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1st time trip to Italy w/husband and parents Feb 2013 - help!

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Sep 30th, 2012, 10:44 PM
  #1
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1st time trip to Italy w/husband and parents Feb 2013 - help!

My husband and I are in our mid 30's and planning our first trip to Italy with my parents. Our schedule only allows for a trip sometime in February 2013. My husband and I are very independent travelers while my parents are more of the tour type I'm a painter and definitely want to have time to sketch and paint while the hubby and my Dad are big history buffs so need to balance our time with that in mind. Very overwhelmed with trying to plan this itinerary. Feeling ready to throw my hands in the air and book a guided 14 day tour....please talk me out of it!!
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Oct 1st, 2012, 12:54 AM
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I'd settle for two cities. Certainly, Rome would be a good idea for history and art. Everyone would enjoy Ostia Antica. The historians could explore the ruins while you sit with your easel. The adventurous travellers could do all the plane bookings and perhaps rent a flat. Venice would be relatively tourist free, but you are likely to get flooding at that time of year. Balancing on duck-boards wouldn't be much fun for the parents. Florence might be a better bet. I'm sure that they could find conducted tours in both cities.
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Oct 1st, 2012, 01:58 AM
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Depending on when you are going in February, Venice will not be "tourist free" (they have a huge Carnivale) and I've yet to learn of the Italian sight that "everybody will enjoy". I happen to enjoy Ostia Antica, and obviously Miss Prisme does too, but that's no indication everyone in your family will. But I do agree with Miss Prism's suggestions to start thinking of two locations, and that some days your husband and parents will be doing guided day-tours to sights and activities that interest them, while you sketch.

Since you describe your husband and yourself as independent travelers, surely you have some idea from previous travels whether you prefer city destinations or scenic destinations. In February, you are going to fairly restricted in your choices of where in Italy it is comfortable to spend much time outdoors.

Are your husband and his father interested in some particular era in history or does it all fascinate them generally? There is a huge difference between the history of Venice, the history of Rome, the history of the Renaissance Florence and Siena, and WW2 history in Italy.

What interests your mother-in-law? Will she be ok with tagging around with the men for history tours?

You may enjoy the company of your in-laws greatly, but for 2 weeks of travel with people who gravitate toward organized tours, I know I would prefer separate space.

For your artwork, where do you want to go to sketch? Since it appears the organization of this trip is being left in your lap, I suggest that you decide executively that your reward will be a trip you enjoy. If you need more southern locations in order to be able to spend time outdoors, book them! If you want to study Florentine masters, spend a week in Florence. There is history to be explored all over Italy.


It really shouldn't be such a huge problem to find two or maybe more Italian destinations that have enough history and art to keep your family -- people interested in history and art -- thoroughly occupied for 2 weeks.
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Oct 1st, 2012, 02:02 AM
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PS: In talking about "separate space," I was referring to hotel rooms vs. one big apartment. Your parents might also need a hotel desk.
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Oct 1st, 2012, 02:03 AM
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should have typed "in-laws"
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Oct 1st, 2012, 04:08 AM
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Agree with the above - definitely think about how you will get your own space. An apartment is nice in that there is somewhere for everyone to sit and unwind with a nice bottle of wine (and more cheaply than a cafe) but do ensure that you have two bedrooms, and two bathrooms if possible. A lot of apartments will say sleeps 4 but that means 2 are on a sofa bed in the living space and that wont give you any private time!

I have done this - and while it can be fun, it can be very frustrating. Your in-laws/parents may be looking to you to 'entertain' them and rely on you, which means you may feel responsible for everyone enjoying everything (I sure did)!! That was very stressful.

If you like to do research then by all means do the planning - but I would ensure they have a plan for what they want to do as well and guide books etc. Maybe plan some tours together, but then split up and meet back for dinner etc to give you time.

With 14 days in Feb you could do 2-3 places. Cities are generally good in cooler weather because they have museums etc. Rome, Florence (as an artist I am just assuming you would enjoy Florence) and maybe something like Bologna if you are into food would make a nice mix at that time of year.

Logistically if you are going to a location in the south and the north, fly into one and out of the other so you dont have to back track.

Hope this helps!
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Oct 1st, 2012, 06:40 AM
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Venice carnival is from 2nd 12th next year, so you would need to go at the end of February. I still think that I'd opt for Rome and Florence, though.
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Oct 1st, 2012, 08:56 AM
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As someone who has traveled with in-laws, I definitely agree on separate space. Two hotel rooms. Definitely not an apartment, for all sorts of reasons for you.

No bus tour. This is easy.

Your schedule logically eliminates the temptation to add Capri, the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Como, etc to your trip, making your planning a little easier.

14 days is a good but not luxurious amount of time for Venice, Florence, and Rome. Carnevale would be more of a deterrent to me than the acqua alta, which could be a fun part of your adventure. I have never experienced it but I understand that it doesn't happen every day, doesn't last too long, and doesn't affect every part of the city. Others here will know better than I.

So, fly into Venice. Venice for 3-4 days, Florence for 3-4 days, overnight in Orvieto, then Rome for your final 4-5 days. Something like that. All very easy using only the train. Fly home from Rome.

Or the other way around. The advantage of visiting Rome first is that it takes the most energy when you have the most energy, at the beginning of your trip.

When booking your flights, do anything you can to avoid changing planes in Paris CDG, a fairly common transfer point for Venice.

Are your historians interested in Pompeii? If so, you might consider taking away a day or 2 from the other destinations to stay in Naples. Pompeii is a possible but VERY long day trip from Rome.

Interested in Siena and San Gimignano? You could rent a car for a day and explore on your own. Or your hotel could probably hook you up with a tour. Or you could try to figure out the buses. We opted for renting the car for a day.

There are hundreds of hotel recommendations on this board so please look at them first before asking or some people here will yell at you. All I will say is that a cenral location is the most important thing.

From first-hand experience I also understand that it is important that your parents are comfortable. So you may need to spend a little more money than you otherwise would.

Relax and enjoy the planning!
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Oct 1st, 2012, 05:43 PM
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@LorretaJung I should have mentioned we chose February particularly because we prefer cooler weather to the warmth of summer. I've read temperatures throughout Italy never seem to reach bitter cold levels. Is this true?

So far I am not aware of any particular time in history that interests my Dad and Husband more over another. I am however more interested in lush landscapes, intricate patterns and richly colored spaces more than anything else. I love cooler weather so realistically could paint outdoors in many conditions. I'm curious though where you might recommend for incredible scenery, good light and interesting vegetation that time of year. Something more south?

As for my mom, she truly is happy to tag along and finds joy in many a situation. She is quite the shopper however....as am I. Any suggestions for interesting markets, artisans wares, etc? Been most interested in Venice, because all I hear of lace and glass works - worth all the hype?
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Oct 1st, 2012, 05:56 PM
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@robertino Ahhh you've eased my mind!! The bus tour is becoming less of a frustration induced temptation.

There has been some interest in Pompeii and none of us are afraid of long travel days so will keep this in mind.

Beginning in Rome sounds attractive but I am very interested in the Tuscany area primarily for painting landscapes. What areas would afford the best views while still giving everyone in my party something interesting to see and do nearby?

Good news is that my husband and I travel often with my parents so we know what to expect of each other. Also thanks for the heads up on asking for hotel recommendations
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Oct 1st, 2012, 06:05 PM
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Sorry - you are confused about weather in Italy.

Last year there was snow even farther south than Rome. And while you can get pleasant days, you can also get chilly and rainy (as in the 40s). I'm not sure I would count on being able to sketch or paint outdoors.

As for landscapes - in February a lot of things ill be brown and crunchy - rather than green. italy is not semi-tropical like FL - it;s distinctly temperate - with weather more like VA - and obviously true winter - with a lot of snow - in the mountains in the north.
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Oct 1st, 2012, 06:19 PM
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If you have a choice, you might want to consider somewhat later in the spring. You say you chose February because you like cool weather but it will be cool in March and April and the days will be longer and the countryside will be starting to get green. Think about it.
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Oct 1st, 2012, 06:34 PM
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While in Rome we did two tours with Walks of Italy http://www.walksofitaly.com/. We did a Colosseum Palantine Hill, Forum tour as well as early AM Pristine Sisine tour Thoroughly enjoyed their expertise- the history buffs will definitely enjoy. They also do tours in Florence, Venice and other areas of Italy. Perhaps combining some structured tours with unstructured days will meet the varied requirements of your group. The parents may enjoy the hop on hop off tour of Rome.
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Oct 1st, 2012, 06:46 PM
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@nytraveler Yes I may been mislead about the weather from my reading as I have never experienced Italy in person at any time of the year. You can only trust so much of what you read online

I'm from northeastern Pennsylvania and have a home in Utah, the 40's won't stop me from painting outdoors however the brown and crunchy may.

This is a good summary of what I'm reading - inaccurate?

Northern Italy: 25-45°F (-4-5°C)
Central Italy: 40-55°F (5-13°C)
Southern Italy: 50-60°F (10-16°C)

Rain seems more of my concern in February...

Thanks so much for the input!
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Oct 1st, 2012, 06:51 PM
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@mamcalice February was also chosen because of schedule, but I am considering your suggestions strongly. Would be disappointing to miss more spring-like landscapes.

Thank you!!
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Oct 1st, 2012, 07:33 PM
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If you are a painter, you have to go to Florence, IMHO. So much beauty in one place. It will probably not be too crowded in February, although I was there in April.
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Oct 1st, 2012, 08:53 PM
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Vineyards are not lush in the winter so your idea of what Tuscany will look in February may be a disappointment. Cities are better in the winter.
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