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Family trip - 11 days/10 nights in Italy

Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 04:39 PM
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Family trip - 11 days/10 nights in Italy

My husband and I are going to Italy for the first time in July with our 2 daughters (ages 11 and 15), and I would greatly appreciate any suggestions on the itinerary.

We fly into Milan around 8:50 am. I figured we will be pretty jet lagged. So, I was thinking about hanging around Milan for the day and spending the night there. The next day we would travel to Florence, and spend 3 nights there (museum, Tuscany, etc). Then, we would head to Rome for 3 nights (will probably try to head down to Naples and Pompeii from there). Then, we would head to Venice for 2 nights and see Verona as well. For our final night, we would head back to Milan since we fly out the next afternoon.

Is this reasonable? Any suggestions on the itinerary? Someone said I really should try to fit in Cinque Terre. If I cut one night from Venice, would that be possible? If we do, is it possible to do this as a day trip from Milan?
mel1ssa is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 04:51 PM
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If you cut one night from Venice you won't have any time there and it won't be worth the time and expense of getting there. I don't think you're giving Venice enough time - only 1.5 days and part of that time will be in Verona. I guess if you want to spend time running around Italy then you could add Cinque Terre. I wouldn't do it.

Is it possible to go to Cinque Terre from Milan? Sure - it's 6+ hours traveling round trip on the train and you still need to get to and from the train station in Milan.

Day 1 (arrival day) I would immediately get on a train for Florence. If you're just going to hang around Milan you might as well get on a train and take a nap and you'll be at your first destination.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 04:53 PM
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Go to Florence after landing in Milan. You need to make the most out of every day. If you're jet-lagged, you can doze on the train.

Forget the Cinque Terre. You're already considering so many day trips (Tuscany, Naples, Pompeii, Verona) that you won't have much time to see the sights in the Big 3 cities. Dropping Venice to one night would make it hardly worth the effort; in that case, it would be better to save it for another trip with more time.

Make entry reservations NOW for anything on your sightseeing list that offers them. Uffizi, Accademia, Borghese, Basilica San Marco, Last Supper, etc.
Jean is online now  
Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 04:58 PM
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lots of checking in and out of hotels. I agree, get on the train and nap on it while you travel. Milan is a big city and you will be tired or exhausted depending on where you came from to get to Milan so get to your next destination. Do you really want to haul luggage around while you wait for your hotel to take you in unless you have paid for an extra day, you probably cannot check in until early afternoon. I would not cut any time from venice to get to Cinque terre. Enjoy the little time you have there without squeezing in another site. Plan a return trip to see what you cannot squeeze into this trip....
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 05:11 PM
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The most effective advice we could have given you is irrelevant at this point presuming you have already bought round trip fare to Milan. Look at your itinerary as you posted. If you have flown back from Venice, you could have freed up another day at similar cost (swap last night in Milan by another night in Venice) and eliminated the cost of backtracking to Milan. This, open-jaw flight, is one of a few strategies without trade-offs: you save time and money at the same time.

Many people automatically assume they must stay overnight at the landing city. As mentioned by previous posters, would you want to kill time until you can check-in in Milan or convert that time into travel time you have to spend anyway? You get two-in-one leverage by traveling straight to Florence.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 05:52 PM
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just as a point of reference, we did a similar trip and here is how we split our time: (kids were 8, 10, and 12 at the time).

- day 1: arrive Milan - walked around the Castle Sforza, climbed Duomo and saw Last Supper. Overnight Milan.
- day 2,3 : train to Florence - after sleeping in, took a 11am train. spent remainder of day and day 3 in Florence. Kids liked climbing both to the top of the Duomo and the Campanile. overnight Florence. (2 nights)
- day 4, 5, 6: rented a car, drove to Lucca to our apartment. Drove to Pisa and climbed Tower (this was fun even though touristy!). next day drove to San Gimignano and visited museum in Vinci. Rented bikes and rode on walls in Lucca. Following day, drove to Pietra Santa where we spent a day with a marble sculptor and saw them pulling marble from the quarries. overnight apartment in Lucca (3 nights)
- day 7: drove to Cinque Terre, hiked between cities (as much as possible - this was after they were closed in Fall 2011). overnight Rapallo.
- day 8: stopped at Portofino, drove to Venice. (overnight Venice apartment)
- day 9, 10: Venice sightseeing (overnight Venice apartment - total of 3 nights there)
- day 11: depart from Marco Polo airport back to US (via LHR).

When I ask the kids what they liked best, I get votes for Lucca (small walled city) - they liked renting bikes, and walking around and the sense that it was a "home" for people. I also get votes for Cinque Terre, Portofino and Pietrasanta - from the beauty of CT and Portofino, to the fun of working with a marble sculptor. The last place that they talk a lot about was Venice - just how unique and different it was.

We really didn't spend a lot of time in Florence - and even that was on the verge of too much! Our family much prefers smaller towns than all the "art" of Florence. And that even included a private tour and seeing David and learning about him, so it wasn't all me dragging the kids places. We didn't even try to get as far south as Rome - would you consider saving that for a future trip? We decided to save Rome, Pompeii and Amalfi Coast for a future date tbd.

Our pacing actually worked well - travel days interspersed with non-travel days. Apartments alternated with hotels. We did climb A LOT of stairs since most apartments didn't have elevators. You learn to travel light and everyone carries something and if needed, you make two trips. I also like the flexibility of doing laundry.

good luck!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 08:43 PM
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Thank you all for your quick responses! Of course, we want to see as much as possible while we are there, but we don't want to be worn out either. So, I guess we may have to skip Cinque Terre this trip. I think we may be more interested in seeing the Amalfi Coast/Pompeii. So, would it better for us to stay in Positano, Amalfi or Salerno and just do a day trip to Rome?

I think it is a great idea to head straight to our next destination instead of waiting to drop off bags at a hotel in Milan. With us skipping the first night in Milan, would it be better to add an additional night in Florence/Tuscany? Or, do we add the extra night in Rome or Amalfi?

Also, we plan on packing as light as possible. So, it would be ideal to stay in an apartment where possible that would allow us to wash clothes. Any suggestions?

Considering the places we want to visit, would it be better to do a railpass or just buy tickets as needed?
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 09:28 PM
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Why not just go to a laundrette to wash your clothes? Some of those apartment washers take 2+ hours to do a load. One place I stayed I gave up after 2.5 hours and pulled the clothes out. Getting an apartment just to wash clothes isn't the best idea.

You are going to be worn out. Do you realize how hot Italy is in July? You've removed CT but are now adding Amalfi. I think you need to get this down on paper. Salerno to Rome and return is about 5 hours traveling.

You don't have an extra night. Your first night will be in Florence rather than Milan. You haven't added a night to your trip, you've simply moved locations. Now you have 3 full days in Florence rather than 2+ days there.

After arriving in Milan at 9:00 (if the plane is not delayed) you have to go through passport control, get your luggage, get to the train station, wait for the next train to Florence, and then travel to Florence. Once in Florence you go to your hotel, unpack, shower, and relax/wander around a bit. Somewhere in this schedule your children will want to eat. That's your day.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 04:14 AM
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I didn't mean that I have an additional day. Originally, I thought we would spend the first night in Milan, and then 3 nights in Florence and 3 nights in Rome. I was just asking if our time would be better spent if we did 4 nights Rome and 3 nights Florence or the other way around since the first night would no longer be in Milan.

As for Amalfi, we had it in mind to see it anyway if possible. So, my comment was more that I think we would rather just stay around that area and do a day trip to Rome instead of the other way around. We would skip Naples if that was the case. So, it would be 3 (or 4) nights on the coast with a day trip to Rome.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 04:44 AM
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With 10 days, I would choose 3 destinations at the most. Otherwise, you scarcely get to a place before you have to pack up and move. Italy is hot and crowded in July and a little time to actually see the places you stop would be nice. Choosing 3 places - Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast or Florence, Rome and Venice would allow you to get a brief sampling of each. Otherwise, you are mostly sampling trains and train stations. I don't suggest doing Rome as a day trip from the AC. Rome is well worth a week, not a few hours.

Have your daughters help you with research - they will enjoy the trip more if they are involved in its planning. Have a great time.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 05:01 AM
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a day to see Rome.... no

If you must do Napoli and in all honesty I struggle with the city, then Pompei is a logical focus. Then you can do that on a long day, in the heat and with tired kids from Rome. Doing the opposite is just odd.

For me the critical issues are
1) It's July, so just off high season and hot
2) you have kids who may get a bit tired of yet another Roman museum.
3) The kid friendlyness of Venice and Lucca are up there.
4) I'd look at your options for Rome, Naples and Verona. Choose one and try and make it a hotel with a pool.
5) Amalfi coast in July will be wall to wall coaches, avoid
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 05:06 AM
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Just a point, my NZNiece had the "wandering hands" lecture when she went to Italy at the age of 15. The trick, I'm told, is to rake your shoe down the inside of the man's calf. It worked.

Standing in a crowd in Rome, I as a 50+ year old man, suddenly realised I had a hand in my pocket. The pain I inflicted had no affect on the faces of the people about me. But it gave me a lot of satisfaction.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 05:38 AM
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I totally understand the urge to see as much as possible, especially on your first trip to Europe. I was the same. But you really can't appreciate your trip or what you do see, if you are rushed, tired and frustrated--and you will be if you try to do all you have listed. Your itinerary would be hard on adult, harder on an 11-year-old. It is going to take you much longer than you think to move from city to city. Longer to check in and check out of hotels. It's going to be very hot and there will be lots of crowds. I join those urging you to assume you will return and cut your itinerary.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 05:55 AM
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Thanks again for your input, everyone!

So, with 10 nights to be there and assuming the last night will be in Milan, should we plan on 3 nights each.. Florence, Rome, and Venice. Or, should we do 3, 4, and 2?
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 05:58 AM
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And is it worth getting a railpass or just paying for train tickets as we need them?
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 06:39 AM
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Venice for 2 nights is hardly worth it, so I'd do 3 nights for each. Unless you are really into Catholic art don't get too bogged down in Roman churches and you will have a great time.

I'd read up on about Italian trains, generally your need a reservation on the intercity type trains which means seat and train certainty. If you decide to take a pass then at this time of year and with kids I might stump up for 1st class.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 07:54 AM
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How's this for an itinerary:

Day 1- arrive in Milan and head straight to Venice.
Nights 1 to 3 in Venice (maybe a day trip to Verona OR Ferrara)
Day 4 - head to Rome
Nights 4 to 6 in Rome (either a day trip to Orvietta OR Pompeii)
Day 7 - on to Florence
Nights 7 to 9 in Florence (day trip to Pisa and Lucca)
Day 10 - return to Milan
Day 11 - return home
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 08:26 AM
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Much better, but I'd decide on the day trips after you arrive in each place. There's so much to see/do everywhere, and getting from town to town takes away what little time you have.

FWIW, Orvieto is a much easier day trip than Pompeii, esp. if temps/humidity are high. Why not leave Pompeii for a trip that includes Capri, the Amalfi Coast, Naples, Caserta, etc.?

Ferrara is at least 90 minutes from Venice, not counting time needed to get to/from the Venice train station from your hotel. Pompeii is 2 hours from Rome, not counting time from your hotel to Termini.

If you want to climb the Leaning Tower, you need to buy timed entry tickets in advance.
Jean is online now  
Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 08:26 AM
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Better but I dont think you will want to leave Venice or Rome for daytrips once you are there and realize how wonderful they are and how much there is to see! Florence may lend itself to a daytrip.

Buon viaggio
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Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 08:30 AM
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You might like a bike ride or canal boat to Padua or even a train. Very pretty old town.

The early part of this blog might help

The plan looks much better. Venice will be the expensive place to stay, so book it early. In the lagoon is the best but you could consider the Lido and come in every day
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