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Family Italian Trip Itinerary - Please Review!

Family Italian Trip Itinerary - Please Review!

Apr 9th, 2007, 01:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 199
Family Italian Trip Itinerary - Please Review!

My family of four (myself, DH, two boys ages 12 and 9) will be traveling to Italy this June. My husband and I have traveled Europe independently quite a bit (though this is our first trip to Italy) and it is our children's first trip to Europe. We are excited and obviously, I want everything to be perfectly planned! We are adventurous, love walking and discovering new places. We want to tour some museums, but also want to keep things exciting for the boys. I have read literally hundreds of the posts here on Fodor's which have brought me thus far. Feel fre to make any and all suggestions. If you loved a particular moment at a particular location - please share it with me. Also, I welcome your restaurant suggestions. I am a bit of a foodie and my children will try anything! In addition, if you have guide information on how to maximize a certain location, feel free to share it. Thank you so much in advance. Here is our schedule:

May 31: Arrive in Rome at 7:50 a.m.

Hotel: Albergo Cesari

Walk around Pantheon area - Spanish Steps

Any suggestions on a day with jet lag?

June 1: 1/2 day Ancient Rome

June 2: 1/2 day Vatican

June 3: Any suggestions?

June 4: Pick up rental car and drive to Positano. Hotel: Mirmare
Walk around town - can't wait!

June 5: Almalfi Coast tour with www.gennaroesalvatore.it

June 6: Visit Pompeii

June 7: Travel to Castellina in Chianti (yes, I know this is a full day of travel)
Hotel: www.fattoria-tregole.com Dinner upon arrival.

June 8: Tuscany (my thoughts on Tuscany are very general) Sienna

June 9: Florence

June 10 Hill towns?

June 11: Travel to Venice - drop car at airport
Hotel: www.locandaorseolo.com

June 12: Doge's Secret Itinerary Tour

June 13: ?

June 14: Travel by train from Venice to Rome

June 15: Fly home (boo hoo)
KimiG is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,324
Hi KG,

>I want everything to be perfectly planned!

If you don't expect the impossible, you won't be disappointed.

> Pick up rental car and drive to Positano.

Are you sure? You will be on the AC during the season. The roads are clogged and parking is very difficult to find.

If you are taking a tour, why do you want a car?

I suggest that on June 7 you take the bus to Sorrento and get your car there.

June 13, stay in Venice.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 01:38 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 478
The Pantheon and the Spanish Steps are not close to each other. I don't know where your hotel is, but I wouldn't try to combine both.

For a day with jet lag, it's best to play it by ear, and not wander too far from the hotel in case anybody needs a nap. Italians stay up late in the summer -- kids too -- so don't be afraid to get a quick snooze after lunch and head out for a long night. Walking around Rome at night is fantastic.

But if you're feeling too excited to sleep, you can easily walk around the most historic quarters of Rome and just gape and sightsee -- or take a tourist bus that gives you a glimpse of all the sights.

You should probably not try to do the Vatican and ancient Rome in the same day. Do them on separate days.

Rather than a Tuscan hilltown, consider taking the boys to Lucca and renting bicycles (easily done) so you can all ride around the walls.

When you go to Pompeii, pack oodles of water, snacks and sun hats. It will be HOT.

fall06 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 01:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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hi, Kimi,

As ever, Ira gets in first! but that doesn't make him wrong.

As for your first day in Rome, there are loads of things you can do without booking. As your hotel is so central, as well as the Pantheon, you can tour the camp fiori, piazza navona, castel san angelo [boys should enjoy that] and if you've got the energy, cross over into Trastevere. [you can get the boat from just over the river from Castel san
Angelo down to where the boat stops and turns round; it's about 15 minutes and leaves you at the edge of Trastevere near st. Cecilia's church].

If you leave it fluid and keep within a reasonable distance of the hotel, then if jet-lag strikes, there should be no problem with getting back to the hotel - and cabs are relatively cheap!

Regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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You might think of allotting more time to ancient Rome. Some suggestions: the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, Trajan's Column, the Campidoglio, maybe the Capitoline Museums, maybe the Baths of Caracalla, and definitely the Pantheon. I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding things to do.
sjj is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 01:47 PM
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The Pantheon and Spanish Steps are a 10-15 minute walk from each other--close enough to combine them in my estimation. I'd switch the Vatican and Ancient Rome days--June 2 is a Saturday and I'd avoid the Vatican on a Saturday because of crowds.

You'll save lots of time if you drop your car at Piazzale Roma in Venice. It might cost a bit more to do so, but you'll save the expense of getting 4 people from the airport to Venice, never mind the time.
ellenem is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 01:50 PM
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I must have gotten lost!
fall06 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 01:54 PM
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Rome: San Clemente Church, with its layers of history, might be interesting for the boys. Not too far from the other 'ancient Rome' sites, so could be combined with that day.

As mentioned above, Rome at night is so fun! Hit Piazza Navona and head over to the Trevi Fountain. All the fountains and monuments lit up at night, the bustle of the city, will make a lasting impression. Rick Steves' Italy guide has a decent night walk outlined.

Let them pick a pizza restaurant...sit outside and soak up the scene.

Florence: If art museums are burning them out, try the wonderful Science Museum around the corner from the Uffizi; not crowded, had Galileo's instruments (and his finger!) as well as globes, maps and weird medical instruments (the kind of stuff I know my brothers loved at that age, right in there with museums of torture).

Tuscany: Totally agree with the bicycle idea instead of a day driving around in the car. Are they interested in the Leaning Tower? Fun for that age -- take the touristy photo of them holding it up, of course!

Pompeii: If you can preview this with any videos or books aimed at their ages, Pompeii would come to life for them a little better, I think. Definitely pace this, as advised above. Lots of water...the cafeteria is not bad (avoid the expensive adjoining restaurant). I thought the hand-held audio guides, along with informational maps/pages from your guidebook (we used Rick Steves and Lonely Planet for this) allowed for more freedom and imagination than the guided tours, but you know your family best.

Venice: Don't do too many 'must see' sites here (my opinion). The whole city is so amazing (a city built on wooden posts in the water!) that just wandering around and getting lost (you are on an island, so you will not get completely lost) is magical.

Everywhere: Lots of gelato stops! Make some meals casual picnics. Take a night off and eat Italian-style 'takeout' in the hotel room. Let the boys have a TV night!

Have a wonderful trip with the family.
annabelle2 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 02:04 PM
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Oh, one more quick comment, KimiG

I just took a look at your lovely Tuscany lodgings -- make sure to have a day of completely unscheduled time here, since there is a pool. Hang out, relax, and go nowhere.
annabelle2 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 02:11 PM
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Only one day in Florence? Oh, I see you are probably making it a day trip. Your boys will love the gelato. My kids seemed to enjoy climbing to the top of everything -- they might enjoy climbing to the top of the Duomo or the top of Giotto's tower. Be sure to see Michaelangelo's David -- it is in a very small museum and won't take long to see if you have advance reservations.

I would think that instead of exploring another hill town your boys might enjoy going to Pisa and climbing the tower there. If you go to Pisa, make sure to make reservations in advance as the tickets to climb the tower can sell out.

In Rome you can also climb to the top of St. Peter's dome -- pretty cool as the stairs curve around the dome and you get a great view once you get outside. I'd take the elevator up as far as it goes and then climb from there as it is a long way up.

I think the Coliseum is a must to tour. You might consider the Vatican Museum as the Sistine Chapel is something the boys will see many pictures of but the museum does get quite crowded and the line to get inside can be intimidating. If your boys like somewhat goulish fare (and what boy doesn't) my kids thought the Cappuchin crypt was a big hightlight - bones "artfully" displayed. My kids loved sending postcards to all their friends from there.

Don't forget to take a gondola ride in Venice!

Have a great trip.
KTtravel is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 02:14 PM
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Thank you so much for all of the great advice so far! Y'all are great! I think this is the hardest trip I have planned to date - I guess trying to anticipate the needs of my children and I can't wait to see the joy of discovery in their eyes!

Ira: are the roads that horrible. I had visions of Hwy 1 in CA during the summer. I love the idea of being independant, but don't want to sit in horrible traffic for hours. If no rental car, what is the easiest way to get from Rome to Positano?
KimiG is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 02:16 PM
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Your kids might be tired on their first day so you may want to build in a short nap once you arrive. We've always found that we needed to do this with our daughter and limit the sleep time. Then as others have said enjoy the late afternoon and evening. Your first afternoon you can visit the Pantheon, Piazza Navonna is nice at night because there are sometimes street performers (as well as Campo Fiori)- and I would definitely talk the kids for a walk to the Trevi Fountain after dinner to see the fountain all lit up. Go to Giolotti or DePalma for gelato for an afternoon pick me up on their first day and a welcome to Rome.

Day 2: Ancient Rome tour is perfect they will love the Coloseum and gladiators - very touristy but hey, you've got little boys. San Clemente is a wonderful church to visit and is nearby but check the times because it closes for a few hours in the afternoon. Your boys will probably enjoy wondering up the steps of the Emmanuelle Vittorio II Monument (also known as the wedding cake) at Piazza Venezia or climbing the stairs to the Campodoligio (the musuems next to the monument).

The Vatican and Musuem can be a bit much for the kids so you may want to do kid time afterwards...a park and rest time. The Castle St. Angelo is pretty cool and you're kids might enjoy that, too.

Day 3 you should take them to the Borghese Gardens and rent bikes or a surrey (and take a picnic along) - that is a lot of fun and something that my daughter (now 16) loves to do on visits to Rome. There is also a zoo in the park and sometimes there are puppet shows. I also recommend walking to Trastevere for dinner (Vicolo del Cinque has some great restaurants - Il Duca and Hostoria del Moro). Enjoy dining outdoors which helps kids keep the boredom level down.

Your itinerary sounds wonderful and your kids will have an amazing time because they will really see quite an overview of Italy. Just make sure that you give them enough "kid time" - parks, gondola ride, pigeon feeding time in Venice - and time to wonder around Venice- it is like walking through the pages of a storybook. I'd take them to see Michelangelo's David in Florence because that is truly breathtaking. One thing that kids really like is seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa (adults on this site can often discourage visiting) but your boys would probably think that it is very cool. Enjoy.
risab is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 02:18 PM
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Just wanted to add, too that they really might like the Capuchin Crypt - as another poster mentioned - my daughter thought it was so cool. It is on Via Veneto. You can walk up Via Veneto and enter the Borghese Park. It is a long walk from your hotel to the Capuchin Church so I'd cab it and then walk to the park.
risab is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 03:29 PM
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Its hard to know what might catch kid's imaginations and interest, and a lot depends on their energy levels.

For arrival day, its always a good idea to get on destination time and, my "beat jet lag" book counsels, stay up and around and preferably in the sun in the morning. Wandering around renaissance Rome, up to the Spanish steps and even crossing over the Ponte St Angelo or the Tiber Island could be good. Get a good walk book and follow a walk or two - it will point out details that will make walking around more interesting. The fountains of rome, the obelisks, their histories and stories are fascinating (check out the sinking boat at the food of the Spanish Steps) We have used Companion Guide for years but there are others too. Going up onto the Campidoglio and looking down onto Rome and the Forum (and wandering on down) can be mindboggling

Personally, I dont think that contending with the Vatican museums and those crowds is optimal with kids. Something like the sistine chapel is just so crowded and noisy that its hard to focus. I recommend you know enough that you can point out things for them to look for (devils doing awful things to the damned) angels pulling up the saved, etc.

Its just a wonderful town tho - the trams, buses and metro, different foods and snacks, the ancient churches, etc (see rec of San Clemente, above) can be a lot of fun for kids.

Re your positano trip, there are great hikes and walks on the Amalfi Coast - pick up some maps at the tourist office, take a bus up to one of the "higher" towns so you can walk mostly downhill.

You might want to consider seeing Pompeii on the way up to Tuscany from Positano - I cant really see daytripping from there and then backtracking the same difficult driving terrain the next day.

Entering Venice - drive straight to Piazzale Roma, dont waste time going out to the Airport. Its no big deal and lands you directly where you want to be.

Personally, I think you are trying to cover too many different areas for a two week trip, but everyone has a different travel style.
jjkbrook is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 06:53 PM
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We started taking our kids to europe at that age, and for sightseeing in Rome and Florence, we found having a guide was worth a penny. The kids are much more engaged and make the history come alive!

When we go, we also stay in a hotel in Tuscnay with a pool and the kids LOVE having some relaxing time in between the busy city sight seeing. We do also stay overnight in Florence, though, because we love it so much.

you've gotten great advice on this thread. have a great trip!!
dina4 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 08:40 PM
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Hi Kimi,

I would also highly recommend adding the Borghese to your Rome plans. It's a short visit (2 hours, or less, up to you) and very well worth it! The park is beautiful too.

Just walking around from the Spanish Steps, to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and visiting a couple of great churches would be an excellent arrival day. Fresh air and exercise will help with the jet lag.

I would take the train from Rome to Naples and have a private driver take your family to Positano, stopping in Pompeii on the way. Depending on your budget, you could also train to Pompeii and check your luggage at the station. I think trying to see Pompeii on the return heading to Chianti would be much too long a day!

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 09:25 PM
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Hi KimiG!
I remember you from my trip report this summer. You have booked some great hotels, and I know you have read my trip reports, but just wanted to make sure you have the links to Grinisa's Thrills and Chills in the Eternal City: http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/rome/chills_thrills.htm.

It has some great suggestions of places I think your boys may enjoy - definitely Santa Maria Concezione (the cappuchin monk crypt). We also really enjoyed the Museo Criminologico di Roma. A small museum, on the history of crime, punishment and prisons in Italy. Fascinating and we pretty much had it all to ourselves.
jgg is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 01:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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We just returned from Rome and Venice with our 3 boys, ages 7,9,11.

You have received lots of great advice here! One thing we did in Venice that we enjoyed was a "Ghost Story Walk." We booked it through our hotel. It was from 7:45p.m. to 9:15. While it wasn't very SCARY and the boys were a bit disappointed in that, it was interesting and they are telling the stories again and again. It was something I hadn't read about and we thought it was cool. Also, In St. Mark's Basilica do the Treasury Museum. Its 2Euro a person. Get an audio guide if you can, they were out of battery when we were there. In there are some interesting things...a thorn from Jesus's crown, John the Baptist's skull, to name a few! Our boys loved it. We really liked Murano Island, the glass making island. The boys watched one workshop for close to an hour. Really, really cool.

Probably the most memorable moment for the boys....feeding pigeons in St. Mark's Square. They sell feed and the pigeons will land on your hand, head, shoulder. Really great fun if you're a little boys.

Have a fabulous time!
KatyBelle is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 06:01 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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If you search "missypie italy" you will find my trip report from our trip to Rome, Florence and Venice with kids ages 15, 13 and 10. That will give you a good idea of what my kids liked.
missypie is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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You've received a lot of excellent suggestions. Our first European visit was Rome-7 days with boys 11, 9 and a 7 y/o girl. Here are some of this sights we hit (most already mentioned here):

-Piazza Navona
-Time Elevator(great interactive introduction to the history of Rome)
-view from the Vittoriano Museum at Piazza Venezia
-Borghese Museum/Gardens
-Cat Sanctuary
-St Peter's
-Catacombs de San Callisto along the Appian Way

Click on my name and view the last post if you want more details.

djman102 is offline  

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