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13 days in Italy with 2 children (10 & 12 yo)

13 days in Italy with 2 children (10 & 12 yo)

Old Feb 13th, 2014, 11:06 PM
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13 days in Italy with 2 children (10 & 12 yo)

hi there! I'm planning a December trip to Italy with my 2 children, and here's the plan:

Day 1 -4 : Rome (4 nights)
Day 5-8 : Florence (4 nights)
Day 9-10- Venice (2 nights)
Day 11-13: Milan (3 nights)

We are flying from Singapore to Rome and back to Singapore from Milan (open jaw ticket), and will be taking trains between the cities.

I would like some recommendations as to which areas in each city to stay, bearing in mind that we will not be driving. It would also be great if we had accomodation near the train stations so we wont have to carry/push our luggage too far, since it'll be me alone and the 2 kids.

Any recommendations on family accomodation with a kitchen and laundry would be great too. I am contemplating booking some apartments via vbro or airbnb - would this be a safe option, or is there a high chance I might end up stranded inthe streets of Italy (haha, being a bit dramatic here)?

Thanks!!
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Old Feb 13th, 2014, 11:18 PM
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I would take 2 days from Milan and add them to Venice. One day in Milan was more than enough for us...it lacks charm and was expensive. Venice is magical.
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Old Feb 13th, 2014, 11:57 PM
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I was going to suggest taking 1 night from Milan and adding it to Venice or just skipping Milan altogether and giving another night to Rome and two to Venice.

The areas near the train stations in Rome and Florence are not as nice as other areas so I wouldn't focus on staying there. I would take a taxi once arriving to your hotel/apartment.
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Old Feb 14th, 2014, 12:31 AM
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"The areas near the train stations in Rome and Florence are not as nice as other areas"
Really?
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Old Feb 14th, 2014, 12:52 AM
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People who have stayed only one day in Milan aren't really in a position to judge the city. We stayed there five days, and are planning to return again this year because we didn't have time to see all the things we wanted to see.
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Old Feb 14th, 2014, 01:01 AM
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I think we are all entitled to our opinions or maybe impressions is a better word for it no matter how long we have stayed somewhere.

The city centre lacked charm for me.

Did we do it justice with one night - probably not. Maybe we would have liked it more had we stayed longer. I wouldn't go back to find out though based on my interests and my impressions.
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Old Feb 14th, 2014, 01:34 AM
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Well I've been to Milan 3 times - granted 2 on business - and while it's perfectly pleasant - and good for business - to me it doesn;t have a lot of major tourist sites and is not as fascinating as many other places.

I hope you are prepared for the winter weather in Italy. You may well get a temp of 50 - but you can also get temps around 40 and very cold rain - or even snow in the north (also less likely this early in the winter). When used to a hot climate you may find it very cold - so be sure you have proper winter clothing.

Also be aware that in off season some sights in Italy are open shorter hours - only from 9 am to 1/2 pm - rather than all day. Do check hours before heading to any sight.
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Old Feb 14th, 2014, 02:23 AM
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Without getting into a debate about whether Milan is worth visiting, I'd skip it just because of time and logistics.

Your schedule is too packed, IMHO, and you're not accounting for travel time between cities. Further, it will be easier to find apartment rentals if your stays are longer, since some owners require minimum stays.

As for apartment locations:

Rome -- not sure; only stayed in hotels there.

Florence -- the city is fairly compact, so it's hard to find a bad spot. Maybe the Oltrano is considered the outer part of the city, across the river, but even that's not bad. The last time we were in Florence, we stayed near the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital. It was a good location for walking to everything.

Venice -- There are many good areas to stay in. A lot of people like the Dorsoduro area because it has a neighborhood feel to it. I'd more concentrate on finding an apartment that meets your needs and not worry too much about the location. However, you may want to avoid the Lido. Too much hassle getting into the city center.
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Old Feb 14th, 2014, 02:49 PM
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Well, Milan doesn't have narrow medieval streets and crenelated walls. It's a modern city, with style and verve.

Here are a few photos I took in Milan.

https://picasaweb.google.com/1039588...eat=directlink

"Charm" is subjective, but I see plenty there.

The two major things we saw that aren't represented in the photos are the Brera Gallery, which has an outstanding collection of Italian paintings, and Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper. We also saw a few other very early Christian churches, but I didn't photograph everything we saw.

I'm sure that not everyone loves Milan, but I hate to hear people telling others not to go there. I didn't see Milan until I had been living in Italy for eleven years, partly because of the many negative opinions I had read and heard. Once I saw the city, I couldn't believe that I had allowed myself to be so conditioned against visiting it.
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Old Feb 14th, 2014, 03:45 PM
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Yes, I didn't care for the areas right around the Rome and Florence train stations and wouldn't recommend them for a family with young children.

I stayed in a hotel right across from the train station in Rome and someone tried to climb in an open window of the friend's room below me in the middle of the night. There was a significant homeless population at the time that seemed to be living on the streets there. Perhaps this has recently improved? On another trip I stayed a few blocks away and it seemed much better but still pretty remote from the major sightseeing sites. On more recent trips, I have stayed more centrally and have enjoyed those locations more.

I also didn't care for the area right adjacent to the train station in Florence as it just didn't feel as safe to me as I felt just a few blocks away. I just had too many encounters with a few unsavory types right by the station to recommend that area.
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Old Feb 14th, 2014, 04:26 PM
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IME, the area right around train stations pretty much all over the world is usually a bit sketchy, or at least with dubious characters hanging around. True in Paris, true in Rome, true right here in DC. It's not so much dangerous as it is just a bit unsavory, as opposed to most places just a few blocks away.
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Old Feb 14th, 2014, 04:40 PM
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We stayed 3 nights in Venice last year with 2 kids (same ages) , I wish I sould allocate one more night since the first day was a blur and we intentionally not to do too much since we were jetlagged. I think taking an extra day in Venice will give you more time to explore the other islands (Murano and Burano).
The kids enjoyed going up the elevator to the top of Campanile(bell tower) .We were there at noon, when one of the giant bell rang at 1200 . It was loud but a nice surprise &beautiful ! Totally unexpected! We did the gondola ride cost 80 euro but i asked a couple from New Zealand to share with us.
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Old Feb 15th, 2014, 03:06 PM
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I agree with others that you are probably fitting too much in, and agree with the recommendation to skip Milan and add the nights to Venice and Rome. I have spent time in Milan and actually do really like it, but I would just suggest not moving around so much and eliminating one location. If your flight leaves out of Milan early in the morning, just take the train from Venice to Milan late in the day, the day before and stay in a hotel near the Milan airport. (The centro storico of Milan is a bit of a ways from the airport). This is what we did one time when we had to by RT tickets in and out of Milan, but didn't need to spend time in MIlan on the way home. We stayed at First Hotel right near the airport. (http://www.firsthotel.it/en/).

In Rome and Florence I would also suggest not staying near the train station. Just get a taxi to and from your hotel/apt. In Rome I suggest staying near the Pantheon, Piazza Navona or Campo di Fiori. All of these are great locations and well located.

We have used vrbo several times throughout Europe, and my daughter used airbnb several times last spring while she was studying in Rome and traveled throughout Europe. We have always had excellent experiences. I do recommend making sure they have some reviews to see what people are saying. If there are no reviews for the specific apt you are looking at, they often manage other apts and you can check out those reviews to make sure they are legit. In addition, do not be afraid to contact them via email to ask any questions you might have. How they respond regards to timeliness and professionalism can also say a lot.

We did our first trip to Italy when our kids were about the same age (9 and 12). We did Rome, Venice and Florence in two weeks. Here is a link to my trip report along with pictures that you may find helpful: http://www.fromhometoroam.com/catego...eflorence2005/
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Old Feb 15th, 2014, 04:51 PM
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Thanks all for your very helpful advice!

We are flying out of Milan so I'd definitely want to spend a night or two there. We have been to the rest of the world quite a bit, but this is our first trip to Europe, so I don't quite know what to expect!

It's all still fluid at the moment (i'll be sure to read your trip report, jgg) so let's see how it goes.

For those who found Venice charming, what did your kids/you enjoy there? I read about the Acqua Alta and would LOVE to experience it (although it'd be winter).

Thanks again.

OT: how do i get fodors to notify me that a response has been posted? tx.
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Old Feb 15th, 2014, 05:27 PM
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I actually liked Milan when we went, but I would still take 1 night from Milan and add it to Venice and 1 night and add it to Rome.
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