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Help...first time to Italy for family of 6!

Help...first time to Italy for family of 6!

Old Feb 27th, 2007, 07:52 PM
  #1  
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Help...first time to Italy for family of 6!

Hi all! I will try to not make this too long. My family of 6 (myself and hubby, college aged children - 22, 21, 19 and high schooler 15) are headed to Italy in November 2007.
My plan is to arrive in Rome Friday evening (coming from California). Stay in Rome 3 nights...2-1/2 days. See the Vatican with a private tour and hopefully do the Scavi Tour. Tour books say we should go to the Colluseum, Catacombs etc. Any other thoughts regarding your absolute favorite places to see and eatin Rome?

We will then head off to Florence...stay in an Apartment close to Santa Croche for the next four nights. We will tour Florence and take day excursions to Sienna, Assisi and possibly Montepulciano (for a cooking class?) Any other must do's??? Or a great place to take a 1/2-3/4 day cooking class? 4 of us love to cook!
Big question...night number 8. Do we drive up to Venice for part of a day, a night and then head back to Rome (5-6 hours) for our last night before leaving Sunday morning?
Or...
Do we head over to Piza and then to the coast for the night and then back to Rome?

Any great thoughts for the coast in November?
Someone suggested Chiusi or Latium courtyside - Riserva Montebello on Lake Bolsena?
Also...if you have any wonderful must do advice for me I would very much appreciate it.

Thanks,
Chan
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Old Feb 28th, 2007, 05:05 PM
  #2  
MaureenB
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I would definitely suggest you fly open-jaw, so you don't have to return to Rome. Sounds like wasted time to rush through Venice, then drive down to Rome just to spend the night and catch a plane. Likewise with Pisa or the coast.

If you could, I recommend you fly into Rome for 4 nights, train to Florence for 3 nights, train to Venice for 2 nights. Fly home from Venice. Or do it in the reverse if plane fares and times are better going to Venice and home from Rome. Or fly home from Pisa, to see the coast instead. Many ways to do it open jaw.

Sounds like a great family trip. Try not to over-schedule yourselves. For example, you might not be able to fit in as many day-trips, plus a cooking class from Florence. If you've never been to Italy, you might want to take it all in at a slower pace.
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Old Feb 28th, 2007, 08:30 PM
  #3  
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I will call Swiss Air tomorrow and see if we can fly into Rome and out of Venice. I have reservations but haven't booked yet.

Thanks for that piece of advice!
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 05:59 AM
  #4  
ira
 
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Hi C,

Check open-jaw airfares at www.kayak.com.

I would fly into V and out of R.

Train schedules, etc are at www.trenitalia.com

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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 09:26 AM
  #5  
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Hi...

Thanks for the scoop. I am working on the open jaw flight now. Looks like it will be the same price as I have for in and out of Rome.

Can you please tell me why you suggest going into Venice and out of Rome? Is Venice easier to do right after a long flight? Do you think

And would you do one night/one day in Venice or 2 nights/1-1/2 days in Venice? We would arrive in Venice at 6:45 pm Friday night.

Thanks a bunch!
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 09:49 AM
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I'll chime in. Most flights from Venice leave very early in the morning, possibly before public transportation is available. If you fly into Venice, you have more time there. And I find Venice the perfect place to recover from jet lag. It has few must-sees. And wandering around town in a daze and getting lost is appropriate sightseeing.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 09:54 AM
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we are renting a car for this trip! The train is quite expensive for 6 of us.

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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:00 AM
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You will probably need a very large vehicle for 6 adult-sized people and their luggage. Don't forget to figure the cost of fuel into the car rental total.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:08 AM
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Our family of 5 went to Italy last summer. We flew open jaw, but into Rome and out of Venice.

Here was my thinking, and it proved right: At the beginning of vacation, everything is new and you're rarin' to go. At the end, you're tired, and perhaps one or more of the party "can't stand to see another church" or "can't stand to see another museum." There were more "must sees" in Rome and fewer in Venice, so I wanted to start with more activity and evolve into less. Even though I am a major planner, I had very few firm plans for Venice, whereas I had a chart of things to do for Rome.

My stragegy worked very well, for our family.

If I was advising honeymooners, I'd advise the opposite-fly into Venice to rest and chill out after the wedding, the ramp up the activity.

So you need to decide what is best for your family-easing into the trip (Venice first) or relaxing more at the end (Venice last.)
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:10 AM
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MaureenB
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I'm glad to hear you can get an open jaw ticket, and even at the same price. Once you've settled on your arrival and departure cities, you can fill in your itinerary from there.

It's true that Venice might be less stressful to begin your trip, if you are concerned about being jet-lagged. Plus, most departure flights are very early from Venice I've been told.

Now, about renting a car or two. . . One of the benefits of Italy is using its train system. You can all relax and look at the scenery, have a picnic, not worry about the roads, weather, directions, etc.

And what would you do with your car(s) while in the cities? You sure don't want to try to drive in them, especially Rome. It's a madhouse for drivers. Take a cab ride there and you'll know what I mean!
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:15 AM
  #11  
MaureenB
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P.S. For information on train fares, you can go to BudgetEuropeTravel.com and get their 800 number to call. They are very knowledgeable and helpful. You can price your tickets through them, and discuss the advantages of a pass vs. point-to-point tickets. With your short trips, probably simple point-to-point tickets will be the best deal. And in November, you probably can just buy your tickets as you go. There are plenty of trains between the big three cities of Italy.

Are you sure trains are more than renting one large car or two smaller ones? Don't forget fuel and parking.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:26 AM
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Hi, Chan - what a great idea for atrip woth older kids.

WE took our DD, then 18/19, and DS, 16, ro Rome and /florence last year, and they loved it.

For what it's worth, i would start in Venice and end in Rome. Venice is much easier to negotiate than Rome, and is a great place to recover from jet-lag.

Then off the Florence - 3 nights would be enough for me; we found 6 nights far too lng, and you still be able to find an apartment for 3 nights in /november.

Then to Rome - an apartment is again definitely the way to go. spend as long as you can there - no time there is long enough, IMO, and my kids would agree. Plus by then you'll be old hands and able to negiotiate the traffic and people with far more confidence.

I know that train travel for 6 is expensive, but trains in Italy are relatively cheap - have a look on www.trenitalia.it. You won't need a car in your main destinations, and parking it will be ruinous. florence - where in your plan you would have to drive the car - has some of the worst traffic I've ever seen, and we were there last October. I've driven a lot in europe [ie outside the UK] and I wouldn't consider driving in florence, ever!

There are lots of places telling you what to se in Rome - the Rick steves book is very good. Just try to stay as close to the centre as possible.

Good luck with your planning,

REgards, Ann
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:41 AM
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I am just loving this! Tell me more. Especially those who traveled with the older kids.

Great info on into Rome out of Venice and visa versa. I'll definitely give it some serious thought.

We are using American Express points for some hotel (Rome), 3 of the flights and probably the rental car. Depending on which city we fly into/out of we would pick the car up (for example) when leaving Rome...drive to Florence to have the car for daily excursions. Drive to Venice and turn the car back in upon our arrival there. Won't use the car in Rome or Venice.

The apartment we are renting in Florence has parking. The hotel in Rome is the Hilton Cavalieri...not so close to the city center but again it's free!

Our flight Sunday out of Rome is at 9:30 am and out of Venice it would be 10:45 am. Not crazy early!

Did anyone do the Scavi tour? Has anyone been in November. We are going over Thanksgiving.

Thanks again!Chan

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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:48 AM
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Our kids were ages 15, 13 and 10 on our trip. Not as old as yours, but you still might be interested in our report. I can't figure out how to post a link but if you search "missypie Italy trip report", it comes up.

I'd never rent a car for Rome, Florence and Venice.

Our apartment was also near Santa Croce...wonder if it's the same one?
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 10:54 AM
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Missypie...I will check out your report! I am so interested.

The apt we are staying in is the Florence Ciompi Apartments..."Michelagello" about 250 yards from Santa Croche!

How did you like the nieghborhood?

Thanks again
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 11:53 AM
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We stayed in that very apartment! We liked the neighborhood...a grocery store and ATM a couple of blocks away (on the way to the Duomo) - even a "dollar" (or "euro"?) store next door. If you have no specific plans for dinner, I'd advise you to turn left as you leave the building...that gets you into more of the un-touristed, neighborhood restaurants.

The apartment is huge (HUGE!). I've never complained about a rental flat being too big before, but that one came close. It is beautifully decorated.

We were able to charge all electronics safely there-cell phones, iPods, etc. (That was the only place in Italy where we were able to do that, so charge up while you have the chance.)

Negatives:

1. I wonder if the same manager is still there. Everyone on Trip Advisor complains about her. She's a Moroccan lady, I believe. We didn't find her terrible, but she's a bit gruff. We asked for restaurant recommendations and she said that all of the restaurants were touristy and no good and we should cook our own meals in our flat!

2. Clothes storage is a challenge. It's good that you're a family, instead of two couples traveling together. In the "master" bedroom there is an amoir and a nice sized chest of drawers. In the loft bedroom, there is no storage space...just the bed and two night stands. The other bedroom has a huge armour for hanging things...then just a tiny lingerie chest for folded things. Lovely furniture, however.

3. Don't put anyone up in the loft who gets up in the night...it would be easy to fall down the stairs in the dark.

All in all, I think you'll really enjoy it.
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 12:14 PM
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I enjoyed seeing the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and just generally walking around in Rome. I could have happily missed the Spanish Steps, although I think they would be nice to see in Spring when the flowers are out.

Carolena
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 12:30 PM
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Pisa? Sienna? Venice? Decisions, decisions. Sounds like you have a crowded itinerary. Better to drop one of the locations and enjoy the other fully that having half in each and enjoying neither. My money'd be on Florence out of personal preference but if it has to be one of the above-mentioned three, I'd suggest Venice. More to see and a different dynamic.
In terms of personal preference, I'd rate them as such:

1. Venice
2. Sienna
3. Pisa

HTH
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 12:37 PM
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Hi...So glad to know you stayed in the same apt! Too funny!

We are booking it through InItaly.com. Is that who you used. $210 Euro per night. Did you also rent in Venice? If so...where/what?

Anyone have great suggestions for where to stay in Venice...1 or 2 nights?

Carolina...I am amazed at how many people have said they were disappointed in the Spanish Steps?
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Old Mar 1st, 2007, 12:41 PM
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I really would reconsider the car v. train. If you were going to spend a couple of weeks exploring Tuscany and it's main cities and hill towns then the car would be a must. You have absolutely no need for a car otherwise. Driving in Florence is a nightmare and I can't even imagine what driving into Rome would be. For the amount of time you're going to be in Italy I would ONLY do Venice (2 full day minimum), Florence (3 full day minimum) and Rome (3 full day minimum). You have to figure in the whole getting settled into hotel, getting bearings, getting in and out of the city to get to Pisa and Siena, etc. Siena is lovely but to me Pisa is overrated. Don't let the trip be a blur but rather you and kids explore and enjoy at a slower pace - you'll bring home memories that can't be erased...I promise.
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