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.