Has anyone bought / used one of these?
Seems a bit pricey at 85 euros per person, but ...
Thanks for your advice.
Many thanks Nick.
So now I am super confused as to what Rome pass to buy, if any. My husband and I are travelling with our older teen daughters, thus 4 adult prices. We will literally only be in Rome for three days, June 30-July 3. Top of our list of things to see are Vatican City, Colosseum. Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, etc. I realize not all of these places have entrance fees, but am trying to figure out the best way to see it all in such a short time without waiting in long lines and spending more money than we have to. Any suggestions for a tour company, tour pass or even travel itinerary are very welcome. This will be our first time to Rome. Thanks in advance!
The best thing to do is to buy tickets for the sites you wish to see. You can buy entry tickets for you and the family at the official site:
These allow you to bypass the lines into the museums. If you wish to do a tour you can also book one at this same site.
For the colosseum use the official site:
These tickets allow you to bypass the lines. If you wish a tour you must call the number on the site to book. You cannot book tours of the colosseum online. They also offer tours of the forum and palatine hill for an additional 5 euros.
The omnia card is a huge waste of money. You'll find, when you visit the official sites, that you can do the same thing as the omnia pass for less than half the cost. At 95 euros it's not a worthwhile pass and it doesn't give you enough time to make it worthwhile as you need to cram every activity it offers into three short days. My advice, book everything separately and save the money. If your teens are still in school or in college they can get a student discount at the Vatican museums. Just bring their college I.D, with them for proof.
Your children will also get into the Colosseum and Roman Forum free if they're under age 18.
I would spend one day in the Vatican city area, one day in the Colosseum/Roman Forum area, and one day wandering around the historic center, in the vicinity of Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. All of this can be done very easily without a tour, and you'll have the freedom to stop for a gelato when you feel like it, or explore some interesting little shops. Don't overplan your days, because just walking around the city, you and your kids will find many things to fascinate and delight you. I would suggest spending one evening in Trastevere and one evening near Campo dei Fiori, both places with lots of restaurants and lots of young people, including many foreign exchange students.
On the day that you visit the center of Rome, you might also want to spend some time in the Villa Borghese park, where you can rent bikes or go-karts and zip around this beautiful park. The Pincio Overlook, in the park, has one of the best views of Rome. Piazza del Popolo. below this overlook, is one of the most beautiful piazzas in Italy.
There are some great art museums in this area, all of which are uncrowded and refreshingly cool on a hot day (unlike the Vatican Museums). The Doria Pamphilj Gallery is a sumptuous Renaissance palace, still owned (and partly inhabited) by descendants of the Doria Pamphilj family. This palace is valuable as much for its lavishly furnished rooms as for the family's private art collection, which has been maintained for centuries with little change. There are some masterpieces there, but also works of artists that are no longer remembered or valued. This is a private museum, so no free entry for kids under 18. I've never known anyone who was disappointed in this museum.
Another wonderful museum, near Trevi Fountain, is the Barberini Gallery, in another Renaissance palazzo, which has one of the world's greatest collections of Italian painting, from the middle ages to early modern times. There is an indescribably amazing ceiling fresco in one of the rooms; they provide padded benches so you can lie down to appreciate it. This gallery costs 9 euros and would be a bargain at twice the price. For 12 euros, you can get a joint ticket to this and the Corsini Gallery, which I mention in the next paragraph.
On the day that you visit the Vatican, if you like to walk, you could walk up the Janiculum (Gianicolo) Hill, where there is another small park at Piazza Garibaldi, another great view of the city (the Vatican on one side, and the center of Rome on the other) and the statue of Garibaldi, considered the father of the united Italy, in the middle. There are also lots of small statues (busts, really) of other heroes of the Risorgimento, the movement to unite the various pieces of the country. Afterwards, you could walk down the other side of the hill to Trastevere. In Trastevere, the Villa Farnesina is a beautiful Renaissance villa, set in a lovely garden, with frescoes by Raphael. At €5, it's one of Rome's great bargains and well worth a visit. Across the street is a tiny art gallery, the Galleria Corsini, that hardly anyone goes to in spite of the fact that its collection of paintings by great artists would be the envy of many large museums. This gallery can be seen in about half an hour, and the tickets are only 4 euros (free for under 18).
The Villa Farnesina closes at 2 PM, so you might want to reverse your visit, going to the Villa Farnesina (and the Corsini Gallery) in the morning, then walking up the Janiculum Hill, and descending towards the Vatican. There's also a little bus, the number 115, that will take you up the hill and down again. You could take it back to Trastevere afterwards if you want to have dinner there. It runs a circular route, but goes up and down the Janiculum Hill in both directions. Going first to Trastevere would have the added advantage of getting to the Vatican in the afternoon, when it's less crowded, although you may find that hard to believe when you get there.
On the day that you visit the Colosseum, don't neglect to see the Palatine Hill, which is reached by an internal passage from the Roman Forum. This beautiful hill is where the emperor and other movers and shakers of Imperial Rome had their palaces; for some reason many people skip it. It's got a parklike atmosphere, and in some periods the blooming wisteria is spectacular. You can see the ruins of the Emperor's palace there, and there are great views over the Roman Forum from the hill. There's also a small museum on the Palatine Hill that has statues and other artifacts that were found on the site. On the lower level, there's an interesting exhibit about the prehistoric development of the city.
If it's hot while you're in Rome, you might want to go to the Roman Forum early in the morning before it heats up, then pass through the Palatine Hill. If you exit from the Palatine Hill entrance, you'll be near the Colosseum. The same ticket is good for all three sites, with one entrance to the Colosseum and one entrance to the joined Forum/Palatine site.
If you still have energy after visiting these three sites, there are lots of other places nearby to see. The Capitoline Museums has one of the world's greatest collections of ancient sculpture, and a cafeteria where you can get a light lunch. There is a balcony in the museum that has wonderful views of the Forum. You can also see the foundations of the ancient Temple of Jupiter inside the museum, and the original of the statue of Marcus Aurelius, whose copy is outside in the piazza. The piazza itself was designed by Michelangelo; the central building is the Rome city hall, where you often see weddings on the weekend. Around the side of the city hall, there are more great views of the Forum.
Across the street from the Roman Forum, you might enjoy visiting Trajan's Market, which was really administrative offices in ancient times, although there were shops at the street level, as was the case with most large buildings in ancient Rome. The main purpose of the "market" was to act as a retaining wall after Trajan made a cut through a spur of a hill to facilitate access to the Imperial Forums, on the same side of the street as the Market. From inside Trajan's Market, you can access a bit of a Roman city street, with the original paving blocks and the shop entrances. You can see the grooves in the door sills where wooden shutters were placed to close the shop at night. On one end of the sill is a hole. The last shutter swiveled on a pole that fit into this hole. The shop owner used that as a door. He entered the shop, bolted the "door" and went up to his dwelling on the floor above the shop.
All of these things can be reached easily by bus, taxi, or metro. If you're energetic, you could even walk between them all. Once you've decided what you want to see, we can give you more specific advice about how to get around and whether a transportation pass would be worth your while.
I have to give my usual warning, that no one ever wants to hear. The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are *extremely* hot and crowded in the summer. I've been in many crowded museums, including the Louvre in Paris, but nothing even approaches the crowding (and heat) in the Vatican Museums, where you have to shuffle along a very long corridor shoulder to shoulder with thousands of your fellow tourists. It's crowded all year long, but in the summer, I find it unbearable, to the point that I will never even consider going there in the summer again. I've been in Rome in the summer with visiting friends and relatives, and I've always told them that if they wanted to go there, they were on their own. If you'll be in Rome on a Friday, I suggest going there on the Friday night, when they have visits where the number of visitors is controlled. It will be less crowded and a little cooler. If you can't go on a Friday evening, there are lots of other great museums in Rome that would be a valid substitute for the Vatican Museums. I've mentioned a few in the preceding paragraphs.Edited: 04 May 2014, 13:10
Donna and bvlenci,
Cannot thank you enough for all of the great travel advice. So now I am going to be like a spoiled child at Christmas who just recieved many nice gifts but still wants more.... We are also going to Venice for four days and will spend a week in Florence/Tuscany prior to arriving in Rome. Any advice on those areas would also be very welcome. Again, should we buy tickets ahead of time, etc. We were looking into the Firenze Card and are also interested in some wine tasiting and going to Cinque Terra. Again, I feel like I have already been given a fabuous gift with your previoius responses, so THANK YOU! :)
You should ask on those specific forums for help. There are some really great experts who can give you better advice than I can.
Without knowing what you want to see and do in Florence, no one can really give you good advice about whether to buy the Firenze card. However, I believe that unless your visit will be heavily concentrated on museums and churches, it probably wouldn't be worth the expense. Have you asked your kids what they want to see and do? They seem to be of an age where they could (and should) take an active part in the planning.
The Cinque Terre is not a good day trip destination from Florence. Besides, in the summer, it's practically sinking under the weight of the tourists. The main reason to go there would be to do some serious hiking, which would require that you spend at least two nights there. If you're not into hiking, I would skip it.
I'm not sure why you've decided to spend a week in Florence and only three days in Rome. Rome is a much bigger city with a great variety of things to see and do, while Florence has a compact center and is highly focused on Renaissance art. Does any member of your family have a serious interest in Renaissance art? If not, I'd trim a few days from Florence and add them to Rome.
Yes, our girls are a part of the planning, in fact one received several guide books for her birthday. We are actually staying in a VRBO house just outside of Florence that was a really good deal, in contrast to Rome where it was much more expensive, especially that time of year. We thought it would be a good home base to explore other parts of Italy. We do not plan on going into Florence every day. Any thoughts on Lucca, Siena, Pisa, etc? How about San Marino? Thanks, again!
P.S. Noticed I spelled "tasting" wrong in earlier post....how embarrassing!
Thank you so much for the extremely detailed 3 day itinary! I have printed it out and we will use it for our Rome part of our holiday in September. Was struggling what to fit in, we have 3 full days plus the afternoon we arrive from Australia.
Cannot wait to visit your beautiful city, once again most heartful thanks to all the Italian destination experts for Rome who generously give so much time and experience to this forum.
Will you have a car? If not, you want to make sure that your house just "outside" of Florence has excellent transportation connections. Many of these little towns have very scanty bus services, and you may find yourself stuck there, or with a long trip to get to a train station.
Lucca, Pisa and Siena are very easily reached by bus or train from Florence. The buses to Siena leave from just outside the Santa Maria Novella train station. To these three places, I'd prefer to use public transportation *if* you can get to the train station easily and quickly.
San Marino is not at all easy to get to from Florence, even with a car, and it's mostly a big tourist trap not worth the trip. Assisi is fairly easy to reach from Florence, and is a beautiful Umbrian hill town, with artistic treasures and associations with St. Francis of Assisi.
There are also many day trips that you could make from Rome, maybe even more than from Florence. Some of the places that are easily reached on a day trip from Rome are:
Orvieto, a beautiful Umbrian hill town, with a magnificent Italian Gothic duomo, and other interesting things to see. Orvieto could also be visited from Florence, but it's much closer to Rome.
Bracciano, a castle town on Lake Bracciano, where Tom Cruise married what-er-name.
Tivoli, with three beautiful villas to visit
One of the Castelli Romani towns, in a region of castles, hills and lakes just south of Rome.
Assisi can also be visited from Rome; it's about midway between Rome and Florence.