I finished my blog on the Colosseum yesterday and felt I still had more tips to tell. If you want tips on the Colosseum (like avoiding the queue) view by previous blog, otherwise here is a round up of my top tips for Rome mini breaks!
1. The Vatican Museum shuts a few hours before St. Peter’s Bascilia, arrive at each 20 minutes before admission closes. We had a minimal queue for both, no more than 5-10 minutes. But you still have approximately 2 hours inside after admission closes. They are separate, you will have to queue for each so be sure you have enough time to get from one to the other (about a 15 minute walk).
This for us was a happy accident. On our 4 day visit in August the 14th and 15th were public and religious holidays, and we had pre booked online the Colosseum for midday on the 13th, this meant on the Monday we landed we had to trek the entire city from east to west as our only option of seeing these sights. We had originally thought we would only see one, but some clever thinking on the two attractions closing times meant we fitted in both. Horror stories of 3 hour queues were avoided!
2. Before travelling to Rome download some tour podcasts to your ipod and buy a cheap headphone adapter so you can listen with your friends or family members. The Forum makes little sense without this, there isn’t many signs around. Of course you can always buy the audio guide there or join a tour, but the podcasts we used were really great. We got a good insight to the Forum and the uses of the many buildings in this area.
I only came across these days before we left. I found a review online praising podcasts as tour guides so thought I’d download a couple. We used ours in The Forum and The Pantheon. Would’ve loved one for the Palatine Hill, and we downloaded 2 or 3 for places we didn’t visit. We could’ve planned this better but really these were a little bonus.
3. Catching the train from Fiumicinoto Termini and back again. This was a bit of a money saver we think, but cannot compare it to taxis and coaches as we didn’t use these options. Getting the train from Fiuicinoto is straight forward, follow the signs to the trains. Then you will find yourself surrounded by ticket offices selling train tickets to Termini. Honestly they all look dodgy! We picked one that said Tourist Information. We asked for our tickets and he tried to sell us a coach transfer ‘straight to your hotel’ he said with no enthusiasm ever. We opted for the train, seemed the more secure option (not to mention waiting around on a coach stopping off at everyone’s hotel).
Next you must get your ticket validated. This is straight forward too. You will see plenty of white machines with a slit in the middle for you to insert your ticket. This machine prints the date and a code, that is your ticket validated. Then wait on the platform, each is labelled with the trains destination at the front. You can wait either side of the train platform, but choose the right hand side as you walk in. People arriving in Fiumicinoto leave the train on the left hand side and doors open to board the train on the right.
Getting back to Fiumicinoto was a little more stressful, when it really shouldn’t be. This time we bought our tickets at an automated machine. The tickets were a different size to the ones that brought us to Rome but we hoped for the best! Then you wait for the boards to tell you which platform. It was very late before it finally gave our platform, Platform 24, the one right by the entrance! Don’t stress about the trains, it’ll be fine!