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Rome Venice & Florence trip planning for March 2018

Rome Venice & Florence trip planning for March 2018

Old Jan 25, 18, 8:02 am
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Smile Rome Venice & Florence trip planning for March 2018

Hi all,

My parents and myself (3 adults) are travelling to Italy this March for 11 days. It will be our first time in Italy (might be the only time for parents). We are interesed in Italian food and wine, as well as relaxed scenes, not so much on historical museums. Below is our itinerary and feel free to provide suggestions/feedback.

Day 1 Arrive at FCO at 17:15, check in to a hotel near Termini Station for 3 nights
Day 2 Rome Sunday food Tour 10:30-14:30 and concludes 10 minutes away to Colosseum. Visit Colosseum for the rest of day (closes at 17:00) Perhaps use Hop on& Hop off bus for day 2 and 3?
Day 3 St Peter's Basillica in Vatican in the morning, Piazza di Trevi and Spainish steps for the rest of the day
Day 4 Visit one of the markets (either Campo de Fiori or Nuovo Mercato Esquilino). Check into Rome Cavalier and dinner at La Pergola to celebrate parents 60th tonight.
Day 5 Train to Venice 12:50-16:35 and check in to Hilton Molino Stucky for 3 nights.
Day 6 Cicchetti and Wine Tour of Venice 11:30 - 14:00, follow by Free Venice Walking Tour 15:00-17:30. DFS T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi for sunset at the rooftop
Day 7 Rialto Market for lunch, St Mark's Square and Doge's Place. Grand Canal / Gondola in the early evening.
Day 8 Train to Florence 14:30 - 15:30 and check in to a B&B near Firenze Santa Maria Novella
Day 9 The Mall Outlet, and visit Merrato Central in the late afternoon for dinner(open in the evening?)
Day 10 Tuscan Farmhouse cooking class (with market visit) 9:00-16:00. Plazzale Michelangelo for sunset
Day 11 Leave Florence at 14:08 to FCO for 19:15 departure

I have spent about a week to outline the bigger parts of our trip. Mum only mentioned she would like to visit Italy for her 60th a couple weeks ago. Any spots/parks for picnic?

All suggestions/feedback welcome. We are also looking for pleaces to eat (which I need to start researching), as well as your favourite/ most memorable places from your previous visits.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 8:52 am
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Amalfi Coast, Clinque Terre and Pisa are some of the places we would love to visit (even just day trips) but won't have time!
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Old Jan 25, 18, 1:09 pm
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There's a beautiful park across the Ponte Vecchio in Florence -- Giardino di Boboli.

If you like steak, I highly recommend Antico Ristoro di Cambi. Best steak I ever had and my father was a butcher. Reservations needed.

In Rome, we really enjoyed Armando al Pantheon. Our best meal in Rome. Reservations needed. For a casual meal (we went for lunch) we really liked the food court in the back of Termini.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 2:29 pm
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I think it is a lovely way to celebrate your parents' 60th. I would advise against staying at the Hilton in Venice. The location is not in an area which is conducive to walking and exploring food and wine . It is rather off the beaten path. I suggest looking for a hotel in the Castello area of Venice. There are many fine hotels and the location is quiet, not overloaded with tourists, and you will definitely find excellent places to dine and snack in the area.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 2:40 pm
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Originally Posted by zqsn5678 View Post
Hi all,

My parents and myself (3 adults) are travelling to Italy this March for 11 days. It will be our first time in Italy (might be the only time for parents). We are interesed in Italian food and wine, as well as relaxed scenes, not so much on historical museums. Below is our itinerary and feel free to provide suggestions/feedback.

Day 1 Arrive at FCO at 17:15, check in to a hotel near Termini Station for 3 nights
Day 2 Rome Sunday food Tour 10:30-14:30 and concludes 10 minutes away to Colosseum. Visit Colosseum for the rest of day (closes at 17:00) Perhaps use Hop on& Hop off bus for day 2 and 3?
Day 3 St Peter's Basillica in Vatican in the morning, Piazza di Trevi and Spainish steps for the rest of the day
Day 4 Visit one of the markets (either Campo de Fiori or Nuovo Mercato Esquilino). Check into Rome Cavalier and dinner at La Pergola to celebrate parents 60th tonight.
Day 5 Train to Venice 12:50-16:35 and check in to Hilton Molino Stucky for 3 nights.
Day 6 Cicchetti and Wine Tour of Venice 11:30 - 14:00, follow by Free Venice Walking Tour 15:00-17:30. DFS T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi for sunset at the rooftop
Day 7 Rialto Market for lunch, St Mark's Square and Doge's Place. Grand Canal / Gondola in the early evening.
Day 8 Train to Florence 14:30 - 15:30 and check in to a B&B near Firenze Santa Maria Novella
Day 9 The Mall Outlet, and visit Merrato Central in the late afternoon for dinner(open in the evening?)
Day 10 Tuscan Farmhouse cooking class (with market visit) 9:00-16:00. Plazzale Michelangelo for sunset
Day 11 Leave Florence at 14:08 to FCO for 19:15 departure

I have spent about a week to outline the bigger parts of our trip. Mum only mentioned she would like to visit Italy for her 60th a couple weeks ago. Any spots/parks for picnic?

All suggestions/feedback welcome. We are also looking for pleaces to eat (which I need to start researching), as well as your favourite/ most memorable places from your previous visits.
Are the flights already booked? If not, I recommend departing out of VCE rather than going back to FCO which is what I did in October. Started in Rome and took the train to Pisa, Florence and Venice.

You will love the Hilton Molino Stucky. It's a beautiful property and away from the hustle and bustle of Venice. The Hilton's boat runs between the hotel and Venice every 20-30 minutes.

Last edited by Michael El; Jan 26, 18 at 12:12 am
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Old Jan 25, 18, 3:03 pm
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As I'm sure you've seen in your research, any one of these cities could fill your entire trip on its own. But being your first trip, I totally get your itinerary.
I will make one recommendation. Unless you have a specific reason for spending three nights near Termini in Rome, reconsider this booking. The part of Rome you want to see (and stay in) can be thought of as about a 1 mile (2 km) diameter circle centered on the Pantheon. This includes the Vatican, the Coliseum and Forum, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiore, Trastevere, the Spanish Steps. Even Termini is at the very edge of this circle, but the area around the station is pretty bleak, whereas the area around Pantheon is excellent and the best place to first experience this amazing city. The closer you stay to the Pantheon, the more conveniently you're touring and exploring in Rome.
Anyway give it a thought and Happy Travels.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 3:48 pm
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I wouldn't stay at the Hilton in Venice. Venice is a cluster of 117 islands. The Comune of Venice includes a large swatch of land on the mainland, and also very far away from the City of Venice. The Hilton is not located in the city of Venice. You will have to take a boat to get to and from Venice from the Hilton. They have their own boat, but it is not going to drop you off where you need to be, and you will be tied to their limited schedule. When visiting Venice, you really should stay in Venice itself. Castello is the best neighborhood to stay in. Avoid at all costs staying near San Marco or the Rialto bridge.

You absolutely do not want to check into a hotel near the train station in Rome, unless you are hoping to get mugged. It's ugly, it's dirty, it's full of transients and pickpockets. You should be as far away from Termini as possible. You really should find a hotel as close as possible to the Pantheon. Staying near the train station in Rome, or any city in Italy for that matter is a mistake. In Rome it is a huge mistake.

Your day 4 is a little squishy, at least during the day. Campo de Fiori is really just something you walk through. It's not an activity. It's nice to go to markets and get an idea how locals live, but Nuovo Mercato Esquilino is not something I've ever thought about as an activity or destination. It's a long way from (hopefully) where you will be staying. It's just a block from the train station, which is not a nice area. In fact, if I were in that area I'd go into the train station, and go to Mercato Centrale for a bite to eat. There are a lot of markets in Rome, and I guess if you wanted to see one of the bigger ones it would be that one, but Rome is made up of lots of different neighborhoods, and each of them will have a market. Going all the way down there I'm afraid will be a bit of a disappointment, because hopefully you will not be staying near the train station.

Congrats on La Pergola. Cavaliere only serves if you there for one night, and leaving in the AM, because it is well outside the historic center of Rome. It's about a half an hour drive by taxi to get from there to central Rome, but if you are just going to sleep there and head to the train station in the morning, it will be nice. Just give yourself plenty of time.

You really can't eat at the Rialto Market. It's a market where they sell fruit, vegetables, and fish. You will have to choose one of the restaurants nearby, but be very, very careful. Most of them serve junk, tourist frozen food. There are gems, but you need to target a specific place and go there. An alternative when near Rialto is to get cichetti, because some of the best are a block away from the Rialto Bridge, on the San Polo side. If from the market you just ask people where the church San Giacomo di Rialto is, they are all around that square. It's a very interesting square. There is a marvelous, historic clock on the church, the oldest in Venice. Cantina Do Mori is a cichetti place that opened around there sometime in the early 1400's, and looks and feels like it. Banco Giro, Al'Arco are other good ones there. There are many in the area. `People can argue about which was the world's first bank, because I'm sure banking goes back to the stone ages, but arguable the first actual bank was in Venice, across from that church, established around 1157. Venice was a major world trade center because of its dominance of shipping, and it's connection to the silk road. The bank is outside, and consists of nothing but a table on the other side of the square from the church, but it is still there, and many people consider it to be the first actual establishment of a bank. See the Rialto Market, but then go to that area a block away to eat. The area around Rialto is full of tourist trap restaurants, except for the cichetti places around the square where that church is. The earlier you go to the Rialto Market, the better. It's closed on Sunday and Monday, and when it is open it closes down fairly early in the afternoon, except for some vegetable stands. I think it's around 1PM when they start winding down, except for the vegetables, which is nothing. You want to see the fish.

I question where you want to stay in Florence because again you are choosing a place next to the train station. It's dumpy and ugly there. Go down closer to the Arno River and stay in central historic Florence. Train station areas are always a no-go in Italy. The Mercato Centrale is open in the evening. There are no Mall Outlets in Florence. There are a number of them outside of Florence, but you'll have to get on the highway and drive for half an hour to get to any of them. There are buses that leave from central Florence to go to the malls, but who wants to spend half an hour on a bus to save a few euros? I get it if someone is really into shopping, but I consider it the waste of a day in Florence. Some will send a shuttle to your hotel to pick you up if you plan on being a big spender, but remember, even a wallet at the Mall Outlet might go for 500 euros.

For picnicking be careful, because you can get a fine. It's OK in park, but if you sit down and eat on the Spanish Steps or anywhere els, or in Venice, or in Florence, you are going to get a ticket. Rome is full of fantastic parks, with the best probably being Villa Borghese. Venice is park poor. There is a very tiny one just off Piazza San Marco down by the water. You could walk by it and not notice it. It's near the vaporetto stop San Marco Vallereso. The other one is Giardini down in Castello. It actually is a park, and is very nice. Most people would take a vaporetto and get off at the Giardini stop, but strong walkers can easily get there from anywhere. For example, from Piazza San Marco facing the water, turn left and just keep going. It's on the water down that way, maybe 3/4 of a mile, and it is a wonderful walk. You'll also be in the deepest part of Castello, which is a good place to be. It is authentic, and not touristy. Cities have turned their wrath on picnickers sitting on and blocking church steps, bridges, monuments, the Spanish Steps, etc. You really need to go to a park. Don't even think of sitting somewhere outside and eating, unless it is in a park in any of the three cities you are going to.
obscure2k, rickg523 and Kiara like this.

Last edited by Perche; Jan 25, 18 at 4:08 pm
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Old Jan 26, 18, 3:30 am
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OP here, thank you for all the valuable feedback.

Originally Posted by AAMillionaire View Post
There's a beautiful park across the Ponte Vecchio in Florence -- Giardino di Boboli.
Originally Posted by AAMillionaire View Post

If you like steak, I highly recommend Antico Ristoro di Cambi. Best steak I ever had and my father was a butcher. Reservations needed.

In Rome, we really enjoyed Armando al Pantheon. Our best meal in Rome. Reservations needed. For a casual meal (we went for lunch) we really liked the food court in the back of Termini.


Thanks AAMillionaire, we sure love steak and will add those restaurants to our to-go list.

Originally Posted by obscure2k View Post
I think it is a lovely way to celebrate your parents' 60th. I would advise against staying at the Hilton in Venice. The location is not in an area which is conducive to walking and exploring food and wine . It is rather off the beaten path. I suggest looking for a hotel in the Castello area of Venice. There are many fine hotels and the location is quiet, not overloaded with tourists, and you will definitely find excellent places to dine and snack in the area.


Thanks obscure2k, will have another look at the accomdation options in Castello area of Venice.

Originally Posted by Michael El View Post
Are the flights already booked? If not, I recommend departing out of VCE rather than going back to FCO which is what I did in October. Started in Rome and took the train to Pisa, Florence and Venice.
Originally Posted by Michael El View Post

You will love the Hilton Molino Stucky. It's a beautiful property and away from the hustle and bustle of Venice. The Hilton's boat runs between the hotel and Venice every 20-30 minutes.


The flights are booked (yet to ticket). We are deaparting from Taipei (TPE) and have considered 1 stop to Italy with TK (via IST), KL (via AMS) and EK (via DXB). Turned out direct flights TPE-FCO with CI (China Airlines) to be the cheapest.

Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
As I'm sure you've seen in your research, any one of these cities could fill your entire trip on its own. But being your first trip, I totally get your itinerary.
Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
I will make one recommendation. Unless you have a specific reason for spending three nights near Termini in Rome, reconsider this booking. The part of Rome you want to see (and stay in) can be thought of as about a 1 mile (2 km) diameter circle centered on the Pantheon. This includes the Vatican, the Coliseum and Forum, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiore, Trastevere, the Spanish Steps. Even Termini is at the very edge of this circle, but the area around the station is pretty bleak, whereas the area around Pantheon is excellent and the best place to first experience this amazing city. The closer you stay to the Pantheon, the more conveniently you're touring and exploring in Rome.
Anyway give it a thought and Happy Travels.


We have not booked/pay for the Rome hotels. For the first 3 ngihts we are considering Gioberti Art Hotel (and Rome Cavalieri for the 4th night). It does make senses to stay near Pantheon and everything is within walking distance and not have to bother with public transport. Cheers for the advice, rickg523. Will have another look at the accomdating options in Rome.
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Old Jan 26, 18, 4:16 am
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Thank you Perche for taken your time to write up this deatiled and helpful suggestions/feednack. Really appericated it.

Originally Posted by Perche View Post
I wouldn't stay at the Hilton in Venice. Venice is a cluster of 117 islands. The Comune of Venice includes a large swatch of land on the mainland, and also very far away from the City of Venice. The Hilton is not located in the city of Venice. You will have to take a boat to get to and from Venice from the Hilton. They have their own boat, but it is not going to drop you off where you need to be, and you will be tied to their limited schedule. When visiting Venice, you really should stay in Venice itself. Castello is the best neighborhood to stay in. Avoid at all costs staying near San Marco or the Rialto bridge.

You absolutely do not want to check into a hotel near the train station in Rome, unless you are hoping to get mugged. It's ugly, it's dirty, it's full of transients and pickpockets. You should be as far away from Termini as possible. You really should find a hotel as close as possible to the Pantheon. Staying near the train station in Rome, or any city in Italy for that matter is a mistake. In Rome it is a huge mistake.

Your day 4 is a little squishy, at least during the day. Campo de Fiori is really just something you walk through. It's not an activity. It's nice to go to markets and get an idea how locals live, but Nuovo Mercato Esquilino is not something I've ever thought about as an activity or destination. It's a long way from (hopefully) where you will be staying. It's just a block from the train station, which is not a nice area. In fact, if I were in that area I'd go into the train station, and go to Mercato Centrale for a bite to eat. There are a lot of markets in Rome, and I guess if you wanted to see one of the bigger ones it would be that one, but Rome is made up of lots of different neighborhoods, and each of them will have a market. Going all the way down there I'm afraid will be a bit of a disappointment, because hopefully you will not be staying near the train station.


Originally we wanted to stay at
Gioberti Art Hotel in Rome, but will be looking at staying near Pantheon now after serveral people suggested agnist staying near Termini. Will have another look if there are any markets we can visit on a Tuesday morning before we head to Rome Cavaliere in the afternoon and relax a bit.

Congrats on La Pergola. Cavaliere only serves if you there for one night, and leaving in the AM, because it is well outside the historic center of Rome. It's about a half an hour drive by taxi to get from there to central Rome, but if you are just going to sleep there and head to the train station in the morning, it will be nice. Just give yourself plenty of time.

Originally Posted by Perche View Post
You really can't eat at the Rialto Market. It's a market where they sell fruit, vegetables, and fish. You will have to choose one of the restaurants nearby, but be very, very careful. Most of them serve junk, tourist frozen food. There are gems, but you need to target a specific place and go there. An alternative when near Rialto is to get cichetti, because some of the best are a block away from the Rialto Bridge, on the San Polo side. If from the market you just ask people where the church San Giacomo di Rialto is, they are all around that square. It's a very interesting square. There is a marvelous, historic clock on the church, the oldest in Venice. Cantina Do Mori is a cichetti place that opened around there sometime in the early 1400's, and looks and feels like it. Banco Giro, Al'Arco are other good ones there. There are many in the area. `People can argue about which was the world's first bank, because I'm sure banking goes back to the stone ages, but arguable the first actual bank was in Venice, across from that church, established around 1157. Venice was a major world trade center because of its dominance of shipping, and it's connection to the silk road. The bank is outside, and consists of nothing but a table on the other side of the square from the church, but it is still there, and many people consider it to be the first actual establishment of a bank. See the Rialto Market, but then go to that area a block away to eat. The area around Rialto is full of tourist trap restaurants, except for the cichetti places around the square where that church is. The earlier you go to the Rialto Market, the better. It's closed on Sunday and Monday, and when it is open it closes down fairly early in the afternoon, except for some vegetable stands. I think it's around 1PM when they start winding down, except for the vegetables, which is nothing. You want to see the fish.


We will be avoiding all the toursit traps (hopfully after our guided food tour we would know better). Heard too many bad stories about costly restaurants in Venice.


Originally Posted by Perche View Post
I question where you want to stay in Florence because again you are choosing a place next to the train station. It's dumpy and ugly there. Go down closer to the Arno River and stay in central historic Florence. Train station areas are always a no-go in Italy. The Mercato Centrale is open in the evening. There are no Mall Outlets in Florence. There are a number of them outside of Florence, but you'll have to get on the highway and drive for half an hour to get to any of them. There are buses that leave from central Florence to go to the malls, but who wants to spend half an hour on a bus to save a few euros? I get it if someone is really into shopping, but I consider it the waste of a day in Florence. Some will send a shuttle to your hotel to pick you up if you plan on being a big spender, but remember, even a wallet at the Mall Outlet might go for 500 euros.


We are looking at booking Residenza Castigliono in Florence, it is advertised near the train station and the central market (Mercato Centrale). We will have another look at the accomdation options near Arno River.

The Mall is an outlet located at
Via Europa 8, 50066 Leccio Reggello (FI) - Toscana - Italia, where you can find Gucci, Prada...etc. Thank god they have direct bus service and mum is excited. If we do return earlier on the day, I am sure we can fit another acitivies/sighseeing before dinner.

Originally Posted by Perche View Post
For picnicking be careful, because you can get a fine. It's OK in park, but if you sit down and eat on the Spanish Steps or anywhere els, or in Venice, or in Florence, you are going to get a ticket. Rome is full of fantastic parks, with the best probably being Villa Borghese. Venice is park poor. There is a very tiny one just off Piazza San Marco down by the water. You could walk by it and not notice it. It's near the vaporetto stop San Marco Vallereso. The other one is Giardini down in Castello. It actually is a park, and is very nice. Most people would take a vaporetto and get off at the Giardini stop, but strong walkers can easily get there from anywhere. For example, from Piazza San Marco facing the water, turn left and just keep going. It's on the water down that way, maybe 3/4 of a mile, and it is a wonderful walk. You'll also be in the deepest part of Castello, which is a good place to be. It is authentic, and not touristy. Cities have turned their wrath on picnickers sitting on and blocking church steps, bridges, monuments, the Spanish Steps, etc. You really need to go to a park. Don't even think of sitting somewhere outside and eating, unless it is in a park in any of the three cities you are going to.
Park it is for picnic/or seat down and eat. We will add some of the parks/places you mentioned on to the to-do-list. Thanks agsin, Perche.
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Old Jan 27, 18, 8:06 pm
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I have done a bit more digging on this forum and found Mario de' Fiori has been recommended by Perch, and it's within our budget!

Is Hotel Degli Artisti in Rome recommonded to first time visitors?

Has as anyone stayed at Residenza Castiglioni in Florence? Any first hand experience in terms of location and safety or the sourrounding?
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Old Jan 27, 18, 9:09 pm
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I too appreciate this thread as I have similar itinerary in may, but shorter times. Booked into FCO out of LIN. I'll use your FCO and VCE guidelines.
Looking for somewhere in Tuscany to stay for a couple nights. Preferably a Marriott or Starwood property. Nice hotel just not $500 / nt if possible.

Again thanks for the great advice.
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Old Jan 28, 18, 10:06 am
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Originally Posted by zqsn5678 View Post
I have done a bit more digging on this forum and found Mario de' Fiori has been recommended by Perch, and it's within our budget!

Is Hotel Degli Artisti in Rome recommonded to first time visitors?

Has as anyone stayed at Residenza Castiglioni in Florence? Any first hand experience in terms of location and safety or the sourrounding?
Degli Artisti is a fine hotel. I always go by, "do they have the basics, so that I'm reasonably comfortable, but more importantly, where is the location. It is a fine hotel, but remember, Rome is the City of Seven Hills. It's on top of one of them. To get from the hotel you have to walk to the Spanish Steps, and walk down. To get back to it, you have to walk up the Spanish Steps. You mentioned bringing elderly parents. They'd better be spright. And you have to go up or down the Spanish Steps and get to central historic Rome, because there is nothing in the neighborhood of the hotel. It's a nice hotel, and I could do this. I also know how to go around the Spanish Steps and just walk up the hill. That's not going to work for you. It's either up and down the Spanish Steps, or take a taxi. Most people like to look at the Spanish Steps, not have to climb up and down them. Don't go by hotels that say, "close to the Forum, close to the Colosseum, close to the Vatican. It's not true. I don't take the train when I go to the Vatican, I walk. But it's not close. It's a big city, and not too many things are close. It requires a fair amount of walking. Bulls eye is the Pantheon. That's the place that puts you in much in the center of things as you can be. Degli Artisti is about a 20 minute walk to the Pantheon.

Residenza Castiglioni is OK, just remember, when it says residenza, it is not a hotel. It is a B&B, so don't expect the same experience as staying in a hotel. It's fine, nothing wrong with it. Unlike Rome, the historic center of Florence is compact. It happens to be too near the train station for my taste, but not right at the train station. I think of Ponte Vecchio as my ground zero there, or Piazza della Republica, and the train station being the worst zone. Once you get past the Duomo and keep heading for the train station, you get rapid deterioration. This is in that zone, past the Duomo, a few minutes walk from the train station. It's perfectly acceptable, maybe a 15 minute walk to Ponte Vecchio, but since you are staying at the Waldorf in Rome, I'm assuming that budget wise you can be in a better location in Florence. Also, consider that many people choose a hotel just on the other side or the Arno River, in Altrano, close to Ponte Vecchio. It's a little more authentic and away from the tourists than staying down the block from the train station.
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Old Jan 30, 18, 2:55 pm
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Originally Posted by zqsn5678 View Post
Is Hotel Degli Artisti in Rome recommonded to first time visitors?
I would very much recommend degli Artisti! I stayed there with mrs. iapetus and the iapetus jrs. back in July 2016. We felt that the staff was very friendly. (They were particularly fond of the iapetus jrs., but this is Italy, so ... ) We would have enjoyed it even more if they had completed amenities such as the rooftop bar, which were still under construction back then and are presumably finished by now. The one issue with degli Artisti was pointed out by Perche:

Originally Posted by Perche View Post
It is a fine hotel, but remember, Rome is the City of Seven Hills. It's on top of one of them.
mrs. iapetus didn't like this aspect of the hotel so much. The reasons behind this were that we were 1) pushing children in strollers up a hill at the end of the evening when we returned to the hotel and 2) it was a little farther from places near where we wanted to be (my favorite place to socialize in Rome is just west of Piazza Navona).

Otherwise, I think it's a great place, and I have recommended it to colleagues who are going to Rome this March. It's also conveniently located above the Barberini metro station, and there are stairs that take you up and down most of the elevation difference between the station and the hotel.
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