Topic Wiki

Rome Overview
Rome is a classic European city with several famous sites to visit and plenty of history to explore, while fortunately also having a nice Jewish/Kosher representation to cover your food and Davening needs.

Trip Reports:
Mtl18, jj1000, Cbs, Eli, steve L, jmansour, Mtl18, Yehoshua, Chapshnell, Mech, @Yehuda, Feivish, yg99, Dan, dvol, Mount Scopus, Mootkim
CGR

Getting there and getting around:

How long should I go for?
There are 3 main activities in Rome, so having a full 2 days is the minimum for a trip. Some will say that you want more time so you can explore some more of the city or perhaps visit the Tivoli gardens outside of Rome (see "Attractions" below), while others will say 2 days is perfect, and you'll be bored with anything longer. Shabbos can definitely be done in Rome since there are Minyanim and food options, but once you're in Italy, Venice is really the perfect place for Shabbos.

Travelling around Italy/Getting to Rome
Most often, if you're making a trip from USA to Rome, you're not just going to see Rome, but rather a few cities in Italy. When visiting Italy there are a few ways to travel around - trains, rent a car, or if you're going directly from one end of Italy (let's say Rome) to the other end (let's say Milan or Venice), it could be you'll want to fly.

Air:
If Rome is your first stop in Italy, then you'll likely be coming via air. FCO is the airport code. Because people arrive at FCO from many different locations, it's not practical to discuss the different routes you can take to get here. There are a few ways to get from the airport to the city center - shuttle, taxi, train, or bus. When you get out of baggage claim, you will be harassed by drivers offering to shuttle you (in a van, mini-van, or even just a taxi) along with other passengers to the city center for around 20-30 euro per person. It's not a terrible idea, and will be cheaper than a cab unless you can fill a cab's capacity with your family. A cab should cost approximately 50 euro. Leonardo Express trains to the city cost 14 euro each way, run every 30 minutes to Termini train station, and take 30 minutes for the trip. There are a couple of bus companies that offer bus service to Termini for 5-7 euro. You can buy tickets in the airport arrival hall on the right side when leaving customs. The bus can hit traffic, so the train is better bet for a more efficient ride.

Train:
If your Italy trip starts in a different city in Italy, then you may want to look into travelling via rail. There are 2 main train companies in Italy - TrenItalia and Treno Italo. Rates vary on a bunch of factors and neither site is fantastically designed, so check them out and ask for some help here if you need. Termini Train Station is the main station in Rome and is in the heart of the city.

Car Rental:
If your Italy trip starts in a different city in Italy, then besides for taking trains, you may find that a car rental suits your needs better, especially if you plan on hitting up several cities along the way as taking a train usually means having to get a cab or bus to/from each train station from your hotel. That time/cost plus the cost of the trains may cause you to decide on a car rental instead. Since it's Europe, expect a manual car unless you pay more for an automatic. Driving in Italy may bother you if you're not super comfortable driving, but that's really just in regards to the city driving; the highways are just like highway driving back home. Drop off your car at a location in town (as opposed to the airport), will get you to the city center, although will require some street driving, which can be a bit confusing/hectic/etc. if you don't love driving.

Getting around Rome
The main attractions in Rome are all within a 20-40 minute walk of each other, so walking is definitely an option if you're staying in the city center. There are also buses and a metro that you may want to take. The metro is pretty bad in Rome, with very few stops (there happens to be one at the Colosseum, but nothing within a 15 minute walk to the Jewish Ghetto), which makes it not so useful. So, if you're up for walking, it can definitely be done, otherwise a cab or bus would probably be your next best bet. When taking a taxi, it is advisable to catch one from a taxi stand and go by the meter. Non-official taxis are known to rip you off.


Where to stay:

The common points hotels are located pretty close to each other in the center of town near the Spanish Steps. That area is a 30 minute walk to the Jewish Ghetto.

Here are some places that are discussed in this thread:

NameAreaMore InfoComments
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
St. Regis RomeSpanish StepsWebsiteSPG Cat. 6 - 20K/25K, C+P 10K+$180
Westin ExcelsiorSpanish StepsWebsiteSPG Cat. 6 - 20K/25K, C+P 10K+$180
Intercontinental De La Villa RomaSpanish StepsWebsiteIHG Cat. 9 - 50K
Sheraton RomaBetween FCO and Rome properWebsiteSPG Cat. 2 - 3K, C+P 2K+$35 | For someone stingy on points, this hotel might work well. It has a paid shuttle to the airport, as well as a paid shuttle to the city center. It is far from the sites of Rome, so cabs will be expensive. A 15 minute walk to the nearest metro can get you to town, but as said above, the metro isn't great in Rome.
Sheraton Golf Parco de MediciNear FCOWebsiteSPG Cat. 3 - 7K, C+P 3.5K+$55 | Nice option if you just need to be near the airport for the night as there is an airport shuttle, although it's not complimentary.


What to do:

Attractions & Activities
Tours are very popular in Rome, particularly using one of the Jewish companies - Rome for Jews or Jewish Roma, which are described in more detail below. Whichever company you choose, the guide you get can make or break it. It takes persistence to find out who will be guiding a tour on a specific day, but here are guides that people specifically liked:

Rome for Jews
Jewish Ghetto - David (Dan)
Vatican - David (Dan)

Jewish Roma
Jewish Ghetto - Sara (@Yehuda), Yael (ckmk47)

NameMore InfoComments
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Tour of Jewish GhettoRFJ, JRThe Ghetto will be the center of your trip (because of food/Minyan and because of its actual location), so you'll get to know it well just by visiting. However, almost everyone who has taken a tour of the Ghetto has said it was the highlight of their trip. There are 2 main tour guides for the Ghetto (they also offer tours of other sites in Rome), Rome For Jews and Jewish Roma. The reviews - DDF and elsewhere - of both are outstanding. Everyone who has taken either tour has raved about it. No one on DDF has taken both, though, so there are no reports comparing the two (although you will find much discussion and debate as to which one is better that ends with neither program on top). The tour will bring you back in history and really help you understand how this small street is not just a street with restaurants, but once was closed in and housed thousands of Jews. The unbelievably gorgeous Great Synagogue of Rome is the center of the Ghetto - it can only be entered during Minyanim or with a tour guide. The museum/archive in the basement can be entered by anyone during hours, but the tours will take you there (and the entrance fee won't be included in your tour cost). The main issue with the tours is that they are extremely expensive, running about 100 euro per person (both are similarly priced and are usually in small groups). However, Jewish Roma does offer a student rate of 50 euro if others - paying full price ;) - have already started a tour for your day. The money is well worth it, but for those trying to save money, there is a free Rick Steves' audio tour of the Ghetto that people have said is good.
Colosseum,              Roman ForumsWebsiteThis area is known as Old Rome. Viewing these sites can be done on your own or with a tour. The same ticket grants entrance to both sites. You can walk into the Colosseum, and with a general knowledge of what went on there, get a good feel for the place. However, a tour could be nice. Several DDFers have taken tours with companies like City Wonders, but have felt that the guides were boring and the tours too long and not too good. The free Rick Steves' audio tour is very good and might be your best bet. However, the biggest concern at the Colosseum is the line to get in, which can be 1-2 hours long, but tour groups get to skip the line, which is the biggest upside to taking a tour. Another way to skip the line is by purchasing tickets in advance  and getting on the normally short line for renting an audio guide. By renting the audio guide, you are able to skip the entrance line. Once inside, they say it's better to use Rick Steves rather than the Colosseum's audio guide you just rented. Another option to get in faster is to cross the street to the entrance of the Roman Forums where the line for tickets is usually much shorter - again, that tickets works for both sites. The Roman Forums, just across the street from the Colosseum, is an open area that houses many ruins from different Roman structure. If you're into Roman history, you'll enjoy this part, otherwise you might find it to be dull except for the main attraction within the Forums - the Arch of Titus. There are a few entrances to the Forums, so if you just want to see Titus, try to find the entrance near the Colosseum that leads right to it.
VaticanWebsiteIf you're into art/history, the Vatican museums will be unbelievable. DDFers have varying opinions about their experience in the museum. Some loved it (with and without tours/audio guides), others found it super boring. (Could that be because they didn't take a tour?) You will also want to AYLOR about going into the Sistine Chapel, which is the last room you'll get to if you follow the museum path (somehow the @Yehudas completely missed it). To avoid entering the chapel, you can either ask the guard standing there if you can go through exit that's there (explain religious reasons, etc.) or go back through the whole museum. The lines here can be just as long as the Colossuem or they could be non-existent. Buying tickets online beforehand/going with a group should help with that.
Trevi Fountain, Pantheon,        Spanish StepsTourYou can simply walk up to these sites and check them out or you can take the New Rome Walking Tour which is a daily, free walking tour that covers these sites among others and lasts for about 2.5 hours. AYLOR about the Pantheon (as it's a church as well as a potential issue for Kohanim), although even if you don't go in, just seeing the building is worth stopping by.
Capitoline MuseumWebsiteLocated in the Forum area.  A series of buildings with lots of art, statues, etc.  You can rent an audio tour that's well worth it.
Outside Of RomeImages
Villa D'este, TivoliWebsiteIf you're willing to drive outside of Rome for about an hour (doesn't add too much time to a trip heading towards Florence/Pisa), you might want to stop in Tivoli to see this. It's an old estate that has a quick house to walk through (not too exciting) and then an absolutely stunning fountain garden in the back. You'll see tons of fountains, each designed differently, along with a great view of the countryside.
Cinque TerreWebsiteFive villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre.
Portofino (Harbor)Website Italian fishing village and holiday resort famous for its picturesque harbour and historical association with celebrity and artistic visitors.
FlorenceWebsite The capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the Metropolitan City of Florence.


Shuls:

NameMore InfoComments
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Great Synagogue of RomeWebsiteShacharis at 7:45AM, Mincha/Maariv before/after Shkia, Nusach Italki.
Oratorio di CastroN/ACesare Balbo 33, 17 minute walk from the Westin, Eidut Mizrach
ChabadWebsite, WebsiteIt seems like there are 2 websites for Chabad, with the first having some dead links, but otherwise good Jewish info, while the second seems to be the current, live site. Shabbos meals can be arranged at Chabad.


Food:

Basically all of the Kosher restaurants are on the 1 block strip of the Ghetto, aside for Yotvata, which is about 2 blocks away. All the restaurants listed below are under the Beis Din of Rome. Yehoshua and @Yehuda were told by their LORs to contact Rabbi Eidlitz from KosherQuest.org to find out more information about Kashrus in Rome. He suggested to both of them to call and rely on a Rabbi in Milan. The Rabbi there said that one should only eat in the dairy places in Rome. From the thread, you'll learn that people found out that the Jews of Italy don't require Glatt meat, which is why eating at the meat restaurants is more of a sketchy issue, although some places do offer Glatt as an option (if that works for you).

NameMore InfoComments
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
BA"Ghetto MilkyWebsiteAh, BA"Ghetto. The best place to eat in Rome (if you're only eating dairy). The pasta here is homemade and other-worldly. You must, must eat here. Ok, hope that was clear enough. Try one thing, try 'em all! You can also get a famous, tasty Roman/Jewish artichoke here, although not everyone thinks it's as good as they say. You can eat outside on the street under umbrellas, and ah! it's just a fantastic experience. There is also a BA"Ghetto Meaty down the block, but that faces the Glatt issue raised above. BA"Ghetto is right near the Great Synagogue, so it's kinda in the middle of the strip of Kosher restaurants (just for a reference point).
YotvataWebsite2 blocks away from the Ghetto, Yotvata is a very nice dairy place that's often compared to BA"Ghetto. Generally, the prices are slightly cheaper here. Most agree that although the food does taste good here, BA"Ghetto is just better.
Little TripoliWebsiteLocated in the Piazza Bologna area. This is a Mediterranean cuisine restaurant which is under the hashgacha of the local chabad and is Glatt Kosher.
GelatoN/AA little ice cream shop a few stores down from BA"Ghetto Milky that serves great tasting and cheap ice cream. Depending on your schedule, you might find yourself at 2-3 o'clock without having yet eaten lunch and might be able to pull off some ice cream/milkshake as a cheap lunch meal to save some money and hold you off until dinner.
BakeryN/AOffically known as Pasticceria Boccione and Il Forno de Ghetto, you can find this Kosher bakery on a corner in the Ghetto adjacent to the Gelato store. The store is extremely tiny, with very few baked goods on display (especially stuff that you'll recognize), but you may find some donuts and croissants that are tasty.
Kosher Delight GroceryN/ADown the block from BA"Ghetto Milky, this grocery is very small, but does have a few packaged goods from Israel that could help you put together some food for the road. You can also buy fancy cheeses at low prices that you can't get close to in America.
Flour Farina E CucinaN/AIf you have 1st hand experience please comment/update Flour is a very cool Dairy restaurant: Important note: All the cooked and baked goods are cholov Yisroel BUT the milk used for the coffee has a default option of cholov stam and you need to request cholov yisroel for the coffee/drinks - According to 2 people I spoke to at Flour (04/15/18) Located outside the ghetto - Address is: Via Cremona, 29-37, 00161 Roma RM, Italy.
Open from 7am but ala carte options typically only available during specific hours.

« Last edited by cgr on September 12, 2019, 02:39:09 PM »

Author Topic: Rome Master Thread  (Read 524345 times)

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1080 on: June 16, 2014, 10:42:52 AM »
I remember reading somewhere that it was nice, but I have no personal experience.
I have 7/18-7/20/14 booked. Cost 44,000 Club Carlson points a night, but Club Carlson Visa card holders get last night free. Making my two night stay only 44,000 points.

Based on Google Maps, does not seem to be too far away from the food or attractions.

Will comment on the stay in a bout a month from now.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline Feivish

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1081 on: June 16, 2014, 10:45:33 AM »
I have 7/18-7/20/14 booked. Cost 44,000 Club Carlson points a night, but Club Carlson Visa card holders get last night free. Making my two night stay only 44,000 points.

Based on Google Maps, does not seem to be too far away from the food or attractions.

Will comment on the stay in a bout a month from now.
Based on reviews the area is not great.

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1082 on: June 16, 2014, 10:50:36 AM »
Based on reviews the area is not great.
Seeing that now.

Going to see if i can redeem a different option.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1083 on: June 17, 2014, 10:04:46 AM »
Anyone stay over Shabbat? What did you do for meals?
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Online Ploni3

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1084 on: June 17, 2014, 07:52:25 PM »
Do you need glatt? If not, there are many places you can take out. If you do, there are more limited options.

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1085 on: June 18, 2014, 09:07:25 AM »
Do you need glatt? If not, there are many places you can take out. If you do, there are more limited options.
Glatt not necessary. Any suggestions, preferably someplace i would be able to order prior to my arrival?
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline gaossey

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1086 on: June 18, 2014, 05:56:39 PM »
Has anyone tried Bellecarne in Rome? They are under the hasgacha of the Chief Rabbi of Rome (and have glatt options) and have an interesting looking menu http://bellacarne.it/menu/ (especially the made in house Salumi)

Offline Srsy

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1087 on: June 23, 2014, 08:18:39 AM »
I just saw online that Trevi Fountain is under renovation

Offline Feivish

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1088 on: June 23, 2014, 08:24:09 AM »
I just saw online that Trevi Fountain is under renovation
@Yehuda, please report back if true and to what extend so I know to skip it or not.

Offline Srsy

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1089 on: June 23, 2014, 09:45:32 AM »
I read it on trip advisor

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1090 on: July 01, 2014, 02:48:25 PM »
I know a bunch of you are coming to Rome next week (right after we leave) so I'm skipping the order of my TR just to get you the info you need. Ask any Q's as I'm sure I'll have missed stuff.

The Great Synagogue davens shacharis at 7:30AM. Mincha this week was 8:20PM (ish, prob started closer to 8:30) and Maariv was right after. No Aleinu by Mincha so I almost missed it when they said Barchu lol).

If you're staying at Sheraton Roma, let me know and I can help get you to town but believe me, it's not so easy :-/

There are many more restaurants in Rome than are talked about here, but I imagine that's bc they're all fleishig. All the Tuedot say the exact same thing, so I don't know why no one here eats at the meat places, but bc of that, we didn't go to any meat places. The only 2 dairy places are BA"Ghetto Milky and Yotvata as others have talked about. They sell the same things, Yotvata was several euros cheaper on everything, but my wife got the same dish at both places and liked BA"Ghetto's MUCH better. The Gelato place has the same hashgacha as does the bakery. Gelato was very good, but I've had better ice cream in my life. But it's a nice, cheap alternative to a meal if you can handle just that for lunch - 2-4 euro pp. Bakery is TINY and has so little food out (esp food that you'll recognize) but we found donuts and croissants. There's another bakery which opened up recently right next to the "famous" one but it was barely open so we didn't go. There's also a grocery (very shvach) where we picked up some stuff for traveling. Last point: all the stores are on 1 block except Yotvata which is about 2 blocks away.

On to the attractions.
Jewish Roma was great! From taking Jewish tours in BCN and FCO we learned that you won't get anything out of just walking around a place that had Jewish history but has little remains. You wouldn't know you were walking in a ghetto that once housed thousands of Jews in a 2 block radius. I can't say it's always worth the money to take a tour (as the guy in Toledo wanted 300+ euro for the tour) but here, esp if you can get the student rate of 50 eur, it was definitely worth it - even though we didn't have Micaela (the owner of the company). Sara, our guide, was great. Expect 3 hours with a lot of standing/walking around - even though you don't leave the 2 blocks.

We travelled an hour to shul, did this tour, walked to the Colosseum and did the City Wonders tour. It was too much for a day and it knocked us out. BUT, you can save yourself the money and energy if it's not too late - DON'T book a tour of the Colosseum/Forums unless you are SUPER into Roman history. Sure, it's great to skip the line, but at least when we were there, the line did not look too bad and it was all inside in the shade. Not sure if that's normally the case, but then just try to buy entrance tickets ahead of time or buy just the audio tour to get in faster just I wouldn't buy a real tour. Warning: part of the exterior of the Colosseum is being cleaned so there's scaffolding. Ruins pics of the outside, but pics inside were very nice too.
Let's start with the Colosseum. You're going here to see it. You already know what happened here (esp if you saw the movie). I hope. Gladiators were forced (usually, we did learn that sometimes citizens volunteered to show strength and move up in the community) to fight someone and sometimes animals were thrown in to add some spice. The guide added SO little to what we knew from history and the movie. It looks like a big stadium (reminded me a lot of Yankee Stadium) and you can tell on your own where people sat, and that the underground level was where they held the gladiators. The guide pointed out that the movie was only wrong in that they didn't have many people thrown in the ring at once to fight - it was always one-on-one. Great, she didn't add much.
Then we went to the Roman Forums. We found it really boring. It's basically an area full of ruins of Roman buildings like churches and political buildings. It IS very cool to see this entire area - the epicenter of THE Roman Empire - in shambles, but all the ruins looked the same and they also looked like the ruins you'll see randomly spread out throughout Rome. The only valuable part was seeing the Arch of Titus as the personal affect it has on Jews, but I would suggest buying tickets on your own and finding the entrance to the forums that leads right to the Arch and then calling it a day. After the Forums, the tour started up Palatine Hill which we never heard of but the guide said was the birthplace of Ancient Rome. Because she said at the start of the tour that you could leave early, just return your headsets, we did so at this point.

The next day we went to the Vatican Museums. We pre-booked online, but although the place was packed with tours, it didn't look like there was any line at all to buy tickets on the spot. We really didn't like that the signs pointing you around were unclear and the whole place felt kinda like up in the air, but we looked around for about an hour and did not feel like an official tour would have made the experience better, just perhaps more organized. Everything had English signs, which was nice. We found the Egypt museum (they call each room a museum, hence the plural Vatican Museums) which was cool but how many statues can you look at? We found out soon enough when we reached the Greek and Roman museum which was literally a hundred busts and sculptures. This stuff wasn't really our kinda taste. We walked around some more and found some rooms with paintings but left when they all started being about Jesus and the different Saints. No interest there. Next thing we know, we're at an exit and never even got close to the Sistine Chapel, so no idea what everyone here was saying that it's hard to convince security to let you out the secret exit before the chapel or otherwise having to walk through the entire museum to exit the way you came in. The place is not that big. No big deal to exit at the beginning. If art is your thing, come here. Otherwise I might skip it.

We wanted to do the Free Walking Tour, but realized all we cared about was Trevi and the Pantheon. With some Google Mapping, we found a bus to Trevi and saw it's under a 10 min walk to the Pantheon and then about 10 min to the ghetto for dinner. So, we took a bus to Trevi Fountain, and like Srsy warned (but we ignored/forgot about), it's under renovation. DO NOT go here! The scaffolding is kinda see through, but... the water's off!! Kinda cool to see lots of pennies at the bottom of an empty pool, but yeah, skip this unfortunately. Seriously, though, why is everything under construction!?
We walked to the Pantheon and were really amazed. I mean the thing it's 2000 years old and is still functioning. The signs make it clear that it's still a functioning church, so yeah go in if it's your thing, and don't if it's not. We walked to the door (looks like it's free to enter) and peeked in - was really beautiful.

So yeah, hope that helps you guys. Typed on my phone so cut me slack with typos.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1091 on: July 01, 2014, 03:04:48 PM »
I know a bunch of you are coming to Rome next week (right after we leave) so I'm skipping the order of my TR just to get you the info you need. Ask any Q's as I'm sure I'll have missed stuff.
Nice report. Thanks for the mid-TR update!

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1092 on: July 01, 2014, 03:23:35 PM »
Thanks for the TR. Some good info for my 2 days there.
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Offline SOS

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1093 on: July 01, 2014, 03:29:22 PM »
Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to update us

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1094 on: July 01, 2014, 03:58:09 PM »
Hope it helps. Will probably add more info when I get up to it in my overall TR, but I think I hit everything important here.

FYI there are very few subway stops in Rome, which make taking the Metro really annoying. Subways are also covered in graffiti. Like entirely. Many busses around, but we mostly walked. Took 1 bus and it was really hot so we stopped taking them.

Offline kivabb

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1095 on: July 01, 2014, 04:12:13 PM »
You think RFJ could have given you any more info for Ghetto,  just more expensive... or did you feel that what you got was very comprehensive?

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1096 on: July 01, 2014, 04:22:21 PM »
You think RFJ could have given you any more info for Ghetto,  just more expensive... or did you feel that what you got was very comprehensive?
Very comprehensive. From a guide who grew up in Rome and whose family has been in Rome for a long time. Obviously, if RFJ offers more, I wouldn't know what that is, but she covered the time period of the Ghetto as well as the 1940's when the Nazi arrived.

Offline Emkay

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1097 on: July 01, 2014, 04:24:01 PM »
Did rfj give you the student rate?  Did they need documents?

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1098 on: July 01, 2014, 04:31:10 PM »
Did rfj give you the student rate?  Did they need documents?
Not RFJ. I took JR and no they didn't ask for paperwork.

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Re: Rome Master Thread
« Reply #1099 on: July 01, 2014, 04:33:27 PM »
Not RFJ. I took JR and no they didn't ask for paperwork.
I meant JR, thanks. How long us it from hotel to town?