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Are my kids, almost 4 and almost 6, going to be too young for a week in Venice?

Are my kids, almost 4 and almost 6, going to be too young for a week in Venice?

Old Nov 30th, 2004, 11:23 AM
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Are my kids, almost 4 and almost 6, going to be too young for a week in Venice?

DH and I have taken a few trips to Italy on our own, seeing most of the major sights, and in March 2006, we'd like to take the kiddos with us. This trip would be more about spending quality time together in a new, exciting environment than sightseeing by a rigid itinerary. Ideally we'd set up camp in an apartment somewhere for a week. I had originally thought Venice would be ideal, with the boats and bridges and overall uniqueness. I'm wondering now if they'll still be too young for all that walking (we would NOT take a stroller), and I'm a little nervous about my Curious George getting a little too close to the canals! I'm not sold on Rome as my kids can get easily overwhelmed with too much noise and activity. We have been to Venice (a brief two days), and although we didn't fall in love with it, we'd like to give it a second chance, seeing it through our kids' eyes. Is this a good idea, or is there something better out there for these ages?
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 12:32 PM
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We took ours when they were 3 and 6, and to this day it remains one of their favorite travel memories. We did have a stroller for the 3-year-old, and I do remember getting a WHOLE lot of exercise humping that things over bridges and cobblestones, but I think a 4-year-old will be fine. As elsewhere in Europe, there's always a wall or step or bench you can rest on for a bit....or a gelateria! I don't remember being terribly concerned about the kids falling into the canals, and I was a protective mom, so I don't think that's an issue unless you have really boisterous kids. Mine adored the canals and boats and of course a gondola ride, all the pigeons in the Piazza San Marco, and the food above all.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 12:35 PM
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Hi Jocelyn: I would stay away from Venice with children. Aside from the obvious over-abundance of water, it is so limiting in terms of things to do with kids. Gondola rides can get very expensive and walking around, up and down those bridges all day can tire out little legs. Sure you can take the vaporetti, but it still involves getting off and on at numerous stops throughout the city, dependent on what you want to see. I have gone to Venice several times on my own and with other people; and while I can stock up on my Murano glass treasures, I would not consider taking my little child there with me. My 4 year old likes water, it's just that there is a bit too much and I would not want to chance her walking too close (or darting, as they do at this age!) to the water.

My preference is Rome. At least in Rome, there is a variety of things to do (you can take the kids to the Zoo, Borghese Gardens, Circus Maximus, train to Ostia Antica for a picnic, exploration, etc). You still have a year and 1/2 to plan, so I am sure you can think of another city that would please both you and your husband - as well as the kids (if not Rome, then maybe Verona, Lucca, etc?)
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 12:38 PM
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Whatever city you choose, you have 18 months of prep time to get them used to long walks and hiking, a habit that will serve them well throughout life. I am sure they could handle reasonable amounts of walking, if there are no illnesses or disabilities.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 12:49 PM
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Hi, will they be almost 4 and 6 in 2006 when you go, or that's what they are now?
Since it will be March, and weather will be iffy at best, I'd reluctantly say to consider somewhere else besides my beloved Venice. If you were iffy on Venice before, I'm not sure that taking two young'uns in a rainy and possibly chilly month is the best way of giving it another shot.
When I traveled with young children, London and Paris each worked out very well. The kids were basically of a cooperative nature, and older, 6 and 9. However, it still seems to me that London and Paris offer more in the way of playgrounds, zoos, child-oriented museums, easy public transportation, and more to choose from in casual but not-tourist-trap restaurants.
But, of course you know your own kids best.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 01:05 PM
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In my humble opinion, children of three and six get little benefit from travel so young. The tykes will make your travel more difficult as well. If you can, leave them with grandma and grandpa.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 01:17 PM
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Well perhaps Venice is not the place, and I certainly would listen to Huitres who has travelled extensivly with her little girl and quite successfully to I might add.

As far as your childrens ages (assume you are giving what age will be in March 2006) I started taking my daughter on trips from the time she was 3 years old. Started with grandchildren at that age also.

IMHO I believe this is what to consider. If you can take your little ones with you to the supermarket, shops, restaurant, visiting family and friends etc. and all goes well than I think that a vacation will work also.
It is true little ones can get overwhelmed with noise and too much stimulation but there is ways to work around that.

Other posters have given you good ideas about Venice versus other places. I would consider those thoughts as yes Venice can be rather chilly in March and no doubt all the canals might not be the most relaxing for you with the youngest.

Also remember, whatever city you chose, there are famalies raising their children there.

Have fun planning your family vacation.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 01:19 PM
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Now I'm even more confused.

To clarify, their 4th and 6th birthdays will be April 2006. They are generally cooperative and low-key, although the younger one has been known to dart occasionally! They have traveled extensively in the States by plane and car and are very easygoing travelers.

Good point, WillTravel, about getting them prepped for the long walks. They are healthy and active, but I'll make a point to start taking long walks around the neighborhood.

I was concerned about crowds and hadn't thought so much about the weather in March. Wherever we go, we could easily push it back to late May, after school's out.

Thanks for all the input.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 01:20 PM
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I wouldn't stay there for a week with young kids. Combine it with another town. It could be cold and damp that time of year. As you move further south, the weather tends to be warmer (we were in Italy March '01). I would consider another area, where there'd be more outdoor space for them to run around. They're a bit young, but Italians like kids so it's a good palce to start.

As far as your kids being overwhelmed, in a year and a half, lots could change.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 01:36 PM
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I took my girls to Venice when they were 4 and 7. They enjoyed it but we only stayed for two days. They remember the vaporetto rides and that's about it. But then we went to Florence and Rome and they remember every detail about those two cities. We took them back to Rome for a week and they still beg to go back there. Don't hear any requests to return to Venice. Another issue is the Venetian cuisine which relies heavily on seafood. While pastas and meat are certainly available, for the two days we were in Venice, my girls lived on fried calamari, linguine with vongole and mussels. So if your kids don't enjoy seafood, finding something to tempt them may be difficult.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 01:36 PM
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I disagree with the general assumption that young children get no benefit from travel. Will my 3 year old son remember that he's been to France, Italy, Portugal, Canada, Barbados and Mexico twice - highly unlikely.

But, he's been on a plane enough times where he travels like a pro. He's completely comfortable in new surroundings and has zero problem getting used to sleeping in a strange environment.

Most importantly, as I see him less then 2 hours a day Monday to Friday, we have that time traveling to spend together.

In terms of your kids being to young, I'd suggest that you know them far better then anyone. How interested do you think they'll be, beyond the initial fascination, with the canals and the boats. Will they be bored by churches and art?

Venice can be a bit taxing given the number of stairs they need to navigate. How well do you think they'll handle that?

I'd suggest checking with your hotel about the locations of some parks and squares where they can be kids, might make the trip more palatable, for them. Perhaps you might even consider a trip out to the Lido beach area.


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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 01:38 PM
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I have only been to Venice once, and not with young children, but I don't know what I would do with children there for a whole week. The city doesn't seem to have that many children living in it, at least in the parts that we saw, and we didn't see a lot of parks or playgrounds or areas to take the kids to play. I agree that it might be more fun to spend a week in a city with more facilities for children. On the other hand, I think a couple of days in Venice might be fun as part of a longer trip.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 01:50 PM
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Oh oh oh, I know!! Stay in Verona for the week and do a day trip to Venice. That's what we did with my kids (1.5 and 3.5) and the almost four year old did great with the walking (the stroller was not the greatest, I'd not do that again). The apartment we stayed at in Verona was the best and between the city itself (two days), Gardaland (one day), and other day trips the week rounded up nicely. You could do our exact itinerary, your kids would love it! My trip report is at www.markandmonica.com/travel/italy.htm.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 01:51 PM
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I suggest posting this question on SlowTalk.com . Many posters there have traveled Europe with their kids and will have good tips.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 02:03 PM
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Actually, when we were in Venice with our two when they were 3 and 6 we were staying in a villa about half anhour outside Venice. We took the train in and back. It was ideal.

I also think there are tremendous benefits to taking kids traveling. If you take them on domestic trips, why not to Europe? They can learn so many things from any kind of travel that will serve them well in all sorts of situations later in life.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 02:04 PM
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As much as I like Venice, I don't think I as a supposed "Adult" could hack a whole week there. I like the idea of using someplace like Verona as a base then venturing elsewhere via car to keep the kids entertained. Mine are now 19 and 15 and they still fall asleep 10 minutes after they get in the car. With Verona as your base you could easily visit Venice a couple days, take a trip up into Austria (Innsbruck) where the kids could see a different landscape and buildings. You could head West and reach Lake Como without much effort. You might consider staying at an Agriturismo. Some are actual working farms. I'm sure the kids would love being around the cows and sheep that seem to be everywhere in the Veneto region.

By the way, my kids have been going with us to Europe since they were 9 and 5 and claim to still remember that first trip. IMHO the key is to gear the trip to their interests and just hope the same things interest you.

Check this out:

http://www.primitaly.it/agriturismi/uk.htm

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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 02:04 PM
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Hi Monica! This is funny, because I think I may have given you advice about Verona/Lake Garda for you trip! We spent 8 days in Verona in May, and although we loved it, I don't want to do the same itinerary again so soon.

I'll rethink Rome. Huitres, do you have a trip report for Rome? My biggest fears/concerns are:
1)becoming separated in the chaos
2)the kids being overwhelmed and not enjoying anything

StCirq, staying in a villa outside Venice is a great idea. I agree that kids can benefit greatly from travel. Just from the trips we've taken domestically, recently moving cross-country, and talking about Mommy and Daddy's trips, my four year old is fascinated with geography, different weather patterns and landscape, and languages. I can't imagine a better learning tool.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 04:15 PM
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How about a couple of days in Venice then do Paris and then you could do Euro Disney, and many other wonderful things.
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 04:21 PM
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Jocelyn,
I noticed on Slow Trav that you are also now looking for alternative places. We've never been to Venice so I can't help you specifically. I disagree with those who don't think kids (and their parents) benefit from travel and that in my experience (boys now 5 and 7) kids do benefit and it becomes an important part of their lives. Kids can find things to do almost anywhere. I think kids enjoy being in one place for a while -- we try to stay a week so we can get into a routine.

If you decide not to go to Venice I can highly recommend the Cinque Terra with kids. We had a great trip there this summer and our trip report is posted.

I also second getting the kids used to hiking -- enjoy the planning and good luck!
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Old Nov 30th, 2004, 04:59 PM
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Thank you so much for all the honest advice. I'm starting to realize that my romanticized vision of a week in Venice with the kids probably isn't going to turn out the way I'd like it to.

So, now I'm wondering if Huitres' suggestion of Lucca is the way to go. It's on our list of places yet to see. We could daytrip into Florence, Pisa, the Pinocchio park, and the beach. I'd like to avoid renting a car, and Lucca is a good train hub. It would be pretty low key, yet still new for DH and me. I'm not sure an agriturismo would be that big a deal for our kids as we live in a semi-rural area, surrounded by farms, so an apartment in town would be fine.

Okay, NEW TENTATIVE PLAN: In late May (right?), rent an apartment in Lucca, using trains as primary transportation for daytrips. Gosh, what would kids that age enjoy in Florence?
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