3 weeks in one city in Italy.

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Apr 15th, 2018, 10:19 PM
  #1
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3 weeks in one city in Italy.

Hi all,

I have never done this type of travel before, so I'm looking for some advice.

My wife and I are well travelled mid-30s with a 1 year old. Instead of trecking around the continent we would like to find a city to base ourselves in for roughly 3 weeks in January, and really get to know and enjoy the city. I know it'll be cold, when it's hot in Australia we like to head to Europe. We would be looking for a city with enough things to keep us busy, some good day trips in the vacinity and a place with a good food and cafe culture so we can waste away our days drinking coffee and people watching. We enjoy history, architecture and food. At the moment the top of our lists are Turin, Florence and Milan. Would anyone suggest one or the other, or perhaps another Italian city? I speak some Italian and will enjoy using it as mcuh as possible during the stay.

Grazie!
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Apr 15th, 2018, 10:41 PM
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I'd pick Rome.

It's bigger with more to do and see.

It's an easy train ride to Florence or even Milan if you wanted to. Or south to Naples. Turin is off on it's own a bit requiring a longer train ride. Too long IMHO for a day trip.

OTOH Venice that time of year is less full on touristy.
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Apr 15th, 2018, 11:11 PM
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Rome was my first thought too. I might also look at Bologna, lots of covered walkways and great train links to lovely places.
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Apr 15th, 2018, 11:58 PM
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We have visited Venice half a dozen times, staying for a month or two on each visit. We are Aussies also, and the experience of real cold was fun. Ice in the campos and on the canals on Torcello. Venice is well connected by train so day trips are easy.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 12:09 AM
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Rome Rome Rome! Perfect in January. Could even be warm enough to eat outside. Train to anywhere else. .You won't even begin to see it all in 3 weeks......great idea!
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Apr 16th, 2018, 12:51 AM
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I'll be in the minority most likely, but I would probably pick Milan, a city with loads of cultural and architectural offerings, many possibilities for daytrips (including Turin), wonderful food, and near enough to mountains to get a real winter experience, if that appeals to you.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 01:25 AM
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I almost put Milan but I have memories of being stuffed into wet trams (where the underground system doesn't go) in the winter. Certainly Bergamo would be a good visit from there.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 01:43 AM
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One January I spent an extended period of time in Palermo and really enjoyed it. Sunshine, the perfume of orange trees, marvelous markets and inexpensive restaurants, a breezy relaxed culture and beautiful local sights. (Didn't take day trips.)

I also enjoyed a late December extended stay in Napoli, but with a one year old, the city might be too intense. However, if you find the right apartment in a quieter corner of Napoli (Vomero), might work. Food and markets in both cities are wonderful. Napoli has more interesting day trips. Palermo is flatter and more stroller friendly.

I went to Rome in January for a week and had generally pleasant weather. I deliberately went after Jan 6 to keep costs down on a rental. Rome is Rome. You either want what it offers or you don't, but there is no question you'll find plenty to gawk at and will be in a fairly good position to take day trips if you feel like it, although the very short days of January can limit the possibilities.

Torino is frigid, icy and not well positioned for day trips by train, and it hasn't got 3 weeks of sights to see. Florence does, and while it can be freezing or snowy too, it is dense with fascination for art and history students, although most of its museum venues are not welcoming to babies. But the city is so small you can take turns babysitting over 3 weeks to cover all the sights. Day trips from Florence over the duration of 3 weeks are limited without a car, and in winter you don't want to count on driving in Tuscany. Bologna is better positioned but frigid. However, the porticoed streets are stroller friendly.

Milano is Italy's most modern city, so its streets are stroller friendly, but it is grey and quite cold in January. Its busy train station is no fun with a small child, and the likely day trips are to other places even more frigid and foggy than Milano. You could enjoy an equal number of day trips from Verona with a lot less hassle and more gracious charm, and a generally more kid-friendly culture than Milano is -- but it is freezing in Verona in winter too.

I would not pick Venice with a 1 year old. Not stroller friendly at all and you definitely need to stay clear of areas that experience tidal flooding, not uncommon in January.

I wouldn't underestimate the charm of sunshine vs grey for 3 weeks in January. The more southerly cities have more days of it in January whereas much of central and northern Italy gets socked in for many days running with low clouds, fog, rain and chance of serious snow or ice.

One other thing: The coffee culture of Italy is only rarely about sitting around drinking coffee, and many of the best coffee venues in Italy have little room to sit down, let alone park a stroller. In wintertime in the north thare are many bars and cafes that set up outdoor heaters, but not sure how long you want to linger even with that.

Just tossing this out but: Have you thought about Vienna or Munich? One of the advantages of heading to a truly wintery city is that cafes and vacation rentals are really set up for the cold weather, with plenty of heat and super-insulated windows. Totally different culture and food from Italy, I realize, but if you are looking for capacious cafes, stroller friendly, pedestrianized streets, terrific public transport, markets, loads of fine art, important history and cities to get to know, Vienna might work and Munich too (with some interesting day trips from there).

Last edited by kitbag; Apr 16th, 2018 at 02:27 AM.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 06:23 AM
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3 weeks I'd pick three cities maybe and see three different areas - Venice, Florence and Rome and do some day trips - trains are fantastic for going between and day trips- Acquista il biglietto con le nostre offerte - Trenitalia or www.italotreno.it/en - book our own tickets online, at a discount if early enough to get those limited in number tickets - www.seat61.com has loads of info on doing just that - general info trains and where to go BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 07:42 AM
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For one central place I don't see how Bologna can be beaten. So many places that you can get within an hour or so to just by hopping on a train [I'd stay within walking distance of the station to avoid cold waits for buses at bus stops] and though it's a big city, the centre is small enough that you can get to know it reasonably quickly and develop a sense of having your own neighbourhood which is always fun.

IME staying in one place with a small child beats moving around a lot, though you could always top and tail the visit with say, Venice and Rome to get a taste for another time. I wouldn't stay in Venice for the 3 whole weeks just because of the problems of negotiating all those bridges with a stroller and the cobbles of Rome are pretty hard work too. Bologna has over 300 kms of arcades so it's relatively easy to stay out of the wind and rain [and snow!] and more than enough to keep you busy for 2-3 weeks, and there was no shortage of cafes and bars where you could sit and drink [coffee or something stronger] for as long as you might like.

hope you have a great time!
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Apr 16th, 2018, 08:03 AM
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3 weeks I'd pick three cities maybe and see three different areas
Honestly PQ, it is bad enough when you don't bother to read the posts, but it seems that this time you didn't even bother to read the title! Not every thread is a candidate for your cut-and-paste on train sites.

To the OP - I love Sicily, but it doesn't lend itself well to three weeks in one place. Does it have to be Italy? I would head for Nice, myself.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 11:49 AM
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Palermo has at least to offer as much as Bologna in terms of an exicting 3 week stay (I think even more, actually). I do think Nice is a good idea, although it can be stormy there. Still, there is a lot to be said for the high quality of French services and when the sun shines it is really pleasant.

I am skeptical that you will want to take many day trips by train with a 1-year-old, no matter which city you pick, but maybe especially in the colder cities of Northern Italy. The train stations are not heated, the nicest apartments to stay and shop are not near the train stations, so you will need to get to the train station and back again (after dark probably), which means the travel time of a day trips is not just the time you spend on the train.

I also am very sympathetic to the concept of staying in one place for 3 weeks and not relocating via train with a 1 year old. So it really boils down to what kind of city you think will provide you 2 adults with sufficient engagement, without relying on daytrips to stave off boredom or a sense of having wasted your money because you're hanging out in the apartment most of the time after a few days.

Engagement isn't always about whether there is a multiplicity of historic or artistic sights to see. Many people would rather be in a lively shopping town or lively cooking town. Many people would prefer a place very different from their own world (Palermo is great for that, Napoli even more so). Others would like some international urban sophistication. Milano fits that craving, but it has more of a barfly scene than a caffe scene, and I doubt you'll want to get plastered every night in the aperitvo hour with a 1 year old to look after. Torino has some legendary caffes where you really can while away the hours, and for some particular interests -- cinema, autos, natural sciences -- it's quite an interesting yet very compact city. Lovely truffles in winter. If you want to let your 1 year old play in the snow, most easily done from Torino!

I could very easily spend 3 week or more in Florence, but like I said before, I'd be trading off babysitting duties so I could enjoy the city to the fullest.

If you stay in the Prati area of Rome it is quite stroller friendly, and many apartments have elevators, so you can function quite well on a day to day basis if Rome appeals you (no need to defend yourself if it doesn't).

Last edited by kitbag; Apr 16th, 2018 at 11:55 AM.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 02:49 PM
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I'd pick Florence (of the ones on your list, actually I'd pick Venice myself for this!)
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Apr 16th, 2018, 03:11 PM
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Bologna or Torino.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 05:12 PM
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I'd choose Rome, but then I love Rome. Naples and Palermo also appeal to me for longer stays. I like (prefer?) Southern Italy, especially in winter.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 05:23 PM
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Florence, hands down and it was on your list.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 05:26 PM
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My friend's daughter lived in Turin (Torino) for a few years but found the winters there difficult. Of the three cities you mention, I would probably pick Florence.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 11:22 PM
  #18
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I'd like to thank you all for the ideas and suggestions, especially those who knew about the stroller access (something I have never thought about when travelling before!)

For those who asked some follow up Qs:

It does not have to be Italy, but I have travelled to almost every other country in Europe for at last a few days. My wife and I have done a week stay in Munich for Xmas (amazing!), a week in Prague over New Years and a week in Nice also, for those who suggested them. I am 2nd generation Italian-Australian and thus far have avoided the place as a result. But not I feel like knowing some Italian would be particularl nice for a long stay, yet I do not want to go back to the family village in the middle of nowhere. I understand some others may find this weird, but we really want cold, grey and snow and not sunshine. If we wanted sunshine, Australia is lovely in January.

So I think Bologna is another great suggestion to consider (I will start research immediately) as well as Florence and maybe Turin as long as we realise there isnt as much to 'do.' Rome and Venice are probably ut as my wife isn't huge on either.

Many thanks to all, and happy to keep hearing suggestions.
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Apr 17th, 2018, 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by stephendsmith View Post
Iwe really want cold, grey and snow and not sunshine. Venice are probably ut as my wife isn't huge on either.

Many thanks to all, and happy to keep hearing suggestions.
You don't say why you aren't drawn to Venice but grey almost deserted foggy Venice is what you'll find in January. It's not the crowded tourist that you might expect

photographs

Click around the Venice ones. All taken in January. Ranging from foggy to sunny. I can't promise it'll always be gray -)
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Apr 17th, 2018, 02:51 AM
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I personally am a big fan of Florence. It's not as big as Rome but it's beautiful and you can find so many treasures throughout the city and a lot of things to do! It's also a very family friendly city!
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