather than dinner - but great to see the view in the afternoon and may pop-up for a sunset cocktail at the bar - food and view are a MUST here.
Sistine Chapel - remember to dress appropriately, there is a dress code at the Vatican - also allow for at least 3-hours here
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A short walk from the Coliseum or the Forum, you'll find the St. Clement Basilica, a true oddity. At the surface, it's a classical, ornate 12th Century church, with fine art in the nave...but down one flight of stairs, you'll find yourself in 4th Century Rome, in a church dedicated to St. Clement, an early Pope. And then one more flight down, you're in 1st Century Rome, looking into a temple to the Pagan god Mithra, and walking along a buried street next to the foundation of a building from Nero's time. It's how Rome grew over the centuries: When a new property owner decided to build, he'd just have the old structures on the site filled in and build on top of them. Nowhere in Rome is this pattern more clearly visible. It's fascinating.
The hop on hop off bus (there are several to choose from) goes past all of the major places. I used a multi day pass which allowed me not to rush through places. Many churches requires "church dress" meaning shoulders and knees must be covered. If you stay closer to Termini Station you can grab the metro or public bus to many places. Use a money belt. Pickpockets are everywhere, especially crowded public transportation. Cavour 313 is great restaurant near the Colosseum. If going to Borghese Gallery and Museum you will need a reservation. Make one several weeks in advance. Also many places do not allow backpacks so try not to carry a large bag. If you do, they will check it for you. If you like craft beer, try Open Baladin Roma Srl near Largo di Torre Argentina. If you are a fan of Roman Holiday, check out Bocca della Verità.
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The answers above are really great!
I'd just like to add-on. If you fancy taking a cooking class and learn how to cook authentic Italian cuisine from a local chef, or perhaps, dine with locals, you could check out BonAppetour.
There are many dining experiences available in Rome. Starting from a private cooking class, to a lunch on a boat as you sail on the Tiber River, to an exquisite Italian feast on a Roman rooftop where you can enjoy the sun sets! Do check it out, it would be a great way to spend your time in Rome! :)
I absolutely agree with all of the ideas above, saw them all in April and all are worth your time. Remember you can see some of them at night, like the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain, only about 4 blocks apart. Lots of light and lots of people. Also a cool shopping area at night. You'll find a lot of people out at night walking, all perfectly safe. Same for the buses and Metro at night. Stay alert, but don't be afraid.
One tip to start your trip -- the Fiumicino Airport(main airport) is about a half hour or more from Rome, down on the coast. Assuming you want to get to the main rail terminal (Stazione Termini) in Rome, make sure you get on the right train there. It is easy to make a mistake and end up somewhere else in Rome. Termini is the last stop, so don't get off too soon. Termini is huge, like an airport terminal. Catch a bus or cab outside, or board the Metro inside.
if you want to visit museums, you should get a museum pass (Roma Pass: http://www.romapass.it/p.aspx?l=en&tid=2). Easier to get it here, but can get it there, too. And definitely get an Omnia pass to bypass the enormous lines (http://www.romeandvaticanpass.com/) for the Vatican City and top places, including the fascinating ancient Rome ruins / Roman Forum, Colosseum, Palatine Hill (be sure to go up there if you like history), which are just behind the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (go inside and go up to the top -- there's an an outside elevator on the left side as you face it -- you can look down on ancient Rome!) Another benefit is the free bus rides, including to the Vatican, with these passes (see sites for more.)
There's a tour place on the inner side of St. Peter's square on the left side as you face the dome which sells these and also arranges tours, including St. Peter's and the Vatican museum. Nice place, they all speak English. Lines are everywhere, and the first time you walk by all these lines and flash your pass to the guard, you'll be so glad you bought them.
Rome is not cheap, but enjoy buying a sandwich or other food from the little walk-in places all over. Take it away or grab a seat and watch people walk by. Great food. Also look for larger walk in places with refrigerated cases full of great bowls of food. Pick what you want, get a half bottle of wine and take a seat. Cheap Heaven!
The Metro in Rome forms a big X, so it isn't really extensive, but gets you close to a lot of places. Easy to buy tickets, but you'll need either Euros or a credit card with a chip in it (our chipless cards don't work in some places, but our debit cards work fine in the ATMs.) Also, get on a bus and just sightsee. You can always find your way back just by staying on the bus!
Finally, I recommend two additional places just a few blocks from the Termini train station (the main one). The first is a small museum filled with Roman statutary, the Museo Nazionale Romano. Its interesting, but the best is the huge inner courtyard with its whimsical sculptures, and it is so peaceful.
The second is a Must See, it will amaze you. Very near the Roman Museum (turn left out the main gate and go until the end of the block then turn right), across from the huge Republica circle (and Metro station) is one of the most unassuming church fronts you will ever see, just a door set in a rough wall. You even have to search to find the sign! It is the entrance to Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. I won't tell you what's inside, but you will be flabergasted. It is, I was told, the last church that Micheangelo designed, so that should give you a clue.
Overall, though, for me the very best thing in Rome is to just walk. Go in stores, eat, drink, be friendly, lots of people speak a little English. I never found one person who was too busy to be polite and help me, and several really went out of their way to be helpful. Wear a moneybelt or the same inside your shirt. Be alert, but not scared. 99.5% of the people are just like you. Oh, and eat all the deserts -- they are out of the world delicious! Have fun!
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