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I'm going to Rome alone & I have no sense of direction

(69 Posts)
eyesonme Sat 23-Sep-17 10:35:19

Ok I'm not going alone. I'm taking my 9 year old who is a massive history buff.
It's my first ever trip without another adult and I'm really nervous.

I have no sense of direction and I'm worried I'm going to be stressed and just wondering aimlessly up and down.

We go next week and I haven't even booked any tours because I'm dreading it and I should be really excited.

We're staying in an air bnb which has amazing reviews but is a 15 minute walk from the Vatican.

I booked it after exh left as a treat for us and now I wish I hadn't confused

Anyone have any tips or advice?

Witchend Sat 23-Sep-17 10:41:31

If you arrive in America you've gone the wrong direction 😃

Nubbled Sat 23-Sep-17 10:42:41

Do you have a smart phone? If so, Google Maps is what you need. I have no sense of direction and can navigate around cities with it.
I hope you can relax and have a lovely time.

StrongerThanIThought76 Sat 23-Sep-17 10:42:43

I was in Rome last month and it really is quite a small city. Because of it's ancient historical monuments there are few grand boulevards like in Paris so it can feel quite claustrophobic and confusing.
Get a map, a good one. Mark on it where your AirBnb is, and where you want to visit. Moat of the major sights are close to a Metro station, but it is not a huge walk to get around on foot.

Our biggest support was free Internet access - you can now use whatever mobile data you get on your uk contract whilst in most of Europe. So use Google maps to search for where you want to go then get walking or public transport directions.

Don't panic, be aware of your surroundings and enjoy!

hidinginthenightgarden Sat 23-Sep-17 10:42:59

Google maps?

loveka Sat 23-Sep-17 10:43:15

Use google maps on your phone. Thats what I do now all data is included in my phone plan.

eyesonme Sat 23-Sep-17 10:43:36

Ah google maps, I hadn't even thought of that!

Trollspoopglitter Sat 23-Sep-17 10:46:57

If you have a smart phone, search for Rome maps or Rome city walks. There's a lot apps for free or for a small fee that will download to your phone. I hate worrying about dropped signals and wifi costs.

Sushiqueen Sat 23-Sep-17 10:50:51

Google maps is great for Rome - we used it there last year to navigate between places.
We walked must places which is really easy to do in Rome. If you want to go in the Colosseum you can prebook online and bypass the queues which is well worth it.

Hulder Sat 23-Sep-17 10:54:51

Loads and loads of people in Rome are tourists - you will see masses of people carrying maps so don't worry. We got stopped all the time by other tourists asking for directions, it's just part of it.

Your AirBnB host will likely provide you with a map - mark on it where you are staying and the big landmarks you want to go to.

Plan out what your must sees are and do a vague schedule, you don't really need tours but you do need an idea of what you do and don't want to do as there is so much there that Rome can be quite overwhelming and you well I did just get stressed and don't know where to start.

Also, google maps grin

Most of all, wear sensible comfy shoes. The cobbles get painful after about 5 minutes in anything else.

The Vatican is a bit of a thankless walk from anywhere possibly bitter as did it at 6am in a rush after missing the bus and worth getting the metro/bus to.

Whereabouts is your AirBnB? Depending where you are, it kind of doesn't matter that much if you get lost as in the centre you will just keep falling over the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps etc over and over.

allegretto Sat 23-Sep-17 10:59:32

Also getting lost in Rome is part of the fun! There is so much to see it doesn't really matter if you wander around aimlessly.

Hulder Sat 23-Sep-17 11:01:48

YY to pre-book Colisseum - queues are enormous. If your 9 yr old is a big history buff he will prob enjoy the Forum, wandering around the old temples etc. We enjoyed doing this just with a guide book to tell us what everything was and found it more fun than the Colisseum - you go in, it's big and there used to be gladiators there... done in 10 minutes. Prob needs a tour to make it interesting. Whereas Forum took most of the day.

Have you got other ideas of what you want to do?

eyesonme Sat 23-Sep-17 11:04:56

Thanks all.
We're in San Giovanni??? Just google mapped and it's a 20 min walk to the colosseum from the apartment.

Should I pre book any tours?
Any tips when we get there?

Ds wants to see the catacombs, Vatican and colosseum. I looked to pre book tours online and to do all three it's nearly £300 is there a cheaper way to do this???

Crunchymum Sat 23-Sep-17 11:06:21

The beauty of Rome is even if you walk in the wrong direction you come to one of the famous sites / landmarks grin

Depending on where you stay, you can walk almost everywhere, although the Metro service is good.

We bought a map (it was a few years back, but I'd been a few times before this) to indulge DP's map reading skills shock

Melassa Sat 23-Sep-17 11:10:30

If your DC is a history buff, I cannot recommend this enough - night tours in the ancient Fora

My then 9yo loved it, as did all my friends' DCs, both Italian and not. The best one to do is Caesar's Forum.

You can book online, which I would recommend as places go very quickly.

Where exactly are you staying? 15 mins by public transport from the Vatican or on foot? The first day you can book an open topped bus to get your bearings and decide what to visit.

allegretto Sat 23-Sep-17 11:14:30

The private colosseum tours are expensive. Just go on the ones run by the colosseum - we were queuing and the English tours were about to start so they plucked us out of the queue to join in! Just get there earlyish. The Vatican is a pain to queue for as all the nuns are brazen queue jumpers! Definitely go up to the top of St Peter's dome for an amazing view of the city, especially at sunset.

Melassa Sat 23-Sep-17 11:14:49

If you're only there a couple of days I would avoid museums as you waste time queuing up. There is so much to see outside that you won't be missing much by not visiting museums. The Vatican we visited from the outside, didn't bother going in as the queues were horrendous, even if you had prebooked tickets. Colosseum is worth it though, when we went they were filming a documentary and had built an animal lift, which was interesting.

allegretto Sat 23-Sep-17 11:15:43

I would avoid the buses if possible but the metro is good.

Melassa Sat 23-Sep-17 11:16:06

Yes, I agree re the tours for the Colloseum, there are loads of municipal tours that are good value for money.

eyesonme Sat 23-Sep-17 11:21:24

We have 3.5 days, great we're early birds anyway so will get to the colosseum early.

Might book Vatican tour online then.

It's going to cost a small fortune isn't it!

Melassa Sat 23-Sep-17 11:23:05

I think there's a bus from San Giovanni that takes you to the Vatican area. The website for Rome public transport with route finders is ATAC, or else there's an app called Moovit that gives you maps and transport options in whatever city you're in. It also tells you when to get off so you don't miss your stop.

LIZS Sat 23-Sep-17 11:23:28

Try the coopculture website for official entry tickets and tours - you may find your ds is free entry. The Imperial Fora and Colosseum are close to each other and on a joint ticket, Palatine museum a short stroll from there and some accessible underground Roman houses just across the road entered by the Trajan column. What parts of the Vatican does he want to see? The museum is vast so worth prebooking an entry time to avoid initial queue and planning a route in advance. There is a hop on/off bus which would take you from place to place easily.

Hulder Sat 23-Sep-17 11:28:35

Don't prebook a tour to the Catacombs. You can go there easily by bus - or get a taxi would be cheaper and then they are really cheap. A nice trainee priest takes you round usually. Will try to remember details but am mid hair-dye so time critical grin If you can make a day of it you can also have a wander up the Appian Way and have lunch there.

One or 2 catacombs is enough BTW - I did 3 and it was too many!

Vatican - you don't need a tour. We went 3 times {were there for 3 weeks and are art history obsessives). Guide book is enough. Book tickets in advance so you don't have to queue then just take your time and decide for yourself what your own highlights are.

HungerOfThePine Sat 23-Sep-17 11:28:55

I went on holiday to Barcelona alone for the first time this year, I basically got a sense of which areas all the attractions etc were by looking on Google and Google maps so I could also coordinate my visit. I also did a lot of aimless walking in a general direction to get to the beach etc and had a great time.

On my first day/night I bussed and walked to a market to find it closed so took a metro to the other side and walked to get what I was looking for.

Google maps is your friend and helps with the local transport timetables too.

Being lost is part of the fun, I take the be chilled and just enjoy being there approach.

Hulder Sat 23-Sep-17 11:58:10

OK 3.5 days

I would say this works out as v roughly:

1 day Vatican + Castel Sant'Angelo

1 day Colosseum, Forum and stuff around there - go to San Clemente, your DS will like the temple of Mithras

1 day trip to Catacombs + Appian Way

With quite generous amounts of time left over for wandering around seeing Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, a few churches and attempting to interest him in Caravaggio, eating pizza.

If he wants to do Catacombs he will prob like the Capuchin ossuary where you actually get to see bits of skeleton - in the Catacombs you are mainly just walking about in the dark.

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