Help! Best Itinerary for Italy.

Jan 1st, 2014, 11:13 AM
  #1  
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Help! Best Itinerary for Italy.

Hi
I am travelling with my husband and 2 children (8 & 3 years old) to Italy in October 2014.
Need help with:
1) itinerary - currently it is:
Day 1 arrive Rome (early, 09:20)
Days 2 & 3 Rome (hope to see Sistine chapel, colleseum, Spanish steps, Trevino fountain,   piazza navona, etc)
Day 4 Catch train from Rome to Florence (10am)
Day 5 Florence
Day 6 7 & 8 - explore Tuscany,:Chianti region with trips to Pisa & Siena (will pick up car in Florence & return day 9 when catching train from Florence to Venice)
Day 9 catch train from Florence to Venice (10am)
Day 10 Venice (day trip to Verona)
Day 11 depart Venice late (after 6pm) so should be able squeeze in few sights?
Thinking of adding an extra day to Venice?
2) how many euros do I need to budget for daily: food, sights, shopping, etc

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
Jess28 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 11:45 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
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In my opinion, it is much too busy for a trip with young children. I think most adults would find it exhausting.

To start with Rome, you really have only two full days in the city. I would strongly discourage taking small children to the Vatican Museums. The crowding is incredible, and small children would be packed in like sardines, staring at the adult backsides in front of them, unless you can carry them all the way along the long corridor leading to the Sistine Chapel.

I would suggest picking up the car somewhere in Tuscany other than Florence and staying somewhere in the countryside for the entire time. You could take a train or bus into Florence for a day trip. I also think that trying to see Pisa, Siena, and Florence in such a short time will make your trip hectic. I would encourage you to stay put, visit some small country towns, and relax.

Again, with only one full day in Venice, a day trip to Verona seems like too much. On your final day, once you check out of the hotel, you won't have any place to return for a rest, something which small children often need. You'll also have to leave your bags somewhere (maybe at the hotel) and return to get them before your departure.

Whenever I've traveled with small children, I made the schedule *very* easy and flexible. We've been taking my granddaughter to Rome since she was three. Sometimes we spent entire days just wandering around looking at fountains (which she loved at that age), eating ice cream, relaxing in a park, and resting at the hotel or apartment. We didn't go to any museums except for very small and uncrowded ones, such as the Corsini Gallery, the Barberini Galleria, the Doria Pamphilj Gallery, and the Villa Farnesina.(She's eight now, and we still haven't taken her to the Vatican Museums, nor would I consider it for at least another couple of years.) We always play it by ear and plan our days each morning depending on how things are going.

We've just returned from a trip to London, and we followed the same strategy here. We skipped several things on our "maybe" list, and even a few on our "must-do" list. We had lots of fun all the same. We spent an entire week in London, which allowed us to be flexible. If you hop from place to place every few nights, you have no flexibility. If you realize the pace is too hectic, you're stuck with your hotel reservations in the next city.

I would suggest sticking to Rome and Tuscany, or Rome and Venice. In both places, I would not make any fixed itinerary, except a list of "maybes" that you can choose based on the weather, your mood, and how tired the kids are.
bvlenci is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 11:57 AM
  #3  
 
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Couldn't agree more with bvlenci. Stick to one or two places, explore them at a more leisurely pace, and I think you will enjoy your vacation more.
Calabria62 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 11:59 AM
  #4  
 
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Totally agree, especially about the Vatican, which is a nightmare with small children. Walk around Rome for a few days, then relax someplace in the Tuscan hills for a week or so and take easy daytrips.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 12:13 PM
  #5  
 
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Well, I did something similar a couple of years ago, albeit without small children, so I think it is do-able. It would be better to add two or three days to the agenda, though, to make the trip more leisurely. Definitely you need more time in Venice. And advance reservations for all the more popular sites.
azzure is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 12:21 PM
  #6  
 
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You only have 9 full days not impacted by arriving or departing flights. Each time you move from one place to another, change hotels, etc., you'll 'lose' half a day.

October is still very much high season in Rome, so all of the most popular sights will be very crowded. Depending on where you're coming from, your kids may have trouble adjusting to the time change, not sleep well, tire easily, etc., which could make your sightseeing list unrealistic.

You might even consider skipping Rome entirely and returning in a few years when your children are older, have more stamina for all of the walking required, and can better understand what they're looking at.
Jean is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 12:59 PM
  #7  
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Hi, thanks so much for all the replies! Can anyone suggest a base from which to explore Tuscany? One which is easy to travel to by train or car. I'm from South Africa so not used to public transport - hope to travel by car - is this feasible? I know Rome isn't vehicle friendly but perhaps we would pick up a car on the outskirts?
I've also read about agriturismo (spelling?) - would this be a good option in Tuscany?
Great idea to have lists of maybe and must and plan our days in each location.
Mmmm, will have to add more days to the trip.
Jess28 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 02:49 PM
  #8  
 
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We are currently staying here http://www.santantonio.it/ just outside of Montepulciano and would highly recommend it. Self catering, so you can cook, minutes from Montepulciano, 30 mins from Pienze, 40 to San Quirico, 50 to Montalcino. The owner, Nico, is amazing...lots of help organising or reserving things for you or just making recommendations. Accomodations are top notch, much better than the pics on the website. You will need a car. It is an easy 2 hour drive from Rome.

You can see some pics of the sunsets I have taken over the last few days here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gir...7639164500734/
jamikins is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 04:22 PM
  #9  
 
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There is no one base location in Tuscany that is good for exploring the entire region. Tuscany is more than 23,000 square kilometers.

It's easy to train from Rome to Orvieto or Chiusi to rent a car, but unless you want to spend some time in either place you need to time your arrival to when the car rental offices are open. They are closed for a few hours in the middle of the day, Saturday afternoons and all day on Sundays.

Montepulciano is a great location for driving around southern Tuscany, but Pisa is about 2.5 hours away, Siena at least an hour and Chianti about 90 minutes depending on which town(s). Whichever towns you plan to visit, you need to investigate the boundaries of their limited traffic zones (ZTL) or risk getting traffic tickets for violating the zones.

Some towns (esp. Siena and Pisa) are very easy to visit as day trips from Florence using public transportation.
Jean is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 04:32 PM
  #10  
 
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Please don't do a day trip Venice. You shortchange Venice and will exhaust yourselves.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2014, 05:17 AM
  #11  
 
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I agree with the comments above that you are planning too much. The first time we took our kids to Italy was in 1988 when they were 7 and 5. We planned something for the morning and afternoon then returning to the hotel for a nap. We spent more than a few days in each city we visited. We also went to Calabria to see my family and just relaxed. Traveling with young children needs to be centered around there schedule and not yours. You need to schedule some down time.

You should really stay in Venice for more than one day and skip Verona. Verona is an excellent place that deserves more time on its own merits. Save Verona for the next trip.

Also, I would not return the car to Florence unless it is the airport. Florence is notorious for ZTL's - Zona Traffico Limitato. Many parts of Florence are included in these zones and require special driving permits, usually for residents. The zones take pictures of the license plate, track you through the registration, and then send you a HUGE fine 6 months after you've returned home. Happens all the time.

Also, IMHO when you rent a car purchase the extra zero deductible for peace of mind. It is worth every cent you pay. After driving in Italy for a short time you will see why.

Buon viaggio,
rbciao is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2014, 12:20 PM
  #12  
 
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If driving:


DRIVING IN ITALY & SOUTHERN EUROPE

Q. SHOULD WE DRIVE IN ITALY?
A. Of course you should if your driving skill & confidence would allow you to drive a rental car in Vermont, Colorado or California. But, be advised of these tips:
* Avoid driving in the major cities except for picking up or dropping cars
* Have good maps—study them in advance—and have a GOOD NAVIGATOR.
* Stay in the right lane except when passing and use your rear view mirrors

Q. WHAT CAR SHOULD I GET AND WHERE DO I GET IT?
A. It is best to rent your car before you leave for Europe. The best source we have found is www.autoeurope.com [800-223-5555] who is a broker for several car vendors. They will quote you prices to include the variables that are often omitted by others, such as unlimited mileage, mandatory insurance coverage with some deductibles, and VAT taxes. It is wise to compare prices and coverage with their sister company at www.kemwel.com. Autoeurope will match any comparable quote, and are famous for their customer satisfaction if problems do arise with the vendor. The best model will depend on your needs, but for best value we suggest you select a compact car with manual transmission. Automatics are available but will cost you about 30% more and may limit your model options & pick up locations.

Q. ARE ITALIAN DRIVERS AS CRAZY AS I HAVE HEARD?
A. Yes & no! They are certainly aggressive, but they are also more skilled than many USA drivers—both are a function of necessity. Italy is one of the most crowded countries in the world and the drivers have evolved these characteristics
* They are notorious tailgaters. If that bothers you, pull over and let them past.
* On the AUTOSTRADE they will drive fast, but will stay in the right lane except when passing and will use their blinkers when passing—YOU SHOULD TOO !
* They will often pass on 2-lane roads with traffic coming. Frankly, they expect you, and the oncoming car, to adjust to the shoulder and make 3 lanes of traffic.

OTHER ROAD TIPS FOR YOUR DRIVING SANITY:
1. Learn the meaning of the sign “ SENSO UNICO” and take heed [ONE WAY ].
2. Be sure to get your ticket when you enter the AUTOSTADA system & be prepared to pay the toll when you exit it [ rule of thumb—300 km=15 Euro]. You can use your credit card in the VIA lane at the toll both, or buy a debit VIACARD in advance.
3. Do NOT attempt to follow road numbers—that will frustrate you. But, do pay attention to the directional signs that point to your destination [ TO MONTALCINO]. And, be aware if that road leads eventually to a larger city [ ROMA—SIENA ETC.]
4. Unless you have a diesel car, you will want to fill the tank with benzina from the green pump. Most stations will pump gas for you and will take credit cards.

NOTE: As of 2005, an International Drivers Permit[IDP] is required in Italy.
You can obtain them from your local AAA office. You will need a valid US driver’s license, two passport photos, and $15. The photos can be taken at the AAA office.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2014, 02:51 PM
  #13  
 
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Posts: 7,561
This itinerary would suck with small hobbits. It may be fine for you and the hubby, but a 3-year old means you will be able to tromp around at about 60% of your normal rate. Even if you only had the 8-year old, you'd be dropped to about 75% of your normal rate. Just as chain's strength is measured by the weakest link, the family's travel capacity is measured by the travel stamina of the least capable traveler - that's your baby.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2014, 06:10 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 88
I would suggest just doing Rome and Venice, and not renting a car at all. I like bvlenci's perspective a lot. The kids will find both places magical if you are selective - in Rome, the fountains (Trevi!), the monumental stuff (Pantheon!), maybe the Capitoline Museum (the sculpture one only). Walking the Ghetto with its twisty streets - find the turtle fountain there.

And just being in Venice is magic. Imagine being 8 years old, you arrive there on the train, then go down the steps and you are on the Grand Canal, then drift down to your hotel!

I would do 6 days in Rome and 4 in Venice. If you really want a day trip from Rome, I suggest either Ostia Antica (sort of a mini-Pompeii) or Villa d'Este, in Tivoli - a magical garden with incredible fountains. From Venice, you could do Verona or Padua but as someone pointed out you might not have time. Perhaps you see how the kids are doing and decide then.

If you wanted to add another stop, Florence is too much. Perhaps Orvieto or Perugia. Or Verona or Padova for that matter...

But overall, heed the advice of BigRuss. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So I would advise fewer stops and a non-frantic pace. But they have great ice cream in Italy!!!
danlev is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2014, 10:05 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 120
Also from South Africa and had a lovely 17 days in Italy in June/July. We rented a car and never had any problems. bobthenavigator provides great info. For South Africans, International license from the AA. Not expensive. BUT, for the last 2 visits to Europe they did not ask the Interntional one, but our South African license. So PLEASE remember to take it with you. Montepulciano good base, I think.
ErnaGrobler4 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2014, 12:49 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 86
I took my daughter (who was 6 at the time) to Italy last time ... it was wonderful.

But ... we had a fairly slowed down itinerary, and only planned 1 thing for the day. We did do the Vatican Museums (as it was something I really wanted to see), and enjoyed it - but it was very crowded and took 3 lollipops and gelato after.

It was very hot, so keep things flexible. We did a colusseum and roman forum tour also, but bailed half way through as it was too hot and Junior was not dealing with it well ... be prepared to cancel and do something else.

As for your itinerary - I agree with the others. For 10 nights I would pick 2 destinations only.

Then, by not trying to shove too much into it, whichever of them you choose you will have a fantastic time.
Newbie00 is offline  
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