FIrst time to Italy

Old Jun 10th, 2008, 07:39 PM
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FIrst time to Italy

Our family is finally going to Italy April 2009 and after reading a lot of the posts, I felt that I could get some great advice from the frequent travelers.

Here is what we would like to do: See Rome (me) Pompaii (husband) Venice (Sons 18 and 21). We are going at easter time, leaving Thursday April 9th and returning April 18th. We DO NOT want to be anywhere near the Vatican on Easter Sunday (I heard it was jamming with tourists). My thoughts were to fly to Rome (Direct flight from LA)and head right out of town ending our trip in Rome then home. Or should I fly into Venice?
I have read a lot of great posting about where to stay and what the better routes are. Can anyone help with this?
I love the idea of renting a car so that we can see lots of sights as we go but how are the roads?

Hotels vs apartments?

Places to go were the boys would have fun but be safe on their own?

Everyone tells me that its to late to book but what say you?
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Old Jun 10th, 2008, 07:59 PM
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Fly into Venice and out of Rome. With only 7-8 days in Italy, I would drop Pompeii. You really don't have time for it.

I really wouldn't rent a car as you don't need it for either Venice or Rome and training between the two will be easier and more time effective. Easter holidays (2 weeks in most of Europe) will be crowded everywhere in Italy, not just Rome.
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Old Jun 10th, 2008, 08:35 PM
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I completely agree with the previous reply but I am puzzled about your "everyone tells me that it's too late to book". Too late for April 2009?! "Everyone" must be joking! Don't you believe a word of it and don't worry. Just take your time deciding on your itinerary and then think about booking.
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Old Jun 10th, 2008, 08:39 PM
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Do you only have seven days? In my opinion, I would stay in Rome or Venice the entire time.
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Old Jun 10th, 2008, 11:37 PM
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Hello italy4julie. With leaving (from the US I will assume)on the 9th you will arrive in Italy on Friday the 10th and you will depart on the 18th.

So you will have 8 nights in Italy. And you will have part of a day on the 10th (after arriving, getting through the airport, getting to your hotel etc). So you will have 7 full days in Italy without arriving or departing. The day of your departure (the 18th) will no doubt be packing up, checking out of your hotel, getting to the airport etc., so that is a lost day.

With 7 full days in Italy I personally would plan on staying in one location. Rome? Venice? A decision you and your family will have to make.

If you decide to visit both cities I would suggest that you fly into Venice. I would not bother with a rental car to get to Rome. You will not have time to see the sights. If you decide to fly home from Rome I would take the train from Venice to Rome. Keep in mind however that train trip will take up most of one of your seven days. So you would then have three days for Venice and three days for Rome. And with that I would not even think of going to Pompaii. That would be a long day out of your time in Rome.

As far as your sons who are 18 and 21 they are adults and they should be able to figure out what they want to do while in Italy. No doubt they will want to take off after dinner and explore whereever you and the family are staying on their own. Even teens are out and about in Italy on their own.

If you stay in just one city an apartment would no doubt be less expensive then two hotel rooms.

And whomever told you it is to late to book for spring of 2009..well they do not know what they are talking about. Wishing the four of you a wonderful week in Italy!

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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 03:56 AM
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Dear italy4julie,

If I were you I would choose between Rome and Venice. Anyway an apartment would be much cheaper than a hotel. I would do something like this:

10/11/12 Rome

13/14 rent a car and do a tour to Pompeii (it won't take more than 1 day) and the Amalfi Cost (Ravello, Positano, Amalfi, Salerno, Minori, Maiori, etc...)'s lovely!

15/16/17 Rome...there's so much to do and see that you wouldn't enjoy properly the beauty of these places if you go up and down from Rome to Venice and viceversa.

Hope it helps!

Have fun ;-)

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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 04:41 AM
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I suggest you choose 2 of those places, but not all 3. Venice and Rome is reasonable in that amount of time, especially if you fly into Venice and out of Rome and take the train between. You could certainly stay in either of those for a whole week (particularly Rome) without running out of things to do, but with 18 and 21 year old boys (we travel with our teen boys who are now 14 and 17), 2 places is fine, and they will probably like the mix. You will not want a car for Rome/Venice - I would advise differently if you were spending time in Tuscany or some other more rural area.

If Pompeii is a must, then I'd drop Venice and focus on Rome and Pompeii.

Apartments can often save money and give you more room to spread out, but they usually have minimum stay requirements (sometimes just 3 days though). Hotels give you added service with breakfast usually included, help with directions and reservations, maid service, etc.. Folks here are pretty divided on the apt. vs. hotel thing - there is no one right answer on that. Our family tends to prefer small family-owned hotels, but we sometimes stay more deluxe and sometimes get an apt.

I don't think it is too late to book.

Once you choose your locations, you can get more detailed recommendations on accommodations and stuff for the boys, etc.. Be sure to give a specific (dollar or euro amount range) budget and tell about your interests (art and museums, history, hiking, etc..) in order to get the most useful advice.

We leave today for Greece so sorry if I don't get back to this thread for a while.

Happy Travels!

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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 04:50 AM
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I would forget about renting a car if this is your first visit to Italy, unless you are an experienced European driver. Not that you won't be able to drive, but the stress factor might impinge on the pleasure.

You can easily take a (long) day trip to Pompeii from Rome, by train.

With so short an amount of time I, too, would remain in Rome and do day trips. If you decide to include Venice, go there first, spend a few days and then take the train to Rome.

You should consider booking early since you will be there during Easter..

What kind of budget do you have? How much can you spend per night at a hotel? It looks like you would need two rooms so the apartment might be the best plan and again, you should book early for an apartment in Rome during easter week.
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 05:28 AM
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I think that 3 nights in Venice and 4 nights in Rome would be OK. I don't see why she'd have to choose between the two of them.

I know there's a lot to see in both cities, but she can consider this trip an introduction to future trips to Italy.

I know that there're organized tours to Pompeii from Rome, but since you've never been to Rome and there's indeed so much to see, I don't know how much of a good idea this would be.

Fly into Venice, take the train down to Rome and, finally, fly out of Rome.
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 05:58 AM
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Hi I,

You have 8 nights.

If you must do Pompeii, Rome and Venice, I suggest that you fly into Venice - 3 nights - train to Rome and do Pompeii as a looong daytrip from Rome.

You take the train from Rome TE to Naples. The Circumvesuviana line in the basement of the station takes you to Pompei Scavi.

Fly home from Rome.

Enjoy your visit.

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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 11:24 AM
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Perhaps instead of Pompeii, you might consider visiting Ostia Antica which is only about 15 miles outside of Rome. Fascinating ancient sea port, one of the best-preserved Roman towns, and easier to do when you have a tight itinerary.

Your sons will probably love Rome and find it a lot more lively than Venice. I love Venice very much, but it gets very, very quiet after dark.

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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 02:47 PM
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I agree with others who think trying to do all three destinations in the time you have is too much
I am curious as to why your young adult sons want to visit Venice over Rome. I would think Rome would be more appealing. As sacc says, it is a much livelier city.
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 03:29 PM
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I think you definitely have time to do Venice and Rome. And with the ages of your sons, how many more trips will you be able to take with them? So you should include their request.

Fly into Venice, stay for 3 nights, train to Rome, stay there for 5 nights and fly home from Rome. I also would suggest Ostia Antica from Rome instead of Pompeii. Save that for another trip. You will go back!
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 06:33 PM
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Thanks everyone for your help!

I think we have narrowed it down to two places Venice and Rome. Fly to Venice then take the train to Rome after Easter Sunday.

My friends concerns about it being to late, were that I might not get into the sights due to the having to make reservations.

I like the idea too of staying at hotel where we can get local help on food and sightseeing, but the cost might be the deciding factor.

Thanks again!
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 06:37 PM
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I can't imagine why your friends thought you couldn't get reservations for certain places 10 months in advance!
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 06:58 PM
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So Venice isn't as lively as Rome. Interesting! My younger son wants to go there because of the canals. If there is truely a lot going on in Rome I might get him to reconsider Venice.
Ostia Antica sound very interesting.I looked it up on the net and it is lovely and a bonus that it's a short trip from Rome. Are there other day trips that we can use Rome as our base?
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 07:03 PM
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If you're going with 3 nights in Venice and 5 in Rome, you won't have time for more than 1 daytrip. I spent 36 days in Rome over 5 trips before I ever took a daytrip!
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Old Jun 12th, 2008, 07:15 AM
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Julie, I agree with Susan -- you'll be so busy in Rome that you won't likely have time for day trips!

Rome is one of those cities (I think Venice is the same) that have a few extremely well-know sites that everyone talks about (say, the Vatican) and that leads some people to suggest you can "do" the city in a few days, based on those few popular spots. But both cities are absolute treasure-troves of things to see and do, and the closer you look, the more you'll find.

I've visited Rome many times and it seems every time I'm there, I discover more things that I have to do and see! So don't cut your time short there any more than necessary.

As for reservations at popular sites, there are actually many places you may want to see that don't take reservations more than a month or two in advance! So, I think you have plenty of time to research and plan.

One exception would be accomodation: really good places(in terms of location and price)can book up very fast! With four adults, an apartment might be your best bet, so you can stock up on food and drinks (for big breakfasts, evening snacks) and that will save you some money. Many places also have washing machines, which could come in handy!
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Old Jun 12th, 2008, 07:55 AM
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My wife and I had a similar trip to Italy last October. We spent 2 nights in Venice, 1 in Florence, 3 just outside Siena and 3 in Rome.
I'd suggest flying into Venice and out of Rome, or vice versa depending on flight arrangements. No car in Rome! No car needed in Venice. If you decide to spend some time in the Tuscany area, then a car is needed and the roads are fine.
There is so much to see and do in Italy, I suggest you focus on two areas and then plan another trip in the future. I'd suggest Rome and the Tuscany area, with perhaps a day trip to venice.
The Vatican Museums were amazing, but make a reservation for a guided tour to bypass the long lines. This sia two hour tour and worth the money. Check out the Vatican web site for info.
Although we were only in Florence we loved it and are planning to return on a future trip. Also a good place for day trips to Venice, Pisa, Siena, etc.
Good luck!
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Old Jun 12th, 2008, 08:28 AM
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I traveled with my college-age niece over her spring break once and made an itinerary similar to yours. She had never been to Europe before, didn't know much of anything about art, and didn't think she'd be back any time soon.

We traveled more quickly than I usually might, but not without enjoying long lunches and lots of strolling and exploring. I had been to all the places we visited on previous trips, so I had all the logistics well-planned and understood.

dep USA Friday
arr Venice Saturday early AM-at our hotel by 10:30AM

Tuesday-early train to Rome, stop along the way for a few hours in Florence for lunch, a visit to the duomo and baptistery, a stroll to the Ponte Vecchio, and shopping. If we had planned ahead, we would have booked tickets to the Accademia (David), but we did this spur of the moment. Arrived in Rome around 7PM
Wednesday-Rome (Vatican)
Thursday-Rome (Ancient Rome)
Friday-Rome-daytrip to Orvieto, one hour away for a quick taste of an Umbrian hilltown
Saturday-Rome (wandering the center)
Sunday-morning flight to USA

We did not run around trying to see everything in each place we visited, but took time to enjoy a slower pace, even with all the things we did see. We did not travel during Easter week, which can be much more crowded since many tourists visit italy during that time.
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