Free time in Rome

I will be going on the tour that begins in Bellagio on May 11. I have been told that I should not miss the Villa Borghese, which is not on our tour, so I'm trying to schedule it on our free time in Rome. It's closed on Mondays, so that pretty much leaves Tuesday afternoon. Does anyone have any idea what time the morning tour ends and what time we will gather for the farewell reception?

Also, does the morning tour actually go into the Colosseum, or do we just view it?

Has anyone been to the catacombs? Is that worth seeing during free time?

Thanks for your help.

Comments

  • edited April 2015
    The Tauck description for your tour says:

    "Get an insider's view of Rome from a local guide on a city sightseeing tour – view such can't-miss sights as the Roman Forum, Piazza Venezia, and the Circus Maximus – and you'll avoid long lines with pre-arranged reservations for a visit inside the Colosseum. "

    I was not impressed with the Forum when we visited (not Tauck) years ago- not much left, some foundations, partial walls, and a few columns- probably a drive-by here though I believe the Colosseum ticket provided by your Tauck guide gets you access to the Forum as well, if you want to return to see it later in the day. I haven't been to the Circus Maximus, but researching it online reveals there is not much left of the original structure- what you often see online and in magazines are photos of artist's renderings and models from its heyday. (FYI, we are taking Classic Italy next spring, so I've started researching.)

    There are 40 or so catacombs (375+ mi. worth) in and around Rome of all shapes and sizes, but, according to Rick Steves, the tours are essentially the same. Many years ago I toured one near Rome that was accessed via a small entrance semi-hidden in a back corner of the ruins of a church (temple?). There was not much to see in this one. It had very narrow tunnels, barely one person wide in some places, with low head-room and poor lighting in places as well. Many of the catacombs are quite long and multi-level (with no stairs), so in addition to meandering left and right, the tunnels also moderately slope down and up- definitely not the kind of place to go if you have the slightest tendency for claustrophobia. Carved into the volcanic rock, niches, stacked one above the other, lined both sides of the tunnel walls. I don't think any of the niches we saw had remains (skull, bones, personal items). There may have been just one or two examples that had a glass/plastic viewing window. Google catacombs of Rome for more info. I would visit with Viator or other tour operator that provides bus transportation, English speaking guides (with possibly listening devices), and promises no waiting in line.

  • MCD wrote:
    I will be going on the tour that begins in Bellagio on May 11. I have been told that I should not miss the Villa Borghese, which is not on our tour, so I'm trying to schedule it on our free time in Rome. It's closed on Mondays, so that pretty much leaves Tuesday afternoon. Does anyone have any idea what time the morning tour ends and what time we will gather for the farewell reception?

    Also, does the morning tour actually go into the Colosseum, or do we just view it?

    Has anyone been to the catacombs? Is that worth seeing during free time?

    Thanks for your help.

    I did the Borghese and loved it. I took the chance on arrival day and flew off the bus, caught a cab, and made the 5 entrance I had booked. You take a chance, but if you have after hours tour of Vatican it is the only way to try to fit it in. You don't know which day your after hours tour will be till arrival. I really liked the forum and a bunch of us went together on the collusem tour ticket.
  • Thank you, AlanS and crackers54. I think that I'll continue to plan on the Borghese our final afternoon, because I figure that Tauck won't preempt the farewell dinner for the Vatican (though I could be wrong). Maybe I'll wait till I get there to book a trip to the catacombs. There's way too much to see, and not enough time to see it. That will give me a reason to go back.
  • Have taken Italian Lakes twice. If possible add a couple of days to stay in Milan. Great city! You will need to get from airport to your hotel on your own but Tauck will pick you up from your hotel in Milan and take you to Lugano to begin your tour. While in Milan be sure to see the "Last Supper", the Opera House, The Castle and of course shopping at the Galleria. In Lugano be sure to take the funicularie to San Lorenzo. Magnificent views of the lakes. You are in for a real treat with this tour. If you can, add a day or two at the end of the tour. Be certain to walk the Forum ( we actually paid for a private guide who was an archeologist) and she made the history come alive like never before. Rome is incredibly easy to navigate on your own after your experience with Tauck. I have taken 12 tours with Tauck and they never fail to exceed my expectations.
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