My husband and I are in the very early planning stages for a trip next year to Italy with two teens (age 14 & 18). They chose the destination and the trip will be in October during their fall break. The kids are being tasked to find things they would like to do depending on which cities we end up visiting. Our Plans are to schedule our flight on a Saturday (arrive Sunday) and fly out on a Thursday (roughly 11 days of activities). We will be flying from Chicago and most likely fly in and out of Rome (unless someone has a less expensive suggestion). The three cities we would like to visit are Rome, Florence and Venice. However we are open to suggestions to other cities/countries (my oldest boy has three years of high school German he would like to try out) However none of us what to spend more time in transit than actually exploring so two to three cities would be the max we would want to visit on this trip.
So here are a list of things we would love to hear suggestions about:
Suggestion on a city and and a specific area of the city we can use as a home base that is central to that city. We would like to know what is great about the area and what it has to offer. Any suggestions on specific Hotels or Apartment rentals? We don't require fancy, we do require English speaking and a WiFi connection. Our style of traveling is that we do not want to rent cars and we prefer to walk to all of the great places the city has to offer from where ever we end up staying. We don't mind using the local transit (buses or trains). We would like it close to casual dinning/street vendor dinning, markets, gardens. We don't mind noise, we actually would love to be able to look out a window and see street life at any given time during the day or night. We like to see a street change from a market in the morning with coffee shops and pastries to street vendors at night with street artist performing.
Suggest great markets and gardens/parks in Italy. Our last three trips have been to Paris and our favorite part always ends up being the market for picnic food and then exploring the city and gardens on foot. As a reference our favorite parks in Paris are: Jardin du Luxembourg, Jardin des Plantes, Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Parc Floral de Paris.
Suggestions on places to visit and things to see. We love exploring architecture but unless it is extremely special we don't enjoy museums stored with artifacts. What we do enjoy are old buildings, statues and churches that are beautiful and relaxing to gaze at and are open to the public for exploring with minimal entry fees. Parks or churches that have public musical events. In Paris we loved being able to stop into a church and take a break listening to classical piano music and we also loved being out walking and happening upon the techno parade.
Suggestions on who to purchase cell phones and service from on our stay..we would like to purchase three in expensive cell phones (voice & text only) upon landing and preferably not at the airport as it is more expensive. What shops have the best prices and who is a cheap but reliable carrier?
Suggestions on great websites, books or phone apps that would help us and the kids when planning our trip or while we are in Italy that would be great. We are going to learn some basic Italian so that everyone can be polite if not fluent So language, apps or books would be great. Also iphone apps that don't need data would be great, ones that are GPS specific that offer maps of areas or transit/tourist information.
Day trips that could include exploring by bicycle. Where to rent a bicycle and great biking routes.
Areas that have free wifi hot spots.
Special customs that we should be aware of so that we are prepared and do not appear rude or offend anyone. Typical store hours, dinning times, tipping rules. Areas that we might stay away from if our non-fluency in Italian will be an issue.
Ok... so that about sums it up, sorry about writing a book, but I wanted to let everyone know what we enjoy so that we get some great suggestions. We really appreciate any information you can provide us.
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