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First time to Italy this coming March. Rome/Florence or Rome/Amalfi?

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Aug 16th, 2014, 05:47 PM
  #1
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First time to Italy this coming March. Rome/Florence or Rome/Amalfi?

Hi, we are a family of three (with one child who will be 9) planning our first-ever trip to Italy in mid-March. We will have 7 days and would like to split them between 2 destinations.

Rome is a must and we are thinking about 4 days there, then 3 elsewhere. It's the elsewhere that is up for debate. We are trying to decide between Florence or the Amalfi area with a visit to Pompeii.

Which would you choose as first-timers? We are using miles and can fly easily in and out of Rome and Florence/Pisa. I also thought about Puglia, but since we will only have a few days, the logistics seem a bit difficult (i.e. having to catch a flight or drive back to Rome and then fly home).
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Aug 16th, 2014, 05:53 PM
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While Pompeii is wonderful late winter is not the best time for the Amalfi coast. Many hotels and restaurants are closed, ferry schedule is very limited and they may not run at all due to rough seas. I think a beach resort when it is chilly and quite possibly rainy is not a great idea - I would stick with towns where there is more to do/see indoors.
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Aug 16th, 2014, 05:55 PM
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Sorry - You might do Naples and Rome - seeing Pompeii from Naples as well as the archeo museum and maybe even Herculaneum.
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Aug 16th, 2014, 06:23 PM
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We loved Florence! I favored it more than Rome. It is an easily walkable city. You can easily train to Tuscany if you would like a day out of the city. We also did a cooking class that was about 5 hours long. It was a lot of fun and the food was delicious.
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Aug 16th, 2014, 06:58 PM
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I like nytraveler's idea of combining Rome and Naples, especially if you want to see Pompeii. I would rather go to Pompeii in March than in summer, when, IMO, it is hellishly hot and difficult.

I wouldn't spend the time or money to get to the AC at that time of year.

Florence is great. March weather can be anything: we've had snow and warm sunny days over several trips. We were there this past March for a couple of nights and had great weather and a good time. Might be a good place to go with your 9 year old.
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Aug 16th, 2014, 07:39 PM
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I loved Pompeii but if it's your first visit i would recommend Rome and Florence. I think i even preferred Florence over Rome. The art and shopping make it one of my Italian favorites!
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Aug 17th, 2014, 08:43 AM
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Thank you! I think we will go for Florence. To build on this question - with only 4 days in Rome should we make time for a side trip to Ostia Antica since we won't be doing Pompeii? I would really love to see it and I think my 9-year-old would be fascinated.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 08:58 AM
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Florence. The Amalfi Coast should be on your bucket list, but Florence is more essential for a first time visitor. Don't waste too much time trying to get to Pisa.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 09:48 AM
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Thank you letsgeaux - if it were up to me, Pisa would not even make the list. But my son is crazy about the idea of the Leaning Tower, sigh. I figured we could make that his reward for all the art galleries and churches.

We will probably fly home from Pisa (easier w/our mile situation than FLR), so we may pop over to the tower the afternoon before we leave, spend the night in a hotel not too far from the airport, and call it done.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 11:43 AM
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just lost a long reply, but to try to recreate it, I would strongly advise not dismissing Pisa. you can book your time for climbing the tower at www.opapisa,it. It and the other buildings of the Campo dei miracoli are really beautiful especially at night when they are illuminated and all of the tour buses have gone home. if you book a hotel in the centre of Pisa you should be able to enjoy them at your leisure; you don't need to book somewhere near the airport as it's very close to the city centre anyway and it won't take you long to get there in the morning.

as for the rest of the trip, as you are locked into Pisa, Florence is the obvious pairing with Rome. as well as the Colosseum, our kids liked the dome of St Peters' [get there early in the morning to avoid the queues] the Capitoline Hill, the Galleria Doria Pamphilij [great pictures and a very interesting family story told in the most cut glass english accent you will ever have heard] and Ostia Antica.

in Florence they liked climbing the Campanile, the food, exploring Oltrarno, and trying to spot the ugliest baby in the pictures in all the galleries we visited.

hope you have a great trip!
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Aug 17th, 2014, 01:00 PM
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in Rome, we enjoyed as did our kids (actually young adults!) the Domus Valentini. Make a rez ahead, though. Here's the official name from trip advisor: Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 01:11 PM
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Palazzo Valentini and Ostia Antica are good choices for a 9 year old, I think.

I totally enjoyed Galleria Doria Pamphilij, but I'm not sure I'd take a 9 year old boy.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 03:10 PM
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Do not dismiss the many other places in Rome for detailed ancient roman things even more than colosseum, forum, etc if you don't think you have time to go out to OA.

For our trip this spring I had all of the following on my list (only one of which we found time for):

- Museo Palazzo Massimo alla Terme (part of Museo Nazionale Romano, ancient sculpture, plus mosaics, wall frescoes from the Villa of Livia (wife of Augustus)
- Museo delle Terme di Diocleziano (part of Museo Nazionale Romano, painted tombs, as well as (in the main building) a very interesting exhibit about ancient writing
- Museo Palatino
- Trajan Forum
- Ara Pacis Museum
- Palazzo Valentini (as mentioned above, apparently the multimedia experience is quite something)

On another trip where we were in Naples and Amalfi coast the first week of April we had mostly dismal weather. You might consider staying all week in Rome and making day trips out a couple of places based on what the overall weather is when you are there and what you feel like.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 03:22 PM
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That is fine about Pisa. It really is an impressive sight to see. We have been there twice because we happened to be in the neighborhood. Your son may enjoy riding a rental bike around the ramparts of nearby Lucca.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 03:49 PM
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On a short visit to Rome with my 23 year old son, the highlights for him were; climbing to the top of St. Peter's, a day at Ostia Antica and a Segway Tour of Rome. He loved Rome so much he's still bugging me for a return trip. Would recommend those 3 experiences for any boy.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 04:26 PM
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For a short excursion from Rome, I would choose Tivoli and Villa d'Este---amazing fountains. Hadrian's Villa is also there and is an impressive site. we did use a guide there and am glad we did. We got so much more out of HV than we would have without a guide---pretty impressive site but I would go to Tivoli again for those gorgeous fountains at Villa d'Este.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 06:50 PM
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I agree with Denisea. We went to Tivoli in a rental car. Easy drive from Rome. Hadrian's Villa was interesting but the highlight was the Gardens of Villa d'Este. After several fast paced days in Rome, it was nice to just relax amid the fountains for a couple of hours. You don't want a rental car in Rome but we were leaving for Tuscany the next day and got it a day early.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 07:04 PM
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PLEASE NOTE. CHILDREN ARE NOT ALLOWED IN LEANING TOWER UNTIL A CERTAIN AGE. I DON'T REMEMBER WHAT, BUT I DO REMEMBER ONE OF MY BEST FRIEND'S GRANDSON WAS LEFT IN TEARS WHEN AFTER MAKING A SPECIAL TRIP THERE, HE WAS NOT ALLOWED IN. If it does work--make sure the grownups see the frescos across the courtyard from the cathedral.

I also agree with Denisea. Villa d'Este is spectacular and a zoo in the summer. I liked Hadrian's Villa just as well.

Museo capitolino is mostly sculpture and would be fun for a kid. This is also true of the Bargello in Florence. The Museo di San Marco used to see a monastery and there are knockout frescos on the monks' bedrooms--as well as the important question for we hotel freaks: who gets what room, who gets an Annuciation and who has to spend their whole life looking at a Crucifixion.

Be careful with the Uffizi and the Vatican Museum with a 9 year old. They are overwhelming even to grown ups. I would pick 10-15 things in each museum to see (using Rick Steves with my son, he has photos) then leave, enhancing the chances of your son growing up to be an art lover.

Buon viaggio!
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Aug 17th, 2014, 07:39 PM
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I would imagine Villa d'Este does get crowded in summer. We were there on a clear cool March day and it was not crowded at all. Could not have been nicer. That having been said, for a 1st time visitor to Rome, and with just a few days, I would recommend not taking a day trip at all. There is so much to do and see in Rome I would just stay there until it is time to leave for Florence.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 01:32 PM
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cmstraf - before you spread needless gloom and despondency, why not check the website? it turns out that children under 8 are not permitted on the leaning Tower; over that they are allowed so long they are accompanied by an adult. so the OP's 9 year old will be fine so long as a parent goes with him. Here's the english version of the website`;

http://boxoffice-info.opapisa.it/index.php?id=482&L=1

it does say that proof of age may be required, so take something with you if your DS looks particularly young for his age.

letsgeaux - the OP will be there in March too, so no worries about the Villa D'este being too crowded. [unless it's the Easter hols of course].
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