Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Help me with my Italy/Switzerland/France itinerary, please!

Help me with my Italy/Switzerland/France itinerary, please!

Jan 22nd, 2002, 06:07 PM
  #1  
Cindy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Help me with my Italy/Switzerland/France itinerary, please!

First let me say that I've received so much good advice here, and appreciate every bit of it!

I am planning a trip this summer for my family (2 adults, 2 boys, ages 6 and 11), and would appreciate comments on what we're thinking about doing:

Days 1,2,3: Rome
4,5: train to Cinque Terra, stay in Monterosso so kids can swim a lot and husband can dive (I hope) -- or would another town be better?
6,7: either take a train to Florence, and spend two nights, with one day seeing some (or one?) hill towns -- questions that I have are should we rent a car to see some Tuscany towns, or should we take a bus tour?
OR (help me here!) 6,7: rent a car near Cinque Terra (La Spezia? Pisa?) and tour around a bit, spending one night in a hilltown (which one?) and one night in Florence
8: train to Venice, spend night
9: train to somewhere in Switzerland (my husband wants to see the Alps), spend the night (where, oh, where? Bern, maybe, or somewhere quainter -- what's the prettiest train route?)
10: train to somewhere in France (Dijon? Somewhere closer to the Swiss border?), rent a car, spend the night (where?)
11,12,13: arrive Paris, three nights
OR: 10,11: train to somewhere in France, rent a car, toot around France for two days (where?)
12,13: then head to Paris for two instead of three days
14,15,16: London by Eurostar, three nights
17: rent a car, drive toward Scotland, stop somewhere around York, maybe?
18-31: touring in Scotland, which I'll need a lot of advice for when I get to that part of the trip.

A couple of comments: I'm thinking that it would make sense to get a Selectpass
Drive, or whatever it's called, 4 days train and 2 days rental car to do most of this. What do you think? Thanks for your advice!
 
Jan 22nd, 2002, 06:43 PM
  #2  
ingrid
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Cindy,
I think this itinerary sounds way too ambitious as you'll be spending most of the time looking out of a train window. For example, in my opinion, Switzerland deserves more than a one night stay. If your kids are like mine (who are well-travelled) they might prefer staying a little longer in one place.
(Also, is the last day number a typo? Why would you spend 14 days in 4 countries and then 13 in Scotland alone?)
 
Jan 22nd, 2002, 06:46 PM
  #3  
lucy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
You must be kidding....
 
Jan 22nd, 2002, 06:50 PM
  #4  
Cindy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Ingrid:

Yes, it is a typo. Actually, I'm spending four weeks in Scotland, one with the Iona Community, and a couple in the Outer Hebrides. So the boys will have several weeks to "chill," as they say. The Scotland time isn't negotiable, but am trying to see as much as we can in the other two weeks.

Where would you spend two nights in Switzerland?

And Lucy, tell me more...
 
Jan 22nd, 2002, 06:51 PM
  #5  
NotAGoodIdea
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Your kids will be tired & cranky very quickly with that itinerary...slow down& smell the roses!
 
Jan 22nd, 2002, 06:56 PM
  #6  
nate
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I think you are going to be one frazzled family by the time you even get to London. Slow down. Especially with kids, stay in one place for awhile, maybe rent an apartment...don't make this an endurance test for everyone.
 
Jan 22nd, 2002, 07:06 PM
  #7  
ingrid
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
We spent about 2 weeks last year going from the Black Forest (where we stayed before and afterwards) to Lake Garda (2 nights), Venice (2 nights), Castelfiorentino in Tuscany (4 nights), then back to Lucerne and Engelberg (2 nights each, the first place couldn't accommodate us for all 4 days). This was about as many different places as my kids could tolerate in the amount of time. Have you done similar trips in the past?
 
Jan 22nd, 2002, 07:06 PM
  #8  
Lucy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I just think you're crazy to take two young children on such an ambitious itinerary. Decide exactly what it is you most want to see and don't try to cover five countries (and many hundreds of miles) in 16 days. Assume that some day you'll make another trip to Europe.
 
Jan 22nd, 2002, 08:58 PM
  #9  
Dayle
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Good luck, Cindy! You might want to preview the movie, "If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium". Seriously, cut by at least half & you'll have ten times the fun!
 
Jan 22nd, 2002, 09:34 PM
  #10  
L
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I was ambitious like you, planning 2 nights or so per town. Then I got the train schedule from www.raileurope.com. When I mapped it out, I found I would be on and off trains most of the time.

My husband and I decided on:
Paris;5 nights
Copenhagen; 4 n
Berlin; 4 n
Vienna; 4 n
Milan;2 n
Lucerne;2 n

This way we can settle in one hotel for long periods of time, without hauling luggage, and unpacking. We can also take day trips from the cities if we like. I do not know if we will have time to take day trips, with all there is to see at these cities.
 
Jan 23rd, 2002, 03:13 AM
  #11  
ingo
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Cindy,

you should stay in Spiez, Lake Thun in Switzerland. Nice and quiet place, good train connections from Italy and to France. Magnificent view of the lake and the Alps.

Ingo
 
Jan 23rd, 2002, 05:18 AM
  #12  
Sue
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Cindy, if you are determined to do a 'sampling of Europe' trip, hey, it's your trip. And yes, people do do them.

However, I'd suggest you try and connect Florence with Bern by way of Milan, and try and keep your trip to a straight line route. It's a 3 hour trip from Florence to Milan; then a 3 or 4 hour train trip to Bern.

From Bern to Paris is a 4.5 hour train ride via Verrieres.

My advice? Get your 'straight line' itinerary planned first; then see if you can patch in detours like those to Venice or Cinque Terre. Personally, I would try for at least 2 nights in Bern, sacrificing Venice. Either way, I think you'll have to sacrifice at least one of Venice and the CT, possibly both.
 
Jan 23rd, 2002, 05:51 AM
  #13  
BOB THE NAVIGATOR
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Cindy, Surely you jest. You need to look at the train schedules. The first half of this will kill you. I would drop Venice from this part and spend time in Tuscany. Train to Florence first, get your car there as you leave. and do Tuscany and Cinque terre with the car. Try to include the Italy Lakes on your way to the Alps and drop the car in Lugano. Does that make sense?
 
Jan 23rd, 2002, 12:35 PM
  #14  
sheila
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
top
 
Jan 23rd, 2002, 04:39 PM
  #15  
Cindy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Okay, okay, I'm hearing you loud and clear -- but please be patient with me! Are there any other comments on where to stay in Switzerland or France on the way to Paris? And also, any comments on the idea of cutting Florence out of the itinerary, but still doing Venice?

Sue, your advice about cutting out Venice sounds sensible, and we may need to do it, but I'd much rather see Venice than Florence. Having said that, I'm wondering why you would prefer Bern over Venice?

Bob, I've looked at the train schedules, and it seems doable to me (about 4 hours to Cinque Terra from Rome, 2 to Florence, etc.), and am wondering why it will be so hard. I know that there's a lot that I'm not figuring in, and will appreciate any detailed advice you have. AND, do you realize that you just added a whole new "must see" for me -- the Lakes? Help! When you say to get a car in Florence, are you suggesting that we visit a hilltown or two on the way to Cinque Terra, or that we spend a night in one, then go to Cinque Terra? One of the reasons I thought we would go from Rome to Cinque Terra is that I heard that the trainride is so pretty along the coast.

Ingrid, do you mind my asking how old your kids were, and what other advice you have. The only other trip we've ever done like this, and it wasn't like this at all, come to think of it, was to the Southwest US. We saw a ton of stuff, and covered a lot of miles, and had a blast, but I realize that touring in Europe is different. (But how, I wonder? Any comments?)

Please, everyone, tell me more! Thank you.
 
Jan 23rd, 2002, 06:44 PM
  #16  
ingrid
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Cindy,
my kids had just turned 9 and 11, respectively, last summmer. As far as they were concerned, they both loved the leaning tower of Pisa. We spent the day at the nearby beach and then visited Pisa for a few hours in late afternoon and had dinner right next to the main square. In Venice we stayed on the Lido (Hotel Augustus Atlanta) in a penthouse suite. For us it was great as my daughter and husband could spend some time at the beach (not great but good enough), while my son (11 years) and I went on the secret tour of the Doge Palace. I highly recommend it; it is organized around the escape of Casanova form the prison and they show you the different kinds of prisons, the attic, and other rooms usually not accessible. My son loved all the different kinds of weapons and armors.
Our kids didin't care too much for Florence (too crowded); they were mainly interested in the next Gelateria.
Another highlight was our stay halfway up the Titlis (near Engelberg). We were the only people in the hotel (Hotel Truebseehof) and it was great! After the day trippers disappeared it was just us and about 120 cows. A super breakfast and dinner included in the price. We hiked up part of the mountain (there are sevreal stations) and went snow tubing (in July). On teh way down the last section, my husband and kids took Trotti-bikes (like big scooters) down the hill, while the luggage and I took the gondola down.
I loved Tuscany, but my kids were just happy to swim in the pool, eat ice cream and pizza, and --- maybe --- look at an old castle, which they could have done anywhere in Europe. Also, others may diagree but I find that you don't go to Europe for the beaches.
I would suggest picking one country (other than the UK), decide what activities your family is interested in and plan a trip around these. I can say that my kids are not interested in cities and sightseeing, unless there is enough downtown with fun activities (hiking, swimming, cycling, boating, caving, horseback riding, sledding, etc.)
Also, on paper or the screen it may look like a two-hour trip from CT to Florence, but trains aren't always when you want to go, you have to get to the station, get to a hotel, etc. Driving (especially in the summer) may also take quite a bit longer (traffic, winding roads, pit stops) than you anticipate.
BTW, what do your family members really want to see?

 
Jan 24th, 2002, 12:48 PM
  #17  
Cindy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Ingrid:

My husband wants to see everything (can we stop over in Amsterdam, dear?), and so do I, actually!

Thank you for your idea about the Doge Palace in Venice. That sounds just perfect for my oldest son, and I hadn't heard of it yet. Also, he really wants to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Your other suggestions are also very helpful. Please let me know if you think of anything else.

And if anyone else can advise, please do!
 
Jan 24th, 2002, 03:11 PM
  #18  
BOB THE NAVIGATOR
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Cindy, Think geographic flow--Venice does not fit but the Lakes do fit.
Rome, Florence, Tuscany [get car], Cinque terre, Lakes, the Alps. That is a good flow with a max of 4 hours between destinations. Set your itinerary before you worry about hotels.That is your most crucial factor.
 
Jan 24th, 2002, 06:21 PM
  #19  
Cindy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Bob:

You are making perfect sense! It's just that the thought of being so close and not seeing Venice is so painful!
 
Jan 24th, 2002, 07:13 PM
  #20  
Jim Humberd
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Solve the whole problem by renting an RV. The campsites are so much nicer than any hotel. Near Venice for example, there are more campsites than hotel rooms.

Just remember, a clerk in a store is thrilled to meet an American, a bell hop or waiter is thrilled to get a tip. And that tells the difference between travelers and tourists.

We have spent 605 nights in 406 different places in 26 countries in an RV, so we know it is best, at least for us. InvitationToTravel.com
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:27 PM.