1 month in Italy - home base?

Old May 26th, 2022, 04:50 AM
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1 month in Italy - home base?

We are planning a one month stay in Italy next summer. There will be 4 of us - my husband and I, plus my 16 year old son and 19 year old daughter. We are looking for a place that my husband and I can take italian language classes as well as a place that my kids can explore on their own while we are busy with class or working. I've landed on Bologna as a possibility but wanted to see if there was somewhere else I should consider. What I liked about Bologna is it's proximity to other locations for weekend trips. I also thought there might be enough for the kids to see and do to keep them busy.

Appreciate all input...Thanks!
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Old May 26th, 2022, 06:16 AM
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Bologna good as it is the centre of a web of railway lines making for easy access to the region, plus a high student population. So yep, looks good to me.

But do you really want countryside?
Do you really want water, sea water?
Do you really want lots of bicycle lanes?
Do you really want mountains?
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Old May 26th, 2022, 08:07 AM
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Thanks! I think we will spend some time afterwards or before traveling. We haven't really checked out the lake district so that's a possibility. We are trying to do this without renting a car so easy public transport is important.
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Old May 26th, 2022, 08:10 AM
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I love Bologna. One of my favorite places in the world. I don't enjoy it so much in summer though, because it gets real hot, and the porticoes keep streets shaded, but they still bake. There's city bustle, the medieval qualities do best when there is a good amount of darkness - - it just seems a bit bright and stifling and citified in summer, and not nearly as much fun for the teens to explore as it would be in winter. In summer, Ferrara might be better, especially since everybody, young and old, rides bikes everywhere. Ferrara is only half an hour from Bologna, so you could even commute into Bologna for classes, and/or for the food! They could also daytrip into Venice (1 hr by fast train) for endless exploring.
Echoed here: https://bolognaliving.com/best-time-...bologna-italy/

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Old May 26th, 2022, 09:10 AM
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I was wondering about Ferrara too (I prefer it to Bologna but it is pretty much smaller, though access to the Po is easier).

I'd also consider agriturismi https://www.agriturismo.it/en are a bit cheaper than staying in town but you would need to find an easy way to get from where you stay to class. A bit of diligent study will find a local train stop nearby if you are lucky.

Modena?
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Old May 26th, 2022, 09:38 AM
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I will definitely check out Modena and Ferrara as well. Appreciate those recommendations.

In terms of the weather in Bologna we are planning on June so maybe it wouldn't be so hot and stifling. Will definitely research this some more.
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Old May 26th, 2022, 10:20 AM
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What's your tolerance for heat? Bologna in summer would be too hot and humid for me. Ferrara is a great mid-sized town, but weather would be similar to Bologna. Both have good connections to other places, but for me to endure that kind of weather for a month, I'd need a pool.

I'd look at Turin or Bolzano. If you can deal with the heat, consider staying somewhere near Perugia with a pool and easy access to train/bus service.
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Old May 26th, 2022, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Jean View Post
I'd look at Turin or Bolzano. If you can deal with the heat, consider staying somewhere near Perugia with a pool and easy access to train/bus service.
Great suggestions, Jean. I thought of Turin too - - fab city and easy to wander and enjoy. I just wonder if Turin & Bolzano limit daytrip & weekend opportunities too much. Also, Americans can often handle 80's temps. But Bologna and 80's is a bit more claustrophobic and vehicle-exhausty than bikes in Ferrara or an easy smaller city like Modena or Mantua. Padua is also kind of high stress dense or else it would be a good option too. Perugia is definitely intriguing, though public transport makes for limited daytripping options in Umbria.
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Old May 26th, 2022, 01:08 PM
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Have a look at Montecatini. It has a ton of things to do and good rail connections. I took HS kids to Italy and we stayed there for a couple of days. They loved it.

Also, consider Lucca. Pretty, things to do, good rail connections.
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Old May 26th, 2022, 01:21 PM
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The other constraining factor is that we want to take Italian lessons while we're there. I know there are some schools in Bologna. Not sure about Turin, Bolzano etc.

We loved Lucca when we stayed about 7 years ago. I believe there's a school there where we could focus on our Italian. I'll check on Montecatini.
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Old May 26th, 2022, 05:13 PM
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What sort of things would your children be interested in doing? Would they be confident enough to hop on trains and buses while you're occupied with lessons and work? Will you have a car for weekend trips?

Turin has several options for lessons in Italian, and it's the 4th largest city in Italy, so multiple museums and attractions. In terms of atmosphere, it's more refined than some large Italian cities (including Bologna). Architecture and food have strong French influences. The Lakes aren't too far. French Alps are to the north, charming Piemontese towns to the south, and the Italian Riviera beyond that.

Bolzano has many great day trip options by train and bus for the younger folk, esp. if they like to hike. There's a cable car from the town center into the nearby mountains. On weekends you could explore the Dolomites, Lake Garda, or dip into Germany or Austria. The area was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so there are strong Teutonic influences. Almost of the towns have both Italian and German names.

Lots of people love Lucca and google indicates there are language schools, but it's too small for me for an entire month. Montecatini Terme is smaller and, though lively, probably doesn't have much in the way of language lessons.
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Old May 26th, 2022, 07:23 PM
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Are your kids not interested in some Italian classes also, or perhaps some other things like a cooking school or art school of some kind, bike tour perhaps?
I just had a quick look. There seem to be so many art and painting classes for teens all over Italy. There were also soccer camps and cooking school. I thought of this because years ago one of my students went to school in Florence and really loved it. My GD goes to Art or Music camps and schools all the time, learns a lot and has a wonderful time. So, while you are doing some special learning, your kids could too, and they would be meeting other kids their age.

Last edited by Sassafrass; May 26th, 2022 at 07:32 PM. Reason: More info
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Old May 27th, 2022, 03:43 AM
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Bologna is a great city for young people. It does get hot, but June is not usually as hot as July and August.

I think Torino would also be a good destination. It's a vibrant city, and definitely cooler than Bologna.

I would also consider Ravenna, a coastal town where nearly everyone travels by bicycle. There are several beaches there, and plenty to see there and nearby. There's at least one good language school there, but you could possibly even commute to Bologna (an hour by train, but that doesn't include getting to and from the train station).

I think Annhig spent an extended period of time in Ravenna, but maybe I'm thinking of someone else.
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Old May 27th, 2022, 03:55 AM
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Here's an excellent trip report from ellenm, who attended a mosaic making school in Ravenna. It also covers her shorter stay in Bologna.

I Go to Pieces — An Italy Trip Report
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Old May 27th, 2022, 05:04 AM
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For us, it would be Venice.
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Old May 27th, 2022, 05:10 AM
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Lots of great suggestions here. Maybe you should find out what your kids are hoping to do while you are learning Italian? That may help you decide on a base. Do they not want to learn Italian as well, or that too much like school in their vacation time?
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Old May 27th, 2022, 09:23 AM
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I appreciate all the great options. My kids are not interested in learning Italian on their summer break even though they have Italian citizenship. My daughter will be coming out of her freshman year of college and my son will be finished with his sophomore year of high school. Trying to get them to tell me what they might be interested in doing is next to impossible. Y'all have given me lots of options to think about. I will definitely keep this thread posted.
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Old May 27th, 2022, 12:12 PM
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I prefer Torino to Bologna (just find Torino more attractive with the mountain backdrop--there's something so flat about Bologna, but hey, I think that's my issue). There are language schools all over Italy. I've studied in Venice and Rome. And have friends who have studied in Torino, Bologna, and Siena. You're spoilt for choice, really.
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Old May 27th, 2022, 12:46 PM
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What do your kids do at home?
It just occurred to me that there might be interesting volunteer things for teens in Italy. There are tons, everything from something connected with Marine life to caring for animals in zoos and shelters, to working on a farm and to helping immigrants with language. They all seem so interesting. This is just one website. Of course, I assume you would check them out. People at the language school you choose might also make recommendations.

https://www.volunteerhq.org/destinat...SAAEgLY9_D_BwE

The kids might also start a travel blog, including their research and planning, to share with other teens.
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Old May 27th, 2022, 12:49 PM
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"Trying to get them to tell me what they might be interested in doing is next to impossible."

I would let it go. Tell them what town you chose and let them figure out what they'll do. Have recommendations together with any needed transit info, but unless they're real self-starters you may be disappointed in how little they end up doing. Have they been to Europe before? Will your daughter resent being "saddled" with her brother most days?

Do they have any fluency in Italian? After navigating on their own for a few days, they may wish they had some/more.....
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