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First Timer Recommendations

Iowa
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First Timer Recommendations

Spent 6 nights in Rome 11/11 - 11/17. Thanks to all who contribute to this Forum, you helped immensely in preparing our trip. While certainly not an expert on Rome after one trip, I thought I would share a first timers point of view, some things I learned and might do differently or the same next time.

Rome Cabs/Rome Limousine. I was bummed out when I finally got around to making reservations and the highly recommended Rome Cabs was booked. Went with Rome Limousine instead and had 2 fabulous drivers. Waiting for us with a sign that had our name on it and dropped us off and picked us up at the front door of our hotel. Especially if it's your first visit, this service will put your mind at ease knowing your trip will begin without a hitch.

Stayed at the Albergo Cesari near the Pantheon. If your plan is to walk everywhere I can't imagine a more convenient, centrally located neighborhood. Anywhere between the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain area would work.

I would consider having breakfast included at the hotel a huge plus.

If you can get tickets, do the Scavi Tour. Amazing.

At the Papal Audience if you want to get close to the Pope, sit near one of the barriers, either at the front or back of a seating section. That's where he will drive by.

Other than the Scavi Tour, we did everything on our own, no guides. It worked for us, we came fairly prepared knowing what we wanted to see, but.......I think we missed out on some things. The big thing for us is we wanted to do everything on our own time and not be rushed through or follow someone else's schedule. You might want to weigh the pluses and minuses. Maybe guided tours would work better for you.

There are churches on every street corner and we went into every one. You will see some amazing things and suffer from sensory overload. Oh look, another Bernini. One church in particular, San Giovanni en Laterano, (the Basilica of Rome) Rick Steves said in his guide book it was "barren". Rick Steves has never stepped foot inside this church.

Make sure you check the hours of the churches, some are closed for a few hours in the afternoon and also during Mass.

Take pictures of the outside of places you have been to remind you of where you took the pictures. Street signs, churches, restaurants, etc.

Spend a lot of time just wandering.

We had no plans for restaurants. Just ended up at places. Had one disappointing lunch, otherwise everything was great. Breakfast at the hotel, lunch at little side street places that I would never be able to find again for a Panini and slice of pizza. We were spoiled for our evening meal after finding 2 places we fell in love with and went back to each a second time. Both had great food, atmosphere, service, locals eating there, and interesting conversation with other patrons. Antonio al Pantheon and Sabatino San Ignazio.

Order the house wine.

Is there bad gelato? We couldn't find any.

We thought about a day trip but 6 days barely covered Rome. If we can get back I think we would fly into FCO, take the fast train somewhere, and then end up back in Rome for a couple days before flying out.

Many of these recommendations are not original but things I learned on this Forum and we used ourselves. Hope something here might help someone's vacation go more smoothly.

Enjoy Rome!

Edited: 21 November 2013, 16:49
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Enjoy Rome
Enjoy Rome
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Rome, Italy
Fort Worth, TX
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1. Re: First Timer Recommendations

I love posts like this. If there was a "like" button here, I would click on it! Loved your other similar post as well. We're going in February and this is great information to have.

Pottersville, New...
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2. Re: First Timer Recommendations

Great report and I agree with all of your tips! Glad you had such a good time and thanks for sharing. :)

New York City, New...
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3. Re: First Timer Recommendations

Great post Lem5. Just wondering what you thought of the hotel besides it being in a great location. How were the rooms? I'm considering booking here in 2014.

Iowa
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4. Re: First Timer Recommendations

Well Michele,

I get nervous recommending hotels. Everyone is so different in what they like and don't like and where you stay can really impact the whole trip. With that said, here is what I think. It is not the Ritz, it is not a Super 8. It's more of a Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn level. It opened for business as a hotel in 1787! We absolutely loved it with one exception. Perfect location. The most helpful friendly staff. Amazing breakfast on a beautiful roof top terrace. Free WiFi. Beds were comfortable. No cars only foot traffic in front of the hotel. Many other positive qualities. The one problem. You need to be a sound sleeper or bring ear plugs. It isn't the outside noise, the windows are excellent at blocking out street noise, but you can hear your neighbors pretty clearly. One neighbor called home every morning at 3:00 and I feel as though I know their family very well. Another neighbor was quite a snorer......you get the idea. I happen to be a light sleeper, combined with a little jet lag I was woken up most nights. Not a deal breaker, and maybe it was only our room? Don't know.

Otherwise - loved it.

New York City, New...
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5. Re: First Timer Recommendations

Oh, you mentioned the one and only thing that makes or break a hotel (or any lodging for me): inside noise from rooms and corridors - I can take all the voice outside (I live in NYC and live with it constantly and I don't even hear it) but if I hear someone talking through the walls, or someone's TV, whatever - it drives me bonkers.

It's another reason I found that I stick to my hotel choice in Rome - I hear nothing - at all. And, it is always the first thing I look for when I read reviews, more than any other issue.

Good to know your experience on this - not for me, because I will only ever stay where I do but for others who ask about places that I know have similar sensitivity. Worse yet is when ear plugs don't really do much. Ugh.

Loved your report - it is such a wonderful roaming, wandering city and I really do believe when you treat yourself with such wanderings, you end up coming across so very many other treasures you would not have if sticking to a very strict itinerary. I always run up against the closed churches - many often closed when they aren't noted to be - but, it's Italy and so, I just wind my way back.

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Lazio, Italy
Italy
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Iowa
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6. Re: First Timer Recommendations

MomCat,

I agree with your comment about outside noise. I actually left the windows open and slept much better with the outside noise drowning out the inside noise. I still really liked the place a lot though.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: First Timer Recommendations

Lem5 Thank you for such a thoughtful and honest response.

Edited: 22 November 2013, 12:22
Toronto
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8. Re: First Timer Recommendations

Great post. Absolutely agree with your comments about house wine, gelato, and the amazing churches. "To find yourself you have to first lose yourself". Some of our best experiences came from aimless wandering, such as coming across the corner of four fountains or suddenly viewing the Tiber when we thought we were near Piazza Navona (we were lost!).

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Piazza Navona
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New York City, New...
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9. Re: First Timer Recommendations

That's funny - I too leave windows open as I would rather hear the outside noises vs the rumblings, etc of inside noise. Took me years to finally find the one apartment in NYC that gives me complete silence from all indoor noise - no small accomplishment.

The fun thing for me about Rome is that even though I have been there so many times, I still get a bit lost and turned around a few times during each visit - and, I love it because inevitably, I always come across yet another new surprise.

It is very easy to find yourself back at the Tiber while diligently heading over to Piazza Navona - but, there are some incredibly charming small streets tucked away in that area.

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Rome
Rome
Lazio, Italy
Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona
31,396 Reviews
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Redding, California
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10. Re: First Timer Recommendations

thank you for the report. We are booked at this hotel in June. Good to know about the noise. Do you mind saying what room you were in. Do you think it was the location possibly? We are excited that it is close to many things. Are the restaurants you listed close by the hotel?