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1st time to Rome with 2 Teens! Need recommendations.

1st time to Rome with 2 Teens! Need recommendations.

Old Nov 3, 17, 10:11 am
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Question 1st time to Rome with 2 Teens! Need recommendations.

1st time on this forum. We have an opportunity to go to Rome in the Spring (March) for 6 days (5 nights). I have a few questions for those who have been to Italy.
1. Accommodations: Any recommendations for apartments or hotels walking distance to any main attractions close to eateries, markets and shopping. Any hidden gems that you would recommend and why? Any areas we should stay away from?


2. List of absolute must do's while in Rome with 2 teens in 6 days.


3. Recommendations for any day trips to different cities via train or bus? (Naples, Florence, Pisa)


4. Should we split our time between two cities? 3 nights in Rome and 2 nights in Florence or Naples?


5. Any recommendations for guided tours?


6. Any Must See recommendations outside of Rome driving distance to see i.e. Castles, ruins


Any recommendations would be very much appreciated.


Grazie!!
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Old Nov 3, 17, 11:20 am
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Originally Posted by jemgazo View Post
1st time on this forum. We have an opportunity to go to Rome in the Spring (March) for 6 days (5 nights). I have a few questions for those who have been to Italy.
1. Accommodations: Any recommendations for apartments or hotels walking distance to any main attractions close to eateries, markets and shopping. Any hidden gems that you would recommend and why? Any areas we should stay away from?


2. List of absolute must do's while in Rome with 2 teens in 6 days.


3. Recommendations for any day trips to different cities via train or bus? (Naples, Florence, Pisa)


4. Should we split our time between two cities? 3 nights in Rome and 2 nights in Florence or Naples?


5. Any recommendations for guided tours?


6. Any Must See recommendations outside of Rome driving distance to see i.e. Castles, ruins


Any recommendations would be very much appreciated.


Grazie!!
Sounds like fun!
For a five night stay with two teens, I'll recommend a short term rental over a hotel. It will certainly be less expensive and provide much more elbow room.
So:
1. In Rome, consider the Pantheon the hub of the main attractions. If you stay near the Pantheon, almost everything is within walking distance. Navona is 5 minutes walk, Campo di Fiore and the Jewish Ghetto about 15 minutes, Trevi Fountain 10 minutes, ancient Rome (Forum and Colosseum) about a 30 minute walk. Don't forget, walking to your destination in Rome is a major attraction in itself. An obvious advantage to staying in a central location is that you can stop back at your place if you've picked up souvenirs and such, or want to grab a quick shower. Finally, this area around Trevi/Pantheon/Navona you'll have access to literally hundreds of restaurants. Biggest tip about choosing a place to eat is walk right past any place that's got guys trying to get you to come in. Once you choose a place to stay, check back here. There's a number of threads about food in Rome.
2. Don't know your teens, but you have to visit the Colosseum and the Forum and the other "beaten path" sights I mentioned above. In the early evening, take the Passaggiata (Rome's evening Promenade from Piazza Navona to the Spanish Steps; you can find a map and guide by Rick Steves online). I took a twelve year old to Ostia Antica - he really liked the lack of crowds (went on a weekday) and the ability to independently explore the sprawling site. Another possibility is Cinecitta, the classic Italian film studio. They run tours, but check for an English language one.
3. Italian trains are easy, not very pricey, and run well. You can take day trips by train from Termini Station to Volterra (hill town in Umbria), Tivoli (exquisite gardens..maybe not so much for teens), even Naples and Florence are about an hour by the Freccia high speed trains. But a day trip to either will be scratching the surface only (if you do decide to go, I'd recommend Florence over Naples - the historical center is more compact, though can be crazy crowded).
4. Big no. Stay in Rome.
5. I don't do many guided tours. I can personally recommend Walks of Italy's Crypts, Bones, and Catacombs tour (particularly the Catacombs of St. Priscilla). I specifically do not recommend guided tours of the Forum and Colosseum. Visit on your own, explore what interests you. I've taken a guided tour and I've visited using Rick Steves' audio tour (downloadable for free) on my phone. Greatly preferred the latter.
Lastly, if you can afford it, I recommend Elizabeth Minchilli's private food tours. It's like meeting a friend who's lived in Rome for years and takes you behind the tourist curtain.
6. I wouldn't bother with a car. Use public transport for day trips out of the city. BTW, taxis in Rome are very good. They're inexpensive and I've never gotten an undesired "tour" to bump up the fare.
Have a blast. Rome is one of Earth's greatest cities.
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Old Nov 3, 17, 11:46 am
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This is also a good resource:
Where to stay in Rome [Merged thread]
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Old Nov 3, 17, 12:27 pm
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WOW!!! This is a great start. Thank you so much for the great feedback. We will certainly consider all of your recommendations and thank you for the link. This is our 1st time to Europe so we want to maximize our stay. We'll most likely stay in Rome for the 6 days.


My teens are typical teens in HS. They love trendy fashion, love to shop for clothes, accessories and eat. Any recommendations for markets to visit? My son would be interested in touring an old world castle if there is one in the area. Love the idea of doing an off the beaten path crypt tour and food tour. Will certainly entertain it if its in our budget.


Grazie!!!
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Old Nov 3, 17, 9:42 pm
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Correction to rickg523's post:

Volterra is not in Umbria (by the way very bad train connections from Rome, no freccie available, even to Perugia) but in the province of Pisa in Toscana. There is no train station available, and it takes a couple of train changes and more than 4 hours to get to the closest station by train from Rome.
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Old Nov 3, 17, 10:34 pm
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Originally Posted by jemgazo View Post
WOW!!! This is a great start. Thank you so much for the great feedback. We will certainly consider all of your recommendations and thank you for the link. This is our 1st time to Europe so we want to maximize our stay. We'll most likely stay in Rome for the 6 days.


My teens are typical teens in HS. They love trendy fashion, love to shop for clothes, accessories and eat. Any recommendations for markets to visit? My son would be interested in touring an old world castle if there is one in the area. Love the idea of doing an off the beaten path crypt tour and food tour. Will certainly entertain it if its in our budget.


Grazie!!!
You can't help but trip over style in Rome.
I'm not fashion crazy at all. But I've never walked around central Rome without at least once stopping and admiring (men's) clothing in shop windows. The good stuff is pricey, but it is really good stuff. (On the Passeggiata, you will walk along a couple of Rome's most stylish streets, Via del Corso and Via dei Condotti). A nice thing about staying the week, is that you can return to buy things, instead of that "I'll only be here today, better buy that now" impulse.
Campo di Fiore is a very popular and well known market with tourist-oriented stalls mixed with real Roman street vendors selling some top quality produce to (well-to-do) Romans. It's also a favorite after dark. Just beyond Fiore is the Jewish Ghetto, another interesting neighborhood to explore.

If your son is envisioning a medieval castle, I can't really recommend one around in Rome. There's Castel Sant' Angelo on the way to the Vatican, but it's nothing like Neuschwanstein or Chenonceaux. Italy's unique answer to defensive position was the hill town. In my earlier post I mentioned the town of Volterra. That was a mistake. (Volterra is a Tuscan hill town, hours away from Rome) I meant to mention Orvieto, a hill town in Umbria, about 90 minutes by train from Rome. On a single day trip, you can visit Orvieto and from there also visit Civita di Bagnoregio. Look for photos of Civita. It's the archetypal hill town. Get Rick Steves' Italy guidebook for the how-to-get-there. In Orvieto, look for local artists, particularly ceramic work.
I did this trip in one day (8 am - 6.30 pm, including taxis to and from Termini). It calls for timing your train and bus connections, but it's pretty easy and makes a terrific day out of the city.

As a first-time visitor to Rome, I recall finding the entire city attractive in every regard. I was smitten. Still am. I've often told people, I intended to just pass through that first time and ended up staying six weeks. I've returned as often as I can. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
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Old Nov 4, 17, 11:21 am
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To jemgazo - I just reread this thread (after calling Orvieto "Volterra", I thought I'd better check myself )

And I found one more egregious error.
It's common practice on FT to welcome new members, something I overlooked in my initial response.
So, welcome to Flyer Talk, jemgazo!
I hope you find this site as helpful and interesting as I did when I first joined. In particular, the Italy forum is an exceptional resource. I visit Italy a lot. But some contributors work and live there. They are truly generous sharing their knowledge. In preparation for your first trip to Italy, you'll reap great rewards by perusing this forum and it's many pertinent threads. Also, I might add that even for occasional flyers, the airline-specific fora are a great way to understand what's going on in the background when you board a plane. And especially, best approaches when things don't go as planned - delays, cancellations, rerouting, and the like(called IRROPS - irregular operations). So welcome aboard and have fun exploring this remarkable site.
Good travels!
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Old Nov 4, 17, 2:45 pm
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On my only trip to Rome so far, we stayed at a hotel in Spagna ( Hotel San Carlo, Via delle Carrozze 93). I would stay there again, it was quiet, comfortable, had a good breakfast and nice staff. Even if you don't stay there, the area was a good place to base ourselves.

We found we didn't even need to use the metro, though the Spagna metro was nearby. We just walked to the Vatican, the Palatine Hill, restaurants, and so on. I would definitely stay in a central location like that for my next visit to Rome.

You'd have to be a bit touched in the head to drive in, or even to and from the center of, Rome to get about. In fact, many of those who do appear to be. Use the train, at least to get out of the city to get to wherever you rent a car from if you need a car.
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Old Nov 5, 17, 5:33 am
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I highly recommend touring Castel Sant' Angelo. There are bits in the Angels And Demons film about the Castel and the nearby Piazza Novonna
I stayed in the Prati neighborhood- but in the part very close to the river(Prati is large and some of it is not very convenient) I considered it an ideal location since so much was within walking distance-but removed from the touristic center.
Perhaps this might be of interest http://www.italylogue.com/featured-a...r-of-rome.html
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Old Nov 5, 17, 12:59 pm
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Originally Posted by jemgazo View Post
1st time on this forum. We have an opportunity to go to Rome in the Spring (March) for 6 days (5 nights). I have a few questions for those who have been to Italy.
1. Accommodations: Any recommendations for apartments or hotels walking distance to any main attractions close to eateries, markets and shopping. Any hidden gems that you would recommend and why? Any areas we should stay away from?


2. List of absolute must do's while in Rome with 2 teens in 6 days.


3. Recommendations for any day trips to different cities via train or bus? (Naples, Florence, Pisa)


4. Should we split our time between two cities? 3 nights in Rome and 2 nights in Florence or Naples?


5. Any recommendations for guided tours?


6. Any Must See recommendations outside of Rome driving distance to see i.e. Castles, ruins


Any recommendations would be very much appreciated.


Grazie!!
You received a lot of great advice. March is a great time to visit. Not yet high season, prices are moderate, nice weather, and not too crowded yet.
1. Agree with considering Pantheon as the bulls eye. That puts you in the center of most things. Between April/May through the end of September it's too crowded for me, but should be fine in March. My preference is Albergo Cesare. They are a block and a half away from Piazza della Rotonda, where the Pantheon is, which keeps you out of the crowds. The only thing is, prices can vary widely, depending on the time of the year. If you like B&B's over hotels, Locanda del Sole is a few blocks from the Pantheon. Two brothers restored the family's luxury ancient Rome apartment, and turned it into an elegant but reasonably priced B&B. Five minute walk and you are in front of the Pantheon but it's located on a quiet street.

Areas you should stay away from are most places near the Colosseum, anywhere near Termini the train station, Via Nazionale, staying near the Vatican, San Lorenzo, and Piazza della Repubblica. For first timers, Parioli and Testaccio would not be good either, save that for later.

I wouldn't stay too close to the Fountain of Trevi area. It's packed. This summer they even instituted a system where they have guards around it, and once the area around the fountain fills up you can't go in unless someone else leaves, but you won't have that in March. Still, it's too packed, even in March, and it's hard to find decent food. Night time is the best time to see the Fountain, but it's beautiful at all times.

The teens will like Mercato Centrale in the train station for the food and experience. It's not a real market in the sense of selling produce, it's just a fun place to eat. There is a real authentic large food market two blocks down the street from Termini, but I forgot what it is called. The real best typical Roman Markets where Romans shop are Mercato Trionfale near the Vatican, and the Testaccio Market. i walk to both, but it's a hike for teenagers. The testaccio one is better for eating, and there are some interesting things about Testaccio. It's a real Roman neighborhood, and that in itself makes it good to visit.

2. The list of must do's is endless. That's why it takes weeks to see Rome. I've stayed there for at least a year, and even went to school there for a while, I spend a month or two there per year, and spent about two months so far this year, and I still haven't seen most of the must do's yet.

Of course, see the Fountain of Trevi, Piazza Navona, and teenagers seem smitten by the Spanish Steps. That has changed a bit since the recent restoration. It seemed as if all young travelers would congregate there, have a panino and a drink. They don't allow that anymore. You can sit on the steps, but not eat. Still, a lot of young people say it is their favorite thing.

If they like fashion walk down Via dei Condotti. It ends at the Spanish Steps. If you've got money, that's where you shop. If you don't, that's where you window shop.

Piazza Venezia is amazing, especially at night. Just have a drink and enjoy the view, but whatever you do, don't eat there, unless it's just a panino. Exploring the Forum, the different parts of it (on each side of the street), is also unforgettable, as is the Colosseum up the street from the Forum. It's really worth while to see the Forum and the Colosseum both day and night because they seem like two different things.

A half day or day at the Vatican, seeing the Basilica and the Museum is worth it. There are still some quaint places left in Trastevere to see like the plaza at Basilica Santa Maria, but it's pretty hard to eat well there. It takes a bit of research. When I was in Rome last July I heard a new word, "Trasteverizzazione." It's used in the sense of don't let your neighborhood get ruined like Trastevere by mass tourism. It's still good to walk around because it's a very old part of Rome, but it's not like it used to be, especially for food. It's still a nice place to walk through certain areas.

The Pantheon itself is amazing. It was first built around 15 BC. It burned down twice, then was rebuilt around 130 AD, and is one of the oldest buildings in the world. The Dome, one of the largest in the world, is still a miracle because they had no steel to reinforce it as they started at the rim and worked their way in to the center. They left a hole in the ceiling that is quite small, but is strategically placed to let in enough light from the sun to illuminate the inside centuries before there was electricity. Seeing a soccer game is an unforgettable experience. The intensity of each game is like the Super Bowl. Walk along the Lungotevere, or along the river. Palatine Hill. The list goes on and on.

3. You don't really need any day trips, but if you do, Florence is a quick train ride away. Leave early, come back early evening. Don't stay overnight. There's not enough time.

4. Splitting your time between two cities means that you wouldn't have time to see either one, would waste half a day traveling, and seriously degrade the vacation.

5. Context Travel is on of the best tour companies, but I'm not sure you need it with 2 teenagers. They do a lot of themed talks, and there may be one they like. Walks of Italy isn't bad either and also has themed tours, but I'd bet your teens would just rather roam Rome. You don't need a tour guide for the Colosseum, but it can help with the Forum, since most of the buildings are just skeletons of their former selves, and you usually can't figure out what you are looking at.

Since you have teens, a tour with Elizabeth Minchilli's daughter Sophie might be even better than a tour with Elizabeth herself. She's become a partner to her mother and does a lot of tours. I hear she does a great job. She's young, and might hit it off better with your teenagers than her mom would. Just a thought.

6. For ruins, the must see ones are right in downtown Rome. The Colosseum, the Forum, Piazza Largo Argentina, etc. There are two thousand year old apartment buildings you'll be walking by. Ostia Antica has nice ruins. It's a little bit of a hassle to get there, but not that much. Castel Sant'Angelo is an interesting castle right in downtown Rome, and your son would like the tour inside.

You might want to read the Italy Forum to learn not only what you should do, but also, what you shouldn't do. Such as on the Bridge to Castel Sant'Angelo and many other places there are vendors on the street trying to sell you Gucci and Prada bags for $250. They're all counterfeit, and it is illegal to buy them. Don't fall for any of it.

Think of where you want to eat beforehand. The central area of Rome is full of bad restaurants that are expensive, and cater to tourists. They have no need to serve good food because the same tourists will never come back, so the food is really bad, and you must search out the good ones, and make a reservation. Most of the gelato is fake and is just ice cream, so search out the good ones. Don't eat fake gelato.

Around the Colosseum there are fake gladiators who come to you and tell you to take your picture with them. They are like the Mickey Mouse characters around Times Square. Once you take your picture with them they intimidate and threaten you if you don't give the a significant amount of money. They have been a sore spot to Rome for years. They were banned about a year and a half ago, but a court ruled the ban illegal, and they are all over the Forum and Colosseum area again. Stay away from them.

There is no reason to be pick pocketed, have your passport stolen, etc. Read this forum on how to prevent that. Welcome to the Italy Forum!
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Last edited by Perche; Nov 5, 17 at 7:09 pm
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Old Nov 7, 17, 9:56 am
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Thank you everyone for the great comments. I really appreciate it especially since this is our first trip to Europe. Perche, this is some good reading material that's going to take me a few nights and a bottle of Chianti to decipher. I'm going sit down this week and map out our activities for our week in Rome. We officially booked the flights for March so we're all set to go. Sounds like there is so much to do in a week that a trip to Florence or Naples would be to hectic. We'll see how it goes.


I think my next step is to decide where to stay. Again, thanks for all the recommendations. Any additional recommendations on places to stay (B&B, Apartments, Hotels) by all means....KEEP THEM COMING. Looking for an apartment style or B&B for a family of 4. Someplace safe and where my teens can walk out, hang and congregate with other teens near a café, market or restaurant.
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Old Nov 12, 17, 11:22 am
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Just back from a week in Italy and I find myself longing for Rome and the amazing Italian people. My suggestion is you decide what you must see while there ahead of time. I highly recommend you prearrange certain tours so that you don't have to stand in long lines and waste valuable time. I used Viator.com and ended up with expert tour guides at the Vatican and Colosseum. I was also able to enter the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Galleria de'Accademia in Florence at a specific time. You could easily do a day trip by train to Florence and Pisa.

I started in Rome and then took the train to Pisa, Florence and Venice. It was too ambitious, but I doubt I'll be back in Italy anytime soon and I didn't have any teens with me. When my girls were teens we took many trips using a similar strategy. In 2013 we went to NYC where I planned to climb to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. They were 17 and 15 and complained about every step and how hot it was, but they still talk about the experience today.

Google maps was a lifesaver not only in finding our way, but in finding which restaurants were highly rated. I loved Ristorante Arlů just east of the Vatican.

Enjoy!

A Gladiator's View


Colosseum Underground


Top of the Colosseum




Steps in side the Leaning Tower


Michelangelo's David
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Last edited by Michael El; Nov 12, 17 at 2:31 pm
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Old Nov 15, 17, 10:40 pm
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Amazing pictures Michael El. Looks like they were taken out of a travel magazine! Did read this right when you stated you visited, Pisa, Florence and Venice in ONE day???? What train do you recommend? Any public transportation we should stay away from? We plan to take the train into Florence for a day but will try to squeeze in Pisa if its doable. Sounds ambitious but both my kids are athletes so I'm sure we can handle it for a day. Still haven't booked the hotel/apartment yet....so thats still on my to do list as well as book a few tours.

Any recommendations for accommodations (Hotels or apartments) and day tours are still welcomed. Would appreciate any favorite places to stay and why.

Thank you!!!!
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Old Nov 16, 17, 7:48 pm
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Originally Posted by jemgazo View Post
Amazing pictures Michael El. Looks like they were taken out of a travel magazine! Did read this right when you stated you visited, Pisa, Florence and Venice in ONE day???? What train do you recommend? Any public transportation we should stay away from? We plan to take the train into Florence for a day but will try to squeeze in Pisa if its doable. Sounds ambitious but both my kids are athletes so I'm sure we can handle it for a day. Still haven't booked the hotel/apartment yet....so thats still on my to do list as well as book a few tours.

Any recommendations for accommodations (Hotels or apartments) and day tours are still welcomed. Would appreciate any favorite places to stay and why.

Thank you!!!!
We wrapped up our visit to Rome and took Trenitalia up the coast to Pisa and climbed the tower. We then took the train to Florence and spent the night. After visiting the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence the next morning, we took Trenitalia over to Venice and flew out after a couple of days. My recommendation would be to leave Rome early one morning and you'd be in Florence in 90 minutes. While it would be a quick trip, everything awesome is in walking distance of the train station. The train ride to Pisa is approx. 45 minutes. Climb the tower and catch a late train back to Rome. It's a lot to do in a day, but worth it. As an alternative, you may wish to start or end your trip in the Florence or Pisa area. Always check to ensure the attractions you want to see are open while you're there. You can also check the train schedule at http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en.
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Old Nov 16, 17, 10:52 pm
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Originally Posted by jemgazo View Post
We plan to take the train into Florence for a day but will try to squeeze in Pisa if its doable. Sounds ambitious but both my kids are athletes so I'm sure we can handle it for a day. Still haven't booked the hotel/apartment yet....so thats still on my to do list as well as book a few tours.

Any recommendations for accommodations (Hotels or apartments) and day tours are still welcomed. Would appreciate any favorite places to stay and why.

Thank you!!!!
I doubt you'll get very much by traveling through three cities in a day. Especially Pisa, which is part of Tuscany, but is far less interesting and beautiful than Florence. Even when wanting to take a day trip from Florence, Pisa is usually not on the list of the best places for a day trip.

There are leaning towers all over Italy. The Leaning Tower of Pisa isn't even the one that leans the most. It's just that the others haven't been in movies, so no own knows about them. There are three in Venice that lean as much, and the one in Bologna out-leans all of them. Other than to take a picture of the tower, Pisa is generally not on the radar as a place to visit in most itineraries, unless maybe you're driving by it on the way to Lucca, a much more worthy destination.

For apartments and hotels, have you looked here?
Where to stay in Rome [Merged thread]
Or here?
Where to stay in Florence [Merged thread]
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