A Quick Tour of Italy

Nov 27th, 2012, 12:38 PM
  #1  
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A Quick Tour of Italy

Please tell me if this sounds reasonable. I am travelling with a 14-year-old athlete and she does not sit still for long. While we have been all over the US, this is only our second European trip. We spent a week in Paris last Easter and fell in love with it.

Right now I am looking to fly out on Good Friday and arrive early Saturday morning going into Rome, where we will spend Saturday, Sunday, and Monday touring the Coliseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, St Peter's Basilica, and Sistine Chapel. Since it's Easter, we might want to stop by the Vatican and see the Pope (I have just requested tickets to the Papal Mass on Easter Sunday and have no idea if we will get them or not).

Tuesday morning we will take the train to Florence, see Michelangelo's David and the Duomo, then do an electric bike tour through Tuscany on Wednesday or a side trip to Pisa. The electric bike tour looks fun though so Pisa might be out; we did one in Paris and that was our favorite day by far. This one takes you to a castle and an artisan gelato place where you can have six kinds of ice cream. Plus being able to experience the countryside is priceless, especially when you have been packed into a city and museums for a few days. I can already hear myself saying wheeeeee!

Thursday morning high speed rail to Venice, take a gondola ride and do the urban adventure on Thursday night, which takes you to four different places to sample wines and hors' de oeuvres while they show you hidden gems in the city but you feel safe because they are guiding you lol. Fly home Friday either from Venice or after taking high speed rail from Venice back to Rome. So what do you experienced travelers think?
lizziesmom is offline  
Nov 27th, 2012, 12:54 PM
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I've never been in Rome on Easter weekend, but I have a hunch it will be mobbed. Others can agree or correct me, but if you aren't Catholic (or interested) I might switch the order of your trip. Some will also tell you that flights back to the US from Venice leave ridiculously early - when I looked last year, there were at least one or two that left around 11 or 12, but many are pretty early.

Could you fly back Saturday or Sunday instead of Friday? You're cutting all your destinations very short on time. Technically your plan is doable, but you'll miss a lot. Remember, you'll be jet lagged wherever you land. Maybe:

Saturday - arrive Venice
Sunday - Venice
Monday - train to Florence
Tuesday - Pisa or bike tour (personally I'd do the bike tour; Pisa is fine, but I'd rather see the countryside)
Wednesday - train to Rome
Thursday, Friday, Saturday - Rome
jent103 is offline  
Nov 27th, 2012, 01:20 PM
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I have flown from Venice to New York twice, both times on Delta, and my flight didn't leave until about 1:30 p.m. Last year, my flight was 1 of only 2 to get out the day they had the transportation strike.
Delaine is offline  
Nov 27th, 2012, 04:34 PM
  #4  
jgg
 
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We will be in Italy the same time as you and are purposefully making sure that we will not be in Rome over Easter weekend, because I expect it to be very busy. This will be our 4th trip to Italy and 3rd to include Rome. I agree with jent103's recommendation of starting in Venice and ending in Rome.

I would also suggest you start looking to book hotels now. While they are generally still available they are starting to book up for the Easter weekend. I booked an apt in Rome because we are spending a week there, but there were definitely several that I liked that were already booked and we are heading to Sorrento for the Easter weekend (just booked our hotel there today).

Your plan is packed, but probably doable - but I agree, try to leave Saturday morning rather than friday if you can and give yourselves one more day.

The bike tour sounds fun! We have done several on our travels and they are generally a highlight for us as well!!

I am also looking at flying out of Venice back home to the west coast, and am not having trouble finding late morning flights.
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Nov 27th, 2012, 05:18 PM
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lizziesmom,

I was in Rome the weekend before Easter on my first trip. Saturday night was very busy, but fun to walk all around Rome with all the visitors and Romans out and about most of the night.

On Palm Sunday the crowds (thousands and thousands) in St. Peter's Square caused us to visit Castello Sant'Angelo and see the view from the roof. The rest of Castello Sant'Angelo was closed.

The Sistine Chappel was also closed on Palm Sunday, since it's the Pope's private chapel after all. I must imagine it will also be closed on Easter Sunday.

We headed over to St. Peter's when we saw the crowds leave after mass. We happened on a Renaissance parade which was a real treat. Then the Pope came out on his balcony above the piazza to give a short wave and blessing to those below. At the time it was John Paul and my Catholic boyfriend was thrilled.

Florence was a screaming zoo that week. Honestly I would just skip it and enjoy the countryside instead.

I also have had a mid-morning departure to the western US. out of Venice.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Nov 27th, 2012, 06:30 PM
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>>>I have just requested tickets to the Papal Mass on Easter Sunday and have no idea if we will get them or not.<<<

I would be surprised if you get in the seating area for this. It's outside in the square and there's a limited amount of seats which always seem to be priest, nuns, Italians.

>>>and Sistine Chapel.<<<

It won't be open on Sunday or Monday (Easter Monday is a major holiday and many things will be closed). May close early on Saturday also so I don't see how you can work it into your schedule.
kybourbon is offline  
Nov 27th, 2012, 06:37 PM
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We spent a week in Paris last Easter and fell in love with it.

I think an entire week in one city, even with a 14 year old who moves fast, might be a key to loving it. But okay: you want to do a quick tour of Italy. I'd do as others advise and flip Rome w/Venice. See Venice over Easter and Rome several days later when more things will be open. Personally, I'd be inclined to visit just Venice and Rome with your limited days, maybe day trip to Orvieto from Rome if you find yourself getting bored there (never been my problem when in Rome).
Leely2 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2012, 05:34 AM
  #8  
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Thank you all for responding. Jent103 and jgg, I am going to take your advice and fly home on Saturday. I liked the idea of having a whole weekend to recover before going back to work, but I think the extra day is worth it. I am also going to book everything this week if I can get it straight as it is her major Christmas present and I want to get it paid for before I do the rest of my shopping (last year she woke up to a three-foot Eiffel tower in her room decorated and lit up like a Christmas tree and I will have to think of something for Italy this year. I am thinking a gorgeously wrapped box of pasta if nothing else comes to mind. The expression on her face when she opens it will definitely be a kodak moment.)

There is so much to think about it is overwhelming. I did consider starting in Venice, but we are Catholic and as my daughter is now in her first year of confirmation classes I was thinking that seeing the thousands of pilgrims crowding the square might be inspiring for her. (Plus her grandfather still has not forgiven me for not taking her to Lourdes while we were in France last year, even though it was a very long train ride from Paris. If I take her to Italy during holy week without hearing the Papal Mass on Easter he just might disown me.) So I am committed to Rome first I think. I wonder if we can see the Sistine chapel on Saturday instead? Since most of the other things we wish to see are outside that is the one I am most concerned about. Plus she is a very early riser (4:20 am and every time her alarm goes off I get another grey hair) so I am hoping we can visit some of the locations at dawn when the crowds will be minimal and the light will beautiful.

Leely2, I am violating my own lifelong rule of a week per city and I have no idea why except that I have so very many European cities on my list now I am afraid I will run out of time. If we like someplace particularly well we will return. I just wish I hadn't wasted so many years being afraid to travel overseas by myself with a child.
lizziesmom is offline  
Nov 28th, 2012, 06:53 AM
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If you're a practicing Catholic, that's a whole other thing - I imagine being in Rome on Easter will be quite meaningful for you! Just be prepared for the crowds and, it sounds like, make sure you know what's open when.

I'm so glad you decided on an extra day. A weekend to recover sounds nice, but I think you'll be really happy with that choice. I've done a few trips where, because of ticket prices, I left and came back in the middle of the week. The next day at work isn't fun, but it's not too bad. I would have a full day in Venice - you can see St. Mark's and the Rialto in an afternoon, but spending a day wandering around or heading to one of the islands is really great as well.
jent103 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2012, 07:29 AM
  #10  
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Thank you Jent103! I think if we go in expecting it to be mobbed then we will be okay. Plus knowing that on Wednesday we will be whizzing though the countryside on electric bicycles will help too. Any advice on taking the train back to Rome versus flying out of Venice? On the fence about which to choose. For some reason I think we are going to love Venice best so tucking the extra day there is a good idea. Venice seems decrepit and beautiful and complicated sort of like New Orleans, which is one of my favorite American cities and we have been back there four or five times. I don't know why I love it so, I just do.
lizziesmom is offline  
Nov 28th, 2012, 07:41 AM
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Oh my goodness, I would absolutely fly home from Venice. No reason to spend time and money backtracking! I haven't been to New Orleans, so can't compare it to Venice, but Venice is beautiful. I went for the first time last year, and now that I've seen the main tourist attractions around Piazza San Marco, I'd love to go back sometime and rent an apartment and just hang around for a week without ever going to that area. It's completely different from anywhere else I've been. I enjoyed the Doge's Palace much more than I thought I would, mainly because I only knew a little bit about Venetian history before going there. Knowing about what it was like in its "golden age" gave me a new appreciation for it. It is extremely touristy - our Italian b&b owner (who was great, by the way - we stayed at Ai Tagliapietra, run by Lorenzo) said it's like Italian Disneyland. But if you get out of the hordes, it's a beautiful, almost serene city.
jent103 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2012, 08:08 AM
  #12  
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I am going to have to read up on the history before we go and now my flights are set, into Rome and out of Venice, thank you! I will check out that b&b too. You have me thinking I should book a kayak trip in Venice in the very early morning. I wasn't sure about it before but I am now. I think it would be lovely to watch the mist rise off the water as the city sleeps.

PS I think you would like New Orleans (not necessarily Bourbon Street because it is insanely crowded and touristy and reeks of rising sewers and debauchery, which is a word that actually applies here), but the secret gardens and the Cafe du Monde and the architecture and the fact that you can wander down to the Mississippi at any time of the day or night and there will generally be a lone saxophonist playing to the river as his audience. I have been to nearly every state in the US and there is no other place quite like it.
lizziesmom is offline  
Nov 28th, 2012, 08:42 AM
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It sounds like the type of trip that I would love to take with my daughter someday....in June we're doing a family trip (a cruise combined with several days in Italy) with my parents, husband and both kids - but my daughter is my true travel companion. She's 11 now, but I can see many trips like yours in our future! Have a blast and I'd love to hear all about it when you get back!
ShellD is offline  
Nov 28th, 2012, 08:46 AM
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I love New Orleans too, but I love Venice much, much more. I think you will be happy you added a day there.

I would save prime daylight for exploring things that close by 5 or 6 and take my gondola ride at dusk. Venice is beautiful at that time, and you can get great photos from the water. You don't need to make a reservation, just go up to a gondola stand.

As for the symbolic gift, maybe you could find a miniature gondola or a tee-shirt striped like a gondolier's.
Delaine is offline  
Nov 28th, 2012, 12:14 PM
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I really do need to go to New Orleans at some point. I have friends who love it, but it's never been at the top of my want list, probably because most of my impression comes from Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras and general debauchery. Sometime when there's a good non-Mardi-Gras, non-Jazz-Fest, non-New Year's weekend and a good Southwest fare I'll make it down there!

Here's the Ai Tagliapietra web site. The location is excellent (on a quiet street but five minutes from San Marco, once you figure out how to get there - you WILL get lost in Venice!), and Lorenzo is the best.

http://www.aitagliapietra.com/position-ENG2010.htm
jent103 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2012, 01:08 PM
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lizzie'smom - Venice is not without interest at Easter - we went to the Easter Sunday mass in St. Mark's when we were there and I can imagine that for a catholic believer it would be very moving and meaningful - and of course you can get into the Basilica without some sort of pass from the Pope! [you need to use the northern door to enter for services].

The music was quite good [not quite in the english cathedral choir mould, but still OK], the surroundings were lovely, especially the illuminated mosaics, and the Patriach was very impressive. Best of all was the couple who stood weeping at the front all the way through and kissed the Patriach's ring at the end.

of course Venice was busy, but nothing like Rome where we had been the year before in the week after Easter which was madness.
annhig is offline  
Nov 28th, 2012, 06:03 PM
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A couple of note:

You daughter is 14 and is starting confirmation class? We were all confirmed when in 7th grade (age 12) which seems much more typical: First Communion at 7 and confirmation at 12.

I can understand the desire to see the Pope if you are believers but honestly the crowds will be massive - hundreds of thousands of people - and your chance of getting in are minute unless you are a religious.

I would reverse the trip so you are in Rome at the end and can at least see St Peter's and the Vatican Museums in relative peace. And I would definitely send for tickets to the Scavi - which would be fascinating.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 29th, 2012, 09:41 AM
  #18  
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nytraveler, I only wish the kids were still confirmed at 12, but that is no longer the case. In our area they start confirmation in ninth grade and finish at the end of tenth. They also go to sleepaway retreats (I don't remember doing that) and do a ton of volunteer work. It would have been easier at 12 when she had fewer meets and less homework. I am going to try for Scavi tickets but I think that means I can't leave Rome until Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, since my flight doesn't get in until noon on Saturday and that's probably too late and everything will be mobbed or closed Sunday and Monday.

annhig when you describe Rome as madness the week after Easter I get hives, but I am committed to it. I think we'll have to make a game of it, such as keeping track of how many times we have each been stepped on that day and the winner gets to choose where we have dinner that night.

Delaine I like your idea and am going to look for a little gondola ornament online thank you!

jent103, I am afraid of getting lost in Venice as I have no sense of direction whatsoever. I suspect if I ever had a CT scan they would find that part of my brain is missing entirely. I use the GPS in my phone when I can and when I can't it's pretty comical, but we just take it in stride. I like the looks of Ai Tagliapietra very much and also Locando Orseolo, so I think Venice is set now and will book one or the other this week. Thank you, I never would have thought of staying in a b&B, great idea!

Rome is the next question. So far I like the Albergo del Senato but I am open to suggestions. I would like to be in walking distance to as many things as possible and keep it under $300 a night if I can. I am not a fussy traveler but I do like a nice view. Our room in Paris had great view of the Eiffel tower and every night my daughter would call out when it twinkled on the hour and then she would lie solemnly on the bed and just watch it. It was a funny little ritual, but one of my favorite memories was watching her watch the lights. Shelld when you take your daughter to Paris (and you will) stay at the Duquesne and ask for room 55.
lizziesmom is offline  
Nov 29th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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I have a really good sense of direction, and I still got lost in Venice. It's part of the fun. I read somewhere that the city was purposely designed to confuse invaders, so don't take it personally. It's a very safe city - use common sense, of course, but there's no real need to worry about wandering into an unsavory part of town.

You might try the Venice2Go app for your phone (or something similar). I used it last year but didn't have my iPhone yet, just an iPod without the GPS. I used the Paris version on my phone in March and it was EXTREMELY helpful - the map is downloaded to your device (so no data usage), and the GPS will find you on the map. Venice has so many tiny streets that you'll still get lost, but it might give you peace of mind! The Rome version was also really helpful. The maps are searchable, to an extent - they won't have every tiny piazza.

I'm so glad your plans are coming together! We stayed in an apartment in Rome (via sleepinitaly.com), so I can't help with hotels there, but there are lots of threads here if you haven't looked already.
jent103 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2012, 11:02 AM
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lizziesmom, I stayed at the Locanda Orseolo in early May of 2011 and it was a wonderful hotel.Fantastic staff, lovely rooms with a very Venetian flavour and close to St.Mark's square but tucked away so it wasn't noisy.
We took a water taxi to the hotel and so arrived through the water door which you can see on their website, it was fun!

I have been to Venice twice and for me it is important to get away from St.Mark's square and find the quiet places, which do exist. I have yet to see the Doge's Palace or the inside of St.Mark's.
We hoped to last time but the Pope came to town and the whole place was in chaos and crawling with police, papal security etc. much to the disgruntlement of the local shop-keepers who kept telling us "Papa's place is in Rome, Venice is too small for Papa!".

We were in Rome on Easter weekend on that same trip and did not find it crowded. Mind you we did not try to get near St.Peter's on Easter Sunday, we are not Catholic so went to the Gallery Borghese instead. On the Saturday we went to St. Peter's and watched them set up for Easter Sunday and it was fairly busy but not so crowded you were penned in by people. My brother wanted to see the Sistine Chapel but it was closed Easter Sunday and Monday. They could have gone on a private tour on the Friday or Saturday but it is quite expensive and they chose not to.

My brother and his wife did a tour of Ancient Rome on Easter Monday and enjoyed it and my friend and I went shopping and just generally poked about and we all had a great 4 days there. I had been worried that it would be insanely busy too but I think that Rome is such a big city it can absorb a lot of people.

We stayed at Hotel Raphael right off Piazza Navona which was a great location, we walked everywhere, but I don't know if it is in your budget. (can't remember what we paid but it was a great hotel, we loved it)
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