Help! Italy Itinerary with 2 year old

Mar 9th, 2008, 04:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Help! Italy Itinerary with 2 year old

Hi - This is my first post but I'd really appreciate any advice you can offer. My husband and I will be spending 10 nights/11 days in Italy this summer with our 2 year old daughter. I am trying to figure out the best itinerary for us. We fly into and out of Rome on July 31 and August 11. We are planning 3 nights in Rome at the beginning (1 day Vatican/St. Peter's, 1 day forum/colisseum, 1 day wondering). From there, I am struggling. My ideal would be three days in the country (umbria, tuscany), 2 days at a beach, and some time in venice and florence. I know I can't do it all and enjoy ourselves so, here are my questions:
1) Is venice still worth it with a toddler? I have been but my husband hasn't - is it a tragedy if we don't go? If we go, it would be for two nights.
2) I'm leaning towards 3 nights Rome, 2 nights Venice (pending answer above), 2 nights Florence, 3 nights tuscany or umbria (within drive to coast) - thoughts?
3) For Florence, do you need to stay in the city or could you do daytrips from a villa in the country? Would you miss a lot of the charm of the city?
4) What towns should we look at in the country (somewhat conducive to stroller travel)?
5)When should we rent the car?
Just to give you some background. We took our daughter to France last year when she was one. We did 4 nights Paris, 3 nights Provence, 3 nights cote d'azur. It was perfect and a good mix of what we like. I did know France though a lot better than Italy so it was much easier for me to plan. We trained down south and rented a car for the rest. We are not big into museums and like to move around (ie. we'll probably only actually go into the Accademie, Uffizi, Vatican and a few cathedrals when we are there). This means that we don't need a ton of time in any one location. More than that isn't conducive to travel with a toddler we don't think. We like to walk around towns and markets, drive through the countryside, have nice meals on outdoor terraces and walk around major sites in cities.
Any suggestions on itinerary, what to do, where to stay etc. would be very much appreciated!
travellingfam is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 05:44 AM
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I can only offer a few suggestions but at least my post will bring it to the top and maybe you will get more helpful answers.

I think 2 nights for each different city is difficult with a two year old. I would rather travel the way you did in France, with at least 3 nights in any given location. I can't suggest which city to cut because I haven't taken a toddler to any of them, besides Rome, but it seems to me if you have already seen Venice (and from what I have heard it isn't really stroller friendly) that would be a good city to skip this time around.

The only other thing I would add is to question what type of lodging you were planning. I hate staying in hotels with my toddler (he's 2 1/2 right now) because there isn't much to do or space to move. When he was 1 it wasn't as bad -- but 2 is a whole different story! Now, we prefer to rent apartments or villas. More space, fridge for cheese, fruit, milk and yogurt for him, separate living/sleeping space for when he goes to bed earlier than us etc. If you look for them out in the country many have pools. A definite plus for a toddler in the summer! Most apartments/villas like to rent for longer than a few days but you could either rearrange your trip to stay longer in place or search really hard and maybe find one that will do a couple of days.

Whatever you decide, have fun! I love traveling with my toddler. Rome was especially great. It seems like Italians just love children and will probably dote on yours as well.
BKP is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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I think you are moving around too much for ten nights and with a two year old in the picture you should limit you stays to two or three destinations. Venice is not an ideal city to explore with a toddler. If she is in a stroller, you will have a lot of lifting over stairs and bridges. If she likes to run around, I'd be scared she'd run into a canal. Considering you are flying in and out of Rome, including Venice for only two nights doesn't make sense. Wait until she is older and you can all enjoy it.

If it were me, I'd fly into Rome, rent a car at the airport and head directly to Tuscany. Rent an apartment/villa for a week and make a daytrip or two to Florence. You can also daytrip to the beach. Drive back to Rome, drop off the car and spend your last three nights in Rome before flying back out.
Grinisa is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 07:00 AM
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Hey traveling fam,

I have a suggestion or two for you, having traveled with my son in Italy when he was 2.

I think you're on the right track to skip Venice this time. It is a gorgeous place, of course, but it is hard work with a toddler. Go back when she doesn't need a stroller...having to double-team to cross over every step-filled bridge makes for a long, hard day.

We were there for a week one November, which _suposedly_ is low season; can't imagine what it would be like amid the heat and throngs of summer. Also, there is so little greenspace in Venice, which is important to me while traveling with my little boy. We even resorted to using one of those harness/leash contraptions, since a 2-year-old boy's impulse control is not the highest, and all the water is so very interesting.... It won't be a tragedy if you don't go this time. Go; but save it for another trip.

Understanding your preference for moving a lot is certainly greater than mine, I would urge you to consider an apartment or villa rental in Tuscany, from which you can strike out on all the daytrips you want.

One place I liked for the location and the setting is Fattoria Casa Sola. It is in Chianti, technically, but it's within easy reach of the FI-SI motorway, which speeds you along up to Florence or down to Siena quickly. Plenty of hill towns nearby and within an hour's drive. Florence is definitely a place you can go for the day, in your circumstances.

Whith a strong, lightweight stroller -- we used a MacLaren -- you can go pretty much anywhere. We did take a lightweight backpack as well, though, and that was very useful for really hilly hilltowns (like Gubbio).

If you look for a rental towards Lucca, you might find a place that would permit daytrips to the beach as well. We're heading back to Italy again this year and I'm looking into locations in western Tuscany, some areas of which are within reach of the beach.

Lucca's actually a great small city to visit for many reasons, but you might like to know that it's mostly pedestrianized and is ringed by a park along the old town walls, which would make it a good bet for a daytrip with your small person. And it's flat, too.

Rent the car from Rome, I'd say. It's an easy drive to Tuscany, and you can stop off at great places along the way. I still haven't been to Orvieto, but I've seen it from the highway a couple of times!

Have a wonderful trip.
phyllis_stein is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 07:54 AM
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Yes, getting the "right" stroller is key, especially with the cobblestones and the bridges.

I also agree with phyllis's comment about double-teaming over the bridges in Venice. BUT when we first took our son to Italy, he was 13 months and had been walking (and running) for 3 months already, but Venice seemed to be a highlight for him. Why? The Pigeons in Saint Mark's square. Big square, plenty of running room, plenty of birds to chase, he had a ball.

Same thing with Rome. Plenty of running area outside of St. Peters and, of course, lots of fountains (he LOVED fountains!). He ate his first REAL food (meaning non-baby food) in Rome -- the inside of a stuffed bell pepper, which had ground beef, tomatoes, and rice. Easy to digest, tasted great.
Surfergirl is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 07:58 AM
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I am for Venice OR Florence not Venice AND Florence.

Also take a stroller and a chest carrier for the child. 2 year olds really do not weigh much.
Big_Red is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 08:07 AM
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It will be VERY hot - make sure all of your accommodations have a/c. Even then it will be pretty much unbearable much of the time.

My guess is due to the heat you really won't see/do as much as you hope so I would definitely cut down on the number of destinations and relax a bit. It isn't just your daughter who will need afternoon naps. W/ 10 nights I'd plan on at most three stays.
janisj is online now  
Mar 9th, 2008, 08:15 AM
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With a toddler and the heat of the summer, Grinisa gives very good advice.
SusanP is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 04:04 PM
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Thank you very much for your thoughts and advice - I think you've confirmed that we will skip venice this time...
We do have the MacLaren and it's been a lifesaver for travel!
If anybody has thoughts on other good cities for us to visit, I'd appreciate them. Also, if you know how best to find good family friendly accomodations, please let me know. We tend to spoil ourselves on holiday and stay in pretty nice places...
Thanks again!
travellingfam is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 05:42 PM
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Hello travellingfam, skipping Venice this trip is a good decision.

One poster mentioned Lucca. We had a Fodorite (her screen name was Huiretes or something like that) who use to post. She travelled to Italy a lot when her little girl was a toddler. She always made a point to stay in Lucca while in Italy. She also, if memory served me right, stayed in Sorrento but her time in Italy was longer than what you will have.

Personally I would just stay in two places one being Rome of course. And the other somewhere in Tuscany, perhaps Lucca. You could take the train to Florence. Florence is so hot, humid and crowded when you will be in Italy that I wouldn't stay in Florence. If you go for the day if it becomes to much (heat, crowds) you can just train back to Lucca earlier than you planned. If you could find apartments to stay in I agree that it would be easier with your little one. More room, and if your two years old goes to sleep early, or even takes a nap, you and your husband would have some space. Ideally if you could find apartments with terraces that would be enjoyable. Best regards.
LoveItaly is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 04:54 AM
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Keep it easy.
Go for a week in the Tuscan countryside, somewhere central. Maybe an agriturismo with a swimmingpool (start looking for one right now, 1st half of august is high season), then go to Rome for a final 3 day stay.
baldrick is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 09:17 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 7,142

Rome is ten times the size of Florence and has abour ten times as much to see. With only 10 nights available, I would suggest a minimum of 5 nights in Rome. Spend the other 5 nights in a base camp somewhere in Tuscany with an overnight or day-trip to Florence.
bardo1 is offline  

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