I am new to tripadvisor, but I used this website a lot when I was researching and planning for my trip to Rome. My family and I had a blast! Here’s my trip report:
Arrived in Rome just after 8pm, and the airport transportation that we had arranged through the USO in Rome was waiting for us and they took us to Fraterna Domus.
We got tickets from the sisters at the convent and headed up to the Vatican for the papal audience. The auditorium wasn’t full, and we got to sit about ¼ of the way back from the stage, but all the seats near the middle aisle, where the Pope walks down, were already taken. So, we didn’t get close enough to shake his hand, but it was still amazing to be close enough to see him and to be in his presence.
Later that evening, we walked 5 mins to get to Piazza Navona and had dinner, then walked another 5 mins to the Pantheon. Angel Tours offers a free tour of the Pantheon at 7pm, MWF, so we got there in time for that. We stopped for gelato on the way home at Buchianti’s just outside of the Pantheon square. Delicious!
We had made arrangements for a driving tour of ancient Rome, and our guide, Julia, and her driver picked us up at the convent at 8:30am. It was a 4 hr tour and it gave us a good overview of ancient Rome. We stopped outside Trajan’s column, forum and market, the statue of Julius Caesar, the Roman Forum, drove around Piazza Venezia and the Victor Emmanual Monument. The driver dropped us off at the Palatine Hill ticket office, where there was no line and we got tickets for the colosseum. We followed our guide down the street, past the Arch of Constantine, and into the Colosseum. Next we went to the St Peter-in-chains church and saw Michelangelo’s Moses and the chains. Then we drove to a ridge that looks out over circus maximus and faces the ruins on Palatine Hill. We also drove by the Baths of Caracalla, the pyramid of Gaius Cestius and the Porta Ostiense gate, and then we drove up one of the hills of Rome and got to see a fantastic view of the city.
Our guide dropped us off at a restaurant across the street from the catacombs of San Sebastian at the end of our tour, and after a nice lunch we walked over to the catacombs and took a tour.
That evening, we had dinner at a restaurant in the square outside the Pantheon.
We had contacted Francesca Caruso, a private tour guide who is mentioned in Rick Steves’ book, and she was available on this day. We met her outside the Vatican museums at 10:30am. There was no line and we just walked in and got tickets. She guided us through the museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St Peter’s Basilica. We got so much more out of this tour than if we had tried to do it on our own. My husband’s favorite sight in Rome was Michelangelo’s Pieta in St Peter’s Basilica, and I was absolutely blown away by Raphael’s “The Liberation of Peter” and Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment”.
The basilica is impressive, and of course we touched the feet of the St Peter statue for luck. We also went down into the crypt where we saw the tomb of Pope John Paul II.
After lunch, we went to Castel Sant’Angelo. There’s a great view from the top.
That night we ate dinner at the convent.
On our last day we decided to do our own walking tour. First we went to the Mausoleum of Augustus, and then headed to the Spanish Steps. We just happened to be on the street leading to the steps where shops like Gucci, D&G and Cartier are, right before they opened and it was the first day of the big sales, so there were crowds waiting to get in each of the stores.
After climbing the steps, we headed to Trevi Fountain and snacked on gelato while we were there. Then we walked by Trajan’s column and market and got a better look at the ruins there.
From there we headed to the Forum and spent quite a bit of time here exploring the ruins. We used the Rick Steves’ book to help us navigate through this area. These ruins are impressive.
Finally we made our way back to the Pantheon and had an early dinner, after going inside the Pantheon one last time. We also passed through Piazza Navona on our way back to the convent, listened to some music there and took a few final pictures.
Got up early and we were picked up on time by our airport transportation that we had arranged through the USO. We were all sad to leave Rome.
January was a great month to visit Rome. The temps were in the 50’s and 60’s and sunny most days. There were hardly any crowds. We had no wait to get into the Vatican museums, the hop-on hop-off buses were almost empty and even the auditorium for the papal audience wasn’t full. Plus hotel rates in the off season are much more reasonable.
We didn’t take any public transportation except for taking a taxi from the catacombs back to the convent, so I don’t have any info on that. You can walk everywhere in Rome - and we did!
We didn’t have any trouble with pickpockets, but we made sure to be aware of our surroundings and carried our bags close to us.
I highly recommend getting a guide for the Vatican museums because you will get a lot more out of it. There are several options, a private guide, a tour company, or guided tours offered by the Vatican museums.
Rick Steves’ book on Rome is excellent!
There’s a grocery store just outside the Pantheon square on the road that leads to Piazza Navona. It is next door to Buchianti’s - for great gelato.
If you can be in Rome on either a Wed for the papal audience or on a Sunday for his blessing at noon, I highly recommend it.
We had 4 full days in Rome, and we got to see quite a bit, but there’s still a lot of stuff we didn’t see. You could easily fill a full week, just in Rome. If you have more time, there are several day trips available to places like Pompeii, Naples and Tivoli.
Via Monte Brianzo, 62
tel. 06 6880 2727
fax. 06 68 32 691
We had a quad room - it had 4 single beds, private bathroom, and was 128 euros a night. There’s no elevator but the stairs aren’t bad. Breakfast is included in the price, and they also offer lunch and dinner for a reasonable price, except for Thursdays when the kitchen is closed. We had dinner there one night and they served soup or pasta first, then pork cutlets and zucchini. Yum! The accommodations are very basic, so if you need a little more luxury you might want to try a hotel. We just needed a place to sleep, so we didn’t need anything fancy. The shower is not enclosed, so the whole bathroom gets wet, but the water pressure was good and there was lots of hot water. The sisters were very sweet and welcoming. Sister Cecilia speaks english well. Fantastic location - we were close to everything.
They offer tours, tickets for the papal audience, and airport transportation.
M. Julia Travel
tel. 0039 347 91 78 389
home 0039 06 397 33 182
We set everything up with Marina by email. She was great with the kids and gave us a lot of great info. We definitely recommend her.
You can email her to see if she’s available. She is mentioned by name in Rick Steves’ book and contributed to his book. She’s excellent!
We did their free Pantheon tour. We were the only people that showed up that evening, so it ended up being a private tour. Our guide did a good job.