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First time to Italy - flexible itinerary for family with kids

First time to Italy - flexible itinerary for family with kids

Aug 9th, 2011, 06:38 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2011
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First time to Italy - flexible itinerary for family with kids

Hi all

We have never been to Italy but it's my 40th birthday next year and I want to go - but I cannot imagine going without my children who will be 1 1/2 and 6 years next spring. I have always wanted to go to Rome so that is our main focus, but I would like to see some other part of Italy as well. My question is, which of these would be best for us? We love food, experiencing the atmosphere of a place, wine (of course). Our children are good travelers and do not have to be entertained at all times, but of course I would like them to enjoy themselves. We would take about 2 weeks. So, here are my thoughts:

Rome + lakes (Ferry seems like it would appeal to kids)
Rome + Cinque Terre (not good with kids? Train might be nice)
Rome + Florence + Venice (classic first time in Italy but a lot of moving around with kids)
Rome + Tuscany (pick one place as centre (where?) and do some day trips from there?)
Rome + amalfi coast (know very little about it)

So, what would you do? All you Italy-phile fodorites with children... Let me know!!

Thanks,
Kip
Travelkip is offline  
Aug 9th, 2011, 07:13 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 33,068
Rome + Tuscany (southern Val d'Orcia area). You could stay at an agriturismo that had things to do with the kids (pool, animals, etc.) and do day trips to surrounding hill towns.
http://www.agriturismo.it/en/farmhouse/val_d_orcia

Or perhaps just stay at one with a nice pool complex to unwind after sightseeing. This place not far from Siena would make it possible to also day trip to Florence.
http://www.mulinodiquercegrossa.it/
kybourbon is offline  
Aug 9th, 2011, 07:29 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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I agree with Kybourbon. Just to elaborate, an agriturismo is a working farm which lets rooms, sometimes apartments. An apartment would be nicer for you. And pick an agriturismo which serves dinner as well as breakfast. The children will love the farm animals. The Italians will love your children. (You will need a rental car for this part of your trip.)

So you could fly into and out of Rome, spend a few days in Rome, then go back to the airport to pick up your rental car, drive to the agriturismo, spend time there daytripping as you wish, drive back to the airport for your return flight. Allow plenty of time for the drive back to the airport; if your flight leaves before noon, consider a night in an airport hotel.
Mimar is offline  
Aug 9th, 2011, 07:31 AM
  #4  
 
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I live in Italy and I have many visitors come to stay with me and they bring children of all ages. Although the children behave and are a delight, I would urge you to forget about what will interest children in Italy and instead focus on what won't be a tremendous hassle for you having them with you in Italy. Children -- even children older than yours -- like to play cards, or ball, spend time with you, eat familiar foods, draw and play with toys, and not have to sit for long meals in restaurants or made to be quiet inside museums. They will express little interest in Italy, and often boat rides, train rides, bus rides can be unpredictably stomach-upsetting, cold, too hot, or just tiring.

Le Cinque Terre and the Amalfi coast are particularly difficult with small children because of all the many steep steps you will need to negotiate all the time. Likewise Venice.

People seem to have a misimpression of Florence that is a quiet Tuscan town with something other to do than go into chruches and museums and examine art -- where it is extremely difficult to keep children happy. The town is also jammed with traffic and pollution.

Rome has traffic and pollution too, but you might find the combination of one week in an apartment in a quiet area of Rome with playgrounds and piazza and one week in an agriturismo in Tuscany with a restaurant plus apartments works best. If you pick an agriturismo that also has farm animals, that might delight your children. You might enjoy it too.

Recently, I was in agriturismo winery in the val d'Aosta where a French couple came to the restaurant at dinner with walkie talkies/monitors that allowed them to listen in to the rooms where their children were sleeping. That couple made it all the way the long, romantic Italian meal (which didn't begin until 8:30) without interruption. Around coffee time, a child was heard stirring over the monitor, so the father left while the mother fished her after dinner drink. The next morning at breakfast, we saw that this couple had three small children, who all looked well cared for. I thought it was a brilliant idea.

I don't at all want to come across as negative about children in Italy. They are good sports. But they would rather play games and run around than sightsee or eat 4 course dinners. If you are having a good time, that is the best guarantee that they will enjoy the trip too.
zeppole is offline  
Aug 9th, 2011, 12:01 PM
  #5  
 
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I agree that Rome + southern Val d'Orcia would be a good combo. It would be a shorter distance between the two areas so children would not have to put up with such a long trip.

FLorence and Venice are not really fun places for kids, although the vaporetto rides on the canals are fun, and the back streets without cars makes wandering around pretty safe.

My grandkids, who were 4 and 8 at the time, liked the stray cats in Rome and in Tivoli, some of which were tame enough to pet. And the Villa d'Este in Tivoli has a huge garden in the back with hundreds of fountains of the most amazing variety. They loved that too. It's reachable by bus from Rome so you would not have to rent a car to get there. They stayed at an agriturismo also that had animals and loved meeting the cows.
charnees is offline  
Aug 9th, 2011, 01:38 PM
  #6  
 
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kip,
This may give you some ideas http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...o-and-rome.cfm
Henry is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 12:11 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 10
We just got back from Italy with children. Our kids are older than yours. Our son is 15 so was the perfect age for everything Rome. Staying out late in Trastavere, eating pizza and pasta ( tons of it ), and surprisingly taking longer to linger at Borghese Gallery than we did! Our daughter who is 12 got tired faster, bored faster, whined more, but it was nothing that gelato twice a day a lots of sleep didn't resolve. Her memories of Italy are of the bike for 4 in Borghese Gardens/Rome, the cat and dogs at the Agriturissimo, her dad driving the winding roads of Tuscany and the swimming pool at the agriturissimo. We built in lots of time to do nothing. We ate lots of ice cream and we came back to the Agrit. early enough for her to spend time with the animals. Obviously, she could have done some of these things here in Canada, however, she had a really good time, bought some neat souvenirs, learned a lot, noticed the garlic over people's doors in Volterre when we didn't, and all in all it was a great holiday.
Jonava is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 04:51 PM
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zeppole has a good idea...it isn't so much a matter of what you see but of how you entertain kids, i.e., initially. I suspect that youngsters will indeed enjoy a swimming pool or park or playground but not too many museums with lots of walking. By the way, the walking also applies to adults who may get cranky like the kids! Also mentioned are avoiding places that have lots of steps. And as Jonava says lots of ice cream, too.

So maybe limit yourselves to Florence and Venice, e.g., and not try seeing too much during the week or in any one day. So that's my thoughts.

Bill in Boston
Ozarksbill is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 06:03 PM
  #9  
 
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just another thought from a family of five who spent a week in the cinque terre a few yrs ago..our kids were 5yrs(my daughter had birthday in Vernazza), 7yrs and 9 yrs old. We rented an apt in Vernazza and spent our days visiting the villages along the coast.. mostly by taking the ferry and little hiking/walking. Also took the ferry to portovenere one day. Dinners down by the water with the kids playing in the water while we relaxed nearby at our table watching. Town was small enough to allow our older two to go to the bakery alone to pickup breakfast treats.. then a few days we took the train for a 5 minute ride to the next village for a bigger beach and swimming = always a hit with my kids. Agree that gelato multiple times per day also kept them happy! This week was one of the most enjoyable for all of us.. a much less hectic pace than the rest of our travels that summer and no pressures to get off to see museums, churches, etc. All depends on the family and kids i guess.
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