/ First visit to Rome - What to see? Where to stay?

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maybe_si - on 11 Aug 2012

Im off to Rome in a week or so with the misses, neither of us have been before, we have 3 days in Rome and then we head out to Umbria. I really dont know much about Rome other than the very obvious things I guess.

What sort of area would you recommend staying? Is it worth paying a slightly higher hotel price in order to be in the city centre?

What should I go and see? What is unmissable?

Does anyone have any general information that would be good to know?


Shmaron - on 11 Aug 2012
In reply to maybe_si:

See the Pantheon! I went to see it just because it was there, but had no real interest in seeing it... But it is incredible, I think it's just the sheer size that shocked me.
Rhi Rhi - on 11 Aug 2012
In reply to maybe_si:

Get a weekend pass for the metro - saves all the faff of getting the correct change everytime you want to take it because it is just one ticket! I think they are about 15 euros or around that

Also, don't bother going to the Circo Maximus because they are doing an archaelogical dig there and it is a building site
simon c on 11 Aug 2012
In reply to maybe_si:

you're going to be falling over stuff in Rome constantly, turn a corner and theres alway something new to see. Pantheon is one of my favourite buildings. Colosseum, Forum and Palantine hill all share the same ticket but the Colosseum queues can be long. Take a water bottle and fill up with the fountains liberally dotted around, water is ok to drink from these and it will be very hot. Trastevere is a lovely quarter to visit and there some nice bars to drop into, the museum there has good exhibitions on too.

We usually stay self catering just off the beaten track in an apartment in the Prati area. Its quiet, more residential than touristy and has some nice cafe, bars with locals. Vatican is always worth a look around as is the Sistine chapel tour just get there early also in that area is Castile de Sant Angelo which is nice and great views from the top.

Rome is one of my favourite cities and always something new to find each time. You'll find yourself walking a lot but the central area is pretty compact. If you walk above Trastevere you can head back along the skyline to Vatican area and get some great views.

maybe_si - on 11 Aug 2012
In reply to maybe_si:

This is all great stuff so far, thanks guys, any more recommdenations?
ollieollie - on 11 Aug 2012
In reply to maybe_si: eat lots of nice food
Kimono - on 11 Aug 2012
In reply to maybe_si:
my girlfriends stepdad lives in Monte Mario, which is a very lovely suburb on a hill. Really nice to get away from the hubbub of central Rome back to his place when we are staying there.

As for sights, definitely the newly restored Villa Borghese...stuffed full of treasures!
Welsh Kate - on 11 Aug 2012
In reply to maybe_si:

Take earplugs! Rome is an incredibly noisy city and never really shuts down. A lot of the major sites are in fairly easy walking distance of the city centre, but getting the Metrebus Carta BIT gives you 3 days on the metro and buses for 16.50 Euros. If you use the metro or bus, ensure you and the Missus have your bags in front of you at all times, never sling a rucksack on your back or a handbag over your shoulder; distraction robbery is popular!

There are a lot of hotels around Termini, these tend to be on the budget side and it's a fairly noisy area (though as above, most of Rome is pretty noisy!). Staying away from the Termini area unless budgetary constraints don't allow would be my advice.

'Must do' things in Rome depends really on your interests. The Forum and Colosseum I'd put on the list, but the Forum can be a bit confusing. St Peter's and the Vatican Museums'll take the good part of a day but the museum is mind-blowing, and the restored Sistine Chapel awesome. Others have mentioned the Pantheon, which is my favourite building in the world, it is stunning, especially if the sun's shining through the oculus (hole), or if it's raining. The roof is 2000 year old poured concrete, the columns at the front were quarried in Egypt, and Raphael is buried there.

But if you 'do' the Pantheon, there are a couple of other things in the area - San Luigi dei Francesi (church of St Louis of France) just to the west contains 3 Caravaggios, and you can just pop in there and gawp at them, and Santa Maria sopra Minerva just south of the Pantheon has a gorgeous little Bernini elephant outside, and the beautiful simple tomb of Fra Angelico inside. There's also the Piazza Navona just to the west of the Pantheon which has super fountains in it, and some nice restaurants. Finally, just north of the Pantheon is Della Parma's Gelateria which in exhaustive tests carried out by a group of post-doctoral students in the early 90s won the title of 'best Gelateria in Rome'. Obviously things may have changed in the last 20 years, but you can compare it with the more traditional Giolitti's Gelateria just round the corner.

What else? Trajan's Column is fab, and the Column of Marcus Aurelius just of the Corso well worth gawping at on the way to the Trevi Fountain (which mustn't be missed), along with the Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps.

If you're into weird and wacky stuff, the church of Santa Maria dei Cappuccini on the Via Veneto has crypt decorated in seriously bizarre way, with the bones of deceased monks.

A catacomb? Most of the best known are on the Via Appia, but there's the lovely catacomb of San Agnese on the via Nomentana.

I spent a lot of time in Rome in the late 80s and early 90s, including living there for a year. It is a wonderful city. Have a great time!
maybe_si - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to Welsh Kate:

This is great stuff thanks, are there any good beaches around the area at all?
Welsh Kate - on 14 Aug 2012
In reply to maybe_si:

They're not fantastic, and generally pretty busy, but there are beaches at Ostia Lido. You could combine with a visit to Ostia Antica, ancient Rome's harbour town, which is a bit like Pompeii and Herculaneum in being very well preserved (you can go up some of the apartment blocks), but is probably more for hard-core ancient Roman fans.

If you take Metro Linea B to Porta San Paolo, you can then transfer onto the Roma Lido line. Go to Ostia Stella Polare and walk a couple of minutes to the beaches there. Nearly all of them are private and you have to pay for entry / use of loungers and parasols (this is pretty usual through much of Italy), but if you turn left and walk a couple of hundred metres south along the front you'll find a short section of lifeguarded public beach (free).

otoh, depending where and how long you're staying in Umbria, a day-trip to the Adriatic coast might be fun.

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