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family of 4 trip to Italy/Paris

Old Sep 28th, 2017, 06:45 PM
  #1  
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family of 4 trip to Italy/Paris

We are currently researching a trip starting with us leaving Canada June 23 and arriving June 24 for about 21 days for our first trip ever to Europe. We are open to considering a 7 day tour and then do some stuff on our own. I used routeperfect to help and thru internet sites and blogs. Nothing is set in stone yet. My itinerary I was thinking of goes something like this:
Paris for 5 nights
Venice for 3 nights
Rome for 5 nights
San Gimignano area of Tuscany at a agriturismo called Guardastelle 4 nights
Sorrento 4 nights
My kids will be 15 (boy) and 12 (girl). I thought to start the trip in Paris so we would end with more relaxing time.
-Paris is a must as our son is in French Immersion since kindergarden and we would like to expose him to that. No idea where to stay or what to do there yet so suggestions would be great to receive.
-Venice I was thinking of booking rowvenice for a lesson with the kids, possibly checking out the regatta if it is on and doing a mask decorating at Ca'Macana. The touristy stuff. We are looking for a place to stay that might include breakfast and be fairly easy to figure out how to get to. We read about AD Place boutique hotel and in a blog one family recommended Locanda Ai Santi Apostoli. We are looking for suggestions for places to stay. For places to eat places people rec on other sites were la maison de la crepe, ristorante santo stefano, le cafe, osteria la zucca, al merca, cantina do mori/spade, al muro
-Rome we are wanting to stay in the heart of it with lots of things in walking distance. We read about Hotel Trevi, Navona gallery and garden suites, hotel albergo del senato and piazza rondanini......other suggestions? To eat we read of cul de sac, cantina @cucina, figidarium. we will do the touristy stuff.
-Tuscany spot we chose so we could feel connected to the locals and experience relaxing time at the pool, do a cooking class there and horseback riding. It seems good for day trips to Florence, Volterra, Siena. What would be good to do here as a family for day trips and things to do? We will need a car too.
-Sorrento we chose as was reviewed as a good base to explore the Amalfi Coast. Car again with day trip to Pompei, island of capri, positano. We need ideas of places to stay here.
Some other cool places we liked we Puglia area and renting a trulli bought thought it is on the other side. I know I have not factored in travel time between. Not sure if this is too many places to stay? I would love some feedback and suggestions. Thank you for your time
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Old Sep 28th, 2017, 07:42 PM
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Your layout is much better than many first drafts!

For the places you mention and with kids, you for sure do not need a tour!

Each time you change bases, travel from hotel to train or airport, then flight or train trip, then getting to new hotel will eat up a half day or, in the case of your stops like getting to Sorrento, it will eat up more time.

Three nights in a place give you only 2 full days, 4 nights give 3 full days, etc. You will/ may have parts of other days, but they are harder to plan and you should not count them as sightseeing days or days in a place.

Plan in such a way that you can fly into one city and out of another. It may cost more, but saves a day of backtracking and gives more time for doing and seeing things.

You have many options for the order of things, and cost could be a factor. I don't think the order matters a lot enjoyment-wise, but it does matter logistically. You must be in the departure city the night before departure, so save that city for last. Don't split it up into two visits.

If you do Paris, Venice, put Tuscany after that, then Rome, then Sorrento and fly home from Naples.

If you must fly home from Rome, then do Paris, Venice, Tuscany, Sorrento and Rome.

A car in Tuscany will be good. If you are going to.Rome after Tuscany, you could keep the car and drop it in Orvieto or Rome.

If, however, you end up going to Sorrento after Tuscany, you could keep the car and drop it off in Sorrento. For the places you want to see, you absolutely do not need a car in Sorrento.

From Sorrento, you will take the local Circumvesuvianna train to Pompeii. You will take a ferry to Capri. A ferry down the coast to Positano and/or Amalfi is also easy and has fantastic views of the coast, plus you won't be in a crowded, slow bus.

Even though your trip is well planned if you just consider time in each place, IMHO, on a short trip, you can keep on moving. On a longer trip, you need more down time. The time in Tuscany could be that, but you have a lot planned for that time. With Paris being a must, I hate to say this, but I would consider cutting one place in Italy. Sorrento is always a bit of a slog and you have so much planned there also, that you will be on the go with no down time. I love the AC, but logistically, Sorrento would be best to cut, especially if you could not fly out from Naples.
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Old Sep 28th, 2017, 09:43 PM
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It sounds like you have put a lot of thought in already to what you want to do. A few areas I'm curious about:

Is everyone in the family more interested in Italy than France? It seems a shame that you are not visiting one other site than Paris, just for a little contrast. But I love Italy, so I am not trying to discourage you from Italy.

What are your kids most interested in seeing? I had a hard time getting mine to commit, but try. Rick Steves videos (many of them on Youtube or at your library), or a guide book with decent photos can get the conversation going.

I love your rowing idea in Venice. Do something active when you can.

How would you prefer to get from Paris to Venice? Trains are part of European way of life--I would encourage you to take a train at least once during your trip. Maybe Paris-Venice, or maybe Venice-Tuscany (either Sienna or Florence to pick up the car).
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Old Sep 28th, 2017, 09:43 PM
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There are restrictions in Paris on vacation rentals that are complicated.
I would book a hotel with air-conditioning, because the weather may be hot. Residential apartments do not have air-conditioning.

If you could include your budget for Paris, that would be helpful.

If you do want a kitchen, you should look for Citadines or Adagio apart'hotels, which are legal.
There is an air-conditioned Citadines on Richard Lenoir which is about a block away from the Bastille open-air food market, which the kids might enjoy.
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Old Sep 28th, 2017, 10:05 PM
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My brother takes part in the regatta every year, with his ship's pilots' gig rowing team: it's wild on the water, so if "taking a rowing lesson" means that you don't have much experience on the water: beware. It's very, very crowded.
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 02:56 AM
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People who offer rowing lessons in Venice do not take newbies & children onto the Grand Canaal or any of the busy canals. It's a good idea to do some rowing lessons with the kids, so you should contact the providers directly.

You should play it by ear as to whether or not you want to take on seeing Florence at the height of summer, and driving yourselves there. The city is notoriously difficult for slapping huge traffic tickets on tourists who mistakenly drive down streets reserved for residents. Just in general the city is packed & heavy with religious art sites & museums, which might be of limited interest to teens. They will see plenty of Renaissance art in Rome, including the work of Michaelangelo. If you do the research and are up for it, don't let me stop you from going. But lots of people imagine they MUST see Florence if they haven' & are nearby, and it turns into an unpleasant experience.

Pisa is more manageable as a day trip San Gimignano, but just as touristy & you do need to read up on traffic laws & how to get the parking lots without breaking them. Renting bicycles is a popular activity in San Gimignano, if that appeals to you. In general, you've got a heavy sightseeing trip, and a breather at Guardastelle (love the name!) for swimming, shopping, visiting small towns on a whim, might be the ticket.

Lots of nice apartment rentals in Rome with air con, wi-fi, etc. I like the agency Rome Loft. It has an easy-to-use website.

I found this helpful guide to eating in Venice that goes by neighborhood (or "sestiere"). In general, you might want to favor places with simpler informal meals rather than sit-down 3-course meals.

http://www.lifelovefood.co/a-guide-t...ing-in-venice/

No car in Sorrento. You don't need one.
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 03:04 AM
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Meant to add that sorry that food guide for Venice has so many pictures to get past before you get to the eatery recommendations. Also, many of the full-on restaurants named are what I consider pricey.
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 03:05 AM
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Here's a list of budget friendly restaurants in Venice

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2...s-venice-italy
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 05:56 AM
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For something different for kids especially consider taking the overnight Thello night train Paris-Venice - get a private compartment and bring food and drink aboard and relax - saves cost of a hotel and ultimate time saver even over flying. www.thello.com. That said overnight trains ain't for everyone -especially those with sleep/noise problems - most I know sleep fine though- anyway could be an 'adventure' -for lots on night trains check these sites loaded with info on European trains: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com - check latter for help on booking your own online tickets-often at a discount - for all trains you may take - especially in Italy.
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 06:01 AM
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Thank you so much for all your replies. I definitely have a lot more research to do! Your thoughts and tips are appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Hearing what you have to say I may need to rethink some of it and how busy it is. I need to check out the flights from here and see where is the best place to fly to and from for the best price. We are hoping to use points to fly return. I will look into travel between places and love the idea of experiencing the train. France vs. Italy we love both. My kids have been watching youtube to see sights and get ideas of what they want out of the trip. For us Paris, Rome and Venice were the must sees. I just tried to throw in some other spots that others recommended and for sure some that had time for us to just relax. I know we can't do it all in one trip but was trying to organize it so we were on the go but had time in some places to relax. For your points about driving THANK YOU. I would rather not drive at all and will look into your suggestions more. We would like to stay in places and eat where it is not too expensive to have more money to do things.
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 06:42 AM
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You put a lot of thoughts into your itinerary! I am impressed.

I support PalenQ's suggestion to take the overnight Paris-Venice train. I think your children will love it.

The only place I think you need a car is in Tuscany. Train the rest.

The Amalfi coast is your only seaside destination and is full of sun and spectacular views. I would not cut it out of the itinerary. But I would not stay in Sorrento, as it is not as scenic as other locations. I would choose Positano, Capri/Anacapri, Ravello, Amalfi town... and enjoy where you are. If Pompei is a must, see it on your travel day down to the Amalfi coast. Someone once mentioned about storing luggage and seeing Pompei and then proceeding to their hotel/apartment to Positano. I thought that was very smart.

If you are using points to fly, check fly in Paris and out of Rome/Naples. The fast train from Naples to Rome is one hour.
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 06:57 AM
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I just checked the overnight train Paris to Venice on www.othello.com. It looks fun! Is this the best train to take to get there?
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 07:05 AM
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Sorrento may be more touristy, but it is easier as a base (especially with only 3 days to sightsee) to get to other places, has many restaurants and is prettier than most people seem to think. It has magnificent views of the Bay of Naples and is an easy train trip to Pompeii, a nice ferry ride to Capri, etc. Seeing Pompeii from Capri or Positano is not easy.
If you go from Rome, then fine, stop in Pompeii. If you go from Tuscany, it is way too long of a trip for kids to enjoy the stop. Visit Pompeii one day, in the morning, when you are rested.
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 07:06 AM
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It's the only overnight train - day trains take probably 7-8 hours or more and none direct - changing in Milan. I'd either fly or take the overnight train.
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 07:08 AM
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Make that about 10 hours! (check www.bahn.de/en for all European train schedules).
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 09:26 AM
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If you don't want to drive in Tuscany you can still have a lovely experience staying in the bike-friendly town of Lucca & visiting Pisa and small Tuscan towns without tourists by train, as well as Florence if you like. Or you can reach Siena by public transportation, stay right at the edge of town where you can find a pool, but also arrange for some horseback rides or bike rides as well as explore the imposing castle hill town & visit Florence if you like.

However, if you are looking to cut something to make it a less busy summer trip, Tuscany is not always a big hit with teens. It can be quite hot, and of course they are not interested in wineries, and many don't like to be stuck in the back seat for scenic driving. Spending extra time in breezier Sorrento to allow for swimming or boat excursions is often more popular, plus the local food (pizza, pasta, pastries) is also generally a hit with teens. If you go hiking in the hills right about Sorrento, amid the lemon trees, you will scarcely see any tourists and you will see a way of Italian life that hasn't much changed for a very long time.
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 12:08 PM
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If we used a driver in Sorrento how do you find one? Is it expensive? For island of capri what is there to do beside the chairlift and blue grotto?
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 12:18 PM
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Drivers in Sorrento can be quite expensive (35-50 euros per hour) and there is no real advantage to using them. You can take the cheap commuter train to Pompei or Naples, a ferry to the Amalfi coast towns (quicker), and of course you can only take ferries to the islands. The taxis must use the same one road that the buses uses, so you might as well take the bus -- although the buses can indeed be crowded.

People go hiking on Capri. It's quite crowded during the day and not everybody thinks it is a "must-see". There are other islands you can visit that are less crowded. The point of visiting that area is to have fun, not necessarily race around sightseeing, although most people make the effort to see Pompeii (which is quite hot in summer, so go very early if you do go, and bring water, hats, sunscreen and have a plan).
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 12:22 PM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Jovis

Capri has one Tiberius' Villas - remains of palatial palace on a cliff over which he allegedly threw off his enemies! It was alleged in Roman times that this remote heavily guarded place was a great place of great debaucheries.

Anyway impressive area and views - I walked there from the port area.

https://www.google.com/search?q=tibe...w=1745&bih=863
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Old Sep 29th, 2017, 06:04 PM
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We stayed six nights in Capri at the end of May and found a lot of outdoors activities to do. You can click on my name and read my trip report if you would like.
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