Trip Coach: March 4, 2008
Anne Hanley, author of "Time Out Rome," winner of our guidebook smackdown for Rome, answered your questions on Rome.
Anne Hanley: Greetings from Anne Hanley in Rome, where it feels like spring has arrived, though dire warnings of a ten-degree drop in temperatures keep being issued... that's the weather forecast for the many people who have written that they're arriving in the next few days. Now to your questions...
Whitinsville, Mass.: 4 adults (40 & 50's) are traveling to Italy in April 20-28 through a travel club in Boston called ShowoftheMonth. We are staying in Maori on the Almalfi Coast for the entire 8-day trip. We have 2 free days and would like to see if we can get to Rome for two days. We need some guidance regarding the best way to get from Maori to Rome (using public transportation train or bus) and suggestions of what we can see in the space of two days.
Anne Hanley: You'll need a lot of patience (the journey takes a while) and quite a bit of good luck (ie connections actually working) for your Rome trip not to turn into a public transport nightmare. That said, it is feasible and of course, you'll get a little while in Rome which is always a good thing. There are hourly buses from Maiori to Salerno (the local tourist office will have timetables; the trip takes about one hour). From Salerno you can hop on a train to Rome. The official railway site trenitalia.it has a great journey planner, and you can book tickets online. A fast train from Salerno to Rome takes just over two hours.
I always recommend to people who have very little time in Rome, and haven't been there before, simply to do the most obvious things, and preferably to do them on foot. Also, it pays to remember that Rome seems hell-bent on throwing complications in the way of anyone who tries to do too much too quickly. So gawk at the Colosseum, amble through the Roman Forum, 'do' the Capitoline Museums (museicapitolini.org) then take your life in your hands crossing piazza Venezia and wend through the medieval streets to the Pantheon and piazza Navona.Take your time, stop at cafés, enjoy people-watching. One attraction that I now tell everyone not to miss is the furiously ugly and out-of-place lift that they have tacked on to the back of the Vittoriano, that huge white monument in piazza Venezia. The view from up the top is indescribably beautiful.
Des Moines, Iowa: Looking for a good 3-Star or better hotel to stay at in Rome, from May 1st to May 5th. Not sure of the area, but will be flying into Lenardo da Vinci Airport. Would like to have a free shuttle if possible, too. Price from $100-200 per night. My wife, myself and my daughter will be traveling there at that time. Thanks.
Anne Hanley: With the exchange rate being what it is, and Rome being expensive for accommodation, you're going to have a hard job getting a three-star in any even remotely central area at that price. Slide down the scale to a B&B and you might have more luck. The Relais Palazzo Taverna (relaispalazzotaverna.com) is in a great location not far from piazza Navona and may fall within your price range. The two-location Daphne Inn (daphne-rome.com) may also meet your needs.
In all my years in Rome, I have never heard of a hotel with a free airport shuttle... I don't think such a thing exists. However there's a cheap and efficient train service in from the airport (adr.it).
Craigville, Ind.: We are 5 couples (teachers), ages 50+, who have vacationed in Mexico for the past few years during our March Spring Break. We need a warm-weather destination because some of our group prefers to stay at the pool all day; others, like to also see some sights. We also like the convenience of an all-inclusive resort. Is there any reasonably priced lodging near Rome where we could stay to accommodate both interests? —Terri
Anne Hanley: It can snow in Rome in March! It certainly isn't swimming weather... that comes round about late June. Offhand, I can't think of anywhere with an indoor pool. So unless your pool-loungers are prepared to change their habits and interests, I'd look elsewhere.
Chicago, Ill.: Hi. We'll be in Rome in late March with a group of 4—2 30-somethings, 1 50-something, and 1 65-year-old. We'd really like to get a glimpse of the Pope, but we've found conflicting and confusing information. We'd like to attend the outdoor mass on Sunday the 30th of March. Are tickets required? If so, how do we get them? Can you tell us anything else about the Sunday masses? How long do they last? When is a good time to get there? Do you recommend any place in particular to try to stand to get a view of the Pope? Thanks in advance for any answers you can provide.