I'm going to be in Italy for 4 weeks in August with my husband and 2 children, ages 7 & 9. We'll be driving in from the South of France (having spent 4 weeks in France). We'll fly out of Rome.
For background, in terms of car rental, our original thought was to do a long term lease with buy back, picking the car up in Avignon and dropping it off in Rome (Rome and Milan are the only drop off options in Italy and we don't plan to go to Milan). I originally thought we would have the car for 7 weeks, as we don't need it our first week in France, which will be spend in Paris.
I'll call this Plan A. My original dream itinerary, before really doing any research, was to spend a week in the Tuscan countryside, perhaps Lucca, split a week between Venice and Florence, do a week on the Amalfi Coast or Capri and then finish in Rome before we fly out. I was trying to keep all our moves to one-week periods of time because we'll largely be renting houses or apartments and I thought that the rentals in Lucca and the Amalfi Coast would have 7 night minimums.
When I mapped the drive from either Venice or Florence (I thought I would leave the car outside of one of these cities, probably Florence, and take the train between the 2) to the Amalfi Coast, I realized it is just too far to drive. I know that there are cheap flights between Venice, for instance, and Naples, but we would have to get rid of the car before that.
I think I've realized if I get rid of the car before Florence & Venice, I can do a regular car rental for 4 or 5 weeks (not the buy back program) and it is cheaper than the long term lease for 7 weeks. Would I need a car on the Amalfi Coast for any reason? I've seen that question asked before with varying answers. I'm happy to take ferries/hydrofoils/trains if that's easier. And yes, I am afraid of heights and having buses barrelling at me on a narrow road! I know I don't want it in Rome, Florence or Venice (obviously).
Plan B & C would include cutting out the Amalfi Coast out just because it's geographically not as convenient as the other locations. I'd be a little sad about this. It's just someplace that I've always wanted to see. It is so breathtakingly beautiful and unlike anything we're likely to see anywhere else.
Plan B could be 2 weeks in the Tuscan countryside and then split 2 weeks between Florence, Venice & Rome. If we do this, I wonder how much time we will need in Florence if we've already had so much time in the countryside. We could easily do day trips into Florence from our base in Lucca. On the other hand I don't think I want a full week in Venice and a full week in Rome. I know there is more than enough to see in these cities to fill a week, but I think in August, if it's hot, we might be more comfortable in the countryside. Plan B with 2 weeks in the country would be nice because it would give us much more time to feel settled in a place, but I wonder if 2 weeks in Lucca is too much time.
Plan C could be 1 week in the Tuscan countryside and then 1 week at Lake Garda and then the 2 weeks split between Venice, Rome & Florence. We'll have 2 weeks on the coast in France, so having some time on a lake could be a nice change of pace.
The other thing I'm trying to figure out is that I'm flying my mother in and want to get her a direct flight from JFK. It looks like that means flying into Venice or Rome based on the airline I ahve miles with. I want her to be there for the last 2-2 1/2 weeks of our trip. I'm thinking flying into Venice makes most sense, so I need to be sure we're in Venice about a week and half to 2 weeks into our 4 weeks.
I know you'll want to know what I'm interested in and what I want to see. I am so envious of people who can easily put that into words. I don't want to overload my children with Roman ruins, museums and churches though those are definitely on the list. I can't say we're into hiking. If it were me and my husband travelling alone, we would spend time in museums, see 1 or 2 churches, and just spend time walking around, shopping and eating. I just want my kids to soak it all up and see that there's a different rhythm and a different way to live. In that way, I almost don't think it matters where we are. I'm sure different regions of Italy have different "flavors" and I'm happy to have the children compare and contrast how the cities are different from the countryside and the north is different from the south.
Does anyone have any suggestions or opinions for me? I'm open to anything you have to tell me! I know I've been vague about what we're hoping to see. I just don't know how to articulate it any better. I know I have more research to do on my end, but I'm feeling a time crunch because I want to book my mothers plane ticket and I thought you all might be able to help me get my thoughts together.
Thanks in advance for your help.
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