1 week in Italy with two small kids

Old Jan 14th, 2004, 05:04 PM
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1 week in Italy with two small kids

Hi,
My husband and I are thinking of going on our very first trip to Italy in May. We have a 5 year old and a 1 year old.
We were thinking 3 days in Rome(if possible include a trip to a beach like Ostia) and 3 days for Florence(if possible include a drive through the Tuscan hills). Does this sound reasonable or totally crazy? Or do you suggest other places in Italy since we have small kids? We are thinking of seeing only the most famous of the museums and spend as much time outdoors as possible.
We are limiting the trip to 1 week because we don't think the kids will take more than that.
I would also love to hear from more experienced travellers on how to plan the trip, where to stay(safe and clean places under 120Euros), where to find good deals for flights, car rentals etc. For the most part we hope to make do with public transportation.

Thanks,
Ciny
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Old Jan 14th, 2004, 05:17 PM
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I just had my nephew (who is 6) in Italy with me in October. I was super concerned that he would get bored b/c he didn't have his "x-box" or couldn't watch cartoons etc....
To my suprise, he fell in love with Italy and has asked me when I am bringing him back!!! (I swear he is 6yrs. old)...
We were there for my wedding in Fiesole (right outside of Florence) and he LOVED Florence...
He told me he didn't get to do enough shopping!!!
Anyway, just a bit of insight from a 6 yr. old on his trip to Italy!
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Old Jan 14th, 2004, 05:24 PM
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You can travel by train between Rome and Florence.

I don't think 3 days in Rome would be enough, and besides, you will need at least one day to recuperate from jeg lag.
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Old Jan 14th, 2004, 05:30 PM
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Be prepared to be awakened in the middle of the night for several nights by your one year old, who will be ready to play.
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Old Jan 14th, 2004, 05:46 PM
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Is your one year old a milk drinker? We took our 2 year old ( a big milk drinker) to Europe and I have memories of hunting down fresh cold milk as the ultimate challenge. We got by fine but if you're not prepared for it it could be a problem especially if he/she doesn't drink anything else.
As mentioned above we took our kids to Florence and the hill towns when they were that young and they loved roaming through the cobblestoned streets, the cars, scooters, train rides - it was real fun for them and for us. They also loved the cafes!
Go and enjoy!
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Old Jan 14th, 2004, 06:54 PM
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We actually find that the longer the trip, the better it goes. One week is really quick to go and come back with kids and have two long flights on either end. We usually go for two weeks and it gives the kids time to adjust and enjoy before we head home. We've gone to the UK when our son was 6.5 months, 20 months, and the latest in October when he was 3.5 years and joined by his 1 year old brother. We're going again in May--can't wait.
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 05:48 AM
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We went to Italy for two weeks with two small children (one 2 year old and one 1.5 year old ... and 4 adults) last summer. Two weeks worked really well and we split our time evenly between Tuscany and Rome.

We flew in and out of Rome and upon arrival in Rome drove straight to Tuscany. The boys slept pretty much the entire way. We had a week to unwind in relative calm (and utter beauty) with our own place (an apartment in a villa) with lots of space to roam about and lots of neat things to see and great food to eat (both at restaurants and at the villa).

We then took the train back to Rome (dropped the car in Florence) and had a week in an apartment there. It was busier, louder and dirtier (the kids came home very dusty at the end of each day) but the sights, sounds, fountains, churches and museums were exciting and interesting to the adults and children alike.

We found the apartment route was a big help and also not moving too often (only two places in two weeks). That allowed us to unpack and really settle in at each destination.

I agree with the earlier poster that two weeks works really well because there is time to get used to the time difference. Also the kids aren't being moved about too much. Many of the Tuscan hill towns have playgrounds and all of the restaurants were very welcoming of children (we did travel with handy, travel size booster seats but most places had one high chair). We always ate breakfast in the apartment ... we bought a lot of brioches (croissant-like buns), juice and milk and fruit. Yogurt is also available. We were often the first to arrive at a restaurant for dinner because the Italians eat later than North Americans but we never went hungry and everyone was welcoming.

It was a wonderful vacation and the kids really were perfect. You'll have a great time. Good luck!

Tory
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 06:18 AM
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From my personal experience with our kids of about the same age, as long as food, beverages and rest come at regular and normal intervals, be it 1 or 2 weeks, the kids never got bored and were very sad when going back home.
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 06:54 AM
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I think your plan is reasonable. Just plan some down time where you can take them to the park and let them just run around (Borghese in Rome). If you go to any museums, get the audio tour, the 5 year old may actually enjoy using it (or at least pressing all the buttons). Italy is very child-friendly.

Accommodations for 4, for under 120E is going to be tough. We stayed in a quad at Hotel Casci in FLorence (a very nice 2*, great value) but I think it will still run more than that. Rome is even pricier.
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 07:05 AM
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I'm also planning a first trip to Italy with a 3 1/3 yr old & a 1 yr old. We found a great book at Barnes & Noble called Italy with Kids. There is also a small book called (I think!) Rome with kids, or Rome with Children.

We decided it would be better to go for 2 weeks with small kids. Venice is supposed to be great for kids (no cars). I found a highly recommended B&B with a 1 bedroom apt. on main floor called B&B Gli Angeli for 104E/night (they have cribs & can provide babysitting). We didn't book it because they didn't have ac, and we will be there in August. But it looked great!http://www.realvenice.it/inviata.htm
We are staying at Locanda San Barnaba, which has been recommended by this site, and the NY Times. http://www.italian-shop.com/LSB/lsbEnglish.html

In Rome we are staying at the Albergo del Senato, but it is more expensive. Hotel Abruzzi is less expensive, but in the same central location. http://www.albergodelsenato.it/contact.htm

Then we are going to Sorrento, which is also supposed to be child-friendly, for 1 week. But I think Tuscany would be good too.
 
Old Jan 15th, 2004, 07:06 AM
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We took our kids to Italy several times when they were young. It's now their favorite place on earth. I agree that one week is maybe too short - by the time they've adjusted to the tme difference, it'll be time to go home.

Italy is a great place to travel with kids because the Italians love children so much. We could hardly make it down a street without people stopping to fuss over our little ones. We had waiters grab our daughter out of our hands and take her into the kitchen of a restaurant and feed her warm milk with sugar and biscotti while we ate dinner.

Just plan the trip with the kids' needs in mind, and you'll have a great time.

You can find good deals for flights on the internet at places like Orbitz, CheapTickets, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. Or you can use a consolidator. I usually hunt down the best fares I can on the internet, then call my consolidator. Most of the time, he gets me a better fare. I also always check the airline websites directly.

For car rentals, I always use AutoEurope (1-800-223-5555).
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 07:47 AM
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I would reconsider the two weeks: Spending a full week in a city allows you to go with an apt. This saves money, and makes it so much easier to feed young ones. A weekly rental in center city areas is easy to find for under 120Euros, not as easy for a hotel for four. An apt. for a week will also allow your 5 yr old to possibly make freinds with the youngsters on your block - something that happend to freinds of mine who took their 5 & 7 yr old boys to Rome. Also 2 weeks in an apt. is about the same cost as 1 week in a hotel where you eat every meal out.
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 09:11 AM
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Thank you so much for all the replies. I am very much tempted to do a two week trip now!
Many of you mentioned booking apartments. Where would be a good place to start looking for one?
I will go get the "Italy with kids" book this weekend.

Thanks again!
Ciny
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 10:16 AM
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Here's a good start:

http://www.gotoroma.com/pages/apartments.htm (look in historical center or campo de' fiori)

http://www.romanhomes.com/ (look at campo de' fiori or piazza navaona) This site also plots the apt on a map so you know EXACTLY where you are.

Post another message to get help on Florence apts.
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Old Jan 16th, 2004, 09:09 AM
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Thanks for the website pointer.
Tory, can you give more information on where you stayed in Tuscany?

Thanks,
Ciny
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Old Jan 19th, 2004, 10:24 AM
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We stayed at Il Castagno near Gambasse Termini (and San Gimignano). Our apartment was called La Guardia (three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, all on one level which we wanted for our precarious walkers; also kitchen and living room ... great size). You could definitely choose a smaller unit since you are one family and we were two. We loved the villa and the staff was really friendly. The pool was gorgeous and had a children's pool attached and seemed to be there just for us (the property was not at all crowded and one of the staff members mentioned that even when they are full, it doesn't appear that they are). I can't recall where we found it (somewhere on the internet) but it is listed at www.tuscany.net (click on hotels near San Gimignano) and it may have its own website too. We really liked it for its proximity to a restuarant (walking distance) and its pool. The units were also very nice and they delivered bread etc. for breakfast if you wanted.

There are tons of places like Il Castagno throughout Tuscany so you should look around on the tuscany.net site as well as perhaps on slowtrav for reviews. I would very much recommend Il Castagno. We were sad to leave.

Let me know if you have any other questions. We went without a recommendation (just booked based on the pictures and the description on the website) but if I were doing it again, now that I know about this website and others, I would do as you're doing and try to get others' feedback.

Tory
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Old Jan 19th, 2004, 11:55 AM
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Gosh, I can't imagine doing those two cities with 2 small children. I am a big advocate of traveling with kids and I do it all of the time. We go to Italy frequently and have visited the Dolomiti, Venice, Lakes Region, Tuscany and Sardinia with the children. Rome is incredibly busy and filled with cars and scooters. It would drive me crazy to be worried about the children as well.

Now, having said all of that, the others are right on target with the two week recommendation and apartments (or even better, villa) sugggestions. How about a villa in Tuscany for one week and then a different on in another area (perhaps the Amalfi coast?) for the second week. You will have built in down time for the kids, a pool, kitchen and more room.

Regardless, enjoy your trip!
Cheers,
Jan
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Old Jan 21st, 2004, 04:03 PM
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Thanks again for all your very informative responses. Right now we are thinking a villa in tuscany for 5 days or so for sure and might be another place for 5 days. Will post a new post once we have a more concrete idea of our itinerary and where we want to stay, to get your opinions.
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