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Help with Florence vs. Tuscany itinerary for family of 5

Help with Florence vs. Tuscany itinerary for family of 5

Jun 2nd, 2014, 09:25 AM
  #1  
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Help with Florence vs. Tuscany itinerary for family of 5

Hello! My family of 5 (3 teenage boys) is trying to decide on accommodations for the Florence portion of our July trip. We cannot agree on staying either in a small Tuscan village outside of Arezzo or in apartment near the Duomo in Florence. We have 4 nights. Prior to Florence we will spend 4 nights in Rome in an apartment, so we were thinking Tuscany could be nice since it's away from the hustle and bustle of a city. Our plan for Florence includes the Academia, the Duomo, and possibly the Uffizi. I would like to visit Siena and other hill towns as well. Any insight is welcome; thanks in advance!
JHBmom is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 09:32 AM
  #2  
 
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hi JHBmom,

IME teenage lads like activity, so you might want to consider an agriturismo [farm which offers accommodation, food etc] with a pool and bikes to help keep them occupied. otherwise I would opt for the city - i think that they [and you] would go mad after a day or two in a village.

Also you are planning to spend quite a lot of your time in florence so actually staying in the city would work well with this. But i understand the wish to get out of the city after 4 nights in Rome. Another alternative might be to stay up in Fiesole, above Florence, which is easily reached by bus which runs every 30 mins or so. it's a small town but would give you access to the city as well.
annhig is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 09:34 AM
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PS -here's a website to get you started:

http://www.agriturismo.net/
annhig is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 09:55 AM
  #4  
JHZ
 
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Back in 2011, we stayed at the Hotel delle Nazioni which is beside the Florence Train Station. It's a no frills place, but was secure and convenient to everything we wanted to do. It was plenty comfortable for a couple of Americans. However, if you can find a nice place in Tuscany, it would be a beautiful place to stay, but perhaps not close enough to Florence to enjoy. Florence was our favorite stop on a Venice, Florence, Rome tour.

For a great restaurant in Florence, try Il Salimbecco (Formerly Ristorante Regginella) and it's on Via del Canto de'Nelli 38/r just North of the Duomo.

If you stay in Florence and would like a tour recommendation for Tuscany, we took this one and loved it:
http://www.italy.artviva.com/tours/13/best_of_tuscany

Afterwards, unless you're adverse to the idea, get your boys a copy of Assassin's Creed 2, and they'll get to relive their Tuscan trip virtually in the game.

Have a great trip!
JHZ is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 10:09 AM
  #5  
 
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Many places in the country will require a weekly stay during that time of year. Will you have a car?

Another option is stay in Siena. You could day trip to Florence (a bit over an hour by Sita bus) or a few hill towns. There are also some biking tours around Siena. The tourist office will have a list of hill town tours or the bus schedule. It would depend on your dates though as you wouldn't want to be there for Palio.
kybourbon is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 10:18 AM
  #6  
JHZ
 
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Oh, and the house wine at Il Salimbecco is delicious.

Additionally, make sure you take a tour of the Academia and the Uffizi that allows you to skip the lines. We took this tour (Uffizi and Accademia Galleries Guided Visits) through CAF tours (http://www.caftours.com/uffizi-galle...ded-visit.html) that was led by an ex-Uffizi employee and I can honestly say, I learned more about that art from that tour guide than I ever would have learned in a lifetime of museum visits.

We skipped the Duomo but we're kicking ourselves for doing so today.
JHZ is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 10:25 AM
  #7  
JHZ
 
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And don't forget that Pisa is a short train-ride away from Florence as well.

And since you're going to Rome, this is a must-do tour if you have any interest in the Vatican and is only available to those over 15 years of age. You must sign up for it in advance, so if you're interested, do it sooner rather than later. Its an underground tour of the Vatican including the bones of Saint Peter.
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/in...090216_en.html
JHZ is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 11:39 AM
  #8  
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Thank you for the quick responses! I especially appreciate the tour recommendations as I haven't booked anything there. JHZ, do you remember the name of your tour guide that I could request?

I have a lovely home in a small village on hold until tomorrow with a pool and plenty of room. The apartment in Florence is about the same price and has enough room too in a very central location.

If we stay in the countryside, we will rent a car in Rome on our way out of town. We will not rent a car if we stay in Florence-- I want to avoid city driving and parking tickets!

My primary concern is that we won't have enough time in Florence if we spend a lot of time in transit from the village. Realistically, can you see/do Florence in 1 day? If it's really best to break it up into 2 days, then that could be my answer.

Thanks again for any help!
JHBmom is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 12:36 PM
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First, I would lay the options down for your kids and solicit their opinions.

You can "see" Florence in a day, but I would strongly advise you not to take any tours in that case, just to walk around the city and maybe admire some Renaissance art in some of the churches. Santa Maria Novella, near the train station, has some master works of the Italian Renaissance, including the beautiful frescoes by il Ghirlandaio in the Tornbuoni Chapel. The Bracacci Chapel, in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine has frescoes that are masterpieces of the early Renaissance in Florence. San Marco, a former convent, now a museum, has monks' cells frescoed by the Beato Angelico (usually called Fra Angelico in English). You could easily see one or two of these famous Renaissance sites on a day trip.

The Uffizi Gallery is enormous, and I don't think it's a good way to spend the better part of your only day in Florence, especially if it would make you miss the Duomo. For that matter, don't bother going inside the Duomo; the queues are often enormous, and the inside is not all that impressive. It doesn't hold a candle to the exterior. If you have a little extra time, do go inside the Baptistery, just outside the Duomo, which has amazing golden medieval mosaics on the vault.

In my experience, kids are not very enthusiastic about tours at all; they like to see things at their own pace. We took my three teen-aged nieces to Florence once on a day trip; the only museum we saw was the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, which has a lot of the art works that used to be in the Duomo, and interesting exhibits about the history of the Duomo. At the moment, I think it's being restored and expanded, and I'm not sure what can be seen there, but this a great museum, usually overlooked by tourists. I think most people would probably enjoy it more than the Uffizi.
bvlenci is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 01:49 PM
  #10  
 
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Florence is Florence and rural Tuscany is a far different experience---do not try to mix them from the same location.
Which location is your decision.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 04:16 PM
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I think the Academia is a must in Florence. Lovely as the countryside is, there is so much to do and see in Florence that I would probably choose to stay there and consider a day trip or two.
KTtravel is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 11:21 PM
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You might be able to have the best of both worlds by staying in Fiesole or Settignano. It is only 20 minutes by bus or taxi to Florence center, but it is up in the hills overlooking the city, amid olive groves, and you can find accommodations with swimming pools.

It is really not true that countryside stays generally require a week's booking. There are lots of options for short stay bookings if you google for that.

I would consult with your teens about whether they would prefer the hubub of the city at night and enjoy hanging out in the piazze, or whether they want a pool. If they want the pool, discuss with them if they are prepared to stay cheerful in the heat for one long day of touring Florence. Remind them of their promise when the moment arrives. I think a tour geared toward teen interests is a good idea. If it proves to costly, see if you can get each of your teens to pre-select at least one thing in Florence they would be interested to experience and research it. Take turns showing each other the city for the day rather than a forced march of guidebook sights.

Another possibility is to look up information about the public pools in Florence and make it an adventurous part of your Florence stay. Talk about mixing with the locals! Do some touring every morning in Florence, have some lunch, then head to one of the city's public pools for a few hours to cool down. Then join the evening stroll and late nights in the piazza.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 02:07 AM
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One day is not enough for Florence IMO.
We stayed in two rooms at this fantastic, central location - there is so much to see in the City, and the country (and Pisa!) is only a short train ride away (special note - the walls and ceiling of the Drawing Room haven't been painted for around 300 years, but they did a fabulous job last time!):

http://www.hotelscoti.com/
bendigo is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 08:27 AM
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One day is not enough for Florence IMO.>>

but it might be enough for a family with three teenage lads who have just spent 3 days in Rome!
annhig is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 09:24 AM
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annhig makes a good point: 1 day might be plenty for kids that age! We lived in Germany when I was a teenager and vacationed in Italy. I LOVED staying in a town for 2 weeks and found plenty to do. And while I love museums today, our day trips visiting museums in Florence & the sites of Pisa in the heat of summer was memorable, but not really in a good way.
rosetravels is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 10:15 PM
  #17  
JHZ
 
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Sorry, I don't remember the tour guide's name, and looking through my photos, I didn't snap one of her, but she's a grey haired lady probably in her 70's, if not older and if I remember correctly, she walks with a cane and takes the elevator in the Uffizi. She is very boisterous and used to work at the Uffizi cataloging some of their art. Fun lady. If they cannot identify her from that, she may have retired.

Yes, Florence can be done in one day, but you'll be sorry you didn't spend more time there.
JHZ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 11:21 PM
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Nobody knows if you'll be sorry you did or didn't do anything on your trip. Many people are sorry they included Florence at all. Or Rome. Or Venice. Or small towns. Or spent time at a pool or not at a pool. People are individuals with individual reactions. That doesn't change once they get to Italy.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 5th, 2014, 05:57 AM
  #19  
 
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Probably the exact reason that it is not long enough.
With our three kids, it was useful to be able to mix up the Gallery and Museum visits (absolute max 2 hrs) with some stair climbing, walking, shopping, eating and sitting around.

That means Academia and Ufizzi on separate days, ergo, one day is not enough.

Unless someone would visit Florence without seeing both...?
bendigo is offline  
Jun 5th, 2014, 09:23 AM
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My parents periodically reality-checked us kids with the revelation that the trips were not just for our entertainment and that the adults were not there solely to pay for everything.
Jean is offline  

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