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Trip Notes: One Full Day in Rome

Trip Notes: One Full Day in Rome

Old May 17, 19, 9:03 am
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Trip Notes: One Full Day in Rome

We ended up with a full-day stopover (2 nights) in Rome, on the way back from Algeria and Tunisia to the US. There is surely not much new to be said about Rome, so the purpose of this report is mainly to provide some tips to help others structure a similar short stopover in Rome.

Is it worth going to Rome for just one day? Absolutely. We literally had a marathon day, walking 26.34 miles from 9am until 11pm and visiting most of Rome’s highlights. We used Google Maps to plot out the relative location of the sites and educate ourselves on an efficient route, and improvised as we wished.

This was our general walking route:

- Coliseum [we walked around the outside but didn’t go inside] & Arch of Constantine

- Roman Forum & Palatine Hill [we didn’t go inside, but saw great overall views from various look-in points all around the exterior, including from Capitoline Hill]

- Imperial Forums

- Piazza Venezia & Vittorio Emanuele Monument

- Piazza del Campidoglio [mainly for the views of the Forum]

- Jewish Ghetto

- Plaza Farnase

- Campo de Fiori

- Plaza Navona

- Pantheon

- Trevi Fountain

- Spanish Steps

- Via Condotti

- Castel Sant’Angelo

- Vatican [St Peter’s Square & inside the Basilica, but skipping the Museums]

We “covered” all of this ground from 9am until 7pm with time for lots of photos, a stop for a leisurely lunch, gelato breaks, and without particularly rushing through the sites. This was obviously a whirlwind “check-the-boxes” day and not everyone’s ideal travel style (or ours), but it was still well worth it. One could spend a week seeing all this, but if you only have a day, it can be “done” enjoyably.

In the evening, we bought a bottle of wine from a market and drank it on a bench in Plaza Navona. Then we retraced some of our steps from the daytime, and checked out several of the sites we had already visited to seem them lit up at night.

Some additional tips:

- We chose a hotel around Termini. Termini is a very practical choice for a short visit like this. Less time wasted getting to your hotel from the airport, and the reverse. Yes, Termini itself is lame and has its haters, but we didn’t spend any time there. See it as good base for convenient access to the major sites on a short trip.

- The Leonardo Express (the express FCO-Termini train) was very easy and convenient. Note that ticket machines don’t seem to take US credit cards (which don’t have PINs); we tried 3 different ones, and also read that this was the case. We ended up using our ATM debit card when we arrived. The ticket offices can take non-PIN US credit cards; we bought our return tickets from them.

- The St Peter’s Basilica security line at 5:30-6pm (in early May) took about 15-20 minutes. We’d read various musings about the lines being better either first thing in the morning (7am) or in the late afternoon. From our data point, it seems that the very late afternoon is a good time to visit.

- We didn’t buy tickets, make timed reservations, etc. for any of the sites. We made that decision in order to not waste time in lines and to not hassle with having to be at specific sites at specific times. In fact, St Peter’s Basilica was the only thing we waited in any line for. Of course, this means we didn’t go inside the Coliseum or the Vatican Museums.

- Monday night seems like a fairly dead night in Rome. Other than the tourist trap restaurants in the main tourist spots with English menus that hawkers are shoving in your face, the restaurants and bars that we walked by seemed very quiet.

This was my wife’s first time in Rome, and my second time in Rome after visiting as a kid on family trip in 1994. In 25 years, the most notable difference to me is that the major sites have pretty much been “ruined” by mass tourism. The second biggest difference is that the Vespas have essentially disappeared from the streets of Rome. Then, the streets were filled with loud, smoggy Vespas. Now, there are probably more smart cars than Vespas. Another big difference is that African and South Asian mafias have replaced the gypsies as the touts and scammers running all the shenanigans at the major tourist sites. We’ll see what happens in another 25 years…
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Old May 17, 19, 10:32 am
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq View Post
In 25 years, the most notable difference to me is that the major sites have pretty much been “ruined” by mass tourism. The second biggest difference is that the Vespas have essentially disappeared from the streets of Rome. Then, the streets were filled with loud, smoggy Vespas. Now, there are probably more smart cars than Vespas. Another big difference is that African and South Asian mafias have replaced the gypsies as the touts and scammers running all the shenanigans at the major tourist sites. We’ll see what happens in another 25 years…
I think this is an accurate description
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Old May 17, 19, 8:00 pm
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Did you buy a fedora and a selfie stick while you were at ANY of these stops?
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