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First time taking kids - Italy or France itinerary help needed

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Oct 1st, 2013, 11:38 AM
  #1
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First time taking kids - Italy or France itinerary help needed

We are planning to take our 13 year-old and10 year-old to Europe next April or July.

We would like to stay in a city for a few days and then travel to smaller towns. Years ago my husband and I visited Lake Como, Florence and Tuscany and really enjoyed the slower pace of the smaller towns. Likewise we have been to Paris and then down to Provence and Nice. However I don't remember any of the travel times.

With the kids we will have only 9 days. I'm looking for recommendations on itineraries that kids would enjoy and are not too hectic. For example, if we flew into Rome and spent a few days there, and wanted to end up eventually in Venice, what smaller towns could we visit that would be enjoyable to just relax and soak up the culture?

Others on this board have said that Rome is not to be missed. Would you agree? Or is a northern Italy itinerary just as rewarding?

Another idea - Paris to Provence and then spend a day or two sightseeing from Nice, possibly into Italy?

Thank you for all suggestions. i understand that I'm all over the map, so to speak.
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Oct 1st, 2013, 12:04 PM
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http://www.guedelon.fr/en/ for one, although a slight detour in going to the Dordogne as something else for kids (castles, canoeing).
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Oct 1st, 2013, 12:09 PM
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A good thing to seek out is a hotel with a pool. Offering the kids this option based on convenience of what ever location you can find reasonably.If the treat is available cooperative behaviour should follow.If you are worried about this sort of thing. We had luck this way with 2 early teens. Also check out any festivals in your time frame. This, too, worked well. Beaches of sourse are a drawing card but too many museums, catherdrals and such will/may cause a proplem. Give them some input in the plan making.
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Oct 1st, 2013, 04:58 PM
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So, is it April or July?
Makes a difference. And, does the nine days include trvael days?
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Oct 1st, 2013, 05:35 PM
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Thanks for the input so far.

@bobthenavigator, we were planning on July when the kids are out of school but after being cautioned aout the heat and crowds, we're trying to make an April vacation work. We will have 9 days plus 2 travel days.

Any votes for whether France or Italy is more enjoyable for the kids? Our daughters are pushing for Italy because of the pasta...
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Oct 1st, 2013, 05:44 PM
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Voltterra is fantastic! Maybe Elba or Capri island for beaches! Oh try Cinque Terre <-- 5 great islands with great beaches and beautiful mountains
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Oct 2nd, 2013, 08:21 AM
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The month is your choice---Easter will be a big factor for crowds as well. I would prefer July for longer days.

Given 9 days, I would stay in 2 locations with day trips from both of them. Perhaps this itinerary:

Arrive FCO---train to Florence on day one.
Florence---4 nites with day trips by train to Siena and Pisa
Train to Rome---5 nites in Rome---with day tip to Orvieto
Fly home.

I would try to miss Rome on Easter if possible.
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Oct 2nd, 2013, 08:44 AM
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We have traveled quite a bit with our kids who are 18 and 21, but started international travel with them when they were 9 and 12. It is a great age to start taking them with you, and they honestly will enjoy anywhere that you go. That being said, my kids loved Italy the best, and Rome is definitely their favorite.

We also loved Northern Italy - have been to Piedmont, Turin, MIlan, Venice, Verona and the Dolomites, but personally with 9 days I would do Rome 4 nights , Venice 3 nights and for your in between maybe someplace in Tuscany (though have to admit kids not wowed by Tuscany at that age), but maybe 2 nights in Verona would be a good choice for a smaller town.

Here is a link to my blog which has all of our trip reports and lots of pictures as well, you may find it helpful: www.FromHomeToRoam.co,
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Oct 2nd, 2013, 08:45 AM
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Oops! www.FromHomeToRoam.com
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Oct 2nd, 2013, 10:10 AM
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@bob, that's a very good point about the longer days in summer.

@jgg, I'm enjoying your blog so thank you for passing along the link.

We live outside of NYC so our kids are used to walking around cities and don't particularly love them. That's why I was trying to plan some nights in smaller towns, so that they could soak up the culture without feeling overwhelmed by the size of the city. But Rome seems to keep coming up as a recommendation. Is it not to be missed?

Is train travel the way to go once we're there? On previous trips my husband and I rented cars but the downside is that the driver misses all the scenery (and I did think driving around Lake Como was rather scary with the Italian drivers. )

Thank you!
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Oct 2nd, 2013, 11:45 AM
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On previous trips my husband and I rented cars but the downside is that the driver misses all the scenery (and I did think driving around Lake Como was rather scary with the Italian drivers. )

With a few exceptions, the view from the train is not as good as from a car; have you noticed any trains while driving around Lake Como?
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Oct 2nd, 2013, 11:56 AM
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I might recommend staying in an agriturismo with a pool in Tuscany and keeping a car for touring. You could go to Florence (careful of parking - you can get advice on that if you decide to go that route), hill towns, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, hear monks chant - whatever you decide your kids are enjoying as you go. Pick the places you might like to go and center yourself in that area. My kids loved our trip to Tuscany and there are a lot of possibiities.

Then go to Rome (many people, including us, drive from Tuscany to Orvieto, drop off the car, see the town or tour the caves, then take the train to Rome). Rome is very different from NY and there's plenty to amaze the kids. We also took a day trip to Pompeii from Rome by train and the kids were very enthused about that day. Between Tuscany and Rome, you will have a mix of country and city and that will keep the kids happy.

Check out my trip report called Alps to Volcanos to see what we did with our 2 kids. (Scroll down past Switzerland)

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...nd-pompeii.cfm
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Oct 2nd, 2013, 03:01 PM
  #14
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Agree, if you are in Tuscany you will want a car, but otherwise you will not need it for Rome and Venice. Also agree that Rome is very different from NYC. There are no high rise buildings in the centro storico, but rather amazing historical architecture one after the other. Also, nothing quite like walking and seeing the Colosseum or St. Peter's basilica for the first time. In addition, things are slower in Rome than NYC and also on a more human scale.
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 10:59 AM
  #15
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Thanks so much everyone.
I would love to visit Rome and Venice, with a stop in the countryside in the middle, but wonder if the travel time between those cities is too long for our 9-day trip. I'd like to see as much as possible but also need to be realistic about moving from hotel to hotel.

@kwren- really enjoying your trip summary and pictures. Those pictures of the countryside reminded me how beautiful it is!! I noticed you booked a guide for an olive oil tour. Is that something you did once you arrived in Italy or was it done ahead of time?

I've heard about people hiring a driver instead of renting a car themselves. Not knowing anything about that, it sounds very luxurious. But perhaps it's more common in Europe. Does anyone have any experience with that?
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 11:27 AM
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I'm glad my trip report was helpful - it was nice to go back to it myself! Thanks for reminding me!

I booked the olive oil tour after I got there, but you might have noticed that it was canceled due to illness of the operator. We have since gone on a tour in Abruzzo - very interesting - and bought lots of olive oil to bring home!
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 02:39 PM
  #17
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I'm thinking kids would particularly love seeing Venice. Does anyone know how long it would take to get from Orvieto to Venice? And how much time would in Venice would we need?

Thanks again.
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 04:43 PM
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About 5 hours each way---I would stay 3 nites if you go.
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Oct 5th, 2013, 04:46 AM
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You asked a couple of times whether Rome was a good destination for your family. My husband and I both loved Rome but my children did not particularly like it. They preferred the small rural places we visited. I'm not suggesting that they represent all children but don't feel compelled to go there just because it's popular. And personally I would avoid it in July when it will be hot. Hot weather always feels hotter in a city.

Venice is a great choice for children. It's absolutely unique, car free and lots of things to see and do which are completely different from home. You could also take day trips from there if you wished.

Perhaps Venice, somewhere like Siena/Lucca/Lake Como/Orvieto/Spello, then finish in Rome for just two or three nights? Or you could fly home from Florence, Milan or Pisa perhaps? I'd pick only two places if you can and perhaps rent apartments as they are particularly well suited to the demands of family life. Italy has very good transport options and we found that our kids enjoyed taking trains but loathed being in a car. Train timetables are at www.trenitalia.com

If you opt for France, then I'd choose Paris and one smaller regional town (heaps to choose from so come back with questions about specific places).

Our children wanted to DO, not SEE. That meant hiking, climbing towers, cycling, swimming, interactive experiences, trying different foods, etc. And, for them, NOT churches, museums, art galleries or scenery (except where it was incidental to the active bits).

You know your kids best so think about what they'd like to do before thinking about where to visit. It will help narrow down your options. Good luck and enjoy!
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Oct 5th, 2013, 04:52 AM
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One last thing - anywhere with a significant queue would cause instant mutiny with my kids.
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