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Cinque Terre or Agristurisimo June 2011 w/Teens

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My husband & 3 children (18,14,13) will be flying into Rome - staying for 4 nights and going to Venice for 3 nights after which we will be departing for 7 day Greek Isle Cruise.

We have 5 days between Rome and Venice and can't decide where to go - Cinque Terre or an agriturisimo in Tuscany.

If we do an agriturisimo we are looking for a place that does not require a minimum of 7 nights, offers tours of winery/farm, long dinners served family style getting to know the family or other guests, bike riding, close to a town and in close proximity to train station (we will not have a car), possibly a 1/2 day cooking class or olive oil tasting, a pool, relaxing in the evening.

If we do Cinque Terre (which is what we all originally wanted to do - but are now concerned since the flooding that we have limited choice of accomodations, will be dealing with construction issues and closed areas) - we would like to hike the cities, immerse ourselves in the culture, taste lemoncillo, take a dip in the ocean or pool and just relax. My heart really goes out to the people in Cinque Terre and I would like to go there as a way to help support them and their rebuilding efforts. That being said, we have valid concerns about the logistics.

Does anyone have any recommendations - which would you do with 3 teens? Recommendations on places to stay in either location?

The dates we will be there are June 17-21, 2012

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    My kids and us, 23, 14, 11 are staying in Monterosso. I found an apartment right by the beach. I believe Cinque Terre will be okay to visit by July. We are going June 23rd to the 30th.
    If you want some recommendations for apartments there let me know.

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    You can't immerse yourself in the culture of le Cinque Terre, not because of the recent floods, but because the culture of le Cinque Terre has radically changed in recent years due to mass tourism. Without a car, it is hard to reach the agriturismi in Liguria that are near le Cinque Terre (olive oil producers, etc.).

    However, if you can do without the agriturismo experience in le Cinque Terre, you really needn't be concerned that the recent floods will have too large an impact on your plans to relax and enjoy swimming, hiking, limoncello, etc. Only one and one-half towns were affected. At any time, even without floods, trails can temporarily be closed or somebody can be repairing a staircase, but you will still have overwhelming prettiness all around you.

    You might look into staying in Levanto, because I believe there are one or two places up in its low hills set into olive groves. Likewise, if you are really looking to go local, check out the agriturismo in Bonassola (just do a google search for those words). You won't get dinner, but you will definitely be a step outside of mass tourism, into true Liguria, but only a 10-minute train ride to le Cinque Terre.

    If those long dinners on the farm are really important to you, Tuscany is right in between Rome and Venice, and there are dozens of places with everything on your wish list. Just do a google search with a search string that includes "Tuscany agriturismo bike riding cooking class restaurant pool " etc. But prepared for the fact that at some point you might need a taxi to get you there from the nearest public transportation stop.

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    We have only stayed at an agriturismo twice, both with a rental car, and while we enjoyed our time at those places, we much prefer staying IN small or big towns, especially with our teens.

    I would think it would be difficult to find a place that fits what you're looking for, plus that you could get around from via public transport.

    Especially for the older teens, do they want that countryside time? Our kids really enjoy the cities, and seeing and experiencing what's going on. Your oldest may want to do some exploring on his/her own, as well. (Our 17yo is looking forward, on our trip this Spring, to sitting at a Parisian cafe by himself, looking introspective and moody.)

    My non-extensive experience with agriturismos (one outside of Macerata, in the Le Marche area, and one in southern Tuscany for a horseback riding week) was that each family/group had their own room or apartment. And the dining was at separate tables, just like at a restaurant. While we did talk to the owners some, they were there to run their business, not spend huge amounts of time chatting. So think about what you have in mind vs. what the experience may really be like.

    Long dinners. My kids are mature diners, and are fine with the 2 or 2-1/2 hour dinners that we often have in Europe. But not everybody is, and even adults sometimes want a break with a shorter (relatively) meal of pizza or the like. So consider if your entire group will enjoy long dinners every night.

    We haven't taken our kids to rural Tuscany, because we felt that there just wasn't enough that they would enjoy doing (they actually like museums); but that's our kids. We adults like rural Tuscany, but we like just wandering through various small towns; they don't like that wandering and really don't seem to "get" beautiful views. We did visit Le Marche, an area of Italy that has more castles, which our DD did like (as did we), but that's an area where you definitely need a car and that requires a lot of driving.

    Usually I would recommend the Cinque Terre, because it is interesting and has hiking available. But not right now, for the reasons already mentioned.

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    I do want to say that many agriturismi do serve communal dinners, so if that is what you want, it is definitely available, and many owners do enjoy talking to their guests. If you decide against le Cinque Terre, you might take a look at some of the agriturismi/wineries around San Gimignano, which you can reach by public transportation from Florence or Pisa, and some of which are close enough to San Gimignano that you can walk there. There is also a lot of bicycle rental and horseback riding opportunities in that area.

    Again, I can only emphasize to people that the situation in le Cinque Terre regarding hiking and swimming this coming summer is really no different than what it has been in previous years. Last summer, some of the trails were closed because of heavy spring rains. This summer, they may all be re-opened and all five towns plan to be welcoming visitors. So there is no reason to think that "right now" is a bad time to consider going as opposed to some other time.

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    Thanks for your replies!

    We are traveling 3 nights in Rome (staying in city), doing the middle trip - TBD, then staying in Venice 3 nights and then departing for 7 day Greek Isle Cruise.

    So, I thought since we were doing the city thing in Rome and Venice the agriturismo idea was a nice change of pace - doing day trips to Florence - 1 day (David, shopping), Pisa (quick picture at Leaning Tower then Lucca - bike riding around city - 1 day & maybe Cinque Terre - 1 day. We found a lovely house just outside of Florence to base our stay. No pool but I don't think we will have time for much swimming. They have offered to provide dinner for us (along with letting us prepare with them) and also have arranged a guided tour/tasting of one of the local agriturismos (wine,olive oil, honey and salame)- with some friends of theirs who own the farm.

    I think it is settled now. Thanks so much to all who took the time to respond. Ciao!

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