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8 Nights in Rome & Florence-please critique this itinerary

8 Nights in Rome & Florence-please critique this itinerary

Jul 30th, 2006, 04:19 PM
  #1  
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8 Nights in Rome & Florence-please critique this itinerary

Thanks to all who have helped me make choices about hotels and airfare. I worked up my courage this morning and pulled the trigger on airfare, so we are really going to Italy!

I am travelling from 9 February to 18 February with my 14 year old daughter. The trip is an early 8th grade graduation gift for my history-loving, art-appreciating, shopping-crazy, and all around sweet daughter. Here is what I have planned:

Saturday, 10 February: Arrive in Rome 8:25AM. Transfer to hotel (Grand Hotel de la Minerve) by private driver. Late afternoon (2 or 3 o'clock?) reservations at Galleria Borghese.

Sunday, 11 February: 9AM Four hour tour of the Ancient Rome. Balance of day sightseeing and shopping.

Monday, 12 February: Full day excursion to Pompeii and Sorrento by private car.

Tuesday, 13 February: 8AM Four hour tour of Vatican. Balance of day for sightseeing and shopping. Maybe an opera, concert or play this evening(?)

Wednesday, 14 February: 8AM Leave Rome for Florence (private driver) via Orvieto and Assisi. Arrive in Florence by late afternoon. Check into Hotel Degli Orafi.

Thursday, 15 February: 4 hour tour of Florence, ending with reservation to visit David. Balance of day for sightseeing and shopping.

Friday, 16 February: 10 AM reservations at Uffizi Gallery. Balance of day for sightseeing and shopping.

Saturday, 17 February: 8AM Depart Florence for Rome via Siena and San Gimignano. Arrive in Rome early evening.

Sunday, 18 February: 11:30AM Flight home

Please note: I know that almost everyone suggests flying "open jaw." However, there are no non-stops between Philadelphia and Florence; and I hate, hate, hate, lay-overs and changing planes, so this was a consious decision.

OK, have at it, folks. Comments, suggestions, changes, tips?


samsmom1127 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 02:28 AM
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Hi Mom - The one I'd change is probably Wednesday.

You're already spending several hours in the car, so you really can't do justice to both Orvieto & Assisi IMO.

I'd pick one or the other if I were you ... (For me it'd be Assisi )

The only way you could possibly do both is if you leave at 6a.m


In your shoes I'd probably also do Pompeii by train rather than by car. You could even go on the new AV train -
much more fun

I'm not sure about the merits of Sorrento in February. There might be some better alternative ...

Just a few thoughts ...

Steve


Steve_James is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 02:38 AM
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Hi

My wife and I went to Rome last July and I have posted our trip report with links and pictures on my homepage http://gardkarlsen.com/rome_italy.htm . We did pretty much everything on our own so we didn't have much of a schedule. Hope that you will have a wonderful trip

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 10:05 AM
  #4  
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ttt
samsmom1127 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 10:42 AM
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I think the suggestions you've been given so far are very good. I would pick Assisi or Orvieto, but not both.

Pompeii and Sorrento: unless your daughter is adverse to going to Ostia Antica, I think I would skip this excursion. It is really a long day, and I agree that February is not a great time for Sorrento. If she has her heart set on Pompeii, you could stop somewhere smaller and closer to Rome on your way back. But I think Ostia Antica and Terme Caracalla would be a fascinating way to view archaeological sites in Rome, without a lengthy and exhausting car trip. Too much time in the car; not enough time to do things.

My other suggestion is to plan something other than shopping for Sunday afternoon. Many, if not most, shops will be closed in Rome on Sunday afternoon.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 04:31 PM
  #6  
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OK, here is my revised itinerary. On your advice, I'm going to eliminate Pompeii and Sorrento for a separate trip in warmer weather. Perhaps we will see Ostia Antica, but I will play that by ear...seems as though you want a pretty nice day for that as well. I've moved the Galleria Borghese visit to Sunday since we may be tired on Saturday and now have an extra day in Rome, and moved the Ancient Rome tour to Monday. I've chosen to visit Assisi on the way to Florence. Orvieto will wait for another trip.

Question: Should Castel Sant'Angelo be visited after the Vatican tour, or is that too much for one day? Your further suggestions and comments will be appreciated. Again, thanks for your help!

Saturday, 10 February: Arrive in Rome 8:25AM. Transfer to hotel (Grand Hotel de la Minerve) by private driver.

Sunday, 11 February: Mid-Day reservations to Galleria Borgese. Maybe an opera, concert or play this evening(?)

Monday, 12 February: 9AM Four hour tour of Ancient Rome

Tuesday, 13 February: 8AM Four hour tour of Vatican. Balance of day for sightseeing and shopping.

Wednesday, 14 February: 8AM Leave Rome for Florence (private driver)Assisi. Arrive in Florence by late afternoon. Check into Hotel Degli Orafi.

Thursday, 15 February: 4 hour tour of Florence, ending with reservation to visit David. Balance of day for sightseeing and shopping.

Friday, 16 February: 10 AM reservations at Uffizi Gallery. Balance of day for sightseeing and shopping.

Saturday, 17 February: 8AM Depart Florence for Rome via Siena and San Gimignano. Arrive in Rome early evening.

Sunday, 18 February: 11:30AM Flight home
samsmom1127 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 06:10 PM
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Taking your daughter to Rome - what a treat! Here's my two cents worth: yes to Assisi - one of my favorite places. I noticed that you have lengthy tours prior to shopping & sightseeing. For example, the four hour Vatican Tour...we did a ContextRome Vatican tour this past May. It was wonderful and I highly recommend their service; however, we were exhausted afterwards and would have considered more walking to be torture. Of course, your daughter is much younger than our group (all 50 but we're in great shape by most standards). I'm also not sure about doing both Siena and San Gimignano on the same day. Were you planning on driving to Siena, seeing the Duomo and Il Campo, then driving to San Gimignano for the towers? Something to consider.

You're going to have a wonderful trip and hope the suggestions are helpful.
dorkforcemom is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 06:37 PM
  #8  
akj
 
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I kind of did the same thing with my 14 yr old son 2 yrs ago----we stayed in Trastevere in an apt and trained to Firenze--easy day trip. We took a tour to Pompeii (an experience in itself--the van broke down...just another fun thing to remember)
There is so much to do in Rome, we saved Tuscany and San Gimignano for another trip. (I've been there--plan to take him there some other time--we went to Venice Spring Break this year---that's another great place to take teens)
Did you check into apartments or condos?
The Borghese is absolutely fabulous...
akj is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 06:56 PM
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Thanks for your input, dorksforcemom. "Sightseeing and shopping" could at any time morph into "back to the hotel for a nap" or "stop in a caffe!" I'm glad that you reinforce my decision to go with Assisi over Orvieto this time. I was really hoping to try both Siena and San Gimi on the way back to Rome (we have a driver.) If we just touch on the "highlights", do you think we'll be ok, or should I settle for Siena this time?

akj,
This trip is a special occasion...someone's going to make my bed every day this time! Normally, I would definitely go for a more authentic experience. What was your son's favorite place to "hang out" in Rome?
samsmom1127 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 06:16 AM
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I think you can easily tour Castel Sant Angelo in about an hour. There are a lot of rooms of military stuff that can be skipped if no one is particularly interested.

I thought that seeing a show would be a good way to "chill" in the evening in Rome. All of our kids take tap, so we took them to a tap dance show. They really loved it, but I kind of regretted it...after a long day of touring, it's kind of hard to stay awake.
missypie is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 07:25 AM
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I agree with the Castel Sant Angelo comments. We've been to Rome three times and have yet to go in it. My younger brothers went in when they went to Rome with us last year and said the outside was more interesing than the inside. I would just play it by ear; if you are exhausted after the tour just skip it. If you have energy and are interested, its very close by.

I too would pick Assisi over Orvieto, as I found it more charming and interesting.

Ostia is wonderful and a great suggestion. We went on a somewhat rainy day and still had a fabulous time. Its very large and quite interesting, and it doesn't have nearly as many tourists as Pompeii. We were in Pompeii in February and loved it, but it did make for a long day.

We fully utilized some of the "siestas" in the late afternoon, where we took naps and then freshen up before going out to dinner. Rome is absolutely delightful but can be a little overwhelming at times, so I suggest going at a slow pace to allow yourself time to absorb the atmosphere, sit at a cafe in a lovely piazza and just marvel in the fact that you are in Rome.

If you have time while in Florence I highly suggest walking up to Piazalle Michaelangelo for incredible views of Florence. You can either take the bus or walk, but its right across the Arno and worth the effort.

Sounds like a terrific trip!
Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 04:57 PM
  #12  
akj
 
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Our base was Trastevere so in the evenings we wandered over to the Piazza di Santa Maria. There were always entertainers there at night and a really great gelato place. During the day we spent a lot of time just walking and taking in the ambience of Rome--I'd been there before and really enjoyed just wandering.
The day we did the Borghese we also went up in the balloon--he loved it, I was terrified.
You'll have a great time with your daughter--memories you both will treasure.
akj is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 07:40 AM
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Did trip last year with 14 year old daughter with same characteristics.....
You obviously have bigger wallet, we went budget and backpacking...but still have a few tips.
When you arrive in Rome, go straight to the coliseum, find the actors dressed up as gladiators, and book tours with that company. Fun, university grads....try to get Tony if he still works there, he actually was so awesome I developed interest in art bc of his explanations. They have walking tours of Rome at night (best for the outside attractions), Forum and the Vatican. Take condensed version of Julius Caeasar to Forum, stop and rest and read it in the shade. 1/2 day in Forum and surrounding area not really enough if the kid loves history. Allow a day!
Tell her to read up on internet on Caesar, Michelangelo, Bertini, Botticelli and DaVinci before she goes, as well as refreshing her knowledge of greek and roman mythology. My daughter recognized what the art all meant bc of mythology knowledge.
Direct train to Pompeii from Rome. Private driver would really be a waste of money and probably not as fast. Allow a day for a history loving kid. It's tiresome and soooooooooooo large. All the artifacts are in Naples in the Anthropology Museum, so discuss if you should go there after Pompeii.. I advise yes!if your daughter as much like mine as it sounds. We were there in July, so ferry from Sorrento (after Pompeii)to Capri and Blue Grotto, then ferry to Naples was wonderful. Not sure if as great in February. Then we took night train to Florence.
Opera in Rome not as good as Paris, so allow for side trip to Verona (Romeo and Juliet) and see opera in the colisum there (book ahead on internet and get room early, as it appears all of Italy goes to Verona for opera, at least in summer...ps might not be available in Feb???)
Florence and the Vatican has the best art, for history art loving student. Allow time to shop in Florence market, at least half a day for your daughter.
My daughter loved Florence best of all of Europe. Sunset at Ponte Vecchio where all the students hang out was a highlight, but we were July vs Feb? Could give you lots more tips but your budget and time frame lot different than ours. Allow time for rest, and discussion of the art and sights so that your daughter enjoys it and will remember it better. We did wine/whine break at 3pm (July again!) for a rest and she had gelato, I had a sit and wine, and some of the best times of our trip as we discussed what we had learned that day in order to remember it.
Don't go to the Vatican without a tour guide. Company I suggested is worth 5x the money as they know their art. Shopping outside vatican at outdoor market will make teenager happy too.
The David takes at most 10 minutes to view, after you get in. A replica is outside the Medici Palace. Be sure you read up and understand the DAvid before you go. He's the perfect man for more interesting reasons than his muscles!
kam1 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 07:42 AM
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p.s. Walk by Castel d'angelo, read the history, don't waste time inside, just view it from the exterior and look to the Vatican; unless you are big military historian.
kam1 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 08:02 AM
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PSS. My daughter says Pompeii is a must, don't listen to adults. Tiring for the mother, not the daughters. And you must proceed to Naples for the museum, if the trip is for the daughter. Probably better to see Pompeii in February vs July, same for Forum, bc of heat in summer. Train is fun bc locals' commuter train and they visit with you. Buy Naot shoes for you and your mom before you go. they are in style in Italy and make the cobblestones everywhere easy to deal with it. Better than running shoes bc goes with all outfits. Shop at train station underground in rome for best deals (I didn't get my luggage so got whole new wardrobe there for under 100 euros!)Market outside Vatican is awesome shopping too. Tony is awesome if you can find him...and listen to his restaurant reviews for best food also. He's always right. He gets you into Vatican without the lineup and explains all the art so that its so interesting....We meant American mother/daughter on night tour with him, and they actually came back to Vatican with us on Tony tour bc he's so awesome. Same for Forum. Study your mythology before you go, because without that knowledge, so much of the art/statues, etc etc aren't near so interesting. Suggest you take a small book on roman gods with you to check and refer to. Now 15 and wish I could go again...
kam1 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 09:18 AM
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Wow! So many great ideas! Thanks all for explaining about Castel Sant'Angelo, if we get to take a peek great, if not, another time.

We'll definitely check out the Piazza di Santa Maria. The balloon at Borghese? Hopefully it won't be there in February!!

kam1 and DDkam1, many thanks. Your ideas are helpful for both this trip and future trips to Italy. Sorry, I'm going to stick to my guns about Pompeii this time. Three days in Roma not enough time anyway. We'll take in Pompeii, Naples and the Amalfi Coast on a separate trip. My DD will be a little sad, but hopefully we will do enough other cool things that she will forgive me!

DDkam1, thanks especially for the tips about reviewing mythology. My DD has a pretty good handle on all things ancient, but I could sure stand to brush up! And I am prepared to spend as much time as we feel like at all of the ancient sites and art galleries. My schedule is not carved in stone. Just trying to get some ideas together so we don't waste time with "what should we do now?"

We will definitely take your shopping suggestions to heart for both Rome and Florence. Any particular shops/markets (in addition to the train station) win your heart? My DD enjoys Versace and flea market finds with equal fervor, and enjoys shoes and handbags that have a little "twist" to them. What were you favorite finds? Other than great memories, what should she definitely not come home without?

kam1 and missypie, thanks for your thoughts on evening entertainment. Perhaps we'll give opera in Roma a miss (although Verona will have to wait for another trip), but I've heard that some of the Protestant churches offer amazing concerts in incredible settings at good prices. And of course, dance...DD has been taking ballet since she was three years old!

By the way, did I mention that she doesn't know about this trip yet? I won't wait much longer to tell her, but I want to sort of spring it on her when she least expects it.
samsmom1127 is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 12:03 PM
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bookmarking
Italybound07 is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 02:21 PM
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this past june my family (husband, two sons 23 & 17, daughter 12) went to italy and from florence rented a car and went to San Gimignano and siena on the same day. It was fabulous and one of the highlights of our trip. we left florence around 9;30 and returned about 4:30. i would highly recommend doing this.
suzanne484 is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 02:29 PM
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you could try flying in/out of London and use ryanair to get to rome and from pisa...

try to reduce the commuting to see more of the cities you are in...rome and florence have enough on their own merits.
ucsun is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 07:10 PM
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Bookmarking.

Great link Gard, I have saved your trip report web page to my favourites!
toontown is offline  

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